If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ll be spending a lot of time next week in the kitchen preparing for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Are your comfy, elastic-waist pants ready to go? Many people think of Turkey Day as an excuse to get gluttonous, but you can still eat healthy over the holidays by cooking those meals in between parties on your own.
The key is to create a kitchen environment that makes it compelling to get in there and get your pans dirty! It starts with assembling some basic must-have kitchen tools to help make things easier for you. Plus, these inexpensive items make great holiday gifts!
Most of my clients fall into two groups. Some own a ton of kitchen gadgets because they think it will speed up the process, but they don’t know how to use them all. So, they never cook a thing. The other group cooks at home a lot, but mostly by hand because they don’t think about how kitchen tools can help them save time.
Now, the requirements for a spot-on kitchen tool are simple. You’ll use it almost daily. It can fit into a drawer or cabinet for easy storage. It helps make healthy food prep super easy, appealing or more creative. And, it is relatively inexpensive. But, heading into a superstore filled with chef’s gizmos large and small can be overwhelming and expensive.
To clear up the confusion, and set you up for some serious culinary creativity this holiday season, I’m sharing my Top 5 Must-Have Kitchen Tools (plus a few bonus goodies) for a healthy, home-cooked holiday!
1) Cast Iron Skillet
You gotta have a good iron skillet! You can cook everything, all in one pan. If you don’t already own one, skip Santa and treat yourself to one today! It will change your life. I keep my skillet on the stove, so that it’s ready at a moment’s notice. I cook entire meals in it, and there are lots of cool recipe books with nothing but delicious one-skillet dishes. I make a lot of eggs, meats, and sautéed veggies in mine, but you can bake frittatas and even cakes in one! It’s an extremely versatile kitchen tool, which is why it’s my favorite gift for housewarmings and holidays. Regardless of sweet or savory meals, the cask iron makes everything taste so much richer. And it’s super easy to clean (yes, please!) Try the Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet; it’s inexpensive and awesome.
2) Paring Knife
In my opinion, a knife block is a huge waste of money and counter space. You just need a few knives to do almost every type of cutting you’ll need, and numero uno is a good, sharp paring knife. I use a larger one for bigger things like a spaghetti squash and a smaller one for almost everything else. I love this knife set from Wüsthof, but don’t feel like you need two knives to start. You can get a great single paring knife that will do the trick for most jobs!
3) Mandolin Slicer
Adding new textures with your vegetables makes dishes more enjoyable. A mandolin slicer can thinly cut beets, potatoes, carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, you name it. If you’re a big salad eater, you know how it can get monotonous real quick, so this tool makes it easy to add fresh toppings to your greens. And get ready to perfect your own homemade sweet potato chips! Check out my fav Mandolin Slicer HERE and my recipe for Oven-Baked Beet Chips HERE.
These babies are so inexpensive compared to how much punch they add to your dishes! While I like a good complex carb, they are still sometimes too heavy for me, so I love to make zucchini noodles with my Spiralizer. It’s a light, healthy pasta alternative, and it literally takes 3 minutes with minimal cleanup.
5) Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is a busy gal’s best friend. Prep the night before, turn it on in the morning, and voila! Come home to a delicious dinner, ready to enjoy. You can make your own bone broth, soups, stews, or even cook a whole chicken. And you can freeze a lot of these recipes to use later. Best of all, Crock-Pots are constantly on sale at places like Lowes and Target.
BONUS: A Quality Blender
Ideally, we’d all own a Vitamix if we could afford them, but with a price tag upwards of $700, this high-end gift may be out of the question for many. However, you can still find a quality blender for an affordable price. Ninja Blenders are budget-friendly and available at Macy’s and Target in a variety of options. I personally own an OMNI 3 Horsepower Heavy Duty Blender, which has lasted for years at half the Vitamix price. When you need to make a quick, nutritious breakfast, nothing beats a good blended green smoothie.
STOCKING STUFFER: Mason Jars
I think every kitchen should have a set of mason jars in various sizes. They are great as glasses for smoothies and overnight oats, fridge storage for your homemade Cashew Mylk, or for freezing extra goodies from your Crock-Pot! I am obsessed with these Cuppow drinking lids for canning jars! Ditch those cumbersome tops with the straw sticking out of them; these lids make it much easier to travel with your morning java without spills. Best of all, the plastic lid is entirely free of BPA, BPS, and phthalates, 100% recycled (from post-industrial sources) and 100% recyclable. Win-win for everyone!
What are you favorite kitchen tools? Let me know if I left anything off the list in the comments below.
Moniqua is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Real Food | Real Life Expert. As the Owner and Founder of The Plante Life, she helps women (and a few good men) get their groove on through real food, self care and radical self love so they can live the kick ass, healthy, energetic lives they're meant to live.