Home Cooking Doesn't Have to Take Forever: The LLL Guide to Kitchen Gear That Will Reduce Your Time Spent in the Kitchen
In the last blog, we talked about going out to eat, this week we’re taking it home. I think it’s relatively well known that healthy living is most easily achieved through home cooking, it's just that most of us don't do it enough. Being in control of what goes into your food is the easiest way to ensure that it’s actually made of real food. Of course, the number 1 reason home cooking has become less and less popular is due to lack of convenience. So, before I started publishing recipes I felt like I should talk about some kitchen tools that I use on the regular, a lot of which put convenience into home cooking.
Before we get into it, I won't be including basic cookware like pots, pans and cookie sheets, or other kitchen items like cutting boards, and storage containers. Mostly for sake of brevity, but also because I assume you have those sorts of things (if not, start there, and read this later). If you're curious about any of those items, just leave a question in the comments and I'd be happy to share my favorites!
Now, for the main event:
This is a collection of things that I personally use and find helpful (sometimes lifesaving... no, not literally). Some of these are pretty common kitchen things, but I know from experience that if you're just getting into cooking you may not know about them yet, or you might know they exist but you have no idea why you want them. Below each description there are linked images, each at different price points - just click to be directed to a site to learn more and even purchase, if you want.*
P.S. I'm not saying you need to head out, and acquire all of these things immediately in order to start cooking. I've been slowly building up my kitchen for years - with every new toy, you open up new possibilities for yourself (that being said, some of these are super affordable check them out!).
*I'm not affiliated with, or paid by, any of the products or brands below, these are products I have used/own myself, or researched and read reviews on.
I started my collection with numero uno:
A Quality Knife:
A knife that's actually meant for slicing, dicing, etc. is, without a doubt, my most necessary kitchen tool. Once I invested in a good knife prep time for meals was completely changed. It's a huge pain in the ass to take the time to chop up vegetables when your knife sucks. So, set yourself up for success with a nice knife.
From smoothies and ice cream to soups and sauces, owning a blender is a no-brainer. I use mine daily, and it makes a whole bunch of things possible in the kitchen!
This might seem like a super basic item to put on a list like this but parchment paper is basically the greatest. It makes things crispier, it's almost impossible to get anything stuck to it, you can make little steam pouches with it, and when you use it you usually don't have to clean your cookie sheet after, win-win-win-win!
There are also these silicone mats, that have all the benefits of parchment paper, but they're resuable!
A food processor can make a lot of things possible, in different but similar ways to your blender. In theory a blender and food processor do the same thing, but in reality they have pretty different purposes. I use my food processor to make things like bean burgers, oat “flour”, fruit and nut balls, and homemade salsa (recipes to come!), some food processors also have attachments for quick slicing, and shredding of vegetables. Without my food processor I wouldn’t be able to make a lot of the things that I make, so while it’s not a kitchen necessity…it should be super high on your list of kitchen wants.
Silicone Garlic Peeler:
These things are awesome, if you love garlic like I do, you need this. Break off a clove of garlic, roll it in this thing, and it's peeled in seconds! It looks like such a simple thing, I don't even really know how it works, but it does. I use like 5+ cloves every time I use garlic so owning one of these has made things so much faster.
If you've been on Pinterest lately, you've probably seen veggie noodles, or zoodles, a.k.a. vegetables cut into the shape of spaghetti. A spiralizer is what you need to achieve this. This is by no means a necessity in your kitchen, but it is nice to change up the shape of your vegetables once in a while. There's just something about that noodle shapethat can really trick your mind. Plus, spiralizers make homemade curly fries possible, and who doesn't love curly fries?
A mandoline can literally cut your prep time in half when it comes to slicing up produce. Yes, you can achieve most of what a mandoline does with a knife, but it makes it faster, and more consistent. Mandolines allow you to slice things into a variety of uniform thicknesses, and some of them can also slice things into matchsticks, small fry-type shapes, long straight noodles (in case you don't have a spiralizer), crinkle cuts, and waffle cuts! Again, not a kitchen necessity, but can make things a lot easier. Warning: these are super sharp, don't cut yourself like I did, use the safety holder.
If you have a regular blender, you honestly don't need an immersion blender, but I use both of mine for separate things. I use my immersion blender to make things like a pureed soup or homemade tomato sauce, right in the pot I already cooked in, instead of having to cool it and then transfer it into my blender. This means less dishes, less mess, less steps and I'm all about that.
This is my go-to device for cooking vegetables, if I’m not roasting them. Super simple, and easy, plus steaming keeps more nutrients in your veggies than boiling them directly in the water will.
This is not that exciting, but until a few years ago the only kind of strainer I owned was a colander for pasta with big holes in it - which isn’t conducive to rinsing/draining things that are smaller like: grains, lentils, and beans. So, if you don’t have one, consider getting one. At this point I’m really not sure how I lived without it, but then again 2 years ago I still thought I “didn’t like” (a.k.a. hadn’t tried) beans so, maybe I had no use for it then.
Sure, you can mix things manually with a whisk or even a fork, but some textures just can't be achieved without a mixer - plus, it's just faster this way. These are especially useful if you'll be baking things, if you're not that into baked goods then you may never need, or use one of these.
& There you have it: my current guide to things I use to make my kitchen-life easier. I'm sure I'll discover new things in time, but this is definitely a solid foundation. Let me know if any of these are your favorites, or if you buy any to try out! Thank you for reading!
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