By: Monti Carlo, ZENB Chef-in-Residence
Veganuary is here, friends, and ZENB is making it easy to add more veggies to your diet! Going meatless can be tasty and fun, but there's definitely some planning involved. The first step? Choosing the right ingredients for your pantry.
Here are ZENB’s five simple tips for building the perfect meatless grocery list.
1. Pack In the Protein
Protein is an important part of a balanced diet, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to come from meat. During Veganuary, you can score loads of protein from ancient grains and legumes. Bonus: Uncooked quinoa and lentils can last a couple of years in the pantry if stored properly. Of course, vegan meat replacements like tempeh, seitan, and tofu are also great sources of protein. They stay fresh for about 5-8 days in the refrigerator and even longer if frozen. Another great protein-packed pantry staple is ZENB Pasta! It’s made from 100% whole yellow peas and has a shelf life of about 8-10 months. Want to really level up your Veganuary game? Check out some of ZENB’s quick, easy, and delicious meatless recipes.
2. Get Nutty
Nut butters, like almond butter, peanut butter, and macadamia nut butter, are a great way to get a dose of healthy fats in your food. Score: They also add more protein to your diet! Just make sure you’re buying the best kind. At the grocery store, flip the jar around and make sure they list just one ingredient: “nuts”. (Sometimes they add a pinch of salt too, which is okay.) You might also consider picking up a nut-based condiment like tahini, which is made from toasted sesame. If you’ve never tried it, it’s great drizzled on top of grain bowls, used as a dip for veggies, or used to create a creamy cheese sauce like the one in my fave, ZENB Vegan Tahini Mac & Cheese.
3. Spice Things Up
There’s a reason people say, “It’s time to spice things up!” When things get dull, adding different herbs and spices to your culinary repertoire keeps things fun and interesting. It’s the easiest way to enhance the taste, aroma, and flavor of your meals.
For delicious meatless food, add these traditional spices to your grocery list: cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, paprika, and garlic powder. Having some dried herbs, like basil, oregano, parsley, and cilantro, also kicks up the flavor. Feeling a little daring? Consider adding some chili flakes, tajin, curry powder, or garam masala to the grocery list.
By the way, make sure you get the most out of your spices by keeping them in a cool dark area, avoiding direct sunlight or heat. (Please don't store them anywhere near your stove.) A cabinet, cupboard, pantry, or drawer all work well.
4. Eat the Rainbow
We’ve all heard this one before, but the sentiment still rings true. Make sure to buy and eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables throughout Veganuary. Fruits & veggies provide key nutrients to your diet while also giving your dishes extra texture and flavor — not to mention a POP of beautiful color.
When picking your produce, always look for signs of freshness, like bright colors and fragrant smells. And remember, soft spots are for loved ones, not produce. Produce is seasonal, so during January you are more likely to find heartier items like beets, turnips, kale, and cauliflower. Lemons, oranges, and grapefruit are also winter faves.
5. Fresh + Bulk
Eating a meatless diet with lots of fresh fruits, veggies, grains, and legumes requires a bit of balance in your shopping. Many Veganuary pantry staples, like quinoa and nut butters, have great shelf lives and can be purchased in bulk. Fill your cart early on to last you the whole month. Other items, like produce or meat substitutes, don’t stay fresh for very long. They work best when purchased in small quantities to ensure you use them up while they’re still at their peak.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a bit more vegetarian or you’re vegan-curious. Perhaps you’re already a veteran of plant-based eating. No matter where you’re at in your Veganuary journey, don’t forget that plant-based cooking can be simple, fun, and convenient!
With these five simple pantry stock-up tips, a little practice in the kitchen, and ZENB’s recipes for crave-worthy plant-based meals, you’re going to win Veganuary! Keep us posted on our Insta. We love to see what you’re cooking!
Monti is a Puerto Rican Chef, Food TV host, and food writer. She is the senior editorat Budget Bytes and is currently serving as Chef-in-Residence at ZENB where she contributes her culinary knowledge and hosting expertise to culinary content.