Have you ever wondered how to make cooking tasty plant-based meals a little easier? The first step towards stress-free cooking is a well-stocked storecupboard, full of the all-important basics.
We’ve compiled a list of our go-to ingredients, which are all used on repeat throughout our recipes. Simply stock up on these core items and fill in the gaps with fresh produce — this will hopefully make your weekly shopping a whole lot easier, with no more last-minute supermarket dashes.
Switching to a plant-based diet may sometimes be perceived as costly, but it doesn't have to be — these essential ingredients will last for a while and many of them are total flavour-bombs (the less you use, the better the investment).
1. Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is a form of dried, deactivated (so it cannot ferment) yeast that’s, you guessed it — highly nutritious. It contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein; and it’s packed with fibre, B vitamins and minerals including zinc. ‘Nooch’ (as it’s affectionately known) is loved by plant-based eaters and omnivores alike for its rich, savoury, cheesy flavour and versatility.
Note: nutritional yeast doesn’t naturally contain vitamin B12, but fortified versions are widely available.
We use ours in creamy béchamel-style sauces, or sprinkled on top of dishes for a crispy cheese-like topping. Once opened, nutritional yeast keeps well at room temperature for several months.
This bowl of creamy pasta is a delicious winter warmer. Cauliflower leaves sauteed in olive oil add a fresh green flavour and cut back on kitchen waste. View Recipe
We love this plant-based pesto lasagne because it combines simple, fresh ingredients to create a masterpiece of flavour, packed full of veggies. The smooth and creamy white sauce sits perfectly on top of the thick green pesto, layered between sheets of lasagne - it’s all about the layers in this dish! We top it with nutritional yeast which gives it that crisp golden top when it’s baked to perfection, and love to serve it alongside some extra steamed greens.View Recipe
Sweet potatoes and chickpeas are roasted with paprika and cumin, then tossed through kale with a creamy cashew dressing and finished with a sprinkling of parsley, chilli flakes and black pepper — simple, creamy and delicious.View Recipe
Miso is a soy bean paste, fermented with cultures from barley, rice or (more) soy beans. A staple in Japan for centuries, miso is now used as a seasoning in kitchens across the globe. It comes as close to a ‘secret’ ingredient as there is — using just a small amount can add richness and complexity to a wide range of recipes, from salad dressings to cakes and biscuits. As a fermented ingredient, miso is also a great source of beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, which support healthy digestion.
There are several varieties of miso, but all boast a rich umami taste. The darker varieties have a stronger flavour; whereas yellow or white miso have a relatively mild, sweet flavour. Our go-to variety is brown rice miso, which we love for its salty, earthy and intense flavour.
These smoky miso cauliflower steaks are bursting with flavour, with a paprika, miso, soy and maple syrup dressing and a sprinkle of coriander, chilli and sesame seeds. Serve with a fresh salad, baby new potatoes and a dollop of creamy hummus. View Recipe
This is a simple lunch packed full of flavour and veggies. The miso mushroom sauce is thick and delicious, with the wilted spinach adding some freshness and the sliced spring onions adding a crunch. We love to serve this on thick slices of sourdough.View Recipe
These miso mushroom coconut noodles are our idea of heaven. A creamy flavoursome broth loaded with spring onions, sesame seeds and chilli flakes. They really take just 15 minutes or so to make, we think you'll love them too.View Recipe
Looking for a simple dinner that delivers on taste? This miso aubergine bake packs a punch in terms of flavour. It’s an easy one-pan dinner that requires minimal fuss — great for sharing with friends or family. View Recipe
An essential ingredient in Middle-Eastern cuisine (and the Deliciously Ella back catalogue), tahini is a savoury paste made from ground sesame seeds. Dark varieties are made from toasted sesame seeds; those that use untoasted seeds are lighter in colour, but both can be used interchangeably. Tahini has a smooth, creamy texture, rich flavour, plus it’s a great source of healthy fats and calcium — we use it time and time again in our recipes.
Once opened, tahini keeps well at room temperature for several months. It’s worth noting that, as with many nut and seed butters, the oils can separate over time. This can be fixed by giving it a good stir before use, or avoided by keeping the jar stored upside down. Use tahini to add richness to hummus and other dips, in baking or add to salad dressings. You can even use it as you would a nut butter — it’s delicious drizzled over porridge or spread on toast.
These tahini tomatoes on toast are the perfect meal to make when you want something a little more special that you can pull together quickly. The tahini and olive oil create a creamy sauce for the tomatoes, while the garlic and lime juice add a delicious flavour. View Recipe
This recipe turns the humble cauliflower into a beautiful centrepiece. Perfect for a family meal or group gathering, make a dramatic entrance with the cauliflower served whole, then carve it up at the table. View Recipe
This fresh, luscious dressing makes every dish it goes with taste creamy and indulgent.View Recipe
We’ve taken our much-loved sesame cauliflower bites (truly one of the best things that’s ever come out of our kitchen!) and transformed them into a delicious, balanced meal that’s perfect for summer gatherings with friends. The tahini sauce doubles up as a creamy salad dressing and is also used to coat the cauliflower bites — saving you time! View Recipe
4. Nut butter
Almond, peanut, cashew, hazelnut — whichever nut you prefer, a jar of nut butter is non-negotiable for us. An excellent source of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats, simply add a dollop of your favourite nut butter to meals or snacks to make them extra satisfying.
Nut butter is endlessly versatile: use as a dip for apple slices; drizzle some on your morning porridge; add to a smoothie; spread on toast and top with fresh fruit; or add a spoonful to curries for richness. As with tahini, the natural oils may separate over time. This can be remedied by stirring well or avoided by keeping the jar stored upside down.
This tofu and chickpea curry is perfect to make when you're looking for some familiar flavours. The coconut sauce is thick and creamy thanks to the ground almonds and coconut milk, while the curry paste adds a delicious flavour from the ginger, cumin and coriander.View Recipe
Gooey, peanutty and packed with ginger, soy and lime, this easy traybake is the dream midweek meal. It comes together in minutes, all you need to do is pile the ingredients onto the tray and let the lentils and aubergines absorb all the flavours as they slowly bake. Serve with crispy, crunchy toasted peanuts, spring onion and chilli.View Recipe
We love almond butter on almost anything, and this stir-fry is no exception. Noodles are mixed with vibrant, crunchy vegetables in a creamy almond butter and tamari sauce. A quick, easy and satisfying supper or lunch.
Feel free to substitute any noodles or vegetables you like. View Recipe
Naturally sweet and creamy, this nourishing smoothie makes the perfect snack or light breakfast. View Recipe
5. Maple syrup
Maple syrup is a natural sweetener made from the concentrated sap of North American maple trees. It’s most often used as a sweet sauce for pancakes, waffles, porridge or French toast, and also in baking. Its uses go beyond the sweet though — it often features in our savoury recipes to balance out salty flavours. It’s important to note that food should taste good and be enjoyed; healthy eating doesn’t mean deprivation, so a drizzle of this deliciously sweet syrup on a meal can be just the thing to amp up the satisfaction factor. Although maple syrup can be expensive, its intense flavour means just a small amount is needed, so it’s worth the investment.
This delicious salad is so much more than the sum of its parts — sweet roasted squash, crunchy toasted pecans and fresh kale all combine to make a supremely satisfying lunch. View Recipe
Turn a bowl of simple veggies into a mouth-watering salad with this quick and easy dressing. We love it drizzled over simple grated carrots with a sprinkle of seeds for a crunchy side dish; or served over cold, leftover roasted potatoes. This dressing keeps well in the fridge for up to 1 month. View Recipe
A great dish when you fancy something tasty in an instant; in the time it takes to cook the brown rice, the tofu has been marinated and pan-fried to sticky perfection. This recipe is easily doubled to feed a family and any leftovers make a great lunch the following day. View Recipe
These American fluffy pancakes are the ultimate weekend breakfast and take no time at all to make. They're thick and fluffy, and taste delicious with the fresh blueberries added into the pancake mix. We love to enjoy these topped with another handful of fresh blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup.View Recipe
6. Tins of beans, chickpeas and lentils
An excellent source of fibre and plant-based protein, no home pantry is complete without a few tins of beans. Perfect for mealtime emergencies, a tin of beans means you’ll always have a midweek lunch or dinner up your sleeve. Blitz them into hummus, add to curries, stews, soups and salads, or make your own homemade beans on toast. Unopened, they last in the cupboard for years, so why not pick up an extra tin or two during your weekly shop?
A warming bowl of chilli makes for great comfort food on cold winter evenings. With quinoa and beans, this nutritionally balanced dish packs in the plant-based protein, fibre and provides a good source of folate, iron and magnesium — plus it’s super satisfying.
(This recipe uses leftovers from dinner on day 2 of the plan.)View Recipe
This creamy comforting pasta dish is ready to serve in under 20 minutes. Perfectly balanced, it contains fibre, plant-based protein and healthy fats, helping to keep blood sugar levels in check.View Recipe
This healthy, hearty bolognese is packed full of vegetables. It’s a delicious and satisfying way to incorporate more wholefoods into your diet. View Recipe
This is a great 20-minute, high-protein lunch. The onion, garlic, cumin and turmeric add flavour to the chickpeas, edamame and wilted spinach; while the coconut yoghurt, tahini and lemon juice make a lovely, creamy dressing. Serve with brown rice or quinoa to complete the dish, or a side of roasted broccoli for extra greens. View Recipe
7. Tinned tomatoes
Tinned tomatoes are such a convenient, inexpensive and versatile ingredient. Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. A fantastic all-rounder, use them to whip up quick midweek pasta dishes, stews, curries or homemade beans on toast. As with all other tins, when kept in a cupboard at room temperature, they keep for years, making them great to bulk buy.
Packed full of rich wholesome flavour this puttanesca stew, filled with capers, olives, and tomatoes is a warming crowd-pleaser and will keep you nourished throughout the week.View Recipe
This simple yet elegant recipe is great for entertaining friends at breakfast or brunch. You need just a handful of kitchen cupboard essentials and you can get creative with how you serve it - we love ours with brown rice, a dollop of coconut yoghurt and some chopped coriander. Roasting tomatoes on the side makes a beautiful and delicious topping. View Recipe
A rich tomato and lentil base is infused with fragrant herbs and topped with caper and basil mashed potatoes, this winter warmer is guaranteed to please any crowd.
We leave the potato skin on for our mash as it brings with it excellent texture and added fibre, plus potato skin is a notable source of iodine which is key for healthy thyroid function. Just be sure to scrub the potatoes thoroughly.View Recipe
This easy soup is as good as it gets — incredibly flavoursome and so simple to make. You’ll be making it on repeat in no time! It's perfect for batch cooking, meaning instant lunches all week.View Recipe
8. Tamari (or soy sauce)
Tamari is thicker and less salty than soy sauce. It’s also made from fermented soy beans without the use of wheat, so it’s a naturally gluten free alternative to soy sauce. We always have a bottle in our cupboard. It adds the perfect note of umami and saltiness to stir-fries and dressings, or it can even be used as a dipping sauce on its own. Though high in sodium, just a small amount is needed to impart serious flavour into any recipe.
Feel free to use whichever grain you'd like. Keep in mind if using brown rice, it must be cooled appropriately by letting it cool quickly and then immediately put it into the fridge. We recommend spreading the rice onto a large plate or baking tray for faster cooling, rather than keeping it in the pan. Then, as soon as it's cooled, put it into an airtight container in the fridge — never let it sit at room temperature.View Recipe
Looking for a quick midweek dinner? This speedy stir-fry is crammed full of fresh vegetables and covered in a rich, satisfying sauce. Feel free to substitute any vegetables or noodles with whatever you have. Why not also add some cubes of tofu for extra protein? Simply fry the tofu in the pan for several minutes, before adding the vegetables. View Recipe
This quick and easy lunch makes the perfect midweek meal. View Recipe
This recipe takes 25 minutes from start to finish, which means it’s a great post work dinner option during the week, or a lovely simple supper on a Sunday. I love the mix of crunchy tamari roasted almonds with the creamy lime infused pea puree and the gentle sautéed kale and courgette, when it's all tossed in the quinoa it is heaven! View Recipe
9. Vegetable stock cubes
This one nearly goes without saying. One of the easiest, most effective ways to get base flavour in a recipe is to cook with a good quality vegetable stock cube. Add it to soups, stews, risottos and so much more to enhance your cooking, guaranteed.
Loaded with ginger, spring onions, lime and soy, this flavour-filled soup will warm up chilly lunchtimes. Make up a batch on Monday and enjoy it for the rest of the week. View Recipe
Is there anything more comforting on a cold winter day than a cosy stew to warm you from the inside out? Beetroot is slowly braised in a rich red wine broth with caramelised mushrooms and lentils. Serve with our creamy skin-on mashed potatoes.
Any leftovers can kept in the fridge for up to 3 days; or frozen for up to 3 months. Allow to fully defrost before reheating on the stove or in the microwave. View Recipe
This super greens risotto tastes deliciously fresh and is packed full of so much goodness thanks to the mix of peas, courgette, celery and asparagus. If you don't have all of the veggies on the list, you can easily mix through any other roasted veg you have at home - broccoli, spinach and edamame beans would also work great.View Recipe
Made in 15 minutes, this comforting bowl of goodness is a simple soup with maximum flavour. The recipe combines mushrooms, a rich miso soup, zingy lime and thick slurpy noodles, making a tasty midweek lunch or supper.View Recipe
10. Frozen peas
Okay, while technically a freezer and not a store cupboard ingredient, we had to include our beloved frozen peas here. Inexpensive, full of nutrients, not to mention seriously delicious — the mighty pea is an ingredient we are never without. Small but packing a punch in terms of health benefits, peas provide a source of fibre, vitamin C, B1, folate, iron and 5g of protein per 100g. Picked at peak ripeness and flash-frozen, studies have shown that frozen peas are often nutritionally superior to fresh. Simply add frozen peas to dips, curries and pasta dishes. A bag will keep in your freezer for several months.
It’s hard to resist a creamy pasta that's ready in just 15 minutes. This green beauty also boasts over 40% of your recommended daily iron intake and over 50% of your vitamin C (which helps to improve the amount of iron that the body absorbs).
I love to keep stocked up on frozen veg, for those nights when your fridge is bare and you need a speedy supper! This soup is packed full of amazing greens, which are simmered with coconut milk to produce a delicious and creamy texture. View Recipe
You can thank us later for this quick and easy weeknight dinner recipe. Vibrant, hearty and nourishing, it’s a great speedy option to whip up after a long day. Consider the recipe a base and feel free to swap the chickpeas for lentils, and the broccoli and peas for green beans or edamame. Any leftovers will make a fantastic salad the following day.View Recipe
Forget avocado on toast, and make this simple, speedy creamy peas on toast recipe for a protein-packed breakfast, lunch or brunch, using just a handful of ingredients. Serve with sautéed mushrooms and a sprinkle of chilli flakes for an extra kick. View Recipe
Once you’ve got these ingredients in the house, then you just need a handful of fresh veggies and you’re ready to go! You’ll find you use them on repeat as you cook our recipes too, so you’ll get more and more familiar with how to use everything in your cupboard.