Stock Your Vegetarian Kitchen
If you are a vegetarian cook or are planning to have more vegetarian meals, then you need to have a well stocked pantry. Having the ingredients you need on hand will make your life as a vegetarian cook easier.
First comes the planning. Take some time to plan out the meals for the week as this will help you to write up your shopping list or take stock of what you have on hand.
Breakfasts are probably the easiest meal to plan because you probably don't need a recipe. Standard vegetarian breakfasts include cereal with soy, nut or rice milks; non-dairy cheeses; scrambled tofu (might need a recipe for this); muffins or bagels with peanut butter and jam.
Lunch doesn't have to be complicated either. If you take a bag lunch to work or school try sandwiches, pita bread or tortillas filled with your favorite vegetables and spreads. You can add fruit and cookies for those who want to add dessert.
Dinner can be the time for experimenting with new recipes. There are plenty of recipes that include everything from beans and rice to tofu and a variety of vegetables and seasonings.
Snacks aren't complicated and can include such items as trail mix, fresh fruit, muffins, vegetables and dip, popcorn and bagels. With a little planning and a good shopping list, eating more vegetarian meals can be simple and easy.
Every good vegetarian pantry should contain a stock of beans and legumes. They can be used in soups, chili or casseroles. There are many kinds of beans from garbanzos to navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils and split peas. They can be either dried or canned and for the cook with not a lot of time, instant dried legume dishes are available.
Tofu is another staple in the vegetarian kitchen. This is a wonderful convenience food and very versatile. Tofu comes in different textures from soft to extra-firm. Tofu can be used in stir fries, baked, made into patties, as a sandwich filling, in desserts including puddings and cakes as well as mayonnaise and creams.
Whole grains including wild and brown rice, millet and pastas are another staple in the vegetarian kitchen. If you want to try something different go for bulgur, couscous and other grains that you might not normally try. There are lots of excellent recipes using rice and pastas so plan on having a variety of these items available.
Frozen foods are another staple to have on hand. You will find everything from frozen bread dough to pizza crusts and vegetables available in the local supermarket. You will also find veggie pies and pockets, veggie burgers, patties and wieners.
All great cooks stock a variety of spices and herbs. Vegetarian cooks are no different.
If you are a baker there are a few vegan or vegetarian ingredients you are going to want to have on hand. This will include flour and sugar (including agave nectar or brown rice syrup), baking power, baking soda, vanilla and raw organic cocoa powder.
In order to take your stir fries and casseroles to the next level you will need to have soy sauce, miso, tahini and vegetable broth (either canned or powdered). Spices and herbs are another staple in the vegetarian pantry. The main seasonings to include are basil, black pepper, cayenne, chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic and onion powder, oregano, red pepper flakes and sea salt.
Oils play an important role in stir fries and casseroles. Choose organic where ever possible and keep the following on hand: dark sesame oil, extra-virgin olive and a light non GMO vegetable oil. Vinegars are also important and you should have balsamic, red and white wine as well as rice vinegar if you like to do Asian-style cooking.
If you keep a running shopping list handy you can add items you find in a new recipe or are have run out of in your pantry. Look through your favorite vegetarian cookbooks and magazines on a regular basis for menu ideas.
There are also lots of vegetarian, vegan and raw food websites that can give you lots of ideas for meal planning. Stock your pantry with the basics and you will be able to enjoy more vegetarian meals.
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