There’s no denying that home cooking is both challenging and time-consuming. The majority of us work long hours, care for families, for homes, for our community… The list never ends. The amount of time and energy it takes to shop for groceries, find a recipe (or create one), prepare a meal and then clean up can be daunting, to say the least.
I wish I had all the time in the world to prepare food but the truth is, I don’t. One of the only ways I am able to maintain a pretty consistent schedule of cooking at home (without losing my mind) is by finding ways to make my life easier in the kitchen. One of those strategies is making sure I have all the necessary tools to do the job at hand. There is nothing more frustrating and tedious than trying to cut a tomato with the wrong knife or realizing you have to manually grate 10 carrots.
Not only does having the right tools help save time and energy but it also makes cooking at home feel so much more manageable and eventually, fun!
So, without further ado, here are 6 essential kitchen tools for saving time in the kitchen that will actually make you want to cook:
1. Chef’s Knife
There is nothing you need more in the kitchen than a good quality knife. And, the best news of all is that you really only need one (maybe two) knives to make 98% of all the recipes out there. A high quality, sharp knife will change your life if you don’t already have one. I promise. Not only will this tool help you prevent injury but it can cut your cooking at prep time in half.
I know good knives are expensive. But that’s because they’re worth it. If you purchase a high-quality chef knife it can last you an entire lifetime. SO much better than buying a new crappy knife every couple years.
There a few things to look for when knife shopping. First, make sure you look for a blade made of carbon or stainless steel and one that’s forged, as opposed to stamped. Forged knives are made from one solid pieces of metal as opposed to lots of smaller pieces welded together. Forged knives last longer than those with stamped blades and they provide a very strong, powerful cut.
If you want to learn a little more about what type of chef knife is right for you and your budget, I recommend purchasing your knife in person. It’s definitely beneficial to work with someone hands on. Or, if you’re like me and buy everything online, that’s certainly a great option too. ☺
There are lots of great knives out there. But here are some I’d recommend:
The second most important knife I would recommend is a pairing knife. Thankfully, a good pairing knife won’t break the bank and can still last quite a number of years. This one is great.
I wish I could give a spiralizer to everybody I know. About 5 years ago I chose to eliminate grains and processed carbohydrates from my diet because it helped to curb my digestive issues. At first, one of the hardest things was giving up pasta. Several years down the road and pasta is really never something I crave anymore. What I came to realize is that it wasn’t the pasta I loved so much, but the stuff you put on top of pasta. I bought a spiralizer and started spiralizing zucchini, carrots, and sweet potato as a stand in for pasta. It was delicious! I sometimes eat the spiralized vegetables raw in a cold dish or quickly sautéed for a warm dish.
Not only is this spiralizer only $30 but it includes 3 different blades. One for spaghetti-sized strings, one for wider strips great for salads and a flat blade for accomplishing the same as you would with a mandolin.
3. Food Processor
This is another one of those purchases that can feel over the top or unnecessary. A lot of people have the misconception that food processors are for professional chefs in commercial kitchens. The truth is, the reason you will always find food processors in professional kitchens is because they are tremendously useful. I would even go so far as to say they are an imperative tool if you want to cook whole, unprocessed foods. I use my food processor to make all sorts of sauces including pesto and aioli, doughs & batters (for breads, pizza crusts, muffins, cookies, cake & pancakes), mashed cauliflower (the best mashed potato alternative) and burgers.
I actually own two food processors – one large and one small. The small one helps when I need to whip something up quickly and want to cut down on cleaning time or if I am taking it on the go. A larger food processor is definitely ideal because it has a MUCH stronger motor, it will last longer and you can make large and small batches in it. The small one, while convenient & very cheap, gets overheated very quickly and cannot handle the quantity of ingredients that appear in most recipes.
I highly recommend the Cuisinart Prep 9-Cup Food Processor which comes with several amazing add-ons like a 4mm slicing blade and shredding disk. (No more manual vegetable grating!) If you don’t feel you can afford that one or like me, want the convenience of having a second smaller option, I would recommend the Cuisinart DLC-4CHB Mini-Prep. (Especially because it comes in a rainbow of colors).
4. GIR Silicone Spatula
I have to give full credit to Michelle over at Nom Nom Paleo for this one. My GIR spatula seriously changed my life in the kitchen. After countless melted, wilted rubber spatulas and wooden spoons that seemed impossible to keep clean, these were like a breath of fresh air. GIR spatulas are heat-resistant (so they wont melt), nonstick and food-safe. They’re also perfect for using in all types of pots and pans as they wont scratch the surface. Their unique shape makes them perfect for all types of kitchen tasks like scraping the rim of a pan or bowl, mixing ingredients in a stir-fry or even flipping an egg.
The best part about these spatulas OTHER than their hundreds of uses? They come in the most amazing bright & fun colors! Nothing like a neon blue spatula to make cooking just a little bit more fun.
5. High-Powered Blender
I live off of green smoothies, homemade almond milk, homemade soups, dressings, sauces… just to name a few. A high-powered blender is crucial to making a wide variety of dishes essential to a healthy diet. Yes, these blenders are expensive. But they are expensive for a reason. Most of them last a lifetime and have very long & comprehensive warranties. These blenders are used in commercial kitchens, smoothie shops, cafes, etc. so they are built to last and withstand high usage. Their motors are extremely powerful.
Personally, I own a Vitamix, but Blendtec is another great option.
I am completely obsessed with my new Vitamin S30 Series. It comes with one larger 40-ounce container and a portable 20-ounce container with a cap. If you don’t end up buy the S30 series, then I definitely recommend finding one with variable speed, not two-speed.
6. Simplehuman “Magic” Dishrack
Okay so Simplehuman may not call this dishrack “magic”, but I certainly do. Especially for anyone that doesn’t have a dishwasher, this thing is a life saver. I have broken far too many fragile wine glasses and poked myself with too many knives that fall awkwardly into the cracks of a cheap dishrack. This purchase seemed pretty extravagant at first but I would buy it again and again. It’s SUCH a relief to have something to make the cleanup process easier and less dysfunctional. And, not only that, but it looks super sleek and classy too. Check it out!