Starter Kit: 5 “Must Have” Kitchen Appliances
Much of modern life is ruled by convenience. Naturally, we just want to do whatever is most convenient. This applies to me in nearly every facet of life. When I lived in LA, I would avoid entire restaurants or shopping centers just because they were on the wrong side of the road or had bad parking situations. Inconvenient. I have a hard time eating breakfast throughout the week if I don’t prep something ahead of time that I can just reheat. Inconvenient. I don’t like to have to look up numbers to restaurants to make reservations; I just use OpenTable. Calling is inconvenient. Putting on real clothes instead of workout clothes is inconvenient. Kidding.
Okay, not kidding.
Not having the right kitchen tools can be a huge obstacle for people wanting to do a better job cooking for themselves. Think about it this way – getting ready for a night out would be impossible without the right makeup brushes, curling irons and products. You wouldn’t feel like driving if you didn’t have a car that ran properly – and, furthermore, you might be even more excited to drive if it was in a new car!
Having these helpful tools in the kitchen can be life or death when it comes to making meals. Once you have a good set-up, it’s so much easier to just hop in the kitchen, grab your ingredients, and get to business.
These are my 5 “Must Have” kitchen appliances to make your cooking life simple, quick and easy. Maybe even fun! No? Not fun? I think it’s fun. All of these items I use multiple times in a week – sometimes even multiple times in a day.
In each category, I’m linking a few different options at different price points. I know spending money on kitchen appliances can be a bit scary, but it pays off in spades. Regardless – scouring different flash sale sites like Gilt, Rue La La, One Kings Lane, etc, has saved me a TON of money over the years, and I would definitely recommend keeping a beat on those if your wallet is a bit tighter.
- Sharp 8″ Chef’s Knife – This sounds somewhat obvious, but having a knife that is heavy and sharp makes a huge difference when it comes to meal prep, when it seems like you have dozens of vegetables to dice. Try cutting up 3 sweet potatoes with a knife that can barely shred through a marshmallow. It sucks. If you’re a knife virgin, an 8″ Chef’s knife is the most basic place to start, and is great for the majority of things. Yes, a good knife can be pricey – but if you buy it right, you buy it once. I use a Calphalon Fully Forged 8″ Chef’s Knife which is a good budget option. Calphalon in general is a great budget brand. You can check out Wusthof’s 8″ option, which is fancier but will last longer. Henckels is another pricier but very reputable brand. If you are interested in the next level, you can get a knife set that includes knives for every occasion – I have this Mercer German steel 5 piece set, and I use it constantly.
- 12 Inch Non Stick Skillet – If you haven’t dipped a toe in the non-stick pool, please join in. It makes clean up a cinch. For the person that doesn’t have many pots and pans, starting out with a 12-inch non-stick skillet is a great place to start, as it fits most needs. I have just about worn out my Mario Batali version, but it has lasted me almost two years and I have NOT taken perfect care of it. I recently went shopping at Williams-Sonoma, and after my research I would also recommend the Williams Sonoma brand (dishwasher safe), or the mothership, Le Creuset.
- Food Processor – A food processor is just a non-negotiable for me. Can’t live without it. Nothing helps recipe prep go by faster than being able to have a machine shred your sweet potatoes, chop up your onions, make your salsa….I could go on forever about how helpful a food processor can be in life. I would recommend a 8-10 cup food processor if you normally just cook for yourself, or 1-2 people. If you cook for a larger family, you may want to go ahead and splurge for a 10-12 cup version. I have had the Cuisinart Prep 9″ 9 Cup Food Processor for over three years, and I cannot say one bad thing about it. The stainless steel looks nice in the kitchen, and it’s a great price point. Hamilton Beach sells a cheaper model, while Breville will take care of you if you are Fancy Nancy.
- Crockpot – If you are a person constantly on the go and juggling 15 things at once and you still do not have a crockpot….I can’t feel sorry for you. I really think Jesus sent us the crockpot because he was over hearing our complaints over not having enough time to cook dinner after long days at the office. There are TONS of options for crockpots on the market. If you want to keep it simple, you can check out the Original Crockpot, which typically runs about $60.00. I recently upgraded to the Cuisinart 6-Qt 3-in-1 Cook Central, which allows you to slow cook, brown/saute, AND steam things in it. I really can’t even talk about how much I love this thing. I can brown meat inside of it, and then just switch over to the slow cook option once I’ve added my other ingredients. You know how I feel about efficiency, and this one just hits the nail on the head.
- High Speed Blender – Some may disagree that a high speed blender is a “must have” in the kitchen, but I really am not sure where I would be in life without my Vitamix. Vitamixes (would that be the plural of Vitamix?) are a bit controversial because of their high price tag, but to me, it is worth it. You can throw anything into a Vitamix and it will blend it. The motor never, ever gets stuck, clean-up is easy, and they come with amazing warranties. I have never, ever heard a person regret splurging on a Vitamix. Soups, smoothies, juices, sauces, salsas, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad dressings….it’s endless. I have the Vitamix 5200, which is their basic model. If you don’t want to splurge, you can check out the Ninja, or this KitchenAid model, both of which get good consumer reviews.
If you’re thinking about setting yourself up to be able to prep and cook meals easily, I would highly recommend getting started with the 5 tools we’ve discussed here. The convenience factor of having everything ready to go is invaluable – you may even start looking forward to making dinner every night!