Within the short time that I’ve been vegetarian, I’ve figured out a couple things. One is that it is hard to eat out and be vegetarian. Some restaurants offer more options than ever before, but there are only so many black bean burgers I can eat. Because of this, I have had to cook a lot more.
This is something that many people will find they have to do, especially if they are trying to stick to a budget. So, most vegetarians turn to cooking as a way to control what goes into their food.
To be honest, I never really enjoyed cooking until I became vegetarian. Now, I can’t wait until the next meal when I can make something I know my body needs. My cravings have changed, and honestly, I even crave healthy food. Of course, I still crave chocolate around that time of the month (and basically every other day too), but I don’t have as powerful of cravings because my body is getting more of what it really needs.
My goal with this blog is to help others create their ideal lives, but without any guidance, that’s hard to do. So, I decided to share what kind of staples I have in my cupboard. Hopefully, this will help you to know what you’ll need more of and maybe even give you inspiration for recipes. But, no matter what I put down here as my staples, you have the power to choose. Make this your own. You know your body better than I do.
So let’s get into it.
Bananas: I frickin’ love bananas. Lately, I’ve been buying a couple bunches each time I go to the store. They are great for just snacking on when you need some sugar in your system, but I especially love peeling them and freezing them for smoothies. Bananas make any smoothie better because of their strong flavor, and they work really well if you don’t like the taste of spinach or kale. Pop in a banana or two and you won’t even be tasting the greens. Also, with a powerful blender or food processor, you can make some killer banana ice cream.
Greens: Always have greens on hand. I’ve seen a plant-based food pyramid floating around the internet that has greens on the very bottom, meaning they should be the food you eat the most of. I also know, it can get monotonous to have the same salad over and over again. Try changing things up. Buy romaine for salads, frozen kale for smoothies, and broccoli and spinach for soups. My rule of thumb is to add greens to everything unless it really, truly will not work. You may find that it works with most things.
Nuts: People always ask me how I get enough protein. First of all, you really don’t need as much protein as people think. Second, a lot of protein comes from the unprocessed fruits and vegetables we eat. If that doesn’t convince them, then the last answer is nuts (see what I did there?). I keep a container of almonds in my cupboard at all times. I also really love walnuts, brazil nuts, and cashews. Nuts have so much protein it’s ridiculous. If that doesn’t convince people you have enough protein in your diet, I don’t know what will.
Baking ingredients and spices: Like it or not, you’re probably going to do a bit of baking. It’s good to have ingredients like flour, sugar, and lots of spices in your cupboard. Plus, a lot of recipes call for things like this anyway. I find that spices make a world of difference in food. Before, I hadn’t really explored with many flavorings (salt and pepper were my spices of choice), but there are so many flavors to explore. Now I have quite an assortment of spices, and my food definitely tastes better now.
Steel-cut Oats: I have to admit, I don’t like oatmeal much. When I first became vegetarian back in 2012, I ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast. After a while I hated it. I think this was because I was buying the Quaker oats with tons of sugar and other gross preservatives. At the same time, I liked that oatmeal filled me up. The great thing with buying bulk oats is that you can control what you put in your oatmeal, and it will still fill you up. Mix things up. Try using agave or honey to sweeten the oatmeal a little. Add berries or bananas. Use coconut or almond milk. You may find you have a different opinion about oatmeal after it.
Canned vegetables: Sticking with the veggie theme, canned vegetables are great for lazy soups and crock pot meals. Sometimes, I’ll eat a can of green beans when I’m hungry. The reason I love canned vegetables is because I don’t have to worry about them going bad quickly. I can stock up on tons of corn without worrying if I’ll eat it or waste it that week. Canned veggies really are just convenient.
Blender: I know this isn’t a food, but having a good blender or food processor can make a world of difference in your cooking. You can make a strawberry banana smoothie or creamy butternut squash soup. You can make banana ice cream or red pepper hummus. Really, this is a staple.
Really, that’s it. I have a few other things I buy practically every time I go to the store, but this covers most of them. I can’t stress the importance enough of being your own person. Decide what foods you like most and stock up on those. This is just to give you a look into my process and hopefully an idea of where you can start.
So be you! Take these ideas, and implement them into your lifestyle. See what works and what doesn’t and learn from it.