Want to know the secret to saving money and staying healthy and happy all winter long?

Hint: it involves your pantry!

Stocking your home with pantry essentials prevents impulse buying and ordering-in, eating unbalanced meals and running out of ingredients for dinner. Keeping key items on hand, like spices, rice, beans and dried noodles, means you’re always only a few short steps away from a great vegan meal.

It can be difficult though for new vegans to know what an “essential” pantry item is. Remember for both money and spaces purposes, you don’t need a full pantry to have an efficient one. Choose some of the items listed below to stock your pantry with that can be used in a variety of ways. The important thing is not to buy things that you don’t need or might not use. For example, if there’s zero chance of you cooking and eating the item this winter, don’t buy it. Buy what you need and use it up for pantry efficiency and meal (and budget) satisfaction. 

1. Dried Goods

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Dried fruits are great to help you round out a variety of dishes, and they provide high amounts of potassium and other minerals. Here are some to use to make raw treats and snacks, granola bars, to top cereal, or mixed into trail mix:

Raisins
Cranberries
Apple Rings
Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
Blueberries

2. Canned or Boxed Goods

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Many boxed and canned goods may not seem like the healthiest choice, but many are actually organic and GMO-free, and some are also BPA-free and allergen-free. These will help you round out your meals and cost pennies per serving. Stock up on some of these:

BPA free canned organic tomatoes to make soups, stews, and even sauces
Nut or seed milk to use in cereal, smoothies, sauces, and a variety of non-dairy dishes
-Dried or BPA-free canned soups to use for quick meals, or additions to other entrees like stews, fajitas, entrees, etc.
Dried cereals to use for quick morning meals, to add to vegan yogurt, mix into trail mix, or just use as a quick snack. Be sure to go for GMO-free and organic, lower sugar brands whenever possible to avoid dangerous ingredients like genetically modified corn and soy, pesticides, and chemicals.

Remember, for optimal health add something fresh into every meal you make this winter. Greens, veggies, nuts, seeds, all make excellent additions.

3. Grains, Pastas, etc.

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Use these to make a variety of dishes such as entrees, stuffings, breakfast dishes, and lunch options:

Rice
Quinoa to make Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers
Oats to make Coconut Overnight Oatmeal
-Organic whole wheat to gluten-free noodles
Couscous

Keep these complex carbohydrates in stock to make healthy, plant-based, filling meals in a pinch!

4. Beans and Legumes

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Beans and legumes are incredibly dense sources of potassium, protein, and fiber. They’ll help keep you full and give your meals a tasty, hearty texture. Use beans and legumes in your soups and stews too, or in entrees, wraps, ethnic dishes, or in vegan tacos. Here are some of my favorites:

Red Beans
Black Beans
Navy Beans
Pinto Beans
Chickpeas

5. Superfoods

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Superfoods make life more interesting, healthy, and take your recipes to new levels. You can use them in smoothies, raw treats and snacks, or even everyday dishes. Here are some of the ones richest in vitamins and minerals that are easy to keep in your pantry:

Hemp hearts
Ground flax
Chia seeds
Spirulina
Matcha

Check out our guide to finding superfoods, even if you’re on a budget!

6. Spices

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You can use spices in any way, shape, or form to create delicious meals of any kind. They make things tastier, and also bring extra nutrition since many are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These are some of the most healthy and affordable ingredients to use in all your meals:

Turmeric
Onion Powder
Paprika
Celery Seed
Garlic Powder
Pepper
Cinnamon
Cumin
Curries: yellow, green, red

The list of awesome, nutritious spices goes on and on. Don’t limit yourself to this list exclusively – get creative and spice things up!

7. Nuts

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Nuts and seeds are packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants. They can be used to make nut butters, sauces, granola bars, or just use them as snacks and toppings. Buy these from the bulk bin to save money, and be sure to store them in the fridge so they don’t spoil:

Almonds
Peanuts
Pistachios
Cashews
Pecans

Again, don’t stop with this list. Why not add some pine nuts or macadamia nuts into the mix, too?

It seems simple, right? Keep great vegan foods in your pantry and you’ll eat great vegan goods all winter long. Enjoy!

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Lead Image Source: How to Make Homemade Peanut Butter