As most of you will be aware, I’m not fully vegan but I almost always cook vegan food at home and reduce dairy when I can. This means that all of the ingredients I buy at home are vegan and bought with dairy-free cooking and baking in mind. Compared to meat or dairy-based recipes, different vegan recipes might call for different key ingredients, depending on the author’s preference. Keeping your cupboards quite so well stocked would not only be expensive and require more space than most of us have, but would inevitably lead to food waste in the long-run.
So how to have a well-stocked vegan kitchen that isn’t busting at the seams? And how to make sure we don’t waste any of it?
I recently stocked up my cupboards and had a thorough organise at the same time, so I got thinking about how to streamline them a little. This isn’t going to be a comprehensive guide to stocking a vegan kitchen but I wanted to share some tips and recommendations from my kitchen and a few thoughts on how to reduce food waste at the same time.
Cupboard: One important thing to remember is that a lot of ingredients have multiple uses so it pays to be unafraid of tweaking a recipe to suit what you have in stock. Coconut oil can be used in baking, for frying and in raw desserts, while apple cider vinegar can be used for dressings, to add flavour to soups and for baking. Therefore giving valuable cupboard space to a single bottle of apple cider vinegar makes much more sense than having multiple less versatile varieties. The same goes for grains such as amaranth and quinoa – they are high in nutrients and can be used in breakfasts, lunches and dinners!
Healthy baking: A lot of the goodies I use in baking are also items that have multiple uses. Goji berries are perfect since you can also use them to top breakfast cereals and the same goes for cacao. Ground flaxseed is a great egg substitute with other uses alongside, making it a much better option that a dedicated egg-substitute. Tahini is something of a dream ingredient since it works so well in dressings, sauces, dips, no-bake desserts and so much more!
Alternatives: Buying long-life dairy-free milk and cream goes a long way to avoiding food waste since you only have to worry about its freshness once it’s been opened. The same goes for this seitan that comes in a jar – and you can reuse the jar for storage after to keep something else fresh.
Treats: It’s not always possible to make your own and it’s not always possible to just pop out to a local shop and find something a) dairy-free and gelatine-free or b) not horrendously unhealthy. So, for me anyway, it pays to have a little stash of treats there for when I do inevitably want them. Something like a Nakd bar is a better bet than a pack of biscuits since they can be kept until you want them rather than being likely to go stale. Granted not all of the others here are anywhere near healthy, but they are at least free from artificial flavours and other nasties.
Once you do a have a more streamlined pantry, it’s still important to consider what you can do to cut down on fresh food waste. I asked a few lovely food bloggers to share their top tips for reducing food waste:
“Save all of your vegetable scraps (onion ends, peelings, stalks etc) in a freezer bag in the freezer. Once full tip into a pan, add a bay leaf and some salt and pepper and cover with water. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 2 hours. Strain into a container and you have vegetable stock. You can then freeze it (I use large old clean yoghurt pots) until you need it.”
– Mel at avirtualvegan.com
“Bread you made yesterday, or even bought bread that you forgot to freeze and has got a bit dry, is great as a toast. If you have baguette or buns that don’t fit in a toaster throw them in the oven at 150 C degrees for a few minutes and they will come out crispy and tasty. If you have leftover toasts, grind them in your food processor to create breadcrumbs and save for a later use.”
-Moran at Vegan High Tech Mom
“Legumes are a staple in my kitchen. I like to buy them dried, since they’re cheaper that way and take up less cabinet space. I also think they end up having better texture than canned. When I’m ready to use them I cook a big batch and freeze any extras for later use. If I’ve got a LOT of extra I divide it into 1/2 to 1 cup size bags before freezing, so I can thaw out as many bags as I need when I’m ready.”
-Alissa at Connoisseurus Veg
“Probably the MOST important task you can do to help your grocery budget is meal planning. Not only will you eliminate food waste, last minute trips to the grocery store and eating out, but you will get healthier meals on the table and spend far fewer dollars in the long run.”
-Tracey at Keepin’ it Real
Do you have any tips for keep your cupboards well stocked while avoiding waste?
All of the lovely vegan treats you see above are from Ocado’s brand new dedicated vegetarian shop – a curated selection of over 600 meat-free items. Ocado kindly sent me a voucher to test out the new store and I can safely say I was overwhelmed by how good the selection of goodies was. It’s also possible to filter by vegan products only, making it seriously stress-free!