Zero Waste Vegan Pantry, Part 2
#VeganMoFo18 Day 3 – Zero Waste Vegan Pantry, Part 2
Yesterday’s post chronicled why and how we transitioned our vegan pantry to plastic-free and zero waste. Today will cover what we have in our pantry. You can download our Trimazing WFPB Shopping List, so you have something you can take along with you to the grocery store.
We have several sections in the pantry: Whole grains, milled grains (flours), sweeteners, thickeners, legumes, pasta, sea vegetables and mushrooms, soups/broths, fruit/nuts/seeds, vegetables, beverages, vinegars and seasonings, herbs and spices, and leaveners/etc. I’ll go section by section and list out what we have and will notate essentials with an asterisk (*). We do have a lot of things beyond essential pantry items because I’m a foodie and get excited about new items when I see them!
Whole grains are fairly easy to find in bulk. I prefer whole grains for healthy eat and for grinding myself in the Vitamix into my own flours. Milling your own flour is less expensive and you can mill as needed to prevent the flour from going rancid. Your pantry may look different if you are gluten-intolerant.
- Amaranth – super good tiny, ancient grain that you can pop like mini popcorn in a dry skillet
- Ancient Grain Mix
- Barley, whole
- Buckwheat Groats
- Oats – Old-fashioned Oats, Steel-cut*
- Job’s Tears (Pearl Barley) – love these, look like puffed wheat but hard. Find in Asian markets. Great in miso soup.
- Rice – Arborio, Brown*, Sushi, Wild – we buy California or foreign rice to decrease arsenic exposure
- Sorghum – just purchased this and am excited to try it!
- Spelt – Often sprout it and use in raw (dehydrated) pizza dough
As I noted above, I do like to mill a lot of my flours in the Vitamix from whole grains, but you can find most of these in bulk and in paper sacks. Your pantry may look different if you are gluten-intolerant.
- All-Purpose Flour – We use mostly whole wheat pastry flour but have some AP flour leftover
- Brown Rice Flour
- Dark Rye Flour
- Garbanzo Bean Flour*
- Gluten Free Flour – you can buy commercially or make your own mix*
- Graham Flour – I had this leftover from making vegan graham crackers as they are hard to find.
- Masa – for making tamales!
- Millet Flour
- Oat Flour
- Self-rising Flour
- Spelt Flour
- Vital Wheat Gluten
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour*
We don’t use a lot of sweeteners as we’ve weaned ourselves off of it. We do have a big bag of granulated sugar to make nectar for the hummingbirds and I use it during canning season, but other than that, we use small amounts of coconut sugar or maple syrup, if anything.
- Coconut Nectar
- Coconut Sugar*
- Granulated Sugar – we don’t use a lot of this, it’s many for making hummingbird nectar (or canning)!
- Molasses* – mix 1 Tablespoon in 1 cup granulated sugar to make your own brown sugar!
- Powdered Sugar – make by running granulated sugar through the Vitamix
I have a broad array of thickeners that we’ve amassed due to different recipes over the years. I do have a cheezy sauce I like to make that calls for corn starch and a pumpkin custard that uses Potato starch, so we use those. The others were for trying to make other vegan cheeses and I use them when making Gluten-free flour mixes.
- Agar Agar – great for making vegan jello
- Arrowroot Powder
- Corn Starch* – buy organic/non-GMO
- Ener-G Egg Replacer
- Pectin – for making jams and jellies
- Potato Starch
- Tapioca, Quick and Pearls
- Xantham Gum
Sea Vegetables & Mushrooms
We eat a lot of sea vegetables, it gives things a “fishy” taste without seafood and is full of beneficial iodine. Dried porcini mushrooms smell like Lipton’s Onion Soup mix (seriously!), so I like to grind them up into a powder in the Vitamix to give soups and things a “beefy” unami flavor. It has been challenging to find Asian items zero waste, it almost all comes in plastic. I’m working on finding better sources of these. If you know of any in the Seattle area, please let me know!
- Dried Shitaake Mushrooms
- Dried Porcini Mushrooms
- Dulse* – I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m looking
- Kombu* – I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m looking
- Nori Sheets* – for making sushi rolls. I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m looking
- Rice Paper Wrappers – for making salad rolls. I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m looking
- Seaweed Salad – I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m looking
We are big bean eaters in our household! My preference is to cook from dried rather than buying canned, as canned beans are often very salty and the cans are often lined with BPA or now, BPS, which may be just as bad, if not worse than BPA. I use my Instant Pot to cook beans, but you can do them on the stovetop. I also can beans in jars in my pressure canner or cook beans and freeze them in canning jars. Canning them frees up freezer space, but it takes 90 minutes to pressure can them after overnight soaking. Just make sure that you fully cook your beans to avoid phytohaemagglutinin toxicity (you can learn more about this from StateFoodSafety).
- Adzuki Beans
- Black Beans*
- Cannelini (White Kidney) Beans
- Chana Dal
- Fava Beans, dried and canned – have canned because I was having trouble finding dried for a while
- Great Northern Beans*
- Kidney Beans*
- Lentils, Beluga, Brown*, Le Puy, Red
- Mung Beans
- Navy Beans
- Pinto Beans*
- Scarlet Runner Beans – We grow our own. Kids love them because they look like magic beans!
- Soybeans* – We buy a 25 pound sack to make soy milk and tofu from.
- Split Peas, green* and yellow
We also love pasta! You can find pasta at some bulk sections now. It does come in cardboard too, but generally has that darned plastic film window in the box that is not recyclable!
- Alphabet Pasta – We have grandkids, so fun shapes are necessary!
- Bean Thread Noodles – I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m looking
- Buckwheat Soba Noodles* – I’ve not found a non-plastic package source yet, but I’m planning on learning how to make these at home.
- Star Pasta – We have grandkids, so fun shapes are necessary!
We don’t have cans of soup excepted in our emergency supplies. Same principle as canned beans and vegetables. I do freeze a lot of soup, however, especially leftovers, and do can vegetable broth.
- Bouillon cubes, Not Chick’n, Vegetable – These are leftover. When they are used up I will make our own bouillon powder mix.
- Dried Corn Soup Mix – Available in bulk at some stores. Great to take on the airplane in a canning jar—just ask for hot water and make your own hot soup. This works through TSA because its not a fine powder…at least so far.
- Vegetable Broth* – I make our own from veggie scraps (see my blog post about canning veggie stock) that you can either can or freeze in canning jars. Note, if you freeze liquid in canning jars, don’t put liquid above the level of the curved “shoulder” or the jar will break when freezing expands the liquid.
These are good for easy breakfasts. We don’t use oil so Alan wanted something to go on toast besides just nut butter all the time (trying to reduce the amount of nut butters we eat as they can raise triglycerides, while eating whole nuts do not have this issue), so I’ve made some low-sugar jams for him.
- Almond Butter* – Easy to make your own in a food processor or Vitamix, or you can grind it at the grocery store into your own container.
- Apple Butter – I make my own and can it.
- Apple Sauce* – Great oil substitute for baking! Easy to make your own and either freeze or can. I always make or buy sugar-free only and you can’t tell the difference.
- Goji Berries
- Pineapple Juice – Had some from making Minimalist Baker’s Kimchee recipe…will make my own juice from fresh pineapple next time, but wanted to follow her recipe the first time I made it.
- Plum Jam – Came across a big box of free plums the other day and made jam and dried prunes.
- Sun-dried Tomatoes – I make my own by dehydrating homegrown or farmers market tomatoes.
- Sunflower Butter* – Easy to make your own in a food processor or Vitamix. Good to have on hand for cooking for those with nut allergies.
We prefer fresh or frozen vegetables, so we don’t have a lot of canned vegetables. Although we do have a lot of canned vegetables in our emergency supplies. Canned vegetables have the same issue as canned beans in that they are often very salty and the cans are often lined with BPA or now, BPS, which may be just as bad, if not worse than BPA. I do can some vegetable, mostly pickled, especially vegetables I cannot find fresh to can, such as hearts of palm or young jackfruit.
- Olives, black, green, although I do pick up these from an olive bar in my own container at some stores.
- Onions*, fresh
- Pickles*, dill, sweet, dilly beans – home-canned
- Pickle Relish, dill, sweet – home-canned
- Sweet Potatoes*, fresh and canned – Prefer Asian Purple Sweet Potatoes that are white inside
- Tomatoes* – home-canned, whole
- Young Jackfruit in Brine* – a great meat/crab substitute!
Alan has a big cup of French Press coffee in the mornings and I switch between tea, coffee, and Dandy Blend, depending on my mood! We also have dried flowers for infused water that we always have on hand in our refrigerator.
- Burdock, dried, for Tea – I bought this a couple of years ago after meeting with a macrobiotic consultant, but haven’t used it.
- Butterfly Pea Flowers* – Cannot find in bulk, but great for infused water.
- Coffee* – We get ours at Peet’s Coffee because they will grind right into our coffee canister, give us a discount for not using a bag, and give us a free coffee in our to-go cup as well!
- Dandy Blend – I really love Dandy Blend, but it’s not available in bulk. I can buy a 2 pound bag of it, though, and it lasts me forever. I transfer into glass.
- Hibiscus Flowers* – Can find in bulk, great for infused water.
- Matcha Tea Powder – I love green tea ice cream and I use this powder in Nice Cream I make from frozen bananas. The tea powder comes in a metal container.
- Mulling Spice Mix – Great in the fall and winter to make mulled cider or Gluhwein!
- Tea*, assorted, in compostible, non-plastic tea bags and bulk – Beware, a lot of tea bags have plastic in them, especially ones with the crimped edges or cool shapes. Read this post from Treading My Own Path to learn more).
- Turmeric Chai Latte Mix – I make my own mix and the recipe is in this blog post
These items bring a lot of unami to your food. There are so many flavors of vinegars! You can find a lot of vinegars in bulk, either at a grocery store or at a speciality vinegar store. We don’t use oil, but do use a little bit of toasted sesame oil every so often for flavoring.
- Almond Extract, Organic
- Bragg’s Aminos* – Soy-free soy sauce alternative. We like it and it is easy to find in bulk.
- Cacao Powder, Raw* – Prefer over cocoa powder
- Chili Garlic Sauce – Haven’t found plastic-free yet, but looking
- Dijon Mustard* – Make our own and can.
- Hot Sauce* – Make our own and can.
- Liquid Smoke* – buy in glass, haven’t found in bulk, but bottle lasts forever!
- Toasted Sesame Oil*
- Vanilla Extract* – Make our own from putting split vanilla beans in bourbon!
- Vegetarian Mushroom Oyster Sauce – Buy in glass bottle, lasts forever
- Vegetarian Hoisin Sauce – Buy in glass bottle, lasts forever
- Vinegar*, Apple Cider, Balsamic, Brown Rice, Red Wine, Ume Plum, Vegetarian Black, White, White Italian, and White Wine – Make our own apple cider vinegar from apple cores and peels, as well as red wine and champagne vinegars.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are so essential for great food! Bulk spices are pretty easy to find. There are a few that I have trouble finding in bulk so I get them in the biggest container I can easily use.
- Allspice, whole, ground
- Anise Seed, Whole Star
- Bagel Sprinkle – I make with poppyseeds, onion, caraway seed, sesame seed
- Bay Leaves*
- Caraway Seed
- Cardamon, whole, ground – delicious in overnight oats!
- Celery Salt, Seed
- Chili Flake, Korean, Red, for making Kimchi
- Cinnamon Sticks, Ground Korintje, Sri Lankan, Vietmanese
- Chili Powder*, Ancho, Arbol, chipotle, Hot, Mild
- Cloves*, whole and ground
- Coriander, whole and ground
- Cream of Tartar
- Cumin*, whole seed and ground
- Curry Powder*
- Dill seed, weed
- Dulse powder, I make my own by grinding dulse in my Vitamix
- Fennel seed
- Furikake Rice Seasoning – Get at Asian market in glass. Make sure it doesn’t have egg or bonito (smoked fish flake) in it.
- Garam Masala – I make my own blend and grind myself
- Garlic*, powder, salt
- Ginger*, ground
- Gumbo File
- Herbes d’Provence
- Italian Seasoning*
- Kala Namak* (Indian Black Salt) – A high-sulfur salt that gives food an egg-y taste and smell. Great in Tofu Scramble!
- Lemon Pepper
- Mustard, brown seed, yellow seed, ground yellow
- Nutmeg*, whole
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Onion powder*
- Paprika*, Sweet, Hot, Smoked
- Pepper*, Black, whole and ground, Sichuan, Pink
- Pepper*, Red, ground, flakes
- Pepper, White
- Pickling Spice – Make my own blend from recipe in pickling cookbook
- Poultry Seasoning
- Pumpkin Pie Spice
- Ras el Hanout
- Seafood Seasoning
- Sesame Seed, black, white
- Tandoori Masala
- Tomato Powder – Made from dehydrating tomato skins when prepping tomatoes to can, then blending them in the Vitamix into a fine powder. Good to add to things for phytonutrients from tomato skin and makes it zero-waste
- Wasabi powder
- Za’atar – Yummy spice blend for flatbread or hummus. Friends bring it back from the Middle East for me.
Last few things for baking that weren’t in other areas.
- Baking Soda* – We buy in 25-50 pound sacks from Azure Standard. Bake it to make washing soda to use in our dishwasher and clothes washing powders we make.
- Baking Powder* – Make sure it’s fresh! It does lose potency so I don’t buy in bulk, metal jar only. To test, put a pinch on your tongue and make sure it fizzes. If it doesn’t, it’s no good.
- Salt* – We buy iodized salt in bulk so we have a source of iodine in our diet.
Whew! That’s a lot of stuff. Good on you if you made it all the way through! Next posts will cover Zero Waste Vegan Fridge and Freezer. If you think there are some things missing from this list, you might find them in there, as we do refrigerate a lot of things to keep them fresh.
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Cindy wants you to be Trimazing—three times better than amazing! After improving her health and fitness through plant-based nutrition, losing 60 pounds and becoming an adult-onset athlete, she retired from her 20-year firefighting career to help people just like you. She works with people and organizations so they can reach their health and wellness goals.
Cindy Thompson is a certified Health Coach, Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, and Firefighter Peer Fitness Trainer. She is a Food for Life Instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and Rouxbe Plant-Based Professional, and Harvard Medical School Culinary Coach, teaching people how to prepare delicious, satisfying, and health-promoting meals.
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