by Anda Mtshemla
When I decided to become vegan, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Despite having been vegetarian for eight years prior to converting to veganism, like many, I wasn’t sure what the difference between the two was. However, after months of trial and error, spending hours reading gibberish-like food labels in between Pick n Pay aisles– I think I may have figured out the formula. You can, of course, tweak this list to better suit your taste but these are a few good staples to have and some of the basics you’ll need to create my delicious recipes with me!
Frozen Vegetable Mix (McCain has an awesome selection)
Buying fresh vegetables is very stressful for me since they manage to spoil before I can eat them so I cheat and get what I can frozen. You won’t miss out too much on flavour if you steam your veggies and this way, they’re easy to add to almost anything.
TIP: Only buy vegetables which you know you eat frequently, fresh e.g. I use baby spinach as a base for my salads and smoothies and large leaf spinach in almost everything else, so I always opt for fresh spinach. Also, don’t play yourself when it comes to carbohydrate-rich veggies like potatoes and butternut. These help you feel satiated and manage your caloric intake since when you make the switch to a lower calorie plant-based diet so, stock up!
Bananas (lots and lots)
Frozen Berry Mix (this one from Woolies🙌 )
As with veggies, the same goes for fruit, since it too spoils. So, most of the fruit I buy, I eat very regularly and these fruits are all very versatile and great to have in your vegan pantry!
TIP: Buys fruits and veggies that are in season to keep your spending low and achieve fresh, flavourful!
GRAINS, LEGUMES, SEEDS, NUTS & BOLTS:
CousCous (great for lazy chefs)
Chia Seeds (great for “chia eggs” and topping smoothies)
Nut Mix (I love these from Woolies)
Dried Goji Berries
Bread (Albany Ultima in “Rooibos & Rye” is my fave)
These are my favourite ingredients in my pantry because they all leave me feeling very satisfied and satiated after eating them. The legumes are great as you can use them in a variety of dishes and they’re high in protein!
The seeds, nuts and dried fruits are great in oats, smoothies and muesli, and are great for adding crunch and natural sweetness to different dishes.
Be mindful when selecting your pasta, however, as some variations do contain eggs.
SPREADS, SYRUPS & STUFF:
Agave Nectar/Maple Syrup (not to be confused with maple flavoured golden syrup)
Nut Butter (peanut, almond, cashew– whichever you like)!
Tahini (awesome for dressings and adding to sauces)
I had no idea at first but not all sugars are created vegan! Luckily, South African sugar brands have confirmed that no animal products are used in their sugar making processes, so keep a little in your pantry for baking or adding to your tea.
CONDIMENTS & SEASONING:
Vegetable Stock Powder
Some of the most important items in your pantry. Vegan food, like any food, can be bland which is why I love to transform the flavour of different foods with these ingredients!
TIP: Get the Steers or Nature’s Choice seasoning! It’s a super versatile spice and great for lazy days in the kitchen.
Popcorn (many microwave variations are vegan-friendly too)
Chocolate (Lindt 70% upwards and Beacon dark chocolate are both fine for vegans)
My absolute favourite part of my pantry– and I thought I was going to have to let it go when I went vegan! There are a plethora of other vegan snacks that I have not included here that you can try out too, see them all on the Vegan SA blog.
Plant Milk of choice (Soy, Almond, Oat etc.)
Firm Tofu (get it here)