Since moving to Korea, I’ve had to build a pantry totally from scratch! I’ve also had to learn how to feed myself in a foreign country, since some of my favourite foods aren’t available in grocery stores here. This has been a great experience for a lot of reasons.
First, it’s showed me that I am capable of eating well wherever I am in the world, so long as I have a few basic staple foods. It’s also taught me new skills, like how to make dried beans from scratch! Invaluable knowledge to take back to Canada with me, for sure. And of course it’s also forced me to re-evaluate what my staple foods really are! If I want specialty health foods like quinoa and flax seeds, I have to order them online through iHerb, which means I have to be mindful and consider what I actually need and am going to use.
Turns out, I really don’t need anything special to eat happily and healthfully. As appealing as ordering from iHerb is (it’s like being a kid in a very healthy candy store), most of the time my staples are easily found, even in Korea. Below is the list of the usual suspects in my kitchen – no real surprises here, folks!
Peanut butter: My current favourite is Earth Balance’s Natural Creamy Peanut Butter with Flaxseed. Another favourite is Maranatha’s No-Stir. Only within the last year have I started liking crunchy peanut butter, but I still won’t usually buy it myself.
Avocados: These are hard to find in Korea, but they do sell bags of 5 at Costco, so that’s a treat. Sometimes they have them at my grocery store for the low, low price of $3.50 a pop, and usually when they do I just go for it. Treat yoself, right?
Sweet potatoes: Happily, I think almost every culture on earth eats sweet potatoes so these are everywhere here. They’re a slightly different variety from what we have back home – they’re yellower, sweeter and smaller.
Spinach: Leafy green love. I will never again take for granted the amazing convenience of pre-washed organic spinach. Here it comes still dirty and attached to its stems, which is kind of refreshing but a little more work.
Garlic: In Korea, garlic is sold pre-peeled which is so great. I love the convenience of having the cloves ready to go! Plus I pay about $1.50 for 30+ cloves.
Eggs: It was easy to continue my 30 Days to Vegan diet in Canada, but much harder in a country where the word vegetarian is often not even comprehended. That being said, the only animal product I’ve really re-introduced is eggs since cheese is incredibly scarce and expensive here and soy milk is very cheap. Who knows what my eating habits will look like when I get home, but for now I’m happy to eat eggs a few times a week.
Bananas: Of course. Always and forever. Mainly I put them in my smoothies or use them to make banana ice cream, my new favourite thing.
Almonds & cashews: My two favourite kinds of nuts. I mostly just eat these raw, as a snack.
Tofu & tempeh: No tempeh in Korea, but there’s lots of tofu. I find tempeh has a nicer, heartier texture, but both products are kind of magical. I love panfrying tofu until it’s nice and crispy and then glazing it with some kind of sauce. BBQ sauce if I’m getting my way.
Chickpeas: I have to order these on iHerb, dried. Unfortunately I can’t just pop open a can of them! I’m getting a new bag in a few days and I can’t wait to make some hummus.
This week on the podcast, Laura and I discuss this exact subject. We’re talking about our top staple foods for building a healthy pantry. Most of mine are listed above, but the episode is also full of interesting tips about freezing food and lots of ideas for how to use healthy ingredients in your meals. You can find the show over at our blog here or by subscribing to us on iTunes!
PS. If you want to get $10 off your first iHerb order, you can use my code LWW752.