What's in My Fridge and Pantry

At long last, I’m sharing my food staples! This is a top thing people are curious about over on my Instagram. I’ve put off writing it because it feels like it would be so boring for you to read, essentially, my grocery list (peanut butter… oats… are you still awake?) but the funny thing is that I LOVE reading other people’s lists of what foods they stock and consume regularly. I’m definitely that weirdo peeking in other people’s grocery carts, and wondering what they’ll be cooking later and just generally what their personal story is. 

Now I’m tempted to write a blog post musing on what exactly it is about the everyday of other people’s lives that is so fascinating (is it because it’s interesting when something that feels ordinary to us, like pantry staples, is different for others? Is it because the everyday of every day is what really makes up our lives and we instinctively want to connect with people on this real level? Is it because food and eating are something we do multiple times a day and they tell such an intimate story about who someone is?)

Okay, I will not write that much more interesting (to me) blog post. Instead I will just write a boring (to me) list of our food staples. One caveat: our staples naturally evolve a little as our tastes and habits do. Something that’s on this list now might not be in two years, or may not have been two years ago. And some items are more “sometimes” items—they’re not exactly staples in the sense that we always have them, but if we have them often enough, I’m including them (as determined by my whim in the moment I considered it… there is no rigorous assessment process here). 

A Trout Lake farmers market haul: blueberries, two loaves of sourdough, cherries, new potatoes, spinach, arugula, parsley, cauliflower, English peas

A Trout Lake farmers market haul: blueberries, two loaves of sourdough, cherries, new potatoes, spinach, arugula, parsley, cauliflower, English peas

A few other points: although we can’t lay claim to being a zero waste family, we are conscientious of minimizing excess packaging—this list is mostly low waste, too, especially if you skip the produce bags, take advantage of bulk dispensers, and opt for reusable glass containers. We try to choose organic and local when it makes sense (this isn’t always an easy call—I usually go for the local seasonal apples over the certified organic imported apples in plastic bags, for example, but what’s “best” isn’t always clear and I try not to stress over it). I keep the dirty dozen in mind when buying produce. In the summer, we grow our own kale, lettuce, tomatoes, and whatever else we’re feeling (this summer we grew potatoes!) We live in a densely populated area so we find it easy to shop around at produce markets, health food stores, farmers markets, and a discount supermarket. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

And now, our list of food staples:

Sauces and Spreads

  • Earth Balance (vegan butter)

  • Miso (for sauces, soups)

  • Vegan mayo (we love Vegenaise)

  • Dijon mustard (for sandwiches, dressings)

  • Ketchup (purchased under duress for my kids)

  • Tahini (for hummus and sauces/dressings)

  • Peanut butter (for toast, oatmeal, smoothies, and peanut sauces… peanuts are actually a legume, did you know that?)

  • Maple syrup

  • Soy sauce or tamari

  • Toasted sesame oil

  • Hot sauces

  • Marinara or jarred tomatoes/passata

Seasonings

  • Lemons and limes

  • Vinegars: red or white wine, balsamic, rice, and apple cider (I know that might seem like a lot, but I use vinegars all the time to add acidity and flavour to meals and in salad dressings)

  • Iodized sea salt and finishing salts

  • Peppercorns in a pepper mill

  • Nutritional yeast

  • Red pepper flakes

  • Cumin, coriander, oregano, basil, smoked and regular paprikas, garlic and onion powders (for when I’m too lazy to chop), mustard and cumin seeds (for dal/curry), turmeric, thyme, sage (essential for Thanksgiving / Christmas meals), cinnamon, cardamom

  • Vanilla

Nuts and seeds

  • Cashews

  • Walnuts

  • Pumpkin seeds

  • Hemp seeds

  • Flax seeds

  • Chia seeds

  • Sesame seeds (toasted)

  • Rotate: raw almonds, tamari or lemon roasted almonds, pecans, pistachios

Snacks and sweets

  • Popcorn

  • Dark chocolate

  • Medjool dates (for eating straight) and regular dates (for sweetening milks and smoothies)

  • Dried fruit (rotate: mango, apricots, raisins…)

  • Whole grain cereal (once in a while for breakfast, sometimes for an evening snack)

Other

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Arrowroot powder (for thickening sauces and stir fries)

  • Nori sheets (for brown rice sushi… my son’s fave)

  • Coconut milk

  • Pickles

  • Sauerkraut

  • Baking soda and powder (for baking)

  • Cocoa powder

Legumes

  • Black beans (for rice and beans, tacos, bowls, black bean brownies)

  • Pinto beans (for rice and beans, tacos, bowls, pasta)

  • White beans (for sauces/dips, pasta, bowls, sautéed with lemon and garlic 

  • Chickpeas (for hummus, chickpea curry, chickpea salad sandwiches)

  • Red lentils (for soup/dal, to thicken chili)

  • Brown lentils (for curry, pasta, stews, soups)

  • Chickpea flour (for savoury pancakes, to thicken gravy)

  • Tofu

Grains

  • Whole grain and/or semolina pasta

  • Ramen or rice noodles (for stir fries and soups)

  • Brown jasmine rice (for bowls, stir fries, and sushi)

  • Oats (for oatmeal and granola)

  • Quinoa (this isn’t actually a current staple—we ate this at least weekly for a few years but haven’t eaten it in about six months. Maybe it’ll become a staple again!)

  • Whole grain bread—preferably sprouted or sourdough (at home, we often have toast/sandwiches for lunch)

  • Whole wheat flour

  • All-purpose flour

Vegetables

  • Onion and garlic

  • Kale

  • Carrots

  • Lettuce

  • Mushrooms (portobello, shiitake, or if in season, chanterelle or morel)

  • Frozen peas

  • Frozen corn

  • Red, orange, or yellow peppers (for snacks)

  • Green peppers (for cooking)

  • Broccoli or cauliflower

  • Cucumber (for snacks)

  • Tomatoes (mostly only in the summer)

  • Stir fry greens, like bok choy or napa cabbage

  • Avocado (not sure if this fits better on the fruit list?!)

  • Potatoes or sweet potatoes

  • Beets (Arden likes to put them in smoothies for their athletic benefits)

  • Whatever else is in season (asparagus! rhubarb! chard! arugula! radishes! zucchini! squash! Brussels sprouts!)

Fruits

  • Late spring / early summer: berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries)

  • Late summer: stone fruits (nectarines, cherries, plums, peaches, apricots)

  • Autumn: apples, pears

  • Winter: apples, pears and oranges

  • Winter and early spring: frozen berries

  • Year round: bananas

  • Sometimes: melons, grapes, kiwis, mangos, pineapples

Beverages

  • Tap water (we use a filter to remove chlorine)

  • Coffee

  • Loose leaf black and green tea

  • Mineral water (great source of calcium and magnesium, and so tasty!)

  • Soymilk (mostly for the kids—I make my own milks for tea. We buy unsweetened and they have it as-is on cereal or in oatmeal, or sweetened with maple syrup to drink.)


There you have it! A (hopefully) comprehensive list of what’s in our fridge, freezer, and pantry. I’m sure your staples list will look different than mine based on your preferences, location, family composition, and how often you cook. But I hope this helps you imagine what a high-volume plant-based family kitchen looks like!