The Meatless Kitchen...Helpful Tips & Getting Organized
CAUTION: Some of the following tips about customizing your meatless kitchen may be inappropriate if you are sharing your kitchen space with carnivores.
As we gain more and more hands-on experience with our new meatless lifestyle and become more proficient with our food preparation, the single most important asset we can improve upon is organization. Following a vegetarian regime and experimenting with new cuisines will usually require more kitchen time for food preparation than "SAD" (the Standard American diet). Whatever we can do to make life easier for ourselves will add great value to the time we spend in the kitchen.
So here are some great tips on getting your meatless kitchen organized to help maximize the efficiency of your time spent preparing your personal culinary creations.
Cooking with dried beans, pastas and whole grains can become an important part of the meatless kitchen. Save pantry space by putting your dried beans, pastas and grains in decorative containers placed in unused countertop and backsplash areas. This can make an attractive addition to your kitchen space and it also makes these often used items handier to locate and use without cramming them all together on a closet or cabinet shelf.
It is also a good idea to take the time to create an organized place for your favorite herbs, spices and other seasonings. You can find very inexpensive wire racks that can be mounted on the inside of a handy closet or cabinet door. This saves even more closet space and makes life a whole lot easier...no more having to rifle through a whole shelf of items to find the ground cumin.
Great homemade soups are a staple in our meatless kitchen. Save some refrigerator shelf space for storage containers. We like to prepare a large pot of soup on a weekend and then refrigerate. These meal-ready soups make quick and easy lunches for up to two weeks. This saves both time and money in the long run and provides a great alternative to canned soup with all of the salt, hfcs (high fructose corn syrup) and other additives found in commercial canned goods these days. We just heat up a few servings for a quick lunch with a salad or sandwich on the side.
Homemade salad dressings can be refrigerated for weeks also. The commercial ones are another big source of additives you are much better off without.
With fresh fruits and vegetables comprising the bulk of a healthy vegetarian diet, don't skimp on a cutting board. Preparing a salad or trying to cut up a head of cabbage on a puny little block of plastic can get old pretty quickly. Getting a good sized cutting board made with a nice hardwood base is an absolute must for the meatless kitchen. Since we're not working with meats, cleanup is quick and easy and we don't need to worry so much about raw food contamination.
Using good quality, well-balanced kitchen knives in your food preparation makes life so incredibly easier for you that you'll never go back to trying to slice an onion or a tomato with a cheap steak knife again. Once you're accustomed to using quality cutlery, you will never again skimp on price when it's time to buy a new one.
And you don't need to purchase a large set of knives that comes with fifteen different sizes and shapes. Two or three good knives is all you really need. Get a 6 to 8 inch (blade length) cook's or chef's knife, a 3 to 5 inch paring knife and maybe a bread knife or a scalloped slicer and you'll be good to go.
Not all pots and pans are created equal. The type of material that kitchenware is made of may or may not be safe to use. Inexpensive pots and pans made of enamelware are quite safe for normal use while aluminum cookware may be harmful. More expensive kitchenware made of stainless steel is safe to use while pricey pots and pans coated with nonstick surfaces may be toxic.
It is our opinion that non-reactive stainless steel offers the best value, durability and versatility for the money but see our discussion on cookware in
Home Health Issues
for more information.
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