It might sound obvious, but if your kitchen is disorganized, unattractive and cluttered then it’s not going to inspire you to spend much time there. And if the goal is to eat food that’s better for you, you’ll need to make more meals at home which means more time spent in the kitchen.
When it comes to that space, I want you to think about TACOS – because tacos are delicious. You could also think about Liam Hemsworth or Mila Kunis but that isn’t going to turn into a handy acronym for this makeover.
- Cupboards and drawers
- Oven and cook top
#1 – Tools
The good news is that plant-based cooking actually requires less, not more. Having a few essential tools in top condition is all you need – forget the whizz-bang gizmos and gadgets for now. When you move your food sources closer to nature, you automatically simplify matters. The ingredients are then given a chance to stand out in their own right.
Check that you have the essentials – a good cutting board (preferably wood), 2 sharp knives (chef and paring), vegetable peeler, sauté pan (with a lid), mesh strainer, and a clean and sturdy baking tray. A high-powered blender is also recommended for making light work of tough jobs.
Sharpen your knives. You can either sharpen them yourself (watch some popular YouTube tutorials) or call your local hardware store to see if they offer the service. Ironically, I’ve had mine sharpened by the local butcher. Wherever you get them done, the prices are typically per knife.
Make sure your chopping board is clean and hygienic. You can give it a deep clean with a baking soda paste. Use 1 tablespoon each of baking soda, salt, and water. Scrub the paste into the board and rinse thoroughly with hot water. This will get rid of any stains and smells.
#2 – Accessories
An accessory is a thing which can be added to something else in order to make it more useful, versatile, or attractive. Here’s what I mean by adding an accessory to your kitchen …
… are you a visual person? Try keeping a vase of beautiful fresh or silk flowers nearby. Move a favourite art piece to the area. If music’s your thing, move your sound dock into the room so you can cook away to your playlist. If you thrive on being productive and like to multi-task, introduce your tablet. Then you can listen to podcasts or catch-up on Jon Snow’s latest squeeze while you stir.
Think about what you can introduce to your kitchen space to make it a more inviting space that’s uniquely you.
#3 – Cupboards and drawers
Ever noticed how the food is laid out at your local Subway fast-food chain? Everything is close at hand or has its place nearby. The sandwich assembly process flows and repeats.
This follows Kaizen principles which is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous work practices, including personal efficiency. And while we don’t run a sandwich bar at home (although I feel like I do with five kids), it’s frustrating when everything seems too hard and takes longer than it should.
Try rearranging your cupboards and drawers by opening each one and matching things up. Be sure you don’t overfill. Donate the things you don’t use. Match saucepans and plastics with their lids. Make sure your essential tools are close at hand and they have a regular place. I keep my cutting board on the bench top along with a knife constantly. Once I’ve used it, I wipe it down and put it right back in the same spot so it’s ready to go again and again. The convenience of it being right there means I’m more inclined to use it instead of reaching for a packaged snack.
#4 – Oven and cook top
Cleaning a dirty oven is perhaps the worst of all the household chores. Wait, no – cleaning my children’s toilet is. So, let’s call it the second worst.
Not only is a dirty oven a fire hazard, but a stove full of smouldering oil and old food rot can ruin the flavour of food by filling it with a nasty smokiness that it doesn’t deserve. The grease that clings can become soft during heating and drip into your food while it’s cooking. Gross!
Clean your oven and cook top, making it all sparkly fresh and free from built-up muck. Try to use a non-toxic cleaner. Instead, you can try baking soda and vinegar. Again, tutorials on the internet will offer cleaning recipes that are effective.
I’ve always had a love of a clear surfaces. We didn’t live this way growing up – all benchtops were cluttered from loose change bowls, knickknacks and key jars. This used to irk me so much that when mum would disappear for a good half day, I would spend it finding homes for all the things that cramped the kitchen space.
There is a calm that comes when you wake up, walk downstairs and see a kitchen all ready to go. It’s the difference between cleaning up the night before and leaving it until the next morning. I bet you’ve done both. And I bet, like me, you feel grateful for the times that you wake to a clear workspace to prepare breakfast, create lunchboxes, make coffee or whatever usual morning ritual you follow.
It’s about getting into the habit of clearing your surfaces as you go. Ideally – after every meal. Get the family on board to form the habit. The adage of ‘many hands make light work’ is an adage for a reason.
Get rid of knickknacks and anything sitting on your bench top that doesn’t belong there. The space should be mostly clear. To invite you to cook more plant-based meals, get a few inspiring recipe books and place them nearby for quick and easy reference.
Concentrating on making your kitchen an inviting space is an important yet often overlooked aspect to healthy eating. By giving it a bit of love and attention, you may just find yourself wanting to hang out there and make … tacos.
Gabrielle is an evidence-based vegan coach who believes that health transformation begins when you switch to a plant-based diet. Her mission is to help midlife women eat in alignment with who they are and what they value so that they can lead a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life.
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Written by Gabrielle (hi!), these e-mails will help you on your plant-based journey with useful tips, tricks, facts and inspiration – and perhaps the occasional inappropriate joke thrown in for good measure.