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Top 10 Kitchen Tools Dietitians Can't Live Without for Easy Plant-Based Meal Prep and Stress-Free Cooking

Updated: Jun 5


women cutting vegetables with a Chef's knife
Photo credit: Unsplash, Alyson McPhee

Switching to a plant-based diet can be incredibly rewarding, but let's be honest — it can also feel a bit daunting. From chopping mountains of veggies to mastering new cooking techniques, the meal preparation processes can sometimes seem overwhelming. But, with practice and a few essential tools and techniques, it can be efficient, stress-free, and — dare I say —even enjoyable! In this article, you'll be covered with expert advice from ten dietitians who make plant-based cooking a breeze with the help of their favorite kitchen tools.


First, What is Meal Prep?

plant-based meal preparation
Photo credit: Unsplash, Ella Olsson

Between working a full day, taking kids to their activities, creating space for social time, and squeezing in a quick workout, who has time to meal prep? I totally get it. Convenience foods or opting for take out can certainly be quick and easy, especially when you're low on time. However, nothing beats starting from fresh when it comes to flavor and nutrition.


That said, stocking up on fresh produce means washing and chopping the produce, storing it away perfectly to prevent spoilage and using within days to avoid a stinky mound of slime in your fridge. If your time is limited, planning, chopping, sorting, and using your veggie may be the last thing you want to add to your to-do list. With the suggested tools in this article, this process will actually save you time in the long run. In fact, the chopping process may even become pleasurable! (Looking at you veggie chopper.👀)


Meal prep is the practice of pre-cooking or organizing meals and their components ahead of time to reduce the total cook time and ensure you have nourishing and tasty ready-to-eat meals throughout the week. This can range from fully preparing and packing meals to simply prepping ingredients that can be quickly assembled later.


While preparing meals can, at times, feel like a chore, I promise that the reward of having ready-to-go ingredients and meals far outweighs the dread! Making a plan and preparing what you can ahead of time will save you boatloads of time later and ensure that you and your family are consuming nutrient-dense meals to help you thrive.


Why a few essential kitchen tools can be life-changing in the kitchen

cooking in the kitchen


Using the right kitchen tools to make plant-based meal preparation simple, efficient, and stress-free is key to a healthy lifestyle for several reasons:


  1. Time-Saving: Effective kitchen tools can significantly reduce the time spent on meal prep. This is particularly important for plant-based cooking, which often involves chopping, slicing, and dicing a variety of fruits and vegetables.

  2. Consistency and Quality: Tools like food processors, blenders, and mandolins ensure that ingredients are prepared uniformly, leading to better texture and taste in your dishes.

  3. Reduced Stress: The right tools can streamline your cooking process, making it more enjoyable and less overwhelming. This can help you stick to a plant-based diet without feeling frustrated or burned out.

  4. Nutritional Efficiency: Efficient tools help you incorporate a wider variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes into your diet, ensuring you get a broad spectrum of nutrients.

  5. Cost-Effective: Investing in good kitchen tools can save money in the long run by reducing food waste and allowing you to buy ingredients in bulk and prepare them yourself.

  6. Enhanced Creativity: With the right tools, you can easily experiment with new recipes and cooking techniques, keeping your plant-based diet exciting and varied.

  7. Health Benefits: Simplifying the cooking process encourages you to prepare more meals at home, leading to healthier eating habits and better control over the ingredients you use.


In essence, incorporating the right kitchen tools into your routine can transform plant-based meal preparation from a burden into a gratifying and sustainable part of your lifestyle.


Top 10 Kitchen Tools for Easy Plant-Based Meal Prep and Stress-Free Cooking

Whether you're a seasoned plant-based pro or just starting your journey, having the right kitchen tools can transform your meal prep from stressful to smooth and fun. These essentials will not only save you time and effort but may also bring an element of excitement to your cooking routine. So, let's dive into the top ten kitchen tools for easy plant-based meal prep, each recommended by a dietitian, that will make your plant-based meal preparation a delightful experience!


Sharp Knife + Cutting Board

slicing cucumbers with a Chef's knife on a wooden cutting board
Photo Credit: Unsplash, Usman Yousof

If you're considering a first time investment to start your plant-based kitchen, one good quality Chef's Knife and wooden cutting board are essential. Becky Gradl, MPH, RD, LDN, CHES, dietitian behind DehydratedDining.com, affirms that these two items are her top picks: "Nothing beats a quality, sharp knife set and a knife sharpener. Sharp knives make cutting quicker and easier. You’re also less likely to cut yourself. Use the knife sharpener often to ensure your knives are sharp."


Stainless Steel Pots and Pans

Stainless steel pots and pans
Photo credit: Unsplash, Adam Dochis

A good set of stainless steel pots and pans can last a lifetime if you treat them well. What's more, they don't contain toxic non-stick chemicals, like PFAS, making them a safe option for you, your family, and your pets. Blair Persyn, MS, RDN, LDN, CNSC of biteswithblair.com shares, "I love my pots and pans set from Cuisinart! I use smaller pots for rice, quinoa, or sauces and I use the large pots for bulk meal prepping. They are fully stainless steel so they can be put into the oven as well. I use them every time I cook."


Fine Mesh Strainer and Multifunctional Vegetable Chopper


Amy Beney MS RD CDCES from www.mynutritioninsights.com had a hard time choosing just one and I couldn't agree more with her choices. "I have 2 favorite tools. One is a fine mesh strainer which is essential for rinsing rice or quinoa. The other is a multifunctional vegetable chopper. It has a variety of blades and make vegetable prep simple. It creates uniform sizes to make beautiful vegetarian meals."


fine mesh strainer

With all of the whole grains you'll be making in your plant-based kitchen, a fine mesh strainer is key. And a tool to save boatloads of time cutting veggies while making the cuts uniform and pretty? Yes, please!


Food Processor

food processor with bananas and nuts
Photo credit: Unsplash, Natural Zen

A food processor is great for making spreads, nut or seed butter, or a scrumptious plant-based pesto. Christine Milmine, RDN from plantpoweredyou.com agrees, "A good food processor helps me save time! I like it for mincing up things -like lettuce for burritos, and making hummus."


Mandolin

mandoline to slice vegetables

If you haven't acquired the pickle onion habit yet, we strongly suggest implementing it asap. Pickled onions elevate the flavor of everything from veggie burgers to avocado toast to oatmeal — just kidding about the oatmeal, but if you try this and love it, please let us know.


A mandolin can make your onion pickling experience run smoothly without tears streaming down your face. Erica Baty, MS, RDN, flavorfulife.com, shared that same affection for both the mandolin and pickled onions when she said, "I love my mandolin to slice veggies into thin, uniform pieces. It is amazing for making pickled red onions (a must for plant-based tacos!), thinly sliced cabbage for slaw, baked sweet potato or potato chips, or perfectly sliced zucchini, radishes, cucumber and carrots for salads and rice bowls."


Julienne Peeler

julienne peeler

Looking for Instagram-worthy food styling photos? Look no further than a julienne peeler. Michelle Rauch MSc RDN believes that "a Julienne Peeler is a great tool to have for plant-based cooking and meal prep." She further explains, "I use it to make ribbons and thinner noodles (or 'zoodles') out of firm vegetables such as zucchini, summer squash, and carrots. It's small enough to store in a drawer and is easier to clean than other spiralizers."



Immersion Blender

blending soup with an immersion blender

An immersion blender can be used to mix, purée, and emulsify just about anything a regular blender can, but you skip the step of having to transfer to a blender or food processor. You can place the immersion blender directly in your pot to make pureed soups, fruity smoothies, or fresh pestos.


Lauren Mahesri, RDN, the-pediatric-dietitian.com, expresses her love for using her immersion blender by stating, "I love using an immersion blender for plant-based recipes! It helps create different textures that are sometimes hard to achieve in plant-based cooking – a thick sauce, silky tofu, or a creamy pesto. It also saves so much time from pulling out more bulky kitchen tools."


High-Speed Blender

high speed blender

High-speed blenders are much more powerful compared to traditional blenders, making them an ideal kitchen tool if you want to create silky smooth, creamy recipes. "A high powered blender is so helpful for making creamy cashew based sauces and soups. They help create a perfectly smooth and creamy texture that is perfect for plant-based dips and creamy soups," adds Jessica Hammond, RD, foragersofhappiness.com.


Instant Pot

Instant Pot

Melissa Traub, MS, RDN, LDN, dietitian at melissatraub.com, says that her favorite kitchen tool is an Instant Pot because, "An Instant Pot is very helpful for cooking dry beans. It saves time and the texture is superior to cooking them on the stove. It is also good for soups and chili."


The Instant Pot is truly fantastic because it combines multiple cooking functions into one appliance, allowing you to pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, and more, all with the push of a button. This versatility saves time and effort, making meal preparation quick, efficient, and virtually hands-free. If you want to get the many uses out of one kitchen tool, the Instant Post may be your new best friend as it has many functions wrapped up in one.


Tofu Press

tofu press

One tool that Vanessa Imus, MS, RDN, CD, inutritioncenter.com, can't live without is a tofu press. She shares, "A tofu press is great for recipes that require extra firm and crispy tofu. And it sure beats stacking a bunch of books on your tofu." If you're thinking about investing in a tofu press, consider a sustainably made press that uses bamboo, like this one.



I'd like to add one more item, which is essential if you're chopping produce ahead of time, meal prepping for the week, or have leftovers, and that's a good set of glass or stainless steel storage containers. Glass and stainless steel are non-toxic, making them better options than plastic, which can leach chemicals into your food (not something generally requested with meals). With all of the plant-based meal preparation you'll be doing, you'll want a safe place to store your everything!


Time to have fun in your plant-based kitchen!

Embracing a plant-based lifestyle can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right kitchen tools, it becomes an exciting and manageable endeavor. By incorporating these dietitian-recommended essentials, you'll find that meal prep becomes not only efficient but stress-free and fun! Whether you're dicing veggies with a sharp knife or whipping up a creamy sauce with a high-speed blender, these tools will simplify your routine, enhance your meal prep creativity, and boost your culinary confidence.


Ready to equip your kitchen, get cooking, and relish the rewards of a healthy, plant-based diet?

cooking in the kitchen

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