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10 inexpensive low-carb vegan pantry essentials

There is a background story to the great pantry tour you are going to experience. About two weeks ago I realized that my life needed to be turned upside down and I made this summer my boot camp: to get a grip on my health and fitness, cook all my food at home to avoid eating what I shouldn’t and save money. Comfort coffees, vegan fast food (who doesn’t love a good Beyond meat burger?), forgetting your lunch to work… and I ended up broke, having spent way too much each month, and eaten a lot of processed foods.

So I made a promise to myself and started my journey of change with a doctor’s appointment. We decided that I was going to lose 5% body fat, increase my intake of lean carbs (mostly large amounts of green veggies), maintain a healthy amount of protein (80-100g per day), and hydrate more. I also had to cut down on my coffee and eliminate diet beverages cold turkey. The results were immediate: I lost over 7 pounds in the last two weeks and I’m no longer bloated.

No more eating out until vacation!

Here are some of the staple foods I keep in my pantry at all times, which allows me to prepare something delicious quick, without the need to buy extra ingredients.

Note: These items do not include an absolute abundance of fresh vegetables, which should make a vast majority of what you consume on a vegan diet, as well as some fruits, which are there to sweeten our life a little bit!

Quick, easy and inexpensive guide to building a great vegan pantry.

#1 Chickpea flour

Chickpea flour is probably my favorite pantry thing. I keep a big jar of it at all times. It allows me to make healthy comfort food alternatives that taste amazing: from baked veggie pakoras, to mock pizzas and omelets. I just love chickpea flour for its versatility.

According to the USDA database (NBD ID: 16157), 100g of chickpea flour provides 387 calories and 58g carbs (11g sugars), 22g protein, 7g fats, 25% daily recommended value of vitamin B6, 46% of copper, 19% of zinc, 6% riboflavin, 11% vitamin K, 32% phosphorus, 80% manganese, 109% folate, 42% magnesium, 27% iron, 32% thiamin, 12% selenium, 6% pantothenic acid, and 4% vitamin E.

I love my chickpea omelets. Click here for recipes.

For two omelets you need approximately 3 tablespoons of chickpea flour (roughly 45g), which gives you about half of the aforementioned benefits. Sounds pretty damn good, doesn’t it?

#2 Nuts and seeds

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

One tablespoon of nuts and one tablespoon of seeds is something that I have every single day at a minimum, usually in my morning oats, or sprinkled over a salad or omelet. Some of my favorites include flax seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts, pistachios, walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, etc. I usually buy them raw.

#3 Vegetable oils and nut butter

This is a huge topic and there are more theories than people (lol), and I try to keep my life simple. I limit my fat intake to up to 100g per day and I stick to (obviously) unsaturated fats. I do, however, sometimes fry on coconut oil if I want a more oriental, sweet note in my food. On a daily basis I use grapeseed oil for salads (I try not to heat it up), and olive oil for virtually anything, including salads and baking. I rotate my nut butter – one month I will get organic peanut butter, another month – almond, another – cashew, yet another – tahini… You get the drill. Generally, try not to eat the same stuff over and over or you’ll eventually develop a sensitivity to that product.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

#4 Homemade pickles

As a Pole, I love pickled food. I love pickled cucumbers, sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, pickled beets, pickled onions, pretty much anything. But, I also know you can go very wrong when selecting your pickles in the store (vegetables in vinegar are not pickles, dang it! you hurt my Polish soul if you eat that), so I make my own pickles. It takes about 10 minutes and a few days of waiting. And it’s super cheap. Do you want a recipe? Let me know!

Last time I pickled beets, I cut them into hearts. Because why not?

#5 Spices and condiments

Since I frequently change my place of residence, I try to keep my pantry small and all of the products you can find there are ones I use very often.

Photo by monicore from Pexels

The same applies to my box of spices – I keep only a few staples, which make every dish a delicacy. These include Himalayan salt, black salt (kala namak – known for its eggy flavor), dried garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sweet paprika, smoked paprika, oregano, marjoram, turmeric, and cinnamon. When it comes to liquids, I like to keep some soy sauce or tamari (I have quite a collection of them from sushi deliveries from my past life when I was silly…), a bottle of organic maple syrup, sriracha, and mustard. Just so that life is a little more pleasurable! I learned not to use ketchup at all – I use tomato paste instead. Once I have a permanent place to live, I would like to keep all my spices organized in glass containers, but for now – I’ll have to deal with what I’ve got!

#6 Protein-dense foods

Photo by Viktor Smith from Pexels

As you probably already know, vegan sources of protein are not as wholesome as we’d love them to be. Each of them misses out on some amino acids so it’s important to get many sources, but that’s not all. If you look closely at their nutritional value, you’ll often see that beans have a 2:1 ratio (at least) of carbs to proteins, which is not ideal, when you’re trying to keep your weight stable and increase your protein intake to optimize your health and physical performance.

Are beans really good for you?

Black beans have 7g of protein and 20g carbs in a cup, kidney beans – 15g of protein and 40g carbs, chickpeas – 15g of protein and 45g of carbs, and lentils – 24g of protein and 50g of carbs. That’s why, besides protein smoothies, tempeh and tofu are great additions to any vegan’s diet. Tempeh has 19g protein per 9g of carbs, while tofu – 8g of protein per 2g carbs in 100g. These values slightly vary per brand, but it’s still an amazing way of adding protein to your diet without pulling along a whole lot of carbohydrates. That being said, I personally believe that legumes should be an essential part of the vegan diet as well, due to the abundance of micronutrients they provide.

My pantry staples are: tempeh, tofu, black beans, chickpeas, textured vegetable protein, dried soy patties, chickpea pasta. Easy hack? Swap your regular pasta for chickpea pasta. You’ll get over 20g of extra protein per 100g of pasta, and the same delicious flavor.

#7 Grains

If you have these staples in your pantry, you can make this lovely buckwheat bread.

I don’t eat a lot of grains, because I try to keep my carbs in check – below 170g per day. I will, however, indulge in some good wild rice, quinoa, oats, millet, millet flakes, and buckwheat. All of these make good breakfast material, when you need a boost of energy.

#8 Soy mylk*

* Mylk is a plant-based beverage which can be used as a milk substitute.

Photo by from Pexels

Adding soy mylk to your morning oats is a great way to increase your protein intake by up to 8 grams. It is significant, considering you just swap water or another plant mylk for soy! As long as you tolerate soy products well, it will make your oats and smoothies creamier and more nutritious.

#9 Vegan protein powders

Yes – I drink vegan protein smoothies. Let’s be real guys. If you want to eat a diverse diet, with lots of leafy greens and other colorful vegetables, some grains, don’t feel like eating beans in every single meal, or work out, you are going to need more protein. I use protein powders from several different brands, which combine pea, hemp, and sprouted brown rice protein. There is a wide variety for you to choose from on the market. The one I use most frequently is the natural Progressive Vegessential, but I also use Vega One when I feel like having a sweet treat, or Organika when I need a little pick-me-up (it has medicinal mushrooms). Please comment down below if you’d like me to make a post comparing the ones I use – each is great for a different purpose!

#10 Vitamins and herbal teas

Besides the absolute vegan (and not only) musts, which are B12 vitamin and D3+K2, I like to use herbs to improve my health long and short term. Cistus, nettle, chamomile, peppermint and lemon balm teas are staples in my pantry and I use them for digestive issues or to wind down after a stressful day. I recommend that you look into the power of herbs yourself!

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

A cup of good herbal tea is my favorite fall treat. In the spring and summer, you can enjoy it iced, with lemon or lime, and other summer fruit. In winter, it’s amazing with ginger and lemon to warm you up. Perfection!

Which of these are also your staples and what would you add to my list?

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  • Karletta Marie

    Thanks for your article. I found it very helpful. And yes please, I’d love your homemade pickle recipe. Went to Poland last year – the food was delicious. I think I recall dumplings with some kind of mushroom and pickles???

    • Woman Restated

      Thank you for stopping by! I will be happy to post my recipe soon! So nice to hear you’ve been to Poland! We love dumplings – I think you may be recalling sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi – this is our Christmas special.

  • Alex

    Chickpea flour is amazing right! I normally make tofu from it!! (Something I learned from travelling to Myanmar) but I gotta try your chickpea flour omelette!

    • Woman Restated

      Hey Alex! Whoa I’m mindblown, I had no clue about Burmese tofu made out of chickpea flour but I just googled it and I LOVE IT! You just made my life a little better! 😀 Thanks so much!

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