I don’t know about you, but this is the time of year I find myself in the kitchen more than anywhere else. Whether it’s at my own house preparing festive meals for the family, or at a friend’s place for a holiday gathering, it seems that everyone always ends up in the kitchen. But with the aroma of herbs and spices, fresh-baked goodies and home-cooked meals emanating throughout the house, it’s really no surprise we are drawn to the kitchen like chestnuts to an open fire.
But what about the times that aren’t as jolly as the holiday season? You know, when we’re rushed getting our kids’ lunches packed or scrambling to get dinner on the table during a busy workweek? They can be rough, and if I’m honest, a little exhausting. Luckily, I have invested in some tools that have helped make my time in the kitchen a little easier, and I’d like to share those with you today.
I truly don’t know what I did before I found this kitchen gem. Oh, I know. I bought pre-sliced cheese and meats, and spent tons of time trying to cut even slices of tomatoes. A mandoline slicer is a small tool meant to evenly slice, dice, even julienne (if you’re feeling fancy), things like carrots, onions, potatoes, cabbage and the aforementioned tomatoes and cheese. It has adjustable blade heights so you can get the perfect width for whatever you’re doing.
I use mine for making quick and healthy sandwiches with fresh blocks of cheese, juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and even leftover dinner roasts. I have also used my slicer to make no-work veggie salads, and one day I swear I’m going to make my own baked potato chips!
Of course they come in all shapes and prices, but I have a simple and affordable model that suits my needs just fine.
High Speed Blender
This snazzy piece of equipment may set you back a few bucks, but it is seriously worth it in my humble opinion. Trust me, I scoffed at the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on a blender when there are tons for under $50—until I actually saw one put to use.
First of all they make smoothies, well, smooth. I used to throw my fruits and veggies into a regular blender and would up chewing it more than anything. A high speed blender easily grinds up those tougher items like kale and pineapple so you can have a smoothie that’s easy to swallow. And you don’t even have to chop it up first, which saves time.
Aside from smoothies, you can also make quick soups (that come out hot!), sorbet, dips and more! It has definitely made the act of serving up fast and fresh meals much less daunting.
Many people use their high speed blender in lieu of a food processor, and you totally can as they perform many of the same functions, but I can’t let mine go. It makes the process of prepping so much easier as I use it to quickly slice, shred, grate, and chop foods. Yes, my mandoline also does many of these things, but the food processor is perfect for larger meals, and when you have as many people around the dinner table as I do, it is a real time saver!
I was one of those people that always had an entire knife block taking up precious counter space. I just thought you had to have them all or nothing. Then I discovered the power one good knife truly has. Like the aforementioned slicers and dicers, my good knife is a one-stop wonder that makes my meal prep that much easier.
Of course, the type of “good knife” varies per individual, but I love a nice, sharp Chef’s knife. I found one that’s nice and light, and it fits my hand so it’s comfortable to use for quick chopping, dicing, slicing and mincing jobs.
I chose an eight incher because it was less intimidating for my personal use, but they come in all sizes, so choose what’s best for your needs.
I’m not a pro baker by any means, but I do dabble in the art, especially this time of year. My hand mixer makes the process of tackling directions like “whip the egg whites” way less scary. I love to make fresh whipped cream for holiday-inspired cocoas and coffees, and my hand mixer makes it easy to create my own healthier versions of homemade cookie dough. Pre-made dough is nice, but it’s so much better to know everything that goes into my recipes.
Old-Fashioned Citrus Juicer
Let me start by saying old-fashioned doesn’t mean something from your favorite antique shop (although those work too!) I simply mean a non-electric juicer you can hold by hand.
In the days of electronics, I know it must seem crazy to opt for something without a cord, but I love my little juicer. For one thing, I hate fishing lemon seeds out of dressings and sauces, and my handy little juicer captures those suckers so I can easily measure and pour juice into recipes.
I also like to add a squeeze of fresh citrus to my water bottles. It’s much easier to get my eight glasses a day in when every sip is a treat! And who can forget fresh-squeezed juice? Nothing tops off a healthy breakfast like juice from the actual fruit!
That’s it! I hope you find my go-to gadgets for hassle-free and healthy cooking helpful, but I’d also like to hear what kitchen must haves top your list. One can never have enough ways to spare a second or two! Share your favorites in the comments below.
Happy cooking everyone!