Starting a Plant-Based Pantry: 10 Key Items

Starting your plant based pantry doesn’t need to be difficult.

In fact, once you have started with the basics, building your plant based pantry over time is easy. The key is to set your pantry up for success from the day you decide to begin your plant based lifestyle. While there is a lot of overlap with traditional pantries and plant based pantries, there are several key items that are particularly useful for vegans and vegetarians. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, these are items I always keep in my pantry.

Essential Plant Based Pantry Items:

1. Flaxseed

  • Flaxseed is an excellent egg alternative and can be purchased whole or ground. I personally prefer ground flaxseed as you will find many vegan baking recipes calling for a ‘flax egg’. A flax egg refers to one tbsp of ground flaxseed combined with two tbsp of water. Flaxseed is a great source of Omega 3’s, fibre and vitamin B6. Want healthier skin and hair? Add a couple tbsp of flaxseed to your smoothies.

2. Chia Seed

  • In addition to flaxseed, chia seed is another great egg alternative when mixed with water. Although unlike flaxseed, chia seed will have a poppyseed effect. Chia seed is high in fibre, protein, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. I add chia seed to my kids oatmeal each morning to give them an extra shot of protein and minerals.

3. Vegetable Stock

  • Store bought sauces and soups often contain dairy. Having vegetable stock on hand will allow to quickly whip up plant based versions of your favourite soups and sauces.

4. Beans

  • I always have at least two cans of black beans and two cans of chickpeas on hand at any given time. Black beans and chickpeas are so incredibly versatile and can be put in anything from desserts to lasagnes. I love making black bean brownies, and Thai Chickpea Salad (recipe coming soon!) is one of our favourite summer dinners.

5. Nutritional Yeast

  • First of all, you cannot have a plant based pantry without some nooch. Nutritional yeast is one of my go-to cheese alternatives. It has a nutty, cheesy flavour and we put it in everything from Mac & Cheeze and sauces to homemade tofu nuggets.

starting a plant based pantry

6. Coconut Oil

  • There are lots of plant based oils out there and all with excellent nutritional properties but I just love coconut oil. Coconut oil is great for digestion and for balancing blood sugars. This oil is great for cooking and is an excellent butter replacement. Coconut oil is also an excellent base for homemade beauty products, such as, scrubs and balms.

7. Cider Vinegar

  • If I were to list all the amazing uses and benefits of cider vinegar we would be here all day. However, one of it’s more powerful healing compounds is acetic acid. Acetic acid has the ability to kill bad bacteria and at the same time promotes the growth of good bacteria. When buying cider vinegar make sure that you buy it ‘in the raw’ so as to benefit from probiotic properties.

8. Grains

  • Having a variety of grains on hand gives you flexibility in the kitchen. Some grains that I have stocked that are beyond the traditional pantry are:
    • long grain brown rice
    • jasmine rice
    • sushi rice
    • rice flour
    • oat flour
    • rolled oats
    • quinoa

9. Lentils

  • I keep lentils on hand largely as a replacement for recipes that call for ground beef. The Oh She Glows lentil loaf is the greatest thing in the world, and lentils are key on taco Tuesday at our house.

10. Medjool Dates

  • Medjool dates are an amazing natural sweetener and, therefore, are a staple in many vegetarian and vegan baking recipes. And not only are they sweet, they are packed with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Want to floor everyone with a healthy caramel sauce? Try these.


Do you have a must-have plant-based pantry item not listed here? Tell me in the comments!

Chat soon,


Dr. Axe Food is Medicine

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