Cooking in your own kitchen can feel like such a daunting task. Especially, when you’ve just introduced yourself to the stove. I can remember standing in my first apartment kitchen, looking at a butternut squash and thinking “how am I supposed to get into that?”
In early 2013, I lived on flaming hot Cheetos, “sushi pizza” from a local sushi restaurant, and lots of lean pockets. Correction: an ungodly amount of lean pockets. It’s truly a mystery as to how I was the leanest in my life [insert Dad joke]. When I finally committed to learning the “kitchen thing” I was overwhelmed.
First, kitchen gadgets can be expensive.
Secondly, how often are kitchen products actually used?
Finally, Which gadgets are worth the space?
Well, let me start by stating the undeniable truth: The only kitchen essentials you need is a nice set of pots and pans, sharp knives, and a set of tongs. Those three things alone will get you from point a to point b without a hiccup.
However, what about those that make cooking *easier*? That’s the million dollar question, is it not? Whether we love spending time in the kitchen, or absolutely dread it, we all want it to be easy.
This post is inspired by the countless conversation’s I have had with friends, questions from readers and followers, and even my own “kitchen journey”.
Immersion Blender. Also commonly known as “the metal stick thing that purées”. An immersion blender is a handheld blender that I personally use on a daily basis. I use it each morning to blend my coffee into “latte”, to purée potatoes and vegetables when making soup, to make homemade mayonnaise, dressings, marinades, and strawberry margaritas. While a traditional blender is useful, the clean up just isn’t worth it for these small jobs. My immersion blender changed my cooking life.
Electric Knife Sharpener. Those pretty knives you have from your wedding mean nothing if you can’t slice into a tomato without popping it. I’ve known some folks who have gotten rid of knife sets because they went dull. First of all, do you even care about money? Secondly, stop! A knife sharpener can cost $50 and will rescue any dull non-serrated knife you have. Invest in a sharpener, have fun with it, and cut away! Go ahead, debone a chicken! Oh and since we’re on the subject of knives, please stop putting them in your dishwasher. A knife sharpener will make all of your slicing, chopping, and butchering 1,000x’s easier.
Bonus: It will also help you protect your home from intruders. Have you ever stabbed a robber with a dull knife? Me neither but I know if I’m hit with the last resort, I better have something scarier than a straw! Please, own, gift, and lend a knife sharpener any time you can.
Crock-Pot / Slow Cooker. In 2019, I feel a little outdated putting this on a list of things to have but man, I can’t help but be a little traditional. I am a “fix it and forget it” girl and when it comes to fall season comfort, my crock-pot will always keep us in line. Soup, stew, roasts, tenderloins, chicken, vegetable sides, and desserts, the crock-pot can do it all. With that said, I would most definitely splurge in purchasing a high quality with additional functions. Never knowing quite when we’ll be home, we opted for a pot with a timer. Once the time is reached, it pops over to “buffet” which keeps the food warm without continuing to cook it. In addition to the buffet setting, this slow cooker has a stove option. I use this when making queso, and any warm dips, on the fly. Once the ingredients are cooked, you can pop it over to “low” or “buffet”.
The stove option is also wonderful for searing meat before setting it for the day. For example, when making my carnitas, I can sear it in the slow cooker first to avoid clean up of other dishes. Never having to transfer meat from a skillet to the cooker is a time saver making it EASY for everyone. I multi-function slow cooker is insanely beneficial as you make your way through your kitchen and recipe books.
Fun fact: I’ve been asked a lot when talking slow cookers about the difference between a “Crock-Pot” and a “slow cooker”. The “Crock-Pot” is just a brand of slow cookers.
Mandolin Slicer. This baby is the ultimate cheat for all things sliced. If you’ve ever attempted homemade chips or fries of any kind, then you probably faced the moment when half of your chips were ready and the other, thicker sliced, weren’t. Sliced, diced, cubed… It’s all there. The hardest part is the clean up which takes about 2 minutes in the sink? A slicer is the key to helping your longest day’s end with a homemade meal. During my Mom’s first Whole30, I visited her on Sunday’s to chop her vegetables for the week. She genuinely dislikes cooking and her main reason is the chopping and pepping of vegetables. Yes, you can purchase so many things pre-cut but if you’re like me, that extra dollar for each vegetables adds up and totally takes away from the wine allowance! A mandolin slicer will help expedite all chopping, slicing, and dicing needed to complete your favorite recipes!
What is essential in YOUR kitchen? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear!