My Top 5 Kitchen Essentials

Cooking healthy meals at home can be daunting if you’re not used to doing it very often. However, I’m convinced that once you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed at how quick and easy it is!

In fact, I’m pretty sure I made our dinner last night faster than I could have driven through a drive-thru to buy a meal and bring it home.

If you ask me, a big part of what makes an experienced cook more efficient is his or her knowledge of which tools to use, and having them easily accessible in the kitchen. While there are probably thousands of kitchen gadgets on the market, you really only need a few key pieces to start making quick and delicious meals at home.

Below, you’ll find my favorites!

1. A Mini-Food Processor.

mini food processor

I bought this mini-food chopper while I was in college (nearly 10 years ago!), and it is still one of the appliances I use most often. It’s the perfect size for whipping up a quick pesto sauce, chocolate pudding, or pulsing a small batch of cauliflower rice.

This little gadget carried me through the years when I didn’t own a full-size food processor or a Vita-Mix, and I still turn to it often because it’s the perfect size for making meals for just one or two people. Plus, it’s easy to clean!

Of course, if you have a large family or want to make homemade almond butter, a larger food processor maybe more appropriate. I use my larger food processor maybe once a week, and use the mini-size for everything else!

2. A Good Knife.

Cutco Trimmer knife

This Cutco Trimmer knife is my very favorite–> I use it every. single. day.

In fact, you’ll usually find it sitting on my kitchen counter because I use it too often to return it to the knife block! Cutco knives are a little pricey, but they have a lifetime warranty– regardless of where you buy them from! No receipt needed, they will sharpen, repair or replace your knife for FREE. I love that kind of customer service, and I especially love that they’re made in the USA.

You can buy Cutco knives directly from the company, or find them on Amazon.

3. A Cast-Iron skillet.

cast iron skilletCast iron skillets are a great alternative to potentially toxic non-stick pans. Not only do they last forever, you’ll also get an extra dose of iron in everything you cook with it! I selected this Lodge 10-inch skillet, because it was affordable and about as heavy as I could stand. Any bigger, and I’d probably need to use both hands to even lift it. Bonus arm workout!

The trick to using cast iron is making sure it’s well-seasoned, and never washed in a dishwasher. You actually wash it with only water and a stiff brush! Most cast iron skillets come preseasoned now, and the more you use it, the more non-stick it will become over the years. It’s oven-safe, too!

The only downside to using cast-iron skillets is that it may react to some acidic foods, like tomato sauce, potentially leaving behind an odd flavor or color in the resulting dish. To avoid that potential reaction, you could buy an enameled cast iron skillet, like the ones made by Le Crueset. While they’re definitely more expensive, they won’t react to acidic foods and are reportedly easier to clean and maintain. Plus, they come in a variety of pretty colors!

4. A Spiralizer.

spiralizerThe Paderno Spiral Slicer is my hands-down favorite gadget for creating naturally grain-free, vegetable-based noodles! This machine comes with three blades, to create thick, thin, or ribbon-like noodles.

I use this machine at least once a week to create sweet potato or zucchini noodles–> often freezing some extra sweet potato noodles for a quick meal in the future!

5. A Good Blender.

Vitamix blender

I have to admit, I held out on purchasing my own Vitamix for a long time. They’re expensive!

When I owned my previous blender, made by Cuisinart, I didn’t see how any blender could possibly be worth so much more. However, after my old blender died on me, I finally decided to give it a shot. After lots of online research, I ordered the more affordable Vitamix model on Amazon, and fell in love with it instantly! For how often I use it, this blender is worth every penny and I’d buy it again in a heartbeat. (It comes with a 5-year warranty, so I won’t have to buy one for a while, anyway!)

I’ve been known to use this blender up to 3 times a day! It creates perfect homemade almond milk, silky-smooth shakes and puddings, cheaper almond flour, and creamy sauces and soups.

If you had to choose between buying a juicer or a blender, I’d definitely pick the blender first. You can actually juice your vegetables in the Vitamix by blending them, then straining the juice through a nut-milk bag to collect the pulp!

Honorable Mentions:

Breville Juice Fountain— This was my very first juicer, and is still the one I use most often! You can’t beat the speed and clean-up, and my first one last over 5 years.

Salad Shooter— I love the texture that shredded vegetables add to my salads and soups. I’ve also been known to shred my leftover broccoli stems and use them as pasta!

Microplane— A great way to add freshly minced ginger and garlic to your dishes. Another tool that I use nearly every day.

Nutmilk Bag— A necessity for making homemade almond milk, and also great for making fresh juice or homemade yogurt! Because these bags are so affordable, I keep a couple on hand for multiple purposes. (If you try making green juice with a nutmilk bag, it will be stained green! Not exactly appealing for making almond milk afterward…)

Reader Feedback: What are your favorite kitchen gadgets?

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Comments

Claire @ Live and Love to Eat

An immersion blender – so great for making soups without having to transfer to a blender!

    Megan

    Yes, I love that, too!

    Yoga with Pamela Joy

    Couldn’t agree more!

the delicate place

1.vitamix
2. large chef knife
3. food processor
4. meat thermometer
5. large frying pan

Lauren

This is a great list! I also love my nut milk bag. I used to try straining the milks through a sieve, and I’d end up with a lot of pulp in the milk. A nut milk bag makes them so smooth! ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d also have to add my Cuisinart food processor. I use that thing every day! I bought a Vita-Mix a while back, but couldn’t stand the tamper!

    Megan

    Really? The Vitamix tamper is my favorite part!

    I love how smooth my almond milk is since upgrading to a nut milk bag, too. ๐Ÿ˜‰

jeanne

1. Ceramic Knife (kryocera, on your rec ๐Ÿ™‚

2. Vitamix

3. French Coffee Press

4. Giant non stick frying pan (I know, I know!!! I have really nice le creuset stainless steel pans I got for my wedding but my trusty non stick is so great for making scrambled eggs…which is pretty much the only thing I actually cook ๐Ÿ™‚

5. Hand made wood cutting board

Honorable mention are mason jars and an acacia wood salad bowl, I use these every.single.day.

    Megan

    I meant to add the ceramic knife to my list, too! I use that almost as much as my trimmer. ๐Ÿ™‚ Mason jars, too!

    (I use a non-stick pan when I’m visiting my parents, and it does make eggs AMAZINGLY well… I totally get it!)

Ingrid King

“Iโ€™m pretty sure I made our dinner last night faster than I could have driven through a drive-thru to buy a meal and bring it home.” – Boy, did I need to hear this!

For anyone who’s trying to decide whether juicing is right for them, I recommend the Black and Decker Juice Extractor. At $35, it’s a nice little starter juicer, and it’s fairly powerful and not that hard to clean. Then if you decide that juicing is going to be part of your lifestyle, you can move up to the one Megan recommends.

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