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Shopping for Vegetarian Cooking Staples

Part of the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Before you cook your first vegetarian meal at home, you need to shop for basic ingredients. Stocking your pantry, fridge, and freezer with vegetarian staples is essential for cooking success.

Canned, jarred, and bottled pantry staples include the following:

  • Beans (black, pinto, navy, kidney, garbanzo, and so on)

  • Canned veggies (frozen or fresh veggies are healthier for you, but some veggies are easier to find or use in cans, like artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, green chiles, and pumpkin)

  • Diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spaghetti or marinara sauce

  • Nut and seed butters (such as peanut, almond, and sunflower)

  • Olive oil and vegetable oil

  • Salad dressings and other sauces of your choice

  • Soups, including lentil and vegetable (make sure the broth in any soup you choose is vegetable, not chicken or beef)

  • Vinegar (apple cider and balsamic)

Spices and seasonings to stock in your pantry include the following:

  • Chili powder, ground cumin, dried parsley flakes, Italian seasoning (this takes the place of oregano and basil), dried cayenne red pepper, dried red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and any other spices of your choice

  • Minced garlic in oil (and/or a bulb of fresh garlic for your fridge)

  • Mustard, ketchup, soy sauce or tamari, and hot pepper sauce (only if you really like spice!)

Dry boxed and packaged pantry staples include the following:

  • Baking mix (such as Bisquick or Jiffy Baking Mix) to use in place of flour, baking powder, and baking soda; seasoned breadcrumbs; and breakfast cereal

  • Dried fruit, nuts, popcorn kernels, and sesame seeds

  • Instant brown rice and whole grains (quinoa, bulgur, oats), plus containers of single-serving cooked brown rice

  • Ramen oriental flavor noodles (the seasoning packets in the other varieties often contain meat flavorings) or GreeNoodles (green noodles that cook in just 2 minutes!)

  • Sugar or a natural sugar substitute such as Just Like Sugar, date sugar, or agave syrup

  • Whole-wheat pasta

Refrigerated staples include the following:

  • Fresh vegetables of your choice

  • Fresh fruit of your choice — and don’t forget lemons and limes for marinades and for seasoning foods

  • Fruit juices and/or vegetable juices

  • Hummus, seitan, tempeh, and tofu

  • Milk, cheeses, yogurt, sour cream, and eggs

  • Sandwich bread and tortilla wraps

Freezer staples include the following:

  • Bread items: pita bread, English muffins, bagels, and pizza crusts

  • Cheese pizza

  • Frozen fruits, especially berries

  • Meatless protein burgers and crumbles, hash brown patties, and breaded eggplant patties

  • Pasta or rice dinners

  • Plain frozen bags and boxes of vegetables (your choice!)

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Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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