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Mark Bittman's VB6 Pantry Essentials

By • June 27, 2013 • 117 Comments

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This week, Mark Bittman is serving as a Guest Editor at Food52. He chose a Wildcard winner, answered our questions, and has been sharing recipes from his new Cooking Basics app.

Today, Mark outlines the five pantry staples that are essential to go Vegan Before 6. To get you started, we're giving away five copies!


1. Aromatics, the staples that make everything else taste better: onions, garlic, ginger, shallots, carrots, and celery, for example.


2. Fresh vegetables and fruit should be the base of every meal. When in a time crunch, frozen vegetables make prep a snap, and you can use frozen fruit to whip up a smoothie. (Some beans -- like lima, fava, and black-eyed peas -- are sold frozen, too.)

Essential Spices

3. An assortment of spices, chiles, dried herbs, and fresh herbs will liven up any meal.


4. Beans are a must. They come in hundreds of varieties. You can use canned beans in almost all recipes, and smaller beans, split peas, and lentils cook quickly. Then you can refrigerate or freeze them in small containers.

Whole Grains

5. Brown rice and whole grains. Keep at least a couple of these around and cook them in big batches. There's a huge variety -- explore it all. 

Mark is giving away five copies of his new book, VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health . . . for Good. To enter, tell us: what are your most trusted pantry staples?

Photos by James Ransom

Jump to Comments (117)

Topics: Weeknight Cooking

Comments (117)


about 1 year ago Donna Webb Neubert

Coconut oil, garlic, onions, ginger, sesame oil.


over 1 year ago Jennifer Alger Morse

Olive oil, garlic and dried herbs! So intrigued by VB6. Huge Bittman fan and have read all his books. Also LOVE (and own) How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.


over 1 year ago Annie

Am looking forward to trying this way of eating.. Love fruit & vegegetables


over 1 year ago Don Val

After a few years of poor me eating resulting in 43 lbs weight gain, aching knees, and a total lose of energy. Couldn't break out of the self destructive cycle. Well finally enough pain! My wife introduced me to Mark's sparkling vg6 style of healthier eating and on my way. Feeling mentally better already. Current weight 263, will keep you posted. Have a great 24.


over 1 year ago Barb

Pop corn, olive oil, and sea salt. I will be able to have a snack that satisfies.


over 1 year ago Sherry Adams

Homemade rosemary oil, San Marzano tomatoes and canned beans.


over 1 year ago Crystal Conway

Beans, rice, pasta, pesto


over 1 year ago Maria

It might sound weird, but next to more regular stuff like canned tomatoes, pasta and chicken stock is something I can't possibly live without: hearts of palm.


over 1 year ago Snubby

I always have quinoa,organic chicken stock,good olive oil,roasted red peppers,and a drawer loaded to the gills with herbs and spices!


over 1 year ago Angballa

Olive Oil, Quinoa, Brown Rice, La Boite spice blends, Rancho Gordo Beans, Good Vinegar, Onions, Garlic, Thyme plant, Parsley plant, Unsweetened Coconut, Coconut Oil


over 1 year ago Wendy Martinec-Christmas

Garbanzo beans and garlic :)


over 1 year ago cindys

Beans, whatever is in my garden, always onions and garlic. I keep canned sardines for emergency sandwiches to take for lunch when I have no leftovers.


over 1 year ago Bette

Whole grain pasta, blueberries, apples, quinoa, lemons, shallots, garlic, onions, spinach and tomatoes.


over 1 year ago arcane54

beans, farro/quinoa/whole wheat berries, olive oil, a variety of herbs/spices, dried fruit and nuts, mustard, vinegar(s), stock


over 1 year ago happycao

Dashi, soy sauce, CSA veggies!


over 1 year ago kirstenmlindquist

I have a huge pantry, kind of a fanatic since being a poor grad student and on food stamps. Here's my short list of must have:
pinto beans, garbanzo flour, walnuts, salsa, masa harina, cilantro, jalapeno, onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, carrots, celery, cabbage - able to whip up Mexican meals or a great salad in no time!


over 1 year ago mnewman

Dried beans, garlic, olive oil, cinnammon, rolled oats, vinegar, onions, eggs, herbs!!!


over 1 year ago Milford

Beans , ginger, garlic ,butter ,olive oil and bacon


over 1 year ago Milford

And grainy bread


over 1 year ago barbscullion

pasta, rice, olive oil, garlic and dried beans


over 1 year ago HelloMyNamesJen

Arugula, olive oil, onions, veg stock and walnuts!!!