After becoming vegetarian, I realized that plants are so much more versatile that I originally thought. Plants were always the side to a meat, and that’s about as creative as meals would be. But vegetables and plant-based foods deserve so much more. Once I realized that certain foods are able to transform into completely different tastes and dishes, it was a lot easier to know how to stock my fridge.
By having some of these ingredients on hand, I am able to have a sense of creativity by using only what I have plus maybe one or two things I quickly grab on the way home from work. But that’s not the only positive. Because these foods can be used in so many different recipes, it helps reduce food waste as we are using every last bit of every item throughout the week. So let’s check out some of my favorite versatile veggies and plant-based groceries:
Chickpeas are a vegan’s best friend. They are a source of protein, are easy to make, and can be made into so many classic vegan recipes. It’s also important to note that the chickpea liquid can be a substitute for egg whites. Chickpeas are an easy way to bring protein and yumminess to breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner.
Ways to make it low waste: try buying bulk dry chickpeas and making from scratch.
Cauliflower used to be the blah ingredient in store-bought veggie trays that had little flavor and zero appeal compared to the other colorful options. But then you realize that it’s all about how you season it (like pretty much any meat ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ), and it’s something you’ll want to always have in your fridge.
Ways to make it low waste: One bad thing about cauliflower…. for some reason, it comes in plastic packaging pretty much everywhere. Check your local grocery stores to find places that have zero-packaging and only go there for your cauli needs.
Mushrooms are something I am exploring more and more as I am trying to cut down on soy products while cooking at home. They come in a couple different sizes, which makes it easy to mold this fun-gi into some fun-recipes (haha you’re welcome)
Ways to make it low waste: Buy fresh in bulk (don’t forget reusable veggie bags or just buy a couple loose) and cut them yourself. It’s easy, and helps save some plastic wrap and some cardboard. And honestly, mushrooms usually make a lot more than you think once you slice them up.
Being from Idaho, it’s hard to escape spuds. They are praised for being so easily manipulated into different shapes and styles. Obviously fries are the ideal potato form, but there so much more that brings potatoes to your full day menu.
Recipe ideas: Hash browns, curry, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, twice-baked potatoes, potato salad, potato soup, roasted fingerlings, funeral potatoes, pot pie, and of course, fries in the air fryer.
Ways to make it low waste: Buy bulk potatoes. It also helps alleviate food waste, as well as allows zero-packaging.
Veggies and beans are some thing to consider when buying staples for a plant-based, but that doesn’t mean you should forget what it takes to cook them. I guarantee that I have used olive oil in every single one of my recipes that I have listed on nacforadventure.com, as well as every savory item I have made since going vegetarian.
Recipe ideas: salad dressing, cooking oil, bread dip, popcorn, pretty much every single thing besides the sweet stuff
Ways to make low waste: Head to specialty bulk stores. Bring your own glass bottle, and for sure invest in one of the spouts that makes you use only as much as you need.
Alright, so technically peanut butter is good for pretty much peanut butter sandwiches and peanut sauce, but I just want people to realize the savory side of peanut butter.
Recipe ideas: mid-ski-day PB sandwiches, peanut butter toast, waffles, pancakes, shakes, granola, ants on a log (celery/ Peanut butter/raisins/craisins… ants aren’t vegan), no-bake cookies, thai noodles, and peanut sauce.
Ways to make low waste: Bring your own glass container and use the fresh peanut butter machine. It’s fresh, healthy, and leads to no-waste…. bonus points for the honey roasted flavor at Whole Foods
My go-to vegan dinner includes roasted vegetables and rice, but that doesn’t mean that’s the scope of plant-based recipes. Vegetables, beans, and nuts combined with a little bit of creativity can deliciously transform your meals into something to be proud of.
Your full-time creative plant-eater,