When starting your new, healthier life, you may need some new equipment, especially if you did not cook at home until now, or if you have used unhealthy plastic and Styrofoam dishes and containers or non-stick pans. It is not mandatory to purchase everything at once. However, switching to healthier utensils is highly recommended in a long term run. Please keep in mind that a lot of purchases will depend on the number of people in your household (sizes of pots and pans, sieves, size and number of storage containers, etc.). If you cannot afford all this equipment at once or choose not to spend money on certain items, you may always ask your relatives, friends or Santa for gifts. It is also a great idea to give healthier cooking equipment as gifts to unhealthy people.
The equipment and appliances you will need are the following:
Most common kitchen utensils such as knives, forks, spoons, plates, bowls, cups, etc. Avoid plastic dishes and utensils and Styrofoam plates or cups, especially for hot foods and hot drinks or soups.
- Wooden or bamboo spoons for stirring foods while cooking.
- Pots and pans, etc. Avoid non-stick pots and pans. I recommend using stainless steel instead. The size will depend on the number of people in your household. It is useful to have one pot with a steamer (for steaming vegetables) or a separate stainless steel steamer that fits in your pot. I also have a tall stainless steel pot to keep salad greens in the refrigerator and find it very useful.
- Stainless steel strainer and sieves. I have the 6 in /15 cm size for rinsing out one cup of dry grains and the 9 in / 23 cm size for a larger amount of grains or red lentils.
- Food processor. It is very useful, especially to make legume spreads or other bread spreads, to make puddings, and to chop or shred vegetables. I have a 12 cup General Electric model and it is not too big. It allows me to make enough spreads for current consumption and freezing. It is almost perfect for shredding vegetables, except for cabbage, which is usually too big (unless you get a really tiny one) and has to be shredded in two or three rounds. It is five years old now, used about two to three times a week, and still in decent shape. The chopping blade is getting dull, and the manufacturer replied to my email that they do not sell them separately, unfortunately, although it would be good for my budget and especially for the environment if they did. It is still doing the job though. Cuisinart sells replacement chopping so you may take this into consideration when making your purchase decision. The major disadvantage of my food processor is its plastic bowl. Unfortunately, I cannot find any food processor with a glass bowl. To minimize health concerns, I wait for the foods to cool off before processing them as plastic contacting with hot foods is worse than with cold ones.
- Blender. You might already have heard that green smoothie experts recommend Vitamix or Blendtec blenders. I have no doubts that these powerful blenders are extremely good. However, as a beginner to plant-based cooking, you may or may not want to spend $300-600 for a blender. It is nice to have it if you can afford it, but if you cannot, or simply do not want to spend that much at the beginning, the smoothie and sauce world gate is still wide open for you. My $27 Black & Decker did the job quite well for two months and the motor burned out. On the same day, as I cannot live without it, I purchased a $40 version of the same brand. Over two years later, it is still working. When you get more into the healthy, plant-based lifestyle, you may always purchase a better one later on or ask Santa for a gift. What matters when selecting a blender is that it should have a glass jar, especially if you will blend hot vegetables for creamy soups. Before buying my first blender, I checked hundreds of customer reviews of different brands. Most of the lower priced models had four out of five stars, and the one star reviews were from people who used them to blend ice and burned the motors. As I did not have any intention to use it for ice, I disregarded their reviews and am happy with my inexpensive blender. A blender is always a good idea for a gift for a person in transition towards a healthy lifestyle and a powerful, expensive blender as a wedding gift will certainly make the bride and groom happy.
- Glass storage containers of different sizes. I currently own four rectangular containers of eleven cups capacity
(perfect to store greens or cubed pineapple), four round ones of eight cups capacity, six of four cups capacity and multiple two and one cup capacities. I strongly recommend them for storage and freezing, especially if you need to divide foods in smaller portions before freezing. Pyrex is my favorite, although Anchor containers are of very good quality as well, except for Anchor two cup ones with white lids that do not seal very well. They are still useful for freezing, but not the best for taking food with you in a bag, especially if it contains some liquids. The containers are sold individually, in sets of three, four or six of the same size or in larger sets of assorted sizes.
- Glass spices containers. You may buy supermarket spices in glass containers and save them (buying spices in bulk and refilling your containers is much cheaper). You may also save mustard jars; they are perfect for this purpose. If you wish to have nice ones for yourself or give someone a nice gift, there are spices sets with beautiful jars and holders available for purchase in kitchen stores or online.
- Glass or stainless steel bottles for water (to take filtered water to the car; avoid plastic ones, especially if you keep your water in a hot vehicle). You may purchase them or save any glass bottles you have. I use vinegar bottles for this purpose (bought cheap vinegar for cleaning). I saved some of them and stopped buying vinegar in glass bottles for now, because it is cheaper in plastic bottles and it is not for consumption anyway.
- Porcelain cups with silicon lids for hot drinks to go. They are much healthier than the Styrofoam cups with plastic lids.
- I do not own, use, and do not encourage using a microwave.