Anyone who knows me has heard me admit that I have hoarding tendencies. (Think: cans of pumpkin from the commissary while living overseas. And then there’s my pottery “collection”…)
But anyone who admits this can’t possibly be a real hoarder. Or so I tell myself! I just think most people have these tendencies, if for no other reason than it takes effort and energy to go through our stuff to keep it from collecting right under our noses. And if you’re busy enjoying life, working hard, raising children, etc., who has time for sorting through stuff on a daily basis to discard or organize it? Or even weekly? Are you with me???
Truth be told, I guess I could be a real hoarder if the Navy didn’t force me to come to terms with my stuff every two to four years, sifting and purging before each move. (And again immediately after the move, why does this always happen???) I have learned to keep up with it in some ways. I keep a donation bag in the corner and collect things around the house until full, and then I donate it, and start another bag. But there’s still a ton to do right before a move. Fortunately, we are still about two years out from another move.
Nevertheless, I just started reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and I’m totally on board–I’m ready to part with things that don’t “bring me joy.” While deep down I don’t believe any items truly bring joy, I buy into this “parting with material things” as part of my ongoing spiritual pursuit for serenity through living a more simple, grateful life. I am drawn to “the more of less”–even when I don’t always live by example. With food, with stuff, with everything. Kind of “new age” for me, I know.
That said…moving or not, there are some things that will never ever end up in the donation bag. Most things in my kitchen–especially these top 10 beloved kitchen tools. Most of these are nothing short of life changing! How is that possible, you may ask? Well, they add unparalleled quality, freshness, and flavor in my cooking. More importantly, they simplify my life, and allow me to cook easy, real, whole foods for my family, which brings me great joy. And this is one key way I show my family how much I love them–thrice daily. To be more precise, these tools are not exactly beloved, but my family they serve is, so I value them greatly.
Put simply, it would be more difficult to cook for my beloved family without these useful kitchen tools. At the very least–I think they can help you cook easy, real food, too! Here they are:
|Kitchen Tool||Estimated Cost (On Amazon)||How We Use It||
How Often We Use It (Days Per Week)
|1. Misto spray bottle for olive oil||$7||I love olive oil; living in Italy only increased my fondness for it. I don’t like aerosol Pam, so I use this pump spray bottle with my favorite olive oil to grease pans, and spray fresh vegetables or fruits before grilling or roasting. Even when I bake (rarely), it doesn’t impart a flavor.||
|2. Nordic Ware Aluminum jelly roll sheets (recommend 2 or 3 of them)||$13 each||Most of our dinners include roasted (or grilled) vegetables. I use these pans to roast all vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, butternut squash, Brussels sprouts, etc.). I add olive oil and salt, sometimes garlic, and bake for about 25 minutes at 400. B also makes bacon on the weekends in the oven with these (and cleanup is easy if you soak with hot water for 5 minutes before washing.)||
|3. Oxo Garlic press||$12||We love garlic. I sometimes add it to recipes that don’t call for it and I almost always press it, even when recipes call for minced.||
|4. Gas Grill (not pictured above)||Varies||I LOVE a gas grill, because simple meats and vegetables tastes good grilled and it’s easy clean up. But I mostly love it because B’s so good at it, so he takes care of dinner on grilling nights. Win, win!||
|5. Citrus juicer||$20||I frequently use fresh lemons and limes in recipes, usually as marinades, salad dressings, or guacamole but sometimes in B’s low-sugar mojitos! It tastes better than store bought juice and is a breeze to squeeze with a stainless steel hand-held juicer.||
|6. Bovado Vegetable peeler||$7||You just have to have a peeler, for peeling the tough skins of some vegetables, such as butternut squash, sweet potatoes, the outer stringy part of celery, etc. I love these stainless steel ones B’s mom first gave me when we just married.||
|7. Lodge Cast iron skillet with lid||$50 for both||At least twice a week, we use a full-size cast-iron pan for scrambled eggs with vegetables mixed in (tomatoes, peppers, avocados, etc.) Other times, when the weather doesn’t allow for grilling, we use it for cooking chicken with my seasoning salt, or turkey burgers, etc. Of course it comes in handy for quick and crispy quesadillas for the kids with leftover chicken and cheese.||
|8. Oxo Hand held cheese grater||$8||Most of us (but not all) love parmesan cheese, especially after living in Italy. This hand-held grater makes it easy for some of us to add cheese at the table to roasted vegetables (zucchini, butternut squash, etc.) for extra flavor.||
|9. Crockpot Slow Cooker (6 Qt+ for families)||Varies||I am very picky when it comes to slow cooker meals, which is why I only use it about 2 times per week. But I love the convenience of slow cooking and how it frees up dinnertime for paying more attention to my kids when they are home from school. I avoid “easy” recipes that use store-bought processed ingredients. I use easy, real food ingredients. And I prefer to take a few minutes in the AM to brown the meat in most cases beforehand, which gives a more browned flavor and less of a “boiled” texture.||
|10. Paderno Spiralizer (3 blade)||$30+||We love “spaghetti” zoodles, even the kids. If the sauce is good, they don’t seem to miss the pasta. I use them in Italian dishes, or Asian noodle dishes. I’ve also used other blades to make baked apple chips and spiral baked sweet potato fries as a treat.||
Really enjoyed your post and have most of the items you spoke of; however, I sure would love a couple of your real food crock pot recipes.
Thank you for leaving a comment! I’m happy to share some recipes with you. Here’s one in the recipe index already: https://thewanderingrd.com/2016/05/02/from-our-kitchen-slow-cooker-chicken-burrito-bowls/
I will email you some more. And for anyone else with the same need, will also set about to posting some of them in my recipe index today!
I am a total ‘gadget’ girl when it comes to my kitchen (Pampered chef loves me!!) I have a few more than 10 favorites as I would add my food processor that I use to make real sauces, salsa, sorbets, and more….any my trusty rice cooker. Being a Hawaii girl, it is still a twice a week staple in our house. I love it because not only can it be used for the traditional white rice but also basmati rice, which I make with organic chicken or vegetable broth instead of water, and brown rice, which I like to top with a few slices of fresh ginger, for not only the added flavor, but the whole food anti-inflammatory, healthy digestive properties it contains 🙂
Thanks for commenting, Nani! I do have a Vitamix, a food processor (it’s still more useful for chopped things than my Vitamix) and a rice maker! Those would have been 11, 12 and 13! I’ll have to try adding ginger to the rice, that’s a great idea. Although I’m usually adding ginger to whatever I put on the rice, so that works too, I guess! I love garlic and ginger!
I only have one item on your list!! Maybe if I get rid of some kitchen junk I can justify buying some of the others 😜
Thanks for commenting, Linda! Which item do you have? I’m so curious! I’d guess a peeler, since most people have those. I’m thinking of you and your expert purging abilities as I read this book! I’m not even done with the book and you’d be proud of my donate pile so far!