Home cooked meals are healthier than eating out. We have all heard that saying time and again. It is also cheaper. So why do so few of us make our own foods? The excuses we make range from not having enough time or not knowing how to prepare delicious foods. The first reason is understandable given the hustle and bustle of modern life. The second reason is unacceptable and we know it. If we can get our hands on recipes and the right tools to bring them to life we are set. We just need the motivation to make it happen. If we actually take the time to be reflected on how much healthier and richer we could be if we cooked most of our meals, we would be more likely to take action.
According to a Seattle Obesity Study, home cooked dinners are associated with greater dietary compliance and scored higher on the healthy living index. The foods we eat are directly correlated to our health and longevity. Bearing that in mind, we should find some time to make foods at home. The first step in doing so is to have the right tools in our kitchens. Using the right equipment can give us results in the finished products of our culinary exploits. Having the knowledge of what to use, how and when will give us the confidence to make amazing dishes that will wow not only us but others who taste our foods. This list has 21 essential items that all home cooks can benefit from.
21 Become a Cake Boss
Whenever you feel for a treat or need to make dessert items for special occasions or holidays, you need to have pastry bags. Using them, you can create some beautiful designs that are sure to amaze everyone. You can design cakes or top off cupcakes and muffins or cinnamon rolls. Once you get the icing in the bag and attach the tip, go to town! If you are in the market for a disposable pastry bag, you should try the Ateco 18 –Inch Soft Disposable Pastry Bag 10 – pack. The bag has a non-slip quality which makes it easy use – especially if you work with greasy confections like buttercream. The best piping tips to get are ones that have a plastic coupler. Once the coupler is inserted into the bag, you can screw the tips on from the outside. To complete your set, the Ateco 14-Piece Cake Decorating Set is perfect. The plastic coupler on this brand allows for seamless closure. The last thing you want is for the frosting to leak from the pastry bag while you are using it.
20 Don't Just Cleave It To The Pros
If you work with a lot of meat or large fruits such as melons, you need a cleaver. It can cut through bone much easier than a standard knife. It can also be used for delicate tasks such as removing the skin from fish or other meats or making paper thin slices of vegetables. The handle and the blade (when turned in a flat position) can be used to crush foods such as garlic and cloves. Who needs a mortar and pestle when you have a cleaver with a sturdy handle? One of the best cleavers on the market is the Dexter –Russel 8” Heavy Duty Meat Cleaver. It has a firm handle and a high carbon steel blade that is easy to sharpen.
19 Spice Up Your Life
Nobody likes unseasoned foods. If you say you do, chances are you live in a land of denial. Spice gives life to food. Spice is the difference between a bland, unappealing piece of steak as opposed to a juicy, delicious, well flavoured one. Spice makes certain foods more palatable. Without spice, we would not be able to eat and enjoy most of our meals. Everyone should have salt, pepper, chilli flakes, paprika, black pepper, garlic, onion and cinnamon. These are just the basics. There are so many flavours of spices available to us. Most people choose spices based on the types of foods they cook or culture. If you have spices, you can prepare so many flavourful dishes. For an idea of some of the best spice brands on the market, you can browse this list of the best spices on ranker.com.
18 Flippin' Out
It’s not only for flipping burgers you know – you can turn anything with your spatula. There are also different types depending on what you need it for. After you have whipped up some batter for dessert or breakfast, you need to scrape the sides of your dish to get it out. That is where a rubber spatula comes in handy. The GIR Spatula is made of silicone, has a small head that can fit into smaller containers but is also effective in a large sauce pan. The tip is also shaped perfectly to get into hard to reach areas of angular containers. If you are frying or grilling foods, you need to be able to turn them when necessary. You can use the Victorinox Chef’s Slotted Fish Turner. It is an all-purpose metal spatula perfect for any type of food.
17 No Need To Stick Around
If you have ever prepared food in a non-stick pot, pan or skillet it’s quite difficult for you to go back to anything else. In terms of health, non-stick pans limit the amount of oil one has to use. The main benefit, however, it that you can cook foods such as fish and eggs at low temperature for a longer period of time. T-fal Professional 10-Inch Fry Pan is easy to use with its colour changing dot that signals when the pot is hot. It is quite affordable and one of the most durable non-stick skillets you will find. The level of browning that comes from using a non-stick pan means that it will be much easier for you to avoid burning foods. Your vegetables and meats will be better in every way if you cook them in a non-stick skillet or pan.
16 Grind Like You're At Your School Dance
Fresh spices and herbs are your friends. If you want to improve your cooking and the flavour profile of your dishes, repeat that mantra over and over. Take some cloves, pimento and pepper seeds, for example, grind them and take a whiff. You will notice that the smell is much more potent than the store bought and pre-grounded variety. The Cuisinart electric spice and nut grinder comes with two detachable bowls. It works well with dry spices as well as nuts and wet spices such as garlic, ginger and chillies. This is one of the best electronic spice mills/grinders there is. If you prefer a manual grinder that you can place on your dinner table to top up food as you eat, you can purchase an Oliver Hemming Spice Boy manual spice grinder. It is meant to be used for smaller amounts of spice and has two settings – fine or coarse.
15 Your Temperature's Rising
Every cook – professional or amateur – should own an instant-read thermometer. It is important to have a device that can accurately measure the temperature of foods. This is especially true when cooking meat. You need to be able to know if your food is safe to eat and if they are being cooked at a particular temperature that will yield the desired taste. Some people use their fingers to test the temperature of food. Let’s be honest that is not sanitary and it certainly is not safe. After 25 instant read digital thermometers were tested by Wirecutter, the ThermoWorks Thermopop brand was declared the winner. It has the best speed and accuracy. The tip of the thermometer is quite long which allows you to go as deep as possible when testing your food. It is waterproof, has a backlit display and switches between Celcius and Fahrenheit quite easily.
14 Big or Little Spoon?
You can eyeball how much salt you need for that pot roast and run the risk of it being too salty or fresh. Both outcomes would be equally terrible. In order to be sure you are using the correct amount of any ingredient, you need to measure them. This is especially true if you are following a recipe. Every home cook needs a measuring cup, beaker and spoons. Most people typically opt for glass ones but plastic ones are just as good. This list gives you some idea on what brand and material type you should opt for when buying a measuring set.
13 Pass The Pasta
Making fresh pasta is something that serious chefs do. They prefer to create their own noodles in order to keep things fresh and avoid using preservatives that no doubt comes with store-bought pasta. Once flour, egg, olive oil and salt are combined to make a dough, chop the dough into small pieces. Each piece is flattened and rolled through the pasta maker. It does take some time but nothing beats fresh pasta. The Imperia Pasta Machine is a great choice if you are buying your first pasta maker. It's affordable, simple to use and clean. The two rollers are for solid sheets and the other for fettuccine or linguine. If you are interested in making more than two types of pasta, invest in a pasta maker set by Cucina Pro. It can make spaghetti, fettuccine, angel hair, ravioli and lasagnette.
12 The Hole-y Grail Of Kitchen Supplies
You need to wash and/or drain some of your foods. That is a given. You can wash them in your sink but why would you want to when you can use a colander? You need one that is roughly the same size as a pot, preferably metal and one that has a good amount of holes in it. You can look no further than the Bellemain Micro-perforated Stainless Steel 5-Quart Colander or the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Colander. There are so many other reasons to buy a colander – you can use it to toss your salads, make yogurt and act as a dish cover to protect food while outdoors. It’s a good investment that will make you a better cook. Also, with its multiple functionalities, you can rest assured that it won’t go to waste.
11 Put Your Old Knives On The Chopping Block
Knives are one of the most important kitchen utensils. The slicing, dicing, carving, cutting and scraping that help our food take shape, would be impossible without these bad boys. The best type of knife is one made of high carbon stainless steel. That material is hard but rust resistant so the blade will have a longer life. The Zyliss Control Mini Santoku 5-Inch Knife is great for handling vegetables, fruits and meats. The handle is easy to hold thereby allowing for smooth use. The blade is made from high-quality German steel and is rust resistant. This is a good investment as far as knives go.
10 Spiraling Out Of Control
These products have been around for a while but have gained popularity in recent years. They are great for people who want to eat fewer carbohydrates, get more fibre into the diet, or are allergic to gluten or wheat. If you fall into any of these categories or you just want to have diversity with your food choices, then a spiralizer is recommended for you as well. The KitchenAid Spiralizer Plus is compatible with all KitchenAid stand mixers. It has seven blades – three for spiralizing, three for slicing and one for peeling. It can create spirals as fine as angel hair noodles, thick long curls and flat ribbons. You can create interesting shapes using any vegetable or fruit of your choice. If you already have a KitchenAid stand mixer, this attachment is ideal for you. It is a bit on the pricier side but the quality is hard to beat.
9 Blended Bliss
A blender handles smaller tasks such as making smoothies, soups and purees. A good one can also heavier items, has a powerful motor and is long lasting. If you want to make a good cream of broccoli soup, salad dressing, nut milk, pancake or an iced smoothie you need a blender. A larger blender is always better than a smaller one as it will be more versatile, especially if you are preparing foods for more than one person. In a five year study that tested 22 blender models, the Vitamix 5200 was found to be the best blender on the market. You may balk at the price which can set you back $300- $500. However, the seven-year warranty should take away any fears you have. It is far better to invest in a powerful blender such as this one, rather than buying two or three mediocre blenders over seven years.
8 Box Grater Won't Grate On Your Last Nerves
A four-sided box grater is one of the best things to own in your kitchen if you want to create fancy meals. If you want to add some lemon or orange zest to a dish, get your grater and use the side with the smallest carvings. Do you want to shred some cheese to top your pasta or salad? Find your grater. Tested alongside 33 other models over the course of three years, the Cuisipro Surface Glide 4-Sided Box Grater is superior. It is sharp and versatile. You can grate apples for oatmeal, carrots for muffins or fritters, onion and garlic for tomato sauce. The possibilities are endless. If you want to use only a small serving from a larger piece of food then use a grater. Chocolate shavings, lemon zest, and vegetables can all be shredded using a grater.
7 Still Processing...
A food processor is a heavy-duty kitchen equipment that’s best for juicing or chopping harder and/or larger foods. Apples, sugarcane etc. can be juiced effectively using a processor. Making pie crusts, homemade pasta, coleslaw and meatloaf can be a breeze when you own a food processor. When choosing this appliance, make sure it is powerful enough to handle tough jobs and that the motor won’t burn out. If you can afford a larger one as opposed to one that is more compact, then choose that option. Before choosing a food processor to buy, think about how easy it will be to use and clean and how multifunctional it is. According to a Wirecutter study which tested a number of name brand processors, the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor came out on top every time.
6 Wooden You Like To Chop...
Whether they are made out of wood, plastic or steel, a good chopping board is essential. If you do not have a chopping board, where else will you slice and dice your foods? Sure, you can hold a tomato in your hand and slice it. Yes, you can dice onions in a plate or your kitchen counter. But should you really be doing that? The risk of injury to your hand or damaging your plates or cupboards is not worth it. You need a sturdy reliable surface to chop your food. A wooden chopping board such as the John Boos Maple Cutting Board is the best choice according to The Spruce Eats. Wooden cutting boards are much more durable and function better than those made of less sturdy material.
5 We're Not Half Baked About Baking Trays
A baking pan or baking tin is essential for making a variety of desserts. They can also be used to bake other foods such as meats, vegetables and bread. Leave the stove top for a while and focus on your oven. Many people have not seen the inside of their ovens in years and that’s just sad. When choosing baking tins and pans, always opt for ones that are non-stick such as the Calphalon Nonstick Bakeware 6-Piece Set. They have a steel core that can withstand high temperatures without causing hot spots which can cause some areas of the food to be burnt. Non-stick pans allow you to easily remove your baked items. You can rest assured that you are getting your money’s worth with the 10-year warranty of these products.
4 Mix It up
If you are going to whisk anything, you need a mixer. Your hands will thank you. They give you much faster results without all the mess. You can rest assured that the ingredients will be mixed together and have the consistency or texture you desire. The KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is the best stand mixer, as per the results of a five-year study. It is powerful enough for thick doughs yet gentle enough for light mixtures. It is durable and easy to clean. It also comes equipped to handle several attachments from the KitchenAid brand such as a meat grinder, pasta maker and spiralizer. If you intend to bake and bake well, you need a mixer. If you are a pastry chef and you want to go all out, you can invest in a Hobart Legacy Countertop Mixer. Otherwise, stick with the KitchenAid Artisan Mixer.
3 Slow And Steady Wins The Race
A one pot meal that is packed with wholesome ingredients added at the same time and allowed to cook without much interference is a dream for busy people. A crock pot or a slow cooker is essentially a slow cooker. You can prepare some tender meats or some flavourful stews and soups. A crockpot brings out the flavour in foods and makes clean up time. The Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook is black-accented, neat and budget friendly, dishwasher safe and has three setting – high, low and warm. It is one the simplest and most effective crock pots you will find. It has a locking lid and handle – giving it great portability. Once you prepare your ingredients and put them in to cook, you can just twiddle your thumbs (or find something useful to do) until the meal is done.
2 Stay Sharp
Knives, as previously mentioned on the list, are essential to the kitchen. They also need to be kept sharp in order to do their job. That is why each household needs a trusty knife sharpener. You can take all your knives with you to your nearest butcher shop to have them sharpened. Sure, but for the sake of convienience, you might not want to do that. This is where your knife sharpener comes in handy. Most people use a manual one instead of electric. One of the best manual knife sharpeners is the Chef’s Choice ProntoPro 4643. You just hold the knife firmly and run it in a forward and backward motion along edge or slot of the sharpener. It sharpens your knife after about 20 strokes - so you do not need to overexert yourself.
1 Peel Away From The Crowd
The ideal vegetable peeler should be small and easy to use. The vegetable peeler is also versatile. You can also use it to zest citrus, shred a block of cheese and create shavings from foods. When being used for its main function, it is best to have a tight grip on the device and the food being peeled. The Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler is recommended by pro chefs, America’s Test Kitchen and countless editorial reviews. Wirecutter conducted a study and this brand was proven to be the most effective. It is cheap but durable and peels extremely well. Some of the produce it was used to peel are eggplants, butternut squash and carrots. It was the only peeler that got the job right on these foods.