Now that I’ve got some experience with plant-based macros and results under my belt, I wanted to share some of the tools for flexible dieting that have helped me reach my goals. I’ve found these inexpensive products to be key to my success. Stock up with everything you need to eat to perform at your best!
1. Digital food scale.
This the first thing you’ll need to begin your flexible dieting journey. Weighing your food will be the cornerstone of your success, especially when you’re just starting out. Measuring what I’m eating has completely changed how I eat. It’s very easy to underestimate how much you’re eating and portion control is key to successful flexible dieting. By weighing your food, you’ll have the confidence you’re eating just what you need, not more and not less.
By measuring out exact serving sizes, it allows us to include any and all foods in our diet, in moderation, meaning nothing is off limits as long as you can make it work in your macros.
You don’t need anything fancy. My food scale was under $20 and I’ve been using it for over a year with no issues.
2. Silicone pan divider.
This little tool is a super handy kitchen gadget if you’re cooking the same dish for more than one person or more than one meal in different amounts. Simply pop it into the pan, add your measure foods on either side and you’re all set! No more estimating after the fact, or having to use multiple pots and pans to cook.
Buy here: Fusionbrand 12” Silicone Pan Divider
3. Vegetable spiralizer and/or julienne peeler.
My spiral slicer is one of my favourite kitchen tools, I use it at least a few times a week. It allows me to make healthy, pasta-inspired dishes from low carb vegetables like zucchini. When you’re counting macros, you’ll want to include a lot of high volume, low calories foods in your diet to help you feel full without breaking the macro bank. Whether you’re tracking macros or just love healthy food, I would 100% recommend adding one to your kitchen!
I love my mandolin for making fat-free, low carb veggie chips, a must have when a salty and crunchy craving strikes! You can make delicious oven-baked chips from beets, zucchini, potato, sweet potato and even carrot! Simply slice evenly on the mandolin, toss with your favourite spices and bake in the oven until crispy.
5. Food storage containers.
Have a good set of food storage containers, in various sizes so you can always be prepared with healthy options. Planning and prepping will make your break you success with plant-based flexible dieting. You really do have to plan ahead and while I don’t do much meal prep, I at least meal plan and buy everything I need ahead of time.
Fill up your containers will fresh, clean veggies ready to snack on or cook, prep homemade protein bars ahead of time, prepare all your snacks and your lunch the night before and if needed, keep your freezer stocked with meals that can easily be re-heated when you’re extra busy. Even better if they’re oven-proof for re-heating!
6. Meal management bag.
This is optional but I recently purchased a bag from Six Pack Fitnes Bags and I’m in love with it! I’ve upgraded from a cloth Lululemon tote bag to a full meal management cooler bag that fits all my food for the day, keeps it cool and has plenty of handy compartments. They’re a bit of an investment but the quality is fantastic and I’d highly recommend getting one if you have long days out of the house.
I would recommend using a measuring tape to track your progress rather than solely going by the scale. This will give you a much better idea of changes since you may lose fat while gaining muscle and that change won’t necessarily be reflected in bodyweight. Once every week or even month, jot down the measurements at your chest, hips and waist. Try adding them to a spreadsheet for easy tracking.
I would still recommend using a digital scale that that to check-in once a week. Depending on your goals you can weigh yourself daily, weekly or monthly. How often you weigh-in depends on your goals. If you weigh-in daily, use a spread sheet to calculate your weekly average since there is too much fluctuation day to day for an accurate snapshot of progress.
Don’t worry too much if your scale is 100% accurate, as long as you’re consistently using the same one you should be good. Try to weigh-in at the same time every day if you’re taking your weight daily, if it’s weekly, stick to the same time and day each week.
You don’t need anything fancy, around $20 should do the trick!
9. Food processor and/or high-powered blender.
I use my food processed and/or blender at least a few times a day. I use it to make smoothies, dips, dressings, sauces, soups, nut butters, homemade flours and even to mix up the batter for healthy desserts. I use the Ninja Mega Kitchen System which comes with two individual blender cups, a food processor and a blender. I use the individual blending cups more or less daily to make sauces, healthy dressings and of course, banana ice cream and protein cookie dough!
The Ninja system comes in under $200, which I think is a great value. I’ve been using it for years and it’s still working great. While I’d love a Vitamix or Blendtec and I see the value in the $600-800 price tag, for my purposes the Ninja has served me just fine. If you don’t have one all ready, I’d highly recommend adding one to your kitchen. If you don’t want to the the full Ninja system, start with the just the Ninja Professional Blender for around $120.
This is a bonus item but if you like to bake, it’s a must have. Weighing certain ingredients is key to ensure accuracy, rather than going by volume amounts like 1 cup, 1 tbsp etc. You can use one of these mixing bowl scales so you can keep adding ingredients onto the scale, rather than measuring then using a separate bowl. It also makes it easier to determine serving sizes if you’re making no-bake protein balls, for instance, since you’ll have the total gram amount of the whole recipe.
Buy here: Camry Digital Mixing Bowl Kitchen Scale
I haven’t gone as far as travelling with or taking a pocket-sized food scale with me to restaurants but some people do. Depending on your goals and experience with flexible dieting, it might be something you want to look into though, especially if you travel a lot for work.
12. Water bottle.
Staying hydrated is important regardless of how you eat and having a beautiful water bottle makes that a lot easier!
13. Slow cooker.
A slow cooker can be very helpful if you like to do meal prep, batch cooking or are very busy during the week. Like I’ve mentioned, a little preparation and planning goes a long way and a slow cooker is a great kitchen tool to help you prepare easy, healthy meals ahead of time. When I’m preparing meals on Sundays, I like to have one dish going in the slow cooker while I prep fresh veggies and snacks for the week. I find it saves a lot of mess and stay out of the way so I have more room in my little apartment kitchen.
My favourite things to make mine are applesauce, chili, soups, stews, beans and lentils, squash and big batches of oatmeal.
12. Healthy treat recipe resources.
My favourite blogs for macro-friendly healthy treats are Big Man’s World, Skinny Taste, Fat-Free Vegan Kitchen and Chocolate-Covered Katie. While the recipes aren’t all vegan on a few of those sites, most of them are easy to veganize, or have a vegan option provided. Add your favourite recipes into My Fitness Pal and you’ll be all set to include treats in your diet while still hitting your macros.
Spend some time browsing Pinterest, do some research on lower carb, lower fat baking and cooking techniques and ingredients. Small changes and using healthier substitutions can go a long way in helping you reach your goals while keeping your sanity and still enjoying your food!
13. Time to go grocery shopping!
The last tool you need of course, is food! Lots of healthy, nourishing food that will help you perform at your best because that’s why we’re doing this right? For optimal performance? The key to doing this right is planning well and always being prepared. I’ve written two posts on foods that I’ve found to be helpful in this process:
- Best Macro-Friendly Foods for Vegan Flexible Dieting: Part 1
- Best Macro-Friendly Foods for Vegan Flexible Dieting: Part 2
- Best Plant-Based Flexible Dieting Foods: Part 3
I hope that helps point you guys in the right direction and gives you some ideas and inspiration to make your macro journey fun, healthy and successful!