Looking to equip your kitchen with everything you need to prepare healthy plant-based meals? Read on for my must-haves…
Hi, friends! Instead of talking about food (directly, at least) this week, I thought it would be fun to switch things up and share some of my favorite cooking and meal prep tools.
The idea came to me while completing the (super fun) task of adding items to my wedding registry. As I looked through our list, I realized that it pretty well encompasses the necessities of a plant-based kitchen. Steak knives? No thanks, I can do without. But a good mandoline? Imagine the fruit and veggie chip options!
Beyond the mandoline, here are 9 additional tools that I love for cooking up whole foods, plant-based staples:
1. Food Processor
I invested in a full-sized food processor earlier this year and haven’t looked back since. A food processor is required for many plant-based favorites, like homemade hummus, nice cream. and energy bars. You can also use it to cut down your grocery bill by making homemade versions of pantry staples like almond butter and creamy salad dressing. (Who needs that $9 jar of store-bought nut butter anyway?)
2. Sharp Knives
When following a plant-based diet, you’ll find yourself doing A LOT of chopping. This is a good thing because it means you’re incorporating tons of healthy veggies into your repertoire! Lots of chopping requires sharp, high-quality knives – this is one area that I cannot wait to upgrade after the wedding!
You don’t need a huge variety of knives but I do recommend having at least 1 high-quality chef’s knife. Utility, paring, bread, and serrated tomato knives are also helpful.
For best results, have knives sharpened regularly (many local farmer’s markets offer this service or you can DIY) and never put them in the dishwasher!
3. Cutting Boards
This goes along with #2 – of course with more chopping, you’ll also need more cutting boards. I prefer wood boards, as they are easiest on knives and tend to be more sanitary than plastic boards (1). (I also think they’re beautiful and sometimes use them as trays for appetizers!)
Like knives, wood cutting boards should also be kept out of the dishwasher. They often must also be treated with a food-grade mineral oil (or coconut oil) in order to protect them from damage.
4. Colander and/or Cheesecloth
I use my colander constantly and can’t wait to get one that sits right over the sink, freeing up my hands while draining and rinsing. I use it almost daily for canned beans and to wash fresh vegetables like spinach.
Cheesecloth is (ironically, considering its intended use) another vegan kitchen staple. I use it to strain out pulp for homemade nut milk and as an infuser for loose leaf tea. It can also be used for rinsing fine grains like quinoa.
5. High Speed Blender
A blender is another one of those tools that I have used exponentially more once I made the switch to plant-based eating. I use it most for smoothies but also utilize it to make salad dressings and pureed soups.
6. Coffee Grinder
I love my coffee grinder because there’s nothing like fresh-ground coffee beans in the morning…but coffee grinders are for so much more than coffee. I’m asking for a second one in order to grind fresh flax seeds and spices.
7. Cast Iron and Stainless Steel Cookware
I choose to avoid most non-stick cookware and instead opt for a combination of stainless steel and cast iron pots and pans. Cast iron is a great heat-conductor and is also very durable. Its also versatile and can be used for both stove-top and oven cooking.
Cast iron cookware also adds a small amount of iron to food cooked in it, so is great for anyone who has iron-deficiency anemia or who is just looking to increase iron intake. Cast iron cookware does require occasional seasoning and is quite heavy. It also should not be cleaned with strong detergents or put in the dishwasher.
Like cast iron, stainless steel cookware is also durable, but is lighter and requires less upkeep. Stainless also beats out cast iron for acidic dishes (ie tomato-based sauces) because acids can strip the seasoning from cast iron cookware and add a metallic taste to food. Stainless steel cookware doesn’t conduct heat as well as cast iron, but looking for pots and pans with a heavy bottom (aluminum or copper core) can improve conduction.
8. Wooden Spoons
When it comes to cooking utensils, I’m a huge fan of wooden spoons. First, they help preserve cookware while keeping food safe. (Metal utensils can scratch cookware and plastic tools can melt when using in high heat.) Second, I love the way they look!
9. Silicone Spatulas + Cooking Utensils
Besides wooden spoons, my favorite utensils are made of silicone. Silicone is heat-resistant and flexible, making it a great material for spatulas. (You know, when you want to make sure you are scooping out every last bit of that Etouffee out of the pot.) Silicone is also a safe material that won’t leach into foods, like plastic can.
What are your must-have kitchen tools? Share your favorite kitchen tools in the comments section below.