If you want your transition to a plant-based diet to run smoothly, you’ll need to set up your kitchen for success. Especially if you grew up in a ‘meat-and-3-veg’ household – like me! – you’ll have to completely re-think your approach to planning and preparing meals.
Here’s a primer on how to stock the kitchen so that you’ve always got what you need to throw together a nutritious plant-based meal, even if you’re short on time.
Let’s start with the pantry, freezer and fridge. Here’s what I make sure I have on hand at all times:
- Onions – brown for cooking, and Spanish (red) for salads
- Fresh garlic
- Potatoes – both ‘regular’ white potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Several varieties of dry legumes e.g. chick peas, pinto beans, black beans, lentils – good fruit and veg shops have these in money-saving 1 kg packs; my household goes through so many legumes that I buy them in 5 kg bags from Honest to Goodness
- A few cans of legumes for ’emergencies’ i.e. when I’ve run out of home-cooked ones, which I pressure cook in bulk and freeze until required
- Organic canned diced tomatoes
- Organic passata (tomato purée)
- Tomato paste
- Rolled oats (traditional, not quick oats)
- A selection of whole grains such as rice – red, black and brown varieties, quinoa, polenta, freekeh (green wheat) and buckwheat
- Wholemeal, spelt or legume pasta (Explore Asian brand – it’s gluten free and highly nutritious)
- Savoury yeast flakes/nutritional yeast – for adding a ‘cheesy’ flavour to meals and sauces
- Nori sheets and other varieties of seaweed including wakame, arame and dulse
- Dried fruit including dates to replace sugar in baking, goji berries, dried apricots and figs, along with sun-dried tomatoes (loose ones, not packed in oil) which I use almost daily to add flavour and texture to soups, casseroles and stews
- Cacao (raw chocolate) and/or carob powder
- Several varieties of vinegar including balsamic, white balsamic, raspberry wine, pomegranate balsamic, and apple cider
- A wide range of dried herbs and spices including oregano, basil, thyme, dill, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, sumac, saffron, dehydrated onion flakes and garlic powder, plus vanilla. I also love the Mrs Dash range of salt-free seasoning mixes.
- Chopped spinach and kale (I buy the cubes, which defrost quickly)
- Home-cooked legumes, drained and packed into storage containers or zip-lock bags
- Plant milks e.g. oat, whole-bean soy and almond
- Fresh ginger
- Wholemeal wheat or spelt flour for baking
- Several varieties of nuts (e.g. Brazils, almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans) and seeds (e.g. pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, linseed/flaxseed, hemp, chia)
- Nut butters – peanut, ABC (almond-Brazil-cashew), macadamia or whatever variety I’ve made in my Thermomix
- Wholegrain or Dijon mustard
- And of course, a wide variety of seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables, which form the centre-piece of every meal in my household, and fresh herbs.
In addition, here are some gadgets and accessories that I would find it very hard to live without:
- All-in-one kitchen machine – I have a Thermomix which cooks, steams, chops, kneads, blends and purées; if the Thermomix is outside your budget, take a look at some of its lower-priced competitors such as the ThermoChef or Maxika SuperChef
- If you don’t have an all-in one kitchen machine, you’ll need a high-powered blender (e.g. Vitamix, NutriBullet, Blendtec) and a food processor
- Multi-cooker – my Phillips multi-cooker is a pressure cooker (great for cooking legumes in just a fraction of the time that they would take on the stove), slow cooker and rice cooker, with a sauté function for browning onions before you add other ingredients, and even has a 40°C setting which is perfect for making plant milk yogurt (I use Bonsoy and a non-dairy culture which I buy from Green Living Australia)
- High-quality PTFE- and PFOA-free non-stick saucepans, frying pans and bake-ware e.g. Neoflam, Green Pan, Pyrex, silicone bake-ware
- Non-stick baking paper and baking cups – these allow me to cook delicious sweet potato ‘chips’ in the oven, without oil, and save me from the hassle of greasing and flouring cake and muffin tins
- Vegetable dicer/slicer
- Herb scissors – this clever gadget has 5 separate blades, all closely spaced, allowing me to finely chop fresh herbs in no time flat
- And of course, good quality knives from a paring knife to full-sized chef’s knives, and kitchen scissors.
Robyn Chuter is a naturopath, counsellor and EFT therapist who has been in clinical practice since 1995. She specialises in guiding people onto plant-based diets that support vibrant health and meet all nutritional needs.
Robyn’s dual background as a physical and mental health professional uniquely equips her to help her clients bridge the gap between knowing what to do to be healthy and happy, and actually doing it. She goes way beyond simply educating her clients about the changes they need to make in order to overcome disease and achieve optimal health. She works intensively with her clients to get them past their own psychological, behavioural and social barriers to change, so they can implement what she teaches them and reap the many benefits.
Visit www.empowertotalhealth.com.au to receive Robyn’s FREE action guide ‘The 5 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits’ and subscribe to her free weekly e-newsletter, EMPOWERED!