Gift Guide for Kitchen Lovers
It’s the holiday season 2019 and my kitchen premium faves have not changed – a good sign that they stand the test of time! However, I have added a whole new meal prep section for containers that are essential for easy healthy meal prep (I’m a big fan of the locking leak-proof lids). Do you have a favorite that belongs on this list? Let me know and I’ll check it out.
Do you love to blend, slow cook, chop, and cook like a champ? Do you appreciate a great kitchen tool that makes your #kitchenlife so much better? I’m not talking about single-use gizmos that replace what your fingers could easily do (herb strippers, I’m looking at you). I’m talking about small appliances that are a step above the essentials, for when you’re ready to take your cooking to the next level.
I spent hours reading reviews on every single item on this list, and then road-tested them in my own kitchen. I used to be a minimalist in the kitchen (see my kitchen essentials list here), and still am at heart, so you know these items are special for making the cut.
Vitamix 750 Copper Heritage G-Series Blender with 64-Ounce Container + Introduction to High Performance Blending Recipe Cookbook + Getting Started DVD + QuickStart Guide + Low-Profile Tamper
This is a great one for healthy cooking – from soups to smoothies, and more. Soups and sauces get silky smooth, and smoothies live up to their name. The blending power of a Vitamix is legendary, and if you run in to issues, their customer service is quick to help. The wider base pitcher is great for big jobs and fits under most cabinets. For those who blend smaller jobs, you may prefer the more narrow/taller pitcher.
2. Instant Pot
Instant Pot LUX60V3 V3 6 Qt 6-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer
Many magazines that share slow-cooker recipes often have Instant Pot versions, which is pretty awesome. You can make meals like you cooked all day, without the wait. I found that the 6-quart is perfect for my family of two, and I think it would also work for small families of three to four. Any bigger, and it would take up too much counter/storage space for my home, but bigger families may prefer the larger sizes. After much research, I also decided that the 6-function version has more than enough functionality for the dishes I want to make. For a slightly higher price point, you can add the yogurt-making function (7-in-1 version) if you really want it.
This comes with different blades that make it easy to chop, shred, and slice lots of food for when you need a lot of food processed (vs. a few precision cuts). For example, this is an excellent tool to shred potatoes for latkes, slice apples for pie, chop onions for soup, and more. It comes in other colors if red isn’t your thing.
This gadget surprised me. It has an itty bitty footprint so I wasn’t sure how useful it’d be. But I find myself using this regularly for dressings, sauces, remoulades, gremolatas, nice cream, and fat bombs. This food chopper is just the right size for these kinds of jobs that are prepped in small batches that pack big flavor.
If you eat a lot of rice, this high-tech pressure-cooker, rice-cooker (and more) could replace the Instant Pot purchase. It has many of the same capabilities, plus can make rice that is regular, sprouted, porridge-texture, or crunchy on the bottom. So, yeah, if you are a rice connoisseur looking for a pressure cooker, this is a solid choice. There are really only two quality brand names in high-end rice cookers, and Cuckoo is one of them, albeit a little lesser known in the U.S.
This is a two-part recommendation because these tools work beautifully together. The ANOVA sous-vide precision cooker cooks everything from easy and perfectly poached eggs to medium-rare steak that is pink from edge to edge. The trick is constantly circulating water that is temperature controlled. Think of it as a love-child between a slow-cooker and an iphone. The sous vide wand fits into just about any pot and warms the water to the temperature you desire, then keeps it there, exactly there, for evenly cooked fish, chicken, and more. You can control the device directly or from an app. The ANOVA and Joule are the two major brands, but the ANOVA is more affordable and easier to clean, even though it heats up slightly more slowly (but when you’re slow-cooking anyway, how much do a few minutes matter?). Once your food is perfectly cooked, you can give it a light sear or saute if you want to add a crust or crunch.
The NutriChef vacuum sealer kit provides everything you need to prep your foods for sous-vide cooking, has a sleek counter-top footprint, and has been lab-tested to keep food fresher for longer.
Cast iron is great to cook with because it retains heat well. Plus, you can imagine Jean-Georges is cooking next to you with this set of classic French cookware. I am building up my collection piece by piece, and each one is worth every penny. If you can swing it, get the complete set for yourself. Take good care of them and they will help feed you good meals for many years to come.
Look, I’m not a daily baker, but my foodie friends who are swear the Kitchen Aid mixer is the MVP of their kitchen arsenal. Who am I to argue? Especially when they come in gorgeous hues like this vintage baby blue (lots of other options if this doesn’t fit your kitchen vibe). The once or twice a year my arm gets sore from making whipped cream from scratch *almost* makes me want to add one to my counter. If you bake more than I do, or fancy making pizza dough, or would appreciate the attachments for pasta and spiralizing and what not, this is for you.
*NEW* Meal Prep Essentials!
Whether you’re pre-portioning meals for the week’s lunch or freezer dinners, packing snacks to take on the go, or need to seriously overhaul your pantry to make meal prep time easier, I’ve got you. Below are the bare essentials I use in my own home.
I find that I rarely need more than two compartments, but that sometimes separating out a garnish or side is helpful, like the pepitas and cilantro for soup, or a side of veggies. Oven, freezer, and microwave safe (not the lids).
Take snacks on the go in reusable bags. Pre-pack smoothie makings. Use them for sous-vide prep! At the end of the day, give yourself a high five for reducing your single-use plastic bag use.
Organize and easily see what you have in your pantry. If you don’t know what you have on hand, it’s harder to meal plan and easier for food to go to waste. It either goes forgotten and unused, or you end up buying more than you need because you don’t realize you already had something at home (this used to happen to me more often than I’d like to admit). These jars changed all that.
I truly believe in each and every one of these culinary tools. If you find this curated list helpful and decide to buy from my links, I’ll receive a small percentage at no cost to you.