7 Basic vegan staples
It’s easy to overthink cooking and eating in a new way. But really, all you need is the desire to incorporate some meatless meals into your life. Try not to overthink it, and go one meal at a time. There are plenty of easy vegan ingredients to buy. Here we’re talking about basic vegan staples that you wouldn’t bypass while preparing a delicious vegan recipe.
We’re fortunate that vegan staples are becoming more widely available in stores, and that’s what I refer to here as “neat cheats.” I love my meat alternatives and bottled vegan ranch dressing just as much as I love making my own staples. There many store-bought recipes and others that you must make for yourself, for example, you’ll be squeezing almond milk out of a nut bag. Let’s be realistic about this, nobody has the desire to whip up a batch of homemade mayonnaise every time you want to use some on a sandwich.
What follows are, in my opinion, vegan foods or ingredients you can find anywhere:
Vegan cheese has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past few years, and it’s exciting to see companies keep improving on their original recipes. Look and you shall find vegan cheese shreds, cheese blocks, cheese slices, you name it. There are different versions based on soy, tofu, cashews, and so on. Some have a sharper or a milder flavor, just like cheese made from cow’s milk. And similarly, it’s trial and error to find brands that you like best.
Ready-made cheese sauce can be a bit harder to find, so I’ve included my favorite cheese sauce recipe here. As for grated Parmesan cheese, there are many good brands, but the challenge is availability. If you can’t find it, it couldn’t be simpler to make—see here.
While homemade hummus is unbelievably easy to make, there are plenty of great store-bought options for everything from plain hummus to black bean hummus to edamame hummus. Whoever said the chickpea had to be the king of hummus?
Mayo has taken off when it comes to companies battling it out for the best vegan version. There are many good options to choose from, and the ingredients lists are blessedly short. Vegan mayo is generally labeled “vegan,” making it easy to spot.
The cheat of all cheats. Sure, you can make a delicious burger patty from scratch with ease, and I will show you how here. But if you are having a cookout and you forgot that your daughter’s best friend is now vegan and you want to be the host with the most, options are plentiful these days. Try to keep it non-GMO. For those with gluten sensitivity, meat alternatives can be tricky, but not impossible. May the fierce be with you.
Companies have been diligently making progress to offer consumers flavors we know and love, like blue cheese and ranch. Not for nothing, but don’t forget to look at the labels of dressings you already buy. You never know . . . maybe it’s vegan and you didn’t even notice!
I offer a quick recipe here, but there are times when you just want to throw together a last-minute taco night without messing up the blender. One less thing to clean, right?
There are several vegan brands on the market these days that are dangerously delicious. As with vegan cheeses, they are based on a range of ingredients—soy, coconut, cashews, and more—to suit your tastes and dietary needs. Store-bought yogurt can be heavy on the sugar, so if that’s important to you, be mindful when tossing your new favorite vegan yogurt into your shopping cart!