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veg pantry

I often get asked how we maintain a balanced diet. Much of this has to do with stocking the kitchen with the right ingredients to balance. When I am thinking up a recipe for the blog or just on a routine night, I try to find a new combo of the grain+protein+veggies formula. You can see below that we don’t eat much processed foods, but there is still enough diversity in there that we stay interested.

Dried Goods:

Our pantry is mostly filled with the raw ingredients, and very little processed food. We tend to make snacks from these raw ingredients. The only exceptions are the Annie’s cheddar bunnies and applesauce to go.

  • Pastas: cappellini, orzo, medium shells, linguine, penne, and verimicelli
  • Grains: barley, quiona, wheatberries, grits, brown rice, cous cous, pearled couscous, risotto, polenta, and jasmine rice
  • Beans: black, cannellini, garbanzo, pinto, refried, blackeyed peas, kidney beans, red and green lentils
  • Oats:  oatmeal, granola, trail mix
  • Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, pine nuts, and flax seeds
  • Nuts: whole almonds, sliced almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, peanuts, and cashews
  • Dried Fruit and Vegetables: cranberries, raisins, dried apricot, and dehydrated green beans (Serafina’s favorite)
  • Canned Foods: tomatoes, tomato paste, olives, pumpkin, bean sprouts, and watercress
  • Salsa and Tortilla Chips
  • Hazelnut Spread
  • Crackers
  • Tea and Coffee
  • Honey
  • Flour and Sugar
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies and Applesauce to Go

Spice Rack:

This section looks very similar to any other spice rack.

  • Olive Oil (including oils infused with lemon, rosemary, basil, and cayenne)
  • Grape Seed Oil
  • Canola Oil spray
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • White Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Black Strap Molasses
  • Sesame Oil
  • Sriracha Sauce
  • Hot Sauces
  • L’Herbes de Provence
  • Old Bay
  • Nori
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Spices: nutmeg, oregano, rosemary, basil, pepper, sea salt, cayenne, paprika, cumin, garam masala, cinnamon, pickling spices, peppercorns, tumeric, red pepper flakes, curry, etc.


Our freezer is usually pretty empty, but most of what we place in there are leftovers or raw ingredients that need to keep longer. We do keep a few meat substitutes and Dr. Praeger’s Littles for feeding Serafina on nights we get home late.

  • Tempeh
  • Edamame
  • Yeast
  • Homemade Tomato Sauce
  • Homemade Pizza Sauce
  • Gnocchi and Ravioli
  • Corn
  • Peas
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Wonton Wrappers
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Pesto
  • Veggie Substitutes: Burgers, Chicken nuggets, and Tofu Crumbles.


Looking into our refrigerator you would see mostly veggies and fruit, and the only thing jarred being condiments. There are a few key ingredients you need to keep around in order to help make well rounded vegetarian dishes, or at least also to help you experiment with new cuisines.

  • Firm Tofu
  • Tahini
  • Miso
  • Soy Sauce
  • Gochujang
  • Maple Syrup
  • Almond spread
  • Organic Ketchup
  • Mustards: honey, cranberry, dijon, dipping
  • Veganaise
  • Certified Humane Eggs
  • Milk
  • Irish Cheddar
  • Pecorino Romano
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Earth Balance- non dairy butter substitute
  • Organic Balsamic Dressing
  • Jams and Preserves
  • Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Whole Wheat Bread, Pita and Muffins
  • Veggie Staples: Carrots, Celery, Baby Spinach, Cucumbers, Tomatoes, Onions, Sweet Potatoes, Red Potatoes, Garlic (not all kept in fridge)
  • Seasonal Veggies
  • Seasonal Fruit

Hints on Maintaining an Affordable, Healthy Vegetarian Diet:

  • Keep your house stocked with these essentials, and follow your grocery store sale cycles
  • By keeping raw basics that can transform into snacks, such as keeping pita bread to make into chips, you slow down mindless snacking into purposeful eating.
  • Try nuts paired with fruit to help fill you up in between meals
  • Keep a few easy meals on your list that take less time then it does to order. Click here for kid-friendly easy weeknight dinners.
  • Plan out vegetable dishes by using them in the order they go bad.
  • Use beans and nuts as your meal base instead of pricey and processed meat analogues.
2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2010 8:43 am

    Wow, your kitchen sounds a lot like mine, and your pictures the other day inspired me to clean out all of the junk we haven’t been using (we donated it to the local food pantry). Please tell me you don’t make your own corn chips- I haven’t tried to do that yet. Pita chips are easy, but I am not sure how to go about corn chips. The only junk food we keep in the house is mixed nuts (Nelson can’t get enough of these) and some frozen yogurt. Nelson also likes frozen burritos for lunch at work, but I tend to stay away from those- way too much salt. What is interesting is that I know you all are getting an Ellwoods Thompson up in DC at some point, and they have a section of oils that you can use to fill tiny bottles with, if you don’t need a lot of a certain oil or vinegar- very useful! Always wine stocked up as well 🙂

  2. August 25, 2010 10:17 am

    I wouldn’t consider mixed nuts junk food, so I am with Nelson on this one. Nuts get such a bad wrap, but low-sodium nuts eaten in moderation they are just the ticket to a healthy diet! During the school year, I do buy an occasional frozen Amy’s burrito, but it is for when I am running late and flying out the door.

    I LOVE Elwood Thompson! When I lived in Richmond, I would walk around looking at all the bins of food. I usually ended up crossing the street to Ukrops or Kroger for the staples, I was a grad student scraping by after all! My cousin, who used to work there, told me they are coming up here, I will need to find out where, and advertise. Although it will be funny, because it won’t sit at the corner of Ellwood and Thompson!

    We don’t eat dessert, so I don’t really have dessert items. My one sweet tooth usually goes for ice cream, so for obvious reasons, I don’t keep it in the house. I have to be truly motivated to get some 😉 . We buy tortilla chips, but don’t eat them (as my best friend Fee says: the Minards aren’t really snackers). We keep them for emergencies, when friends stop by unexpected, hence the salsa in the pantry. Maybe buy corn tortillas, cut them like the pitas, cover them with oil and bake?

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