Staple Plant Based Ingredient Guide For a Whole Food Plant Based Diet + Cranberry Green Smoothie
By Molly Patrick
Jan 12, 2019,
When you transition to eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet there are several things you learn from the get-go.
You find out that eating plant foods that you aren’t used to, like beans, whole grains, and cruciferous veggies makes you fart like a room full of 10-year-old boys (don’t worry, this doesn’t last).
You find out that eating a ton of fiber turns you into a poop machine (three awesome poops a day is normal for me).
You learn that batch cooking is a must in order to eat super healthy all week long.
You find out which of your friends and family are supportive rockstars and which ones are not.
You find out how much easier it is to cook without oil and that you don’t need it to cook with it after all.
You learn that “nooch” is slang for nutritional yeast and that it turns your pee bright yellow from all the vitamin B. Surprise!
You learn that hummus is good on anything you can think of and that every plant based eater loves the shit out of it.
And finally, you find out that in order to cook this way, your kitchen ingredients need a serious makeover.
If you follow our meal plans we give you a shopping list each week with exactly how much of each ingredient to purchase. So by simply following our plans, your kitchen will be stocked with all the essential plant based cooking staples over time.
Since the staples are packaged items that you will only use small amounts of each week, they will last anywhere from one to six months, depending on the item and how many people you’re cooking for. Once you have all the staples, you will just need to buy whatever fresh produce you need each week, along with any staple ingredient that you run out of.
If you don’t follow our meal plans and you’re doing this on your own, you will still have to stock up on the staples so you can make yummy whole food plant based meals. Side note, if you’re not on our meal plans, sign the hell up! You get a new meal plan every Friday, and the recipes are the best around. Ask our private Facebook group, they will tell you!
Whether you follow our plans or not, a well-stocked kitchen is a must when transitioning to a healthy plant based diet. To help you on your journey, I’ve put together a list of all the staple ingredients that you will need when cooking plant based.
The list is broken up into three categories: bulk, spices & herbs, and packaged. You won’t need all of these ingredients each week, but everything on this list keeps for a long time so when you do need them, they will be waiting for you.
BULK (in bins / purchased by the pound)
- Almonds, raw
- Beans, dried (all types but black, pinto and garbanzo beans are all good to have on hand / BPA-free cans are best)
- Cashews, raw
- Chia seeds
- Dates, dried
- Flax seeds, ground (or whole and blend yourself)
- Flour, almond
- Flour, brown rice
- Flour, whole wheat
- Hemp seeds, raw shelled (aka hemp hearts)
- Lentils, brown or green dried
- Nutritional yeast
- Oats, rolled (not instant)
- Oats, steel cut
- Pumpkin seeds, raw shelled
- Rice, brown
- Sesame seeds, brown
- Split peas, green dried
- Sunflower seeds, raw
- Walnuts, raw
Note: Store all nuts and seeds in your fridge or freezer so the oils don’t go rancid.
DRIED SPICES & HERBS (Look for bulk spices at your local health food store)
- Basil, dried
- Bay leaf, dried
- Black pepper
- Cardamom powder
- Cayenne powder
- Chili powder
- Chipotle chili powder
- Cinnamon powder
- Coriander powder
- Cumin powder
- Curry powder
- Dill, dried
- Dulse flakes or powder (dried Atlantic red seaweed powder / flakes)
- Garam Masala
- Garlic powder
- Ginger powder
- Marjoram, dried
- Mustard powder
- Nutmeg, ground
- Onion powder
- Oregano, dried
- Paprika, smoked
- Paprika, sweet
- Parsley, dried
- Red chili flakes, dried
- Sage, dried (rubbed)
- Tarragon, dried
- Thyme, dried
- Turmeric powder
- Artichoke hearts (jarred / packed in water)
- Applesauce (no sugar added)
- Arrowroot powder (aka arrowroot flour or arrowroot starch)
- Baking powder (aluminum-free)
- Baking soda (aluminum-free)
- Beans, canned (black, white, pinto, garbanzo and kidney are good to have on hand)
- Berries, frozen
- Bread, 100% whole wheat or sprouted grain (Ezekiel is my favorite brand)
- Broccoli, frozen
- Cauliflower, frozen
- Coconut aminos
- Corn kernels, frozen
- Edamame beans, shelled and frozen (organic)
- Green beans, frozen
- Hot sauce (no sugar or oil)
- Maple syrup (100% pure)
- Miso, white or yellow (look for this in the refrigerated section. Organic, aged for at least 2 years is best. Miso Masters is a good choice.)
- Mustard, dijon
- Mustard, yellow
- Non-dairy milk, unsweetened (soy milk is my favorite)
- Nut or seed butter (no added salt or sugar)
- Peas, frozen
- Sauerkraut, no vinegar (vinegar kills the beneficial bacteria that your gut loves)
- Soy sauce or tamari (low sodium)
- Spinach, frozen
- Tahini (sesame seed butter / roasted is less bitter)
- Tapioca flour (aka tapioca starch)
- Tomato paste
- Tomatoes, diced (canned)
- Tortillas, 100% whole wheat or sprouted grain (Ezekiel is my favorite brand)
- Tortillas, 100% corn or sprouted corn (Ezekiel is my favorite brand)
- Vegetable broth or stock (low or no sodium)
- Vinegar, apple cider (unfiltered)
- Vinegar, balsamic
- Vinegar, brown rice (not “seasoned”)
- Vinegar, red wine
- Vinegar, ume plum (the only ingredients should be ume plum, shiso and salt)
- Worcestershire sauce (make sure it’s vegan)
Tell me my dear, how many items on this list do you have in your kitchen? Talk to me in the comments below!
- 3/4 cup cold unsweetened non-dairy milk (175 ml)
- 3/4 cup cold water (175 ml)
- 2 packed cups spinach (80 g)
- 1/2 cup frozen chopped banana (230 g)
- 1/2 cup frozen or fresh cranberries (55 g)
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- Place all ingredients in your blender and blend until creamy and smooth.
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Amazing. Been doing WFPB no oil for 3 years. I had every single ingredient. Didn’t know about keeping nuts in fridge so will take care of that!
Whoot! high fives to a plant powered kitchen!
Only missing 10 – not bad!
Damn! Very impressive plant powered kitchen, indeed!
62 of the ingredients, I’m surprised!
Whoot! Feels so good, right?
I have everything listed and store my nuts and flours in the freezer. I love having a well stocked kitchen and knowing that I only have to buy produce each week. I now spend in month what i used to spend in fast food in a 2 week period. My credit card thanks you!
YOU are a badass!
I have all but 3! Now if someone would like to volunteer to organize my pantry for me…?
High fives! Your plant based kitchen game is TIGHT!
That’s funny you said that. This afternoon, I spent an hour putting my spices in 8 oz. BALL jars, and labeling them.
Is this a snack or a meal?
I usually have my green smoothie in the afternoon when lunch has worn off and an hour or two before dinner.
I buy the single serving packs of applesauce. They last a long time and you don’t have to open a jar that you might not use up in time.
Yup, yup, I usually do the same.
Awesome tip, thank you for adding it!
Wow! I’m so proud of myself after reading this list! I started way back with the very first meal plan. I’m in and out of purchasing the plans these days but continue to be a “dirty little batcher” Hahha! I have all but 5 ingredients on that list!! Whoo hoo! Go team dirty!!
That’s so rad, way to keep up with your plant based kitchen game!
Clickbait. I love WFPB. Your embedded sales pitch is offputting. I understand this may be your job and income source, but I personally believe letting your recipes stand for themselves should be your motivation. It felt like a hard sell to subscribe to your meal plans.
Hi Noel, Thanks for stopping by. At the top of every one of our blog posts is a button that allows you to skip right ahead to the recipe. Check it out. ~Karen
Thanks Maggie. No tortillas, tehini, Dulles, and about
four of the spices. It’s a great reference list. Spell checkers can be good for laughs. It changed the sea vegetable dulse to Dulles (above).
Easily amused Bonnie.
I didn’t read all the comments so do not know if anyone else asked this but can you give me more info about this, “(vinegar kills the beneficial bacteria that your gut loves)” but then you then have a list of different vinegars down the list?
Hi Joni, Basically sauerkraut that is sold in vinegar is pickled – it’s exposed to high heat and an added acid – this process destroys any beneficial bacteria that would otherwise be present. Sauerkraut sold in water is fermented because the natural bacteria is present and creates it’s own acidic (vinegar) taste. This article talks more about it. ~Karen
This Omni is only missing a dozen (Okay, a dozen, plus another 6 that I usually have but am out of at the moment)! I cook for a living and love experimenting and introducing people to new flavors, so I have a pretty eclectic kitchen, but I’m still so pleased to have so many WFPB basics! I’ve been wanting to dip my toe into this for nearly a year, and this will make it much easier. Thanks for the comprehensive list! <3
PS. Yesterday at my local natural food store, I asked about the difference in taste between regular liquid and coconut aminos. The super friendly associate didn't know, so he cracked open a bottle (assuring me he'd buy it, regardless), broke out little cups and poured each of us a couple of drops. I went back to the shelf and grabbed a bottle on the spot, adding it to the ume plum vinegar I was already buying. He and I looked at each other with a "Where has this been all my life?" and waxed rhapsodic for a couple of minutes, then I left. So, the store sold 2 bottles instantly, and my mind is STILL blown. I can't wait to use it!
I’m glad I finally got around to reading my Saturday Fuckery. Last week my pee was BRIGHT yellow and I could not figure out why. I told my husband about it at least 3 times and he could not care less! After reading this post and thinking back, I definitely ate more nooch than normal last week! Mystery solved.
Love the list provided. I know I have most of these items, but I’m definitely going to go through my stock to take an inventory and organize!
lol! Yes, mystery solved!
After having being a guest at family houses for over a year and not being home, I am happy to say it’s great to have this list and go shopping. I currently only have a couple (10) of the packaged items and spices / herbs and an organized pantry. I just got my foodi delivered and so it’s time to start batching it up. I have been using my juicer the last 2 weeks which always makes me feel healthier in an instant tasting all that goodness. Thanks for the list.
I’m so glad this was helpful!
My pantry is coming up to perfect. My only issue is the wheat-based items: I have been gluten free for 6 years now and I have an idea to slowly start reincorporating them but, oy, with the gut health issues lurking…. And no Chipotle pepper in our Dutch supermarkets??. Am on W W now till June and will sign up with you then. Really want the meal plans… ?
Hi Melané – Thanks for stopping by! I’m curious, did you use the list as a reference to build your pantry? If so, I hope it was helpful! It’s a tool that can be used to spread the cost of building the pantry out over time. The idea is to make building the WFPB pantry accessible to people who would otherwise not be able to allocate a large portion of their grocery bill to buying these staples all at once.
As far as grains that are related to wheat, as long as you don’t have an allergy to them (celiac – in which case, do not try to reintroduce them), going slow seems to be a good strategy. It’s easy to make a batch of a grain, like farro, and freeze it in small portions (maybe ice cube size) and then thaw, eat with a meal and test with just those small amounts building up over time.
We do have some people doing the Meal Plans who also use Weight Watchers (I’m assuming that is what you are referring to). If you join our private Facebook group you can search for posts that might be helpful so see how people are integrating the two and have an idea of how a transition will be for you. ~Karen
What a good idea to cube and add! I had considered eating a croissant ? but your suggestion is indubitably better. To be frank I am shit-scared of starting on bread again. I am indeed on Weight Watchers (oh, excuse moi, ‘wellness works’) but am not happy with the system and it doesn’t have the checks and balances I want. Also there are geographic constraints in the app which means I have to stick to a Dutch diet and I am not really into that kind of food… My subscription with them ends in June and then I’ll hop onto your train! Love your answering so quickly. Thanks!
From the bulk list I’m missing: ground flax seeds (but I have whole and a coffee grinder); almond and brown rice flour (never had a need for them); hemp seeds; millet, I’ve got oats but I don’t know if they’re rolled or steel cut. Either way, they make good porridge. I keep my bulk supplies of nuts in the freezer but I’d never heard of doing that for seeds. I’ll see if I can find room for them in there, there certainly isn’t in the fridge.
From the dried spices and herbs, I’m missing: Bay leaf (can’t taste anything from it so why buy it?); Cardamom powder (can’t even find the seeds as such let alone powder. I do have pods though.); I’ve never heard of chipotle chilli powder; dulse flakes; I mix my own garam masala when necessary.
As regards packaged, I’m missing: Artichoke hearts (rather expensive and I’ve never had a use for them); Apple sauce; I can’t find arrowroot anywhere. Theoretically, I make my own bread but I can’t get it to bake all the way through for some reason. No coconut aminos, I don’t recollect ever seeing them. I don’t need maple syrup, I’m sweet enough already :). I prefer my mustard to be English,and therefore yellow. I’ll have none of this French substitute. I’m glad to see peanut butter is allowed as I parctically live on that stuff. I thought vinegar was a necessary part of making sauerkraut? I’m not keen on tahini but I have used it in the past.
There, I’m sure that’s much more than you ever wanted to know.
I am very new to this way of eating. I stopped eating meats a few years ago but I am still in the process of cutting dairy derivatives as well. I have a good 70% of ingredients in the list, but I need to get the rest and order some that I can’t find in my city. I am loving this new journey I just started because I feel better.
Hi Tanya, Welcome! It sounds like you are well on your way and I’m so happy you are feeling better! This staple ingredient list is super handy when you are building your plant based pantry and aren’t able to find all of your ingredients locally. Eventually, you will have a transformed kitchen and you’ll look back in awe and be thankful you committed to the shift! ~Karen
Huh. I’m impressed. Even though I haven’t made the switch, my omni self regularly stocks and uses 50 (about 60%) of these items. I’m, currently, out of several items because I’m doing a pre-move purge, but I will re-stock with my usual healthy stuff and add a few new items when I get moved. I’m going to make a conscious effort to limit the unhealthy stuff, at the new place.
Thanks for stopping by, Maggie! Omni or vegan – all are welcome here! That’s great you already stock more than half the list!
Most people have very few items on the list when they embark on the journey to eat more plants, and it can be costly to purchase a bunch of the staple items all at once. Our thought is that having the list helps strategize buying the items over time, looking for sales and figuring out which stores carry items. This way the financial impact is spread out over time and trying out our free Trial Meal Plan, which includes a list of groceries to buy for the plan, is easier for newbies.
Have a smooth move! When you’ve got your kitchen setup going – stop back! We’ve got so many delicious free recipes based around ingredients on the list, we hope you’ll try a few!
MMM…so refreshing! I am trying a different smoothie from CFDG everyday and they aren’t disappointing! I didn’t know what the heck to do with the frozen cranberries in my freezer until now 😉 As far as the staples, I was surprised by how few packaged ones I keep on hand consistently. I downloaded the PDF, it’s a super reference!
Whooo hooooo! Excellent idea to try all of our smoothies.
So glad you are enjoying them 🙂
I’m currently out of pumpkin seeds, otherwise I have everything on the list!! I’ve been headed in the WFPB direction since March 2019. Every day gets better and better. I’m on this particular post because I was looking for green smoothie recipes after watching your Zoom May 13th on stress eating. I’ve been doing really well at just about everything you shared that day but wanted to watch because there is always something to take away, no matter how good I’m doing. This particular time I took away the importance of the green smoothie and because my kitchen is stocked so well, I’ve had one everyday for the past three days. Thank you!!
Yes, Beki! We’re so proud of you, you’re doing great! Molly loved doing the live session and always enjoys hearing that she’s been able to help someone on their WFPB journey. We’re here for you cheering you on!
I never tried any smoothies yet. I just joined the meal plan today. I would say I have a good 90% of the items on the list. I have been WFPBNO for 19 days so far. I can not wait to start the meal plan. I have been throwing out so much stuff because you have good intentions and life gets in the way or I did not know what to do with the stuff. ?. Thank you so much for all you do for us.
You can do this, Yvonne! We’re here for you and happy to help in whatever way we can. You can always get in touch with us here. As far as smoothies go, Molly has lots of great smoothie recipes up on the blog. Happy eating! Xo
I’ve got all but 5 of the listed staples above and use them on the regular!
Ume Plum Vinegar
Raw Sunflower Seeds
Brown Rice Flour
Brown Rice vinegar-I didn’t know there was such a thing? (I have “regular” and seasoned rice vinegar)
Brown rice vinegar is similar to the “normal” rice vinegar you purchase in the grocery store. The big difference is that the vinegar is distilled from brown rice instead of white rice, but you can certainly use the more conventional version to substitute for brown rice vinegar. However, we don’t recommend using “seasoned” rice vinegar as it usually has unnecessary additions (sugar and salt).
Shoot us an email if you have any other questions and we’ll be happy to help you out!
Any chance anyone has created a shared Google sheet with the list yet? I would love to be able to have it in that format and then save it to my google drive. I could just type it all in myself, but I’m betting someone has done the work already……
Then I could add a column listing at which store each ingredient is available and whether I’m out.
Hi all, I am just starting out on this adventure. I do not have some on the list but I am working on getting all of it. I did pick up some things that were on the list while I was just out shopping. I am allergic to coconut so I am curious what the coconut aminos are for and if there is a substitute. Thanks for any assistance
Hi Kristy – Coconut aminos are similar to soy sauce and are used for adding complexity, umami, and saltiness to recipes. These are the suggested substitutions: soy sauce blended with a little water and a dried date for sweetness. You can also sub equal parts low sodium soy sauce and maple syrup. Plain soy sauce or tamari works too, but I would add a little less than what’s called for and then taste.