FOOD | The Vegan Starter Kit

You may remember that this time last year I was preparing to take part in Veganuary 2016, which involved me going vegan for the entire month of January.

Only, I didn’t actually prepare all that much. I printed off some recipes, I looked up what foods were accidentally vegan and that’s about it – which made the whole transition pretty damn hard, if I’m honest.
Unsurprisingly, I’m choosing to take on the challenge again this January. But, unlike last year, I’m going to be a lot more prepared. Now that I’ve done it the one time, I know how important it is to put together meal plans and do big shops in advance.

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I’ll likely put together quite a few posts related to both Veganuary and preparing for Veganuary, but for now I’m sharing something I wish I knew when I first chose to go vegan: a vegan starter kit.
And even though we’re still a few days away from 2017, now is about the time to start thinking about what basic go-to products you should be getting in. I’ve already put together an online shop and if you’re choosing to try Veganuary or go vegan entirely, this is something you should be doing too.

It might sound silly, but it’s well worth doing a shop now or putting in an online shop. Last year I left it really last minute, so by the time I went to order my food, no delivery slots were left until around the 3rd. Not many shops were open on New Year’s Day, I was hungover, hadn’t really thought about anything in advance and certainly had no vegan products in my house. I tried to buy some basics from the local shop (and failed, I accidentally bought things that weren’t vegan) and eventually succumbed to a bowl full of rice, which was okay in the end as I was hungover and not starving, but it still wasn’t ideal.

You don’t want your first day of being vegan to be stressful and you don’t want to leave your shopping until really late, resulting in having nothing to eat at all on your first day – trust me!

Therefore, here is my vegan starter kit; aka basic products you should have in your kitchen for the moment you turn vegan.

Please note, I am not an expert, but these are the types of products I wish I had in my kitchen ready in advance and are also the kind of products I used over and over again during my month of being vegan.

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Also please note that, for ease, all these products are from Tesco, totalling to £13.36.
The basics are, of course, the Vitalite dairy free butter, Tesco Wholemeal bread, Violife cheese and Alpro almond original milk. Technically, you could do a whole month of being vegan with just these four products (though it would be terribly boring), making things like cheese sandwiches and using the milk for cups of tea. The butter and the milk is a massive staple, so these are things I’d stock up on. The cheese is about as good as a vegan alternative gets – it’s still not amazing and isn’t ideal for cooking but it’s tasty with other products and has been the best I’ve found so far. It’s notoriously hard to find a nice vegan cheese in the UK, especially if you’re looking for mozzarella or something. Finally, the bread is just what I’m ordering and can be substituted. I’ve chosen wholemeal as it’s just that bit more healthy, although I prefer white bread overall, this bread is used in a recipe I’ll be trying. A lot of bread is actually vegan, but it helps to check Tesco’s vegan friendly food list here just to be sure.
These are just a few staples that come up a lot in vegan recipes, depending on what you’re cooking. Butterbeans are used loads and are a good source of protein – something you’ll want to be stocking up from, as you’ll be losing protein by not eating meat. They’re especially good for curries, chili and soups. Organic plain flour is another must-have if you’ll be doing a lot of baking and Tesco free-from milk yogurt is another staple for breakfast items like smoothies, fruit filled yogurts etc. It’s also useful to thicken up sauces in recipes too.
Nakd bars were my savour when I went vegan last time so there’s no doubt I’ll be stocking up on these again. The Bakewell Tart flavour is the best (although they’re all nice) – but be warned! For some reason in my local Tesco, this flavour isn’t stocked with the rest of the Nakd bars and is instead stocked alongside a couple of other flavours in the baking aisle. I have no idea why but, alas, if you have the same problem as me, it’s worth asking a member of staff where this particular flavour is kept because it’s so yummy. Avocados aren’t really a necessity either, but they go with so much and I actually relied on these a lot towards the end of last January. I’d often have a filling lunch or tea of avocado on toast and found this was my perfect go-to meal if I was in a rush or couldn’t be bothered to cook – it’s super tasty but can also be really filling too.
So, there you have it. A vegan starter kit including necessities, a few baking products and a couple of treats too for under £15. As a whole, most of these items should be on your shopping list week-in-week-out, except for things like the flour which last longer or anything you buy in bulk.
Other items include lots of fruit and vegetables, and I personally like to still buy some crisps, like salted tortilla chips (delicious with guacamole) and a lot of Walkers crisps which are surprisingly vegan and good for home comforts and junk food.
Are there any basics I’ve missed out? Let me know with a comment!
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