Most of us are strapped for time, but getting a healthy and delicious plant-based meal on the table is essential. Check out these seven plant-based cooking tips for getting in and out of the kitchen in a flash without sacrificing nutrition or flavor.
Plant-Based Cooking Tips
1. Cleanliness is Next to ….
I once took a flower-arranging class, and the first thing we learned was how important it is to maintain a clean workspace. This ancient philosophy has guided me in many circumstances and especially in the kitchen, where a messy counter or sink can make it hard to get started.
Even if you need to clean before you cook, it’s worth taking a little bit of extra time upfront to do so. It’s so much easier to clean up just one meal at a time instead of a massive pile-up of dirty dishes in the sink! If you need some suggestions for getting started with a new “cleaner kitchen” habit, check out “10 Tips for Easy Plant-Based Kitchen Cleanup.”
2. A Well-Stocked Kitchen is Your Best Friend
Keeping your fridge, pantry, and freezer well-stocked with staples and favorites goes a long way toward making kitchen time more efficient. And you’re in luck – I’ve got a handy article for you on this topic, too – “How to Stock Your Plant-Based Kitchen.”
3. Washed Lettuce is the Way to Go
Since eating a salad every day is a must if you eat plant-based, having the lettuce ready to go makes salad-making that much easier. Cut off the stem of your lettuce and wash the leaves thoroughly before storing them in paper towels in a lidded container. I’ve found that standing the lettuce leaves up in a bowl filled with a little water works very well, too.
4. Make Time for Meal Prep
Whether you make extra of one recipe or batch cook rice, beans, and vegetables, meal prep is your biggest friend. And, unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you’ve probably heard about the Instant Pot, a pressure cooker, crockpot, and yogurt maker all in one.
Don’t miss my article, “Plant-Based Meal Prep for Busy People: 5 Tips to Keep You Cooking.”
Buying my Instant Pot was well worth the investment and is probably one of the best purchases I’ve ever made – but any brand of pressure cooker will do. Pressure cookers can be easily found on Amazon or at most kitchen supply stores such as Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
I use my Instant Pot mostly for cooking dried beans from scratch several nights a week, which only takes about 30 minutes.
Once you’ve cooked the beans, you can easily turn them into burritos, tacos, hummus, soups, green salads, and pasta salads. Versatile beans should be on every whole food plant-based cook’s weekly meal plan, and having them handy makes for a happy cook!
Meal prep takes a little time and effort upfront but will save you boatloads later in the week so make a point to include this task whenever you can.
5. Store Food in Glass Containers
Avoid storing leftovers in plastic and use glass containers instead if you want to quickly see what’s in your fridge. You won’t have to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into your food.
6. Label and Date Those Leftovers
Because keeping track of the foods in your fridge and freezer can be challenging, save time by labeling and dating each container. That way, you know how long something is going to stay fresh. Amazon carries removable freezer labels, which can be used for the fridge as well.
7. Foods That Love the Freezer
Nuts have a higher percentage of fat, and since we eat them sparingly, storing them in the freezer keeps them fresher longer and helps prevent rancidity.
Fresh Ginger and Turmeric Root
Both fresh ginger and turmeric root keep well in the freezer, whereas on the counter, they will quickly dry out and shrivel up. To use these frozen, grate with a micro grater into whatever dish you’re preparing. I like to put both of these healthful roots into my smoothies.
Peel and cut bananas into chunks. Separate the chunks and lay them on a tray to freeze before storing them in a plastic bag or glass container. They’re great for smoothies or plant-based ice cream.
Freeze your veggie scrap and use them to make vegetable broth. Quart-size bags or glass containers both work well for storage.
Plant-Based Cooking in a Flash
While plant-based cooking tends to have a reputation for being time-consuming, now you know it doesn’t have to be that way! Once you get into the groove of these new kitchen habits, you’ll be in and out of the kitchen in no time. Pretty soon, you’ll be so smooth that you’ll come up with your own time-saving “tricks.” Get busy using these cooking tips today!
Do you have any tips of your own to share? I’d love to hear what they are and how they work for you. Please leave a comment below.
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Great Tips Diane!
Will try them out!
Wish there was a way to download a pdf copy of your posts. Makes it easier to refer to when off-line!
Thanks, Darryl. That’s an interesting suggestion and I’ll have to think about it. Maybe a printable ebook with the most popular articles/tips would work. What are your favorites? It’d probably be too much to have everything…
One thing I’ve learned to do is put a bay leaf and pepper corns in the water I use to steam veggies. Nutrients, color and flavor from the steamed veggies combine with the seasonings to make a nice broth that I pour into mason jars and save for steam frying other dishes. If I have a lot of broth, I freeze it in ice cube trays and then store in freezer containers.
That sounds great! Thanks for the tip.
Good tips, thanks Diane! And to the others who’ve added theirs, I’m loving it. 🙂
For single people like me I find this helps a lot. I make Red Pepper Hummus and freeze it in 1 cup containers for future use. Also I make rice and freeze it in 2 cup portions. I just take out what I need for a meal or a casserole.
Hey Liz, thanks for the suggestions. Recipes usually are for 2 or more people so this is a great idea. I love meal prep as it makes life easier. I have a new cookbook coming out in November about eating a plant-based diet and meal prep with 200 recipes. Look for that in the coming months. 🙂
I have found cooking up a large batch of beans in the instant pot saves me time. I then measure out 2 cups or 1 1/2 cups of beans in a quart size zip bag and freeze it flat so I can stack them. Then when I need a can of beans I pull out my frozen bag. This tip came from Chef Anthony.
Hey Amy, I love this tip to freeze them in smaller batches to have on hand. Beans are one of my favorites to make in the Instant Pot and we use them in salads, tacos, burritos, or on the side during the week.
Great tips! One thing though,,,,I’ve taken classes from an incredible plant based cooking teacher and cookbook author, and she said walnuts are the one nut to never freeze as it ruins the taste. I came to realize, upon trying the walnuts I had frozen, that this is true.
Thanks, Elizabeth, I appreciate the tip. I haven’t noticed that myself although I purchase raw walnuts. Don’t know if that would make a difference. I sometimes purchase two packages and put one in the freezer to keep it fresher. Maybe you’ve noticed, that not all nuts purchased are as fresh as they could be. I found the Aurora Natural brand to be excellent.