Whether you’ve been vegetarian or vegan for ages or you’ve just joined the ranks of plant-based eating, cooking your own meals is one of the most important things you can do. Typically restaurant or fast food is higher in salt, fat, and sugar than anything you would make yourself at home. Not only that but you have no idea where the ingredients came from, if they are organic, how they were processed, or if it is for sure vegetarian. But cooking is such a daunting task you say!
Here’s a few tips and tricks to make cooking fun. Remember that the more you practice the better you will get, so don’t worry if you make a few mistakes or make a huge mess in the kitchen (I’m under the impression that the best cooks are the messiest *clears throat*).
1. Your most important tool
Having a good knife is the most important thing in cooking and it’s worth every penny you spend. You don’t really need a whole knife set; just one chef knife, a pairing knife for small jobs, and a serrated knife for soft fruits and bread. My favorite chef knife brands are NHS and Global. They run about $80, but the other two knives in your set can be any cheapo brand. But trust me, invest in a good chef knife and it will save you time and money in the long run, not to mention frustration and possibly blood.
2. Keep your pantry well-stocked
Fill up those shelves with good for you stuff. Raid the bulk bins and keep a stock of different types of whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spices, pastas, etc on hand. That way you always have choices when you get home from work and need to whip up a meal. Get some mason jars, which are super cheap if you buy them in a case, or reuse glass jars from salsa/pasta sauce and fill them with your bulk bin items.
Here’s what I keep stocked at all times:
Grains: brown rice, millet, quinoa, jasmine rice, barley, couscous, oats, soba noodles, quinoa pasta
Beans: black, garbanzo, green lentils, red lentils, azuki, pinto, navy, kidney, mung beans
Spices: cumin, coriander, oregano, curry, black pepper, bay leaves, chili powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, thyme, rosemary, and turmeric
3. Don’t be afraid to try ethnic foods
Some of the most amazing food comes from other countries like Thailand, India, Italy, and South America. Grab some vegan books that specialize in ethnic food or look online for new recipes to try and experiment with new foods. You will be glad you did and will never get bored with cooking.
4. Visit your farmer’s market for inspiration
If you head to the farmer’s market you’ll get instant inspiration on what produce to buy and you’ll be buying local, seasonal foods, which taste way better than anything at the store. If you see something you don’t recognize but looks interesting, grab it, then look on the internet for a recipe that uses it. Just be sure to ask the farmer what it’s called