Having the right tools can make all the difference when it comes to your success or failure in adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet for good. There is a perception by many that this is a difficult lifestyle to take on, and in some ways it can be if you are well adjusted to the easy (and lazy) ways of the Standard American Diet and lifestyle. Learning how to make the plant-based life a simple and pleasurable one will help you make the transition far easier.
What follows are a list of kitchen tools, appliances, aids, etc. that I frequently use to make meeting my dietary needs. These range from simple and sometimes obvious recommendations, to products that are more "out of the box" that I make work for me.
If you've already adopted the plant-based lifestyle, maybe you have some unique kitchen tools of your own that make it easier? If so, feel free to comment at the end of this post and share!
Top Kitchen Tools to Make a WFPB Diet Easy!
1. Pressure cooker.
I have written quite a few pieces of content about my Instant Pot pressure cooker that I bought over a year ago. It has provided a lot of opportunities to add diversity to my plant-based meals. This is something that can easily be overlooked, and cause frustration when adopting this diet because without a good deal of variety, you may find yourself just eating a lot of bland, sometimes raw, meals. Not to say that having some raw fruit and veggies from time to time isn't enjoyable or refreshing, but "variety is the spice of life." By using the pressure cooker, I have been able to manipulate the texture of many meals ranging from simple cooked white rice to more complex chilies and soups.
In addition to the diversity of taste, it is worth mentioning that many pressure cookers offer a lot of cooking variety. For example, the Instant Pot IP DUO60 that I own has multiple settings to cook as you please. It is also a great way to save time by cooking foods in bulk (to be used throughout the week) or to use as a slow cooker so you can set it in the morning and have it finish by the time you get home from work.
2. Rice cooker.
I have used a Black & Decker Rice Cooker Plus for many years now. In looking online, it seems that newer models have been made available, but I would expect the quality is going to be similar (if not better) than what I own. One reason I recommend this in addition to a pressure cooker is because of the price. Depending on the model, you are looking anywhere between 20$ - 60$, but for your average small family an inexpensive model will do. Mine was around 20$ when I initially purchased.
The reason I continue to use this today is because it allows me to put less wear and tear on the more costly Instant Pot pressure cooker. It has held up well over the past year. As you might imagine, the "rice cooker" is primarily meant for cooking rice through steaming, You can cook other foods as well such as quinoa, soups, etc. There are not as many settings or features like with the pressure cooker, but in terms of sheer simplicity of use and the low cost to entry, it is worth adding to you plant-smart kitchen.
3. Kitchen sheers/scissors.
One of the simplest kitchen tools to have around is a pair of sheers or scissors that will be durable enough to keep up with cutting through the foods you are looking to make. I have been using a pair of KitchenAid Kitchen Sheers for quite some time now, and they really hold up to extended use.
With so many vegetables being harvested from my backyard garden, it would be difficult and messy to just tear through some of the larger leafy greens. By using the kitchen sheers I can condense my harvest with relative ease in a clean fashion. It's a little thing that makes life easier in the kitchen.
4. Fruit slicer.
Something that become time consuming and mundane is cutting through many fruits and veggies by hand. With a fruit slicer, it can make this process much quicker, at least for some foods like apples and pears. I think we all know how this device works, but it's a valuable little tool that is great to have around. I am using the KitchenAid Classic Fruit Slicer for this purpose, though many quality options are around, too!
Smoothies have been a substantial part of my diet as they are easy to make and fun to experiment with. With a good quality blender, you can make a great tasting smoothie in no time. There are many options available - even more online - that it may be difficult to choose.
My recommendation is to choose one that is high powered, holds a high capacity (so that you can prepare smoothies to be used throughout the day when refrigerated), and has multiple blending settings (to add texture variety).
6. Backup Mini-Fridge
One of my friend's recently lost their main refrigerator unexpectedly. As most people in the US (and most Western countries) have fridges for storing and preserving the food they buy (or harvest!), it is one of those kitchen appliances we can take for granted. The problem my friend's encountered was losing much of the food they had in the fridge at the time, including many fruits, vegetables, plant-based milks, etc.
Unfortunately, they were not able to run right out to a store and replace the fridge on the same day as they required services from The Home Depot crew to take the old, broken fridge and replace with the new one.
Given the relatively low cost of mini-fridges, they decided it would be a good idea to have an extra fridge on hand in case something like this would happen again. That way, they won't have to worry about losing a lot of their food. Of course, it can also provide extra food storage if that is something you want as well.
7. Plant-Based Recipe Books
I like to keep some whole food, plant-based recipe books around my kitchen to help promote some diversity in my cooking. Even learning how to use some different spices can make all the difference in some prepared meals. There is a huge list of recipe books that cater to every niche of the plant-based diet including vegan, vegetarian, and raw cooking in addition to categories for specific types of eaters like those who are picky, children & families, romantic dinners, etc.
Some great plant-based recipe books I reference in my home include Plant-Powered Families, Dining at the Ravens, Vegan Under Pressure, The Plantpower Way, etc. These are just the physical books. Of course, if you are into eBooks, the options increase even more significantly. Some great options include The Starch Plus Diet and, a shameless plug, The Plant-Smart Living Digital Recipe Guide.
When it comes to the digital world, "books" are not the only medium for finding good recipes. You can also search online and come up with an abundance of recipes. We even have many on our website!
8. A Set of Quality Knives & a Sturdy Cutting Board
I recommend large polypropylene or bamboo cutting boards as these provide adequate cutting space (without making a mess on your kitchen counter) and are easy to clean under tap water or in a dishwasher. I have found that most inexpensive knife sets tend to be sufficient for my chopping, slicing, and dicing needs. Of course, quality will rise with price, so if you are looking for something really long term, it may be a good idea to go with a more costly option.
9. Veggie Cleaner Spray
As many of you may know, the produce we purchase at the store is typically treated with a variety of GMOs, pesticides, soil and agricultural chemicals, and wax to keep the fruit and veggies looking aesthetically appealing. The scary thing about this is many of these additives have been linked to cancer and other diseases. If buying organic or growing your own food is not an option, it is heavily recommended to use a natural veggie wash to remove some of these nasty chemicals.
The one I use is simple called Veggie Wash. It is affordable, all natural, and works quite well! You can go the extra mile at grab an inexpensive vegetable brush to clean off your produce as well!
10. Citrus Reamer
Finally, the last kitchen gadget I will leave you with is the lowly citrus reamer. It is one of the simplest products on this list, but one that is invaluable when it comes to juicing lemons and limes. A small thing that makes a world of difference for me.
Want even more recommendations? You can check out 21 Kitchen Tools as Recommended by the McDougall Friend's Facebook Group!
Are there any kitchen tools you use to make your life easier? Let me know below!