Say you have switched your diet to plant-based or plan or doing so. Great! Here are some tips to help you stick with it, from what I have learned since starting my own journey in February, 2013.
- Clean Out Your Kitchen: I’ve written about this before, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make your kitchen work for you. Make space on your counter for that blender or food processor. Different ways of eating will create different routines. Have plenty of counter space for fresh fruit. Your local second-hand store (in our case, Goodwill) is a great place to go and find containers that may work better for you than what you have already. When we started getting organic fruit and vegetable orders, I realized we were quickly overwhelmed with storage needs for all that produce. Think it through and keep enough containers on hand to make the processing easy. I am always amazed at Goodwill how many stylish containers are available for under $10. I recently bought these wire baskets for $6.00:
- Duplicate items increase the convenience of your kitchen: Two cutting boards, two measuring cups, two graters. These things can make a world of difference to you so that one can be sitting dirty in the dishwasher and you still have access to a clean one. Nothing can be more discouraging than facing food prep and no utensils at the ready. Again, hit the secondhand stores or watch for kitchen item 2 for 1 sales, which are common at big-box retailers.
- Get extra kitchen towels, now: Talk about something I was slow to catch on to! With food prep happening in our kitchen instead of instantly ready from a microwave meal, this means food particles in the sink and on the counters. Washing fruits and vegetables means you need something to dry up with, and the more kitchen towels you have, the smoother the process will go. It wasn’t until I started bulk-ordering paper towels from Amazon did I realize we needed to adjust the way we cleaned up.
- Don’t cook every day: You can modify takeout meals or go out and put together a plant-based meal at a deli bar or restaurant. Get a bean burrito takeout. Go Asian tofu teriyaki. Anything to keep you on track and get you out of the kitchen. Another easy out: Juicing or smoothies all day, with an already-made soup for dinner and salad. Always have healthful shortcut meals on hand. Canned beans with microwave rice can be a good filling meal, with some frozen kale or collard greens mixed in. Bagged cut vegetables from your grocer’s produce section can be great snacks or impromptu salads. Always be ready for the days when you don’t want to cook.
- Use what you have: Long ago I took to heart a recommendation from a TV cooking chef that you never have to follow a recipe to the letter unless you’re doing a soufflé, and that’s not likely my world today. If you are out of an ingredient, see what you have that can substitute. Most plant-based recipes are endlessly flexible, and know that most vegetables, short of the pungent ones such as onions or garlic, are typically interchangeable when added to the whole creation. Beyond that, if you are trying to convert a Standard American Diet recipe into something you can eat, here’s a chart from The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine to help you.
- Simplify: We recently received collard greens bigger than our heads in our weekly vegetable order.
I looked up the greens online and read I needed to blanch them before freezing. Instead, I washed them and ripped the leaves up, threw them in a freezer bag and expect to go through them in the next few weeks added to soups and smoothies. Guess what? I saved the time it would take to blanch and the greens were fine. They come out paper-thin after freezing but come back to life quickly when added to a hot dish such as beans.
- Today is always another day: Don’t beat yourself up if you lapse. You can start fresh today. Anytime I slip and indulge in sugar or baked goods, I usually pay for it with feeling like I’m coming down with the flu the next day. Really a good reinforcement to stay with the healthful foods that work for me, and it makes me realize why I used to feel so crappy most days when my sugar and fat intake was off the charts. More about sugar’s effects on your health.
- Stay focused: Remember why you are doing this. Early on, I relied on a schedule of regular blood tests to keep me on the straight and narrow. Now that I’m not doing those, I review YouTube videos of other people doing this, and I read blogs and books for recipe ideas. My own blog is my motivation tool to always be on the lookout for things to write about and has helped immensely. That takes me out of myself and turns it more into helping others, which I’m happy to do! Starting your blog may be a good idea on your own journey. If you do so, let me know so I can read it!