One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Recession Proof Vegan Pantry

For Vegan Mofo I've been posting a lot more pictures of food and recipes than you're used to out of this little Guinea Pig. During these hard economic times I don't get to grocery shop as much as I like ( I can usually find an excuse to be at my co-op, Whole Foods or Trader Joe's at least twice a week), but this doesn't mean that I don't get to cook as much as I like anymore.

If anything I've become more creative with my daily menus basing them 99 percent on whatever I happen to have lying around the kitchen. As you can see from my pantry this leaves me a lot of options. But a pantry overflowing with vegan goodness doesn't take $700 billion to stock. You can have a completely stocked pantry that will have enough food to last you months for less than $250 - so far I've made it 3 months with just the food in my pantry and freezer (and you can see how much food I have left!)

So what's in this pantry? Let's start from the top. First you have to have your cereal grains. There's steel cut oats, quick oats and Kashi cereal (Go Lean and Go Lean Crunch are my favorites!) I also stock up on grains that are versatile enough for every meal including quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat groats and kamut. Of course there's the old stand by grains as well: brown rice, jasmine rice and arborio rice for risotto. Next there's the canned goods section. For me this is mostly tomato products since I use dry beans (which are much cheaper than canned). There's tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, enchilada sauce (even though I prefer making my own) and a little canned vegan dog food as a treat for the pups. Then there's the optional section which you really don't need but I have ended up accumulating over time. Its the protein powders. As a guinea pig I have a little of everything here (which I'll review and blog about a little later): hemp protein, Trader Joe's soy protein ( about $4) and brown rice protein.

On the next shelf down I keep all my miscellaneous items and extras from when I get stuff on sale and have a surplus ( i.e. Maple syrup, raisins, vinegar, cocoa powder, jams, nutritional yeast). Plus all my spices ( must haves are cumin, curry, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric, chili powder, paprika and vanilla extract). I have two shelves full of every sort of bean imaginable. All dried, except for a couple cans of refried beans. The rest of the pantry is filled with an assortment of flours ( unbleached flour, 8 different type of gluten free flours, whole wheat pastry and masa), sugars, shortening, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, non dairy milks (oat, soy, hemp, etc.) and brown rice pastas.

Along with these key ingredients I've had to make a couple trips to the store to get fresh greens like spinach and kale as well as fresh fruit (in season is cheaper), carrots and avocado.
So how do you fill your pantry full of all these goodies for cheap? Easy! There 3 very simple rules I live by:

  • Buy in bulk (grains, dried beans, spices, salt, sugar, flours, etc.)

  • Buy on sale (and clip coupons!)

  • Buy in season (when you have to buy fresh fruits and veggies)

My local co-op also gives me a 10 percent discount once a month so I take advantage of that as well. So there you go, the keys to my recession proof vegan pantry.


  1. Hmmm... it seems the only one of my favorite ingredients missing from your pantry and list is TPV... which I am sure is in there somewhere! Now I see how you are always experimenting with something new every other day! I like the bottom shelf as well ;-)

  2. Wow! That cupboard is AMAZING! I wish I had space like that to organize... plotting more shelving right now... I mean do I really need a couch when all my beans could be organized???

  3. How could I forget! There's a huge container full of TVP right next to my pinto beans.

    For the love of gauva, who needs a couch?! Beans taste much better ;)

  4. Wow. I am drooling at the sight of your pantry right now. Mine is really more like a cupboard that is so small that everything is constantly falling out. I've been trying to do the exact same thing, but it's hard when you don't really know what you have!

  5. Hi Alicia,

    I am in awe of your pantry. I have a small kitchen with only a little cupboard space so I can't stock up on as much food as I wish I could.

    This was a great post and gave me some ideas.

  6. Beautiful! I wish I had a pantry to stock- just a few shelves instead. I love your setup!

  7. Hey Alicia! We're newly vegan, so I check out your blog very often for help and inspiration! I am also in Atlanta, I was wondering wich co-op you're referring to? I usually shop at the Dekalb Farmers Market, but I'd love to know if you have other places you'd recommend for fruit and veg on the cheap. Thanks, and please keep up the good work! Us noobs depend on your expertise :)

  8. You've rubbed off on me and I'm doing a pantry week or weeks, however long I can make it through until my next bulk buying trip! Thanks!

  9. Hey Em, the co-op I go to is Sevananda in little 5 points. I was about to do a glowing review on them a couple months back because they are one of the only Vegetarian co-ops in the Southeast (if not the only one) but they have been dabbling with the idea of adding meat after being in existence for over 30 years without it so I'm holding off on that review right now. Membership does get you a 10% monthly discount so you should definitely check it out for the time being.

  10. This is really fantastic. I am going to go through my pantry and start making a grocery list. I wish I could cook so well, and just make stuff up.. but I am such a newbie that I feel if I WANT to eat it I better follow a recipe. Thanks for sharing this, I was afraid I was going to have to live on oreos during the recession.. LOL

  11. This is really making me wish I had my own place. I live with my omni mother and my stuff is constantly getting lost between the cans of beef stew.


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