We have received many requests to write a post on organizing the kitchen, fridge and pantry, and providing a list of spices and ingredients that we use the most. We don’t think you need all or even most of the items on our Grocery List for your pantry but it does highlight many of our favorite foods. Feel free to use it as inspiration for your own pantry.
The kitchen is a social space for the family to hang-out while cooking together. The goal should be to make cooking a pleasurable, simple experience so that you can completely take control of your meals. Taking some time to prepare your kitchen will help make it easier to experience the many benefits of a plant-based diet. Whether you’re a newbie or have been eating plant based for years we hope you find the tips helpful.
First step is to organize the kitchen with the tools and appliances, pots and pans you will need. Invest in high-quality cookware and kitchen appliances. The quality of gadgets you have in your kitchen will encourage you to experiment with recipes at home and help speed up your cooking time. When preparing meals, a lot of your time will be devoted to chopping, prepping, and cooking, so having the right tools will help tremendously. Keep your vegan cookbooks on a shelf in the kitchen for inspiration and quick reference. If you don’t have a lot of counter space, buy a big cutting board and place it over the sink while chopping and cutting. Use your cutting board to chop and drop food in the pot. Keep the cooking utensils, spices, vinegars and other things you use most near your work area or stove for easy reach.
Knife Set – The most important tools in any kitchen are the knives. Have high-quality cooking knives. Your knives will undergo heavy usage, so make sure they are light and durable. Dull or poor quality knives can make it more difficult to cut vegetables properly. Also purchase an electric knife sharpener, hubby is always sharpening our knives in the kitchen. Have paring knives, chef knives, and medium slicers on hand. Invest in a good chef’s knife, a bread knife and a paring knife.
Cutting Board – a strong wooden cutting board in small, medium and large size is essential. You will need to wash cutting boards by hand. Avoid plastic cutting boards, as cutting on these leaves grooves which can become breeding grounds for bacteria.
Pots and Pans – Cookware should be stainless steel or cast iron. At minimum, make sure to have a soup pot, a stir-fry pan, and a saucepan. Dutch Oven pot for stews and chili, a large pot to cook pasta in, a medium and small saucepan with lids for cooking grains, sauces and gravies, and 8-inch and 10-inch skillets for stir-fries, sautés and pan-frying falafels and bean burgers.
Baking Sheets & Baking Pans – need few of them for roasting vegetables and a casserole dish that can go in the oven. Even if you don’t bake much, you will probably want a muffin tin, an 8-inch square brownie pan, a rectangular loaf pan for bread or vegan loaf and two 9-inch round cake pans.
Appliances – A food processor, high-powered blender, a small hand blender are necessities for soups, purees, and smoothies. An instapot or a slow-cooker and rice cooker and pressure cooker are huge time-savers. An air fryer is great for roasting vegetables in a short time to make them crispy. It can be used for foods that normally need frying but now can be placed in the air fryer for quick crispy foods. There is an appliance that has air fryer, slow cooker and pressure cooker all built in one.
Spices – Set up a spice rack next to the stove for interesting flavors. To quickly reach them when you’re cooking, have a separate section for your savory spices, like ginger garlic, chili powder, turmeric, curry, oregano, cumin and cayenne. On a separate shelf keep all the dried herbs like: mint, parsley, cilantro, basil, oregano, thyme. Keep a separate section for your sweeter spices, including rose water, cardamom, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks and pumpkin spice.
Miscellaneous – Get a few vegetable peelers with various blades that slice in different shapes, a grater and a zester. Graters and zesters are wonderful for adding a zest of lemon or ginger to your food. With these basic tools, you will be able to make a many incredible plant-based dishes. Collander in small and large size for rinsing vegetables, beans, canned food, fresh greens. An electric can opener saves so much time and is easy to use to open the tomato and bean cans.
Counter Space – Get 1 or 2 wooden bowls large and medium sized to keep fruits on the counter. Here is a list of fruits that does not need to be stored in the fridge: Bananas, mangoes, kiwi, apples, citrus, onions, garlic and squashes all live on the counters in wooden bowls.
Once you have your kitchen set up the way you want it, it’s time to organize the pantry and fridge with everything you need to make amazing plant-based dishes.
Some Essentials for your Plant-based Pantry
Lentils and Beans – keep a variety of dried lentils and canned beans. Canned tomatoes, chickpeas, Pinto, black, kidney, and cannellini beans are also good to have on hand. Lentils such as Chana daal, masoor daal, moong daal, toor daal are perfect for stews.
Grains – Using a variety of grains provides flavor, and makes meals more interesting. Keep pantry stocked with jasmine basmati brown rice, basmati black and white rice, quinoa, spelt, farro, millet, and bulgur. Sometimes we mix all the grains together for yummy taste and it is so filling.
Nuts – Keep whole almonds, cashews, pistachios and pine nuts as well as chopped nuts to use in salads and grains. Extend the life and freshness of nuts by keeping them in the freezer.
Dried fruits – Raisins, dried apricots, cranberries and dates are great for snacking and delicious flavor to any dish.
Other Miscellaneous – Potatoes, Ezekiel Bread, Onions, Nutritional Yeast
Five Tips for Organizing Your Pantry
Cooking is a lot of fun when you don’t waste time searching for an ingredient or utensil. Organizing your pantry and keeping items in groups is very helpful. Keeping all your spices in one place, all your grains and beans in another, and all your jars, cans and bottles in another. Get clear jars for your grains, beans and legumes and print labels on them. All the baking supplies like flours, baking powder and sugars should be grouped together with all your baking pans in one place. Group your canned goods together. Having a variety of nuts and nut butters like peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter is great for snacks too. Let the kids help organize the snacks and food items they love by keeping it in their favorite containers on a lower shelf.
1. First step is to start by taking everything out, and use this as an opportunity to check for expiration dates.
2. Take stock of what you are keeping and group similar items together. While everything is still out of the pantry, group like items together so putting things back in groups will be easier. Group all canned goods, all packaged items, all herbs and spices, all baking items, kids snacks, etc. As you start to put things back, this will save you time and also give you a clear picture of how much space is needed for each category.
3. Get clear containersor glass jars forplacing bulk items like flour, sugar, rice, and beans including lentils, pasta, and whole grains. That way, you can easily see when you need to stock up. Shelf risers and lazy susan can make it so much easier to see what’s in your pantry without having to move things around. Step risers are a great way to provide more visibility to the items in the back of your pantry. Also, a lazy susan in the corner works great for small spice bottles.
4. Place everything back in organized groups. Using your new storage containers, lazy susan, and step risers, start filling the pantry shelves again. You can use large baskets to store items such as potatoes and onions on the bottom. Use the middle shelves for items that have a high turnover rate, such as beans, pasta, rice, flour, sugar, etc. Use the top shelves for lighter items such as cereals, paper towels, etc. Organize in a way that makes sense for you. 5. Review items in the pantry regularly. Take a few minutes before each shopping trip to make sure you’ve done a quick purge and inventory. Organization is an ongoing process, but with a little bit of effort, you’ll find yourself saving money and staying motivated to cook more!
Five Tips for Organizing Your Fridge
1. First step is to start by taking everything out, and completely and wipe it down. Cleaning your fridge inside and out is a great way to reset your mind and get you into the organizing mood. The ideal temperature for your fridge is between 35 and 38 degrees, as bacteria quickly starts to form above this temperature. Must have 20 Grocery Items you need in your Freezer and Fridge!
2. Stay organized with containers. There are plenty of baskets and organizers made specifically for refrigerators, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get organized! Just make sure that whatever containers you’re using are clear so that you can see what’s in them. Crisper drawers are best for produce as they control humidity and keep your veggies fresh longer.
3. Tempeh and Tofu – Once you know how to prepare it, tempeh can be one of the best staple sources of protein. It can be refrigerated for a week or two and will keep up to several months in the freezer. We keep blocks of refrigerated extra firm tofu for baking and add in soups and stir-fries.
4. Vegetables -Hardy root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, beets and radishes can keep for weeks in a cool, place. Enjoy it with all the greens like arugula, bok choy, kale spinach and drizzled with lots of minced herbs like mint, basil and cilantro.
5. Fruits with a tough outer skin like apples, citrus fruits, and bell peppers, purple cabbage will last a long time.
Limited excerpts compiled from Plant Pure Nation, Green Info Med Nutrition and Forks over Knives.