I love to cook, and over the years I have acquired some gadgets and tools that I use all the time, many of them every day (beyond the obvious spatulas, baking sheets, and sauté pans). These tools have made it easier to eat and cook a diet of whole, real foods for myself and my family. One missing on the list is a crock pot. I always suggest crock pots for busy families, but they just didn’t make my Top 15 list because I rarely use mine. Here are my essentials that I just couldn’t live without, in no particular order:
Vitamix– I use it at least twice a day. That might sound like a lot, but I promise you, the more you use it, the more uses you will find! Smoothies of course, banana soft-serve ‘ice cream’, fresh tomato sauce, soups, oat flour, peanut and almond butter, hummus, this list really goes on and on. And I use it as a food processor.
If a new Vitamix is not in your price range, which I completely understand as it is quite an investment, look into a refurbished model. Otherwise, there are less expensive blenders on the market that I have heard are pretty powerful and effective like the ninja and bullets.
Rice cooker – Have you made rice in a regular pot on the stove? I used to make a mess every time. No matter how tightly I thought the lid was on the pot, I always had bubbles running out. I love my rice cooker. Throw in the rice, turn it on, and go back to your life. Once it’s done, it switches to the warming setting and you’re good to go until it’s time to eat. You can see from the picture above that mine is not fancy. In fact, it was very inexpensive. There are some great ones on the market that probably have more bells and whistles than mine, but this one does the job!
Pressure Cooker – I make beans in minutes. Sure beats an hour plus in a pot on the stove! You can use a pressure cooker to make so many foods in a fraction of the time. Definitely essential for the busy family.
A good soup pot – Or two! I do have two and I actually get a lot of use out of both because I tend to make multiple soups at a time to stock my freezer. But I use this size pot for more than soup. . .even homemade popcorn works great!
Chef’s knife – This is pretty much the only knife I use every day. I have one Wusthof knife and one Japanese knife and I love them both. A good-sized, sharp knife makes cooking so much easier.
Good cutting board – I like a nice wooden board, but I have some plastic ones I use too. Mine often sits out all day because it gets so much use.
Garlic press – I use a lot of garlic in my cooking, and a garlic press ensures I never need to get garlic on my hands! This one is from Pampered Chef.
Fine Sieve – I use this all the time for rinsing grains and beans.
KitchenAid Vegetable Peeler – A good vegetable peeler makes all the difference. I have had a few over the years, and the KitchenAid peeler is the best I have found. From carrots to butternut squash, it works great. There is nothing worse than peeling potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner and fighting with a vegetable peeler that won’t do its job.
Mason jars – Buy any size that works well for you; I have multiple sizes. I like to store food in glass containers when I can, and mason jars make it so easy and inexpensive. From soups to smoothies to homemade granola, mason jars are my storage containers of choice!
Microplane – These are great for zesting lemons and limes, ginger, even chocolate.
Salad spinner – I admit, I usually buy pre-washed organic greens in huge containers at Costco. But from my garden or CSA, the salad spinner comes in pretty handy to dry my greens!
Immersion Blender – I use this favorite quite frequently, especially for creamy soups and dressings. They are quite inexpensive so worth it if you enjoy cooking!
Kitchen Timer – Because if you’re like me, you are not just cooking. You are cooking, baking, washing clothes, refereeing kids and letting the dogs out. You need a reminder!
Citrus Juicer – The hand-held juicers are my go-to. I use a lot of lemons in my cooking, and I like to use this to avoid seeds slipping into my recipes. And honestly I like to keep my hands clean when possible!
I hope this list is helpful. The majority of these can be picked up wherever you like to shop – Target, Amazon, or a fancy kitchen store. What would you add here that you use every day?