Depending on how long you’ve been on your plant-strong journey, chances are your pantry looks a LOT different than it did when you were eating the Standard American Diet. And with good reason: A plant-strong pantry is loaded with flavor and nutritional power!
A plant-strong pantry makes mealtime easy!
Here at Engine 2, we’re always looking for new ways to help you save time planning and prepping your meals, and to help you save money at the grocery store. Stocking up your pantry with the right ingredients is one of the easiest ways to do both (and when you use our Engine 2 Meal Planner, our tool will help you maximize the ingredients you already have on hand to save even more time at the grocery store. Just use the search feature to find recipes that call for those ingredients. Then before you leave or while you’re at the store, just check those items you have on hand off of your interactive grocery list before leaving the house).
Whether you’re a plant-strong veteran or you’re just getting started on our Seven-Day Rescue Challenge (or are somewhere in between), check out this list of our nine favorite plant-strong pantry items:
- Spices! Once you’ve cut out the added sugar, salt and fat that is everywhere on the Standard American Diet (SAD), your taste buds will literally explode from the variety of natural flavors in plants, plus the extraordinary variety of spices out there. Don’t just stick to what you know, explore new flavors and tantalize your palate!
- Beans (dried or canned). Black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans..there are SO many beans out there, and they are all packed with plant-strong goodness! Depending on your preference, you can stock up on dried beans and cook them yourself. Or if you prefer to have things ready to go, load up on no salt added beans (or as low sodium as you can find) for quick and easy meal builders. And don’t let that short list stop you – from black eyed peas to cannellini beans to navy beans to…there are so many options out there. Try something new and give your meals a jolt of flavor and health.
- Whole wheat pasta. At the end of the day, everyone loves pasta. From a simple pasta with marinara to our Raise the Roof Sweet Potato Lasagna, pasta is the foundation of family-friendly, delicious and nutrient-packed meals. Don’t be afraid to branch out, either. More and more stores are loading up on gluten-free options like black bean pasta, red lentil pasta and more – experiment with the tastes and textures and enjoy!
- Nutritional yeast. Visit our Seven-Day Rescue Challenge Facebook group and you’ll probably see at least a few mentions of “nooch” or nutritional yeast. It’s a base ingredient of our plant-strong “cheeze” sauce and can be used as a spark to top off a variety of meals (some people like to sprinkle it on their pasta and marinara in lieu of parmesan cheese).
- Oats (of every kind). Oats are one of the most heart-friendly foods in the world – here at Engine 2, we eat them every day! From a bowl of steamy oats to Rip’s Big Bowl in the morning, to savory oats for dinner (even baked oats or oats used as a “meat” substitute!), adding oats to your day protects your heart while filling you up with fiber, plant-strong protein, zinc, manganese and more.
- Lentils. Dried lentils are one of the most affordable plant-strong meal foundations out there, and just like the rest of this plant-strong pantry, they are PACKED with nutrients. Canned lentils make them an even quicker option when you need to toss together a quick meal. Brown, green and red are the most common lentils you’ll find in the store, but don’t be afraid to branch out and try yellow, black or French lentils too.
- Quinoa. Quick and easy to prepare, loaded with protein, fiber and more, quinoa works well in plant-strong bowls for our Seven-Day Rescue Challenge, in soups and strews, with seasoning as a replacement taco “meat” and more.
- Brown rice. Here’s another plant-strong grain to keep on hand. Brown rice works well in tacos, stews and stir fries (just to name a few!) while packing your meals with plant-strong nutrition. If you have a rice cooker or pressure cooker, this staple can come together quickly and easily, too!
- Diced tomatoes. Toss these into soups, stews and chilis. Whip up a quick marinara sauce for some whole grain pasta – there are limitless possibilities for no salt added diced tomatoes! They’re also packed with Thiamin, Niacin, Calcium and Magnesium while adding Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron, Potassium, Copper and Manganese to your diet.
Looking for some inspiration to put these pantry items to use? This Chili Mac recipe from our Meal Planner uses spices, pasta and diced tomatoes to create a filling and delicious meal!
These nine are some of our favorites, but this is by no means an exhaustive list. What’s the #1 item in your plant-strong pantry?