If you've been following my recipes, you'll probably have been noticing some recurring themes in terms of ingredients! While my pantry is positively overflowing with ingredients and I don't even know what lives at the back of the shelves of the fridge, the truth of it is I only use a very small number of ingredients on a regular basis.
If you're keen to eat more vegetarian meals, having the right pantry will help make the task feel a little less daunting. I've focused on cheap, easy-to-source ingredients so that you can build your pantry quickly and easily without breaking the bank.
When you choose a meal, all that's left is to gather the fruit and veg (and whatever you've run out of!). Elliot and I shop for four meals at a time, and I'm constantly surprised by how short our shopping list is.
Fruit and veg aside, you'll find that this list of essentials covers most of the recipes on this blog – and will stand you in good stead for most recipes outside of it as well. When you do come across recipes that call for different ingredients and aren't keen to expand your pantry, you'll often find something in this list that you can easily substitute.
Vinegars, oils, sauces and dressings
- Soy sauce (good vegetarian substitute for fish sauce)
- Olive oil
- Olive oil spray (lets you coat vegetables with far less oil overall)
- Peanut oil (or other vegetable-based oil with a high smoke point)
- Sesame oil
- Lemon juice
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
- Sriracha (or your favourite hot sauce)
- Brown lentils
- Chick peas
- Cannellini beans
- Black beans
- Three/four-bean mix
- Diced tomatoes
Seeds and grains
- Rice (white, brown, or both)
- Pasta (I generally keep macaroni, penne and fettucine)
- Pearl barley (near the soup at Coles)
- Red lentils (also near the soup)
- Sesame seeds (I pre-toast them in batches in a dry frying pan)
- Brown sugar
- Bread crumbs
Herbs and spices
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- Ground turmeric
- Chilli powder
- Smoked paprika
- Sumac (Find this at Middle-Eastern grocery stores. It's worth it.)
- Vege stock powder
- Dried mixed herbs
- Bay leaves
- Mexican seasoning (substitute this when a Mexican meal calls for myriad herbs and spices)
- Dried thyme
In the fridge
- Garlic, minced
- Ginger, minced
- Chilli, minced
- Sundried tomato pesto
- Sundried tomatoes
- Feta, Danish (pre-packaged; it costs the same but lasts longer and lets me stock up)
- Feta, Australian (also pre-packaged)
- Shredded parmesan
- Firm tofu (in the vegetarian fridge section)
- Natural yoghurt (or Greek if you prefer, but natural is healthier)
- Eggs (Use CluckAR to make sure they're ethical)
In the freezer
- Grated tasty cheese (It lasts forever this way. I use low-fat)
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Bread (Abbott's Village Harvest Seeds and Grains)
Also handy to have
If you like curry...
- Coconut milk powder (so I don't have to use a whole can at a time)
- Thai curry paste (red, green, or both)
- Rice wine vinegar
- Noodles (we buy them dry but pre-cooked ones save time)
- Crushed peanuts
- Peanut butter (a great way to bring creaminess to vegan curries)
If you like Italian...
- Lasagne sheets
- Arborio rice
And just in general...
- Tinned beetroot (good for burgers)
- Tinned corn (add it to Mexican bean dishes)
- Currants (great for bursts of sweetness in salads)
- Wasabi kewpie (We drizzle it on wraps, pizzas and tacos.)
Whether you choose to keep these in the pantry basically comes down to your personal preferences and the things you know you will be most likely to cook.
Finally, I usually have a couple of ready-to-go sauces for those nights when even half an hour of cooking seems unthinkable. Passage to India Rogan Josh is my favourite curry sauce, and I also usually have a stir-fry sauce (Woolworths plum sauce is great – that's right, a product that isn't from Coles!), a tomato sauce for pasta (whatever's on special, or else the one with the least added sugar) and a pasta-bake sauce. A packet of vegetarian burgers or sausages never goes astray either.
I hope this list has been useful! As I continue to try to find ways to make vegetarian cooking easier, please use the contact page or my Facebook page to let me know if there's anything else you'd like to see on Feta Hands.