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How to Stock Your Plant-Based Pantry

Eating plant-based can change your life and health. But if we’re being honest, it can also be a pain in the neck when you’re just starting out. Not only does your dinner plate look different, but your shopping list changes, too. Or even more daunting, maybe you don’t even have a list because you’re not quite sure what a plant-based grocery trip looks like yet.

Don’t panic. We’re here to help you get that pantry in order.

Our advice? Go slow. This isn’t a sprint! You don’t have to throw out everything in your cupboards that doesn’t fit the “plant-based” mold. Instead focus on what to include on those shelves.

Let’s start with the basics:

Nuts and Seeds

While great for snacking on-the-go, there’s a lot more to nuts than trail mix. Did you know cashews are often used as the base for plant-based cream sauces (like in our kid-approved mac and “cheese”)?

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Flax Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Whole Grains

Unlike refined grains, whole grains are unprocessed and still have all those important nutrients in tact. Try whole grains as a base for stir fries, a hearty addition to soups, or on their own as a fiber-filled side dish.

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Bulgur
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Wild rice

Beans and Lentils

OK, bathroom jokes aside, beans really are a magical fruit. They’re filled with fiber to keep your digestion on track and your tummy happy. Plus, they rank low on the glycemic index, which makes beans a healthy choice for folks with type 2 diabetes. Did we mention there’s about a zillion varieties to choose from? Some of our favorites include:

  • Black beans
  • Chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans)
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans (also called Great Northern Beans)
  • Red Lentils
  • Green Lentils


Good news — you don’t have to deny yourself the sweet things in life to be healthy. You can satisfy your sweet tooth and your blood sugar by sticking to natural sweeteners over refined, processed ones.

  • Agave
  • Maple syrup
  • Dates (or date syrup)
  • Honey

Basic Veggies

Fresh produce is something you'll want to replenish every week, however, most of these (minus the leafy greens) will last for a while in your pantry.

  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Carrots
  • Leafy greens, like kale, spinach, romaine. 


When you transition to a whole food plant-based diet, you'll find that spices become a big deal. Without the super salty and sweet processed foods we're used to, we rely on spices to flavor our food. Chances are you may have a few of these spices on hand already. 

  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Cinnamon
  • Chili Powder
  • Garlic Powder *** (MamaSezz Chef Caroline says garlic powder is a new plant-based eater's best friend)
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Mrs. Dash or another salt-free all-purpose seasoning
  • Red Chili Pepper Flakes
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Turmeric

Sauces and Condiments

There’s more to the condiment aisle than ketchup, we promise! Whether you’re looking for a dash of heat or a quick salad dressing, these condiments bring life to your next veggie-inspired dish. You can also make some oil-free dressings with these ingredients.

  • Hot sauce
  • Coconut aminos
  • Shoyu
  • Vinegars (apple cider, brown rice, balsamic, red, white)
  • Tamari
  • Mustard
  • Nut butters

***Bonus Round

No plant-based pantry is complete without nutritional yeast. Found at most natural food stores (we recommend buying in bulk), this inactive yeast gives your favorite foods a nutty, cheesy flavor — without the sodium or dairy. Sprinkle on some popcorn for a savory, healthy movie night snack.

Looking to stock your fridge, too? Check out our ready-made plant-based meals or explore our plant-based recipes.


By Ali Brown

Ali is a nutrition and lifestyle writer and editor, with a Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.

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