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!
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!
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.
Cast 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!
The 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 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!)
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!
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.
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?