Being a student and a full-time foodie, I have two pantries - one in my flat in the city, and one back at home. I feel like a crazy nomad, often carting my powders and potions to-and-fro every few weeks in crinkled paper bags and big cardboard boxes. Living on a student budget can mean that fancy ingredients and imported produce is simply not an option, but that's no problem! You don't need to consume maca and marshmallow root at every meal to live a healthy, plant-based lifestyle.
Here I've complied an extensive list of what I like to keep handy in my pantry. This is not an exclusive summary, nor is it descriptive of my daily diet, but it's simply an example of foods you may like to try or keep handy if you're thinking of embarking on a wholefoods-laden diet. You may not be familiar with some of these, or perhaps you cannot access them where you live. This is purely to give a rough idea of how I've managed to survive (and thrive) as a vegan for the past 2+ years.
MY TOP TIPS FOR PURCHASING EDIBLE GOODS
1) BUY IN BULK
To me, it's important to purchase in bulk where possible - not only do you get better value for money in comparison with branded, pre-packaged goods, but it's a super easy way to avoid plastic packaging and ease your environmental impact. The organic shop that I frequent has paper bags instead of plastic, which is a fantastic alternative and helps to minimise waste that food packaging generates.
2) Go organic where possible
I could ramble on forever about the harms of consuming heavily-sprayed foods grown in chemical-dense soil, but I believe that you should do your own personal research and come to your own conclusion. I will simply tell you that organic food is important, not only for us but our ecosystem. The loss of bee populations is just one side effect that will have enormous impacts on the way we live in the future, unless we take personal responsibility and vote for the food we'd like to eat by spending our money in a way that reflects this. Organic foods may be more expensive, but they're almost always more nutritionally dense and of higher quality!
3) Support local brands and businesses
I love it when people who live in my city or country start small businesses selling products that they're proud of and love, so it only makes sense to support them! Not only is it a fantastic way to rejuvenate the local economy, but it also reduces the environmental impact of long-distance transportation that consuming foods from other countries entails (although realistically, many ingredients for local products are sourced from overseas). Some of my personal favourites from New Zealand include Pure Jungle acai powder, Vigour and Vitality stoneground nut and seed butters, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt, and Good Buzz kombucha.
4) Try to eat in season
These days, with the wide availability of foods from each and every corner of the globe, it's easy to be tempted by wedges of watermelon and bags of California oranges. It's important to pay attention to the origin of your food, and if possible, opt for locally grown produce. There are always going to be exceptions, such as quinoa and cacao, but if you have the choice between Fijian and Indian cinnamon, choose the one grown closest to where you are!
5) Make your own alternatives
I'm an enormous advocate for making everything from scratch, and milks and butters are absolutely no exception. I love making my own hazelnut and almond milk, as well as almond butters, and gluten-free flour blends. I have yet to try brewing my own kombucha, but it is certainly on the cards. As time passes, I will be posting more simple recipes, so check back frequently for updates on how to make your own alternatives in your very own kitchen! In addition, I strongly recommend planting simply fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and kale if you have the space and time, but that's another story for another day.
WHAT'S IN MY PANTRY?
RAW NUTS AND SEEDS
Toasted buckwheat groats
Long grain brown rice
Brown rice flour
Homemade hazelnut and almond milk
Apple cider vinegar
Tamari soy sauce
Pure maple syrup
OILS AND BUTTERS
Herbs, spices, and salts
Vanilla bean powder
Tea bags and leaves
Chicory and carob coffee substitute
Of course, I don't have each and every one of these items in my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer at all times, but they're always something I'll pick up if readily available and not too expensive. The items that are in italics are the ones I use most frequently.