Healthy eating needn’t be a chore! We’ve made meal planning that little bit easier by rounding up Jamie's top 10 healthy cookbooks that are in shops now and deserve a place on your bookshelf.
10 healthy cookbooks you need in your kitchen
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Everyday Super Food by Jamie Oliver
Penguin Random House, £26.00
Jamie’s new book does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s full of tasty, everyday super-healthy recipes that everyone will love. Plus, it’s conveniently divided into different meals of the day and no recipe is higher than 600 calories, so that’s breakfast, lunch and dinner sorted.
Invest in any of these beautiful books, get cooking, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier you.
Will you be incorporating any of these healthy cookbooks into your kitchen library? Tell us which cookbooks you swear by in the comments!
* All prices are RRP.
Without a proper chef&aposs knife, food prep can be miserable. So if you&aposre in need, go for the affordable 8-inch Misen Chef&aposs Knife. It is a favorite of both our Test Kitchen manager, Breana Lai Killeen, and food editor, Carolyn Malcoun—who rave about how well it handles and its great price. (You really can&apost find a good chef&aposs knife any cheaper.) Plus, Misen offers a 60- day trial with a free return if you don&apost love it, and a lifetime guarantee if you do!
Those butcher blocks full of knives look nice on your counter, but you really only need three: a serrated knife, an 8- to 10-inch-long chef&aposs knife and a paring knife are good basics. Buy the best knives you can afford—they will last for many years. EatingWell&aposs senior digital food editor Megan Steintrager likes the Henckels, Wusthof or Shun brands for her paring and chef&aposs knives, and Oxo for a serrated knife.
- For a paring knife, try Henckels&apos 3.5-Inch (Bed Bath & Beyond, $6)
- For a chef&aposs knife, try Henckels&apos 8-Inch (Bed Bath & Beyond, $50)
- For a serrated knife, try Oxo&aposs 8-Inch (Bed Bath & Beyond, $23)
10 Healthy Food Staples You Should Always Have In Your Kitchen
Stocking your pantry and fridge with nourishing food staples is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stick to healthy eating.
"After a long hard day at work, having nourishing foods at your finger tips can make it easier to pull together a nutritious and speedy meal versus grabbing take out or settling for processed munchies," adds Devje.
Here's a roundup of ten essential food items all healthy eaters should always have in their kitchen:
- Leafy greens. They are loaded with nutrients like vitamins, fiber, antioxidants and minerals (eg: iron and calcium). "Enjoy a variety of greens. Go beyond kale and spinach. There’s so much to explore. Try beet greens, collard greens, arugula, mustard greens, Romaine lettuce, Swiss chard or rapini," says Devje. Best ways to eat leafy greens: Add them to your soups, smoothies, salads, wraps or Buddha bowls. "Remember to add a dash of oil, such as extra virgin olive oil, to your leafy greens to help support absorption of fat-soluble nutrients found in leafy greens," says the dietitian.
- Fish. It's chock full of protein, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. "The omega-3 fats protect your heart by keeping your blood vessels healthy, reducing inflammation as well as lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels," explains Devje. Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, trout, mackerel and herring are all excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids. "If you’re concerned about mercury exposure, avoid eating high-mercury types, such as swordfish, orange roughy, shark, marlin, bigeye tuna and king mackerel," she suggests. Best ways to eat fish: "Poaching and steaming are both healthy ways to cook fish. Baking fish is another great cooking method that requires minimal effort," says the nutritionist.
- Bone Broth. “Bone broth is an incredibly nourishing superfood that has been consumed for thousands of years with health benefits like strengthening bones, skin nails and hair and reducing inflammation and joint pain," says Meredith Cochran, co-founder and CEO of The Osso Good Co. and author of The 7 Day Bone Broth Diet Plan. Moreover, it also supports the immune system and improves digestion. These benefits stem from bone broth's "high collagen, gelatin, amino acid and mineral counts,” she explains. Best ways to eat bone broth: “It’s great to sip warm like you would take coffee or tea. Bone broth can also be used in tons of recipes like as a base for soups, curries, smoothies, stews and sauces, or in place of water in rice, quinoa and pasta dishes,” says Cochran.
- Greek Yogurt. Greek yogurt is packed with protein, calcium and Vitamin B12. "It's also a great source of probiotics, which help to promote a healthy digestive system," notes Devje. Best ways to eat Greek yogurt: Use it to substitute for cream in sauces, curries and soups. "Or, simply add one cup of Greek yogurt to your favorite breakfast smoothie to get a whopping 22 g of protein," suggests Devje. Alternatively, you can mix it in salads, dips or use it in baking.
- Bananas. They are rich in vitamins, dietary fiber and minerals like potassium and magnesium. "Bananas are considered to be a low/medium GI (Glycemic Index) food, which means that they don’t cause a significant spike in blood sugars of healthy individuals. Thus offering you a slower and more sustained release of energy through the day," explains the Toronto-based dietitian. Best ways to eat bananas: Other than eating it as is, you can use bananas while making pancakes, bread, breakfast parfait and smoothies or turn 'em into breakfast pops. Place peeled bananas in plastic resealable bags and store them in the freezer to keep them from over-ripening.
- Quinoa. One of the most nourishing and versatile whole grains, quinoa is a good source of fiber, protein and Vitamin B6. It also contains more protein and iron as impaired to other grains, says Devje. Best ways to eat quinoa: For convenience, prepare a batch in advance on the weekend and store it in your fridge. Use it throughout the week in soups, salads, stuffed vegetables, quesadillas and breakfast bowls. You can also "stir cooked quinoa with beans, leftover veggies, herbs and a dash of olive oil and seasoning to create a quick and nutrient-packed meal," adds the nutritionist.
- Beans. Beans are loaded with dietary fiber and protein. They’re also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, "making them an ideal choice for those looking to control their cholesterol levels and manage their weight or diabetes," says Devje. Best ways to eat beans: Play around with different types of beans to create your favorite recipes. You can throw them in burritos, quesadillas, salsas, salads, pasta sauces or burgers. "Beans can also be used to create quick and tasty dips to use as spreads or for dipping vegetables," notes the dietitian.
- Eggs. They are a pretty convenient and healthy food item to have in your fridge. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, vitamins (A, D and B12) and other essential nutrients. "People are often concerned about the effect of eating eggs on their cholesterol levels. Research indicates that an egg a day is not associated with coronary heart disease or stroke in healthy adults," explains Devje. "However, having more than seven eggs per week has been associated with increased risk, particularly for those with diabetes," she adds. Best ways to eat eggs: Honestly, the options are endless! You can eat them boiled, baked, poached, steamed or scrambled. Or, use them in breakfast burritos, pasta, salads and sandwiches.
- Nuts And Nut Butter. Nut butter can be a nutritious choice to add to your arsenal. But "be wary as some are laden with sugar, hydrogenated oils and other not-so-great ingredients," the nutrition guru points out. Meanwhile, plain nuts are chock full of protein, fiber, vitamins, healthy fats and minerals like iron, calcium and magnesium. They are also portable, easy to store and simple to integrate into your diet. "However, make sure you don't munch on them mindlessly as they’re energy-dense and pack a hefty caloric punch," she adds. Best ways to eat nuts and nut butter: You can eat a handful of roasted or unsalted nuts for a quick and healthy snack. Alternatively, throw in nuts like almonds, pistachio or walnuts in smoothies, yogurt, salads or breakfast cereal. "Dip fruits like apple, pear or banana in your favorite all-natural nut butter. The protein in the nut butter will keep you feeling fuller for longer and help prevent a spike in your blood sugars," notes Devje. "You can also whisk a dollop of nut butter with garlic, hot chili sauce and soy sauce to create a delicious and fiery marinate for tofu and vegetables," she suggests.
- Oats. Packed with protein, iron, potassium and magnesium, oats are filling, versatile and incredibly nutritious. Plus, "soluble fibre, found in oats, helps to control blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels", says the dietitian. Best way to use oats: Make a batch of granola using rolled oats with your favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruits, she suggests. You can also try this delish blueberry-oat quick bread recipe. Or, mix it with cooked veggies and raw fruits for a nutritious salad. Additionally, you can also use oats in making baked goodies like cookies, muffins and scones.
Other must-have kitchen staples include lentils, herbs, apples, extra virgin olive oil, honey, garlic and whole wheat pasta. Also, make sure you buy more whole grains, always keep healthy, ready-to-eat snacks close at hand and read nutritional labels carefully while grocery shopping, says the award-winning dietitian.
"Your kitchen is probably the only place where you have total control over the type and amount of food you have — make it count," she adds.
10 Slow Cooker Cookbooks You Need Right Now
Welcome to Slow Cooker Week! We’re sharing all our favorite Crock Pot recipes, tips, tricks, and advice this week—and including the Instant Pot, of course, since it slow cooks too. There’s a slow cooker cookbook out there for everyone, every cuisine, and every occasion—and these are some of the best cookbooks for Crock-Pot recipes.
How do I love the Crock-Pot? Let me count the ways. It’s small and portable, perfect for cooking in tiny homes and RVs. It’s the epitome of “don’t sweat it” cooking, allowing for easy-to-prepare, one-pot, set-it-and-forget-meals that require minimal cleanup. Plus, unlike an oven, you can prepare a feast during the summer without feeling like the Wicked Witch of the West at the end of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Best of all, they’re extremely versatile as evidenced by the wide ranging themes of the cookbooks we’ve curated below. Whether you’re going full paleo, yearn for a stress-free family dinner, or need some help for the holidays, these options are bound to help you make the most of your slow cooker.
“Fix It and Forget It Slow Cooker Champion Recipes: 450 of Our Very Best Recipes” by Phyllis Good, $14.99 on Amazon
When it comes to slow cooker cooking, Phyllis Good is a goddess. For nearly a decade her New York Times bestselling “Fix It and Forget It” series has covered virtually every aspect of Crock-Pot cuisine. This greatest hits compilation narrows her vast library of recipes to a mere 450 options for morning, noon, and night dining from snacks to full-blown feasts. Buy Now
“The Easy 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook: 100 Delicious No-Fuss Meals for Busy People” by Karen Bellessa Petersen, $13.43 on Amazon
Simplicity is the primary theme here with 100 recipes that require less than 15 minutes of prep and are made with as many ingredients as you can count on one hand. As a mother and creator of the popular blog 365 Days of Slow Cooking, Karen Bellessa Petersen has become well-versed in whipping up simple, crowd pleasing meals and here she shares some of her best time-saving secrets that won’t result in flavor sacrificing. If you’re a home chef who barely has time to prepare dinner let alone embark on an extensive grocery store shopping spree, “The Easy 5-Ingredient Slow Cookbook” is a must. Buy Now
“Holiday Slow Cooker: 100 Incredible Festive Recipes for Every Celebration” by Leigh Anne Wilkes, $13.76 on Amazon
These stress-free holiday recipes for your slow cooker cover major festivities year-round from Super Bowl party snacks to romantic Valentine’s Day delights, and of course, a Thanksgiving (or Christmas) turkey feast which help free up space in the oven for your sides and pies. Just because you’ve been tasked with cooking for a large gathering doesn’t mean you need to spend the majority of your time in the kitchen away from family and friends. Buy Now
“Slow Cooked Paleo: 75 Real Food Recipes for Effortless, Wholesome Meals in Your Slow Cooker” by Bailey Fischer, $17.79 on Amazon
Even though you’ve gone paleo it doesn’t mean you need to relegate your slow cooker to the closet. Whole Kitchen Sink blogger Bailey Fischer has come up with 75 delicious and thoughtfully crafted low-carb and low-stress recipes from Zesty Citrus Broccoli Salad to Toasted Coconut Mocha Fudge. These are dishes that will make you forget you’re on a special diet. Buy Now
“Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes” by Gina Homolka, $19.49 on Amazon
Whether you have plenty of time to spare or only a few minutes to prepare a meal, these mouthwatering recipes courtesy of Skinnytaste blogger Gina Homolka offer the best of both worlds. Her hearty and satisfying slow cooker recipes like Korean-Style Beef Tacos and Spicy Harissa Lamb Ragu all include nutritional information so you can keep tabs on your dietary needs. On evenings when quick dinners are a necessity, “Fast and Slow” also includes 80 non-slow cooker options that can be prepared in under 30 minutes. Buy Now
“The Super Easy Vegan Slow Cooker Cookbook: 100 Easy, Healthy Recipes That Are Ready When You Are” by Toni Okamoto, $12.26 on Amazon
Enjoy an innovative take on meatless meals with this all-vegan slow cooker cookbook. Despite the plant-based limitations, the recipes included here cover the full flavor spectrum with tantalizing options such as Spicy Ethiopian Lentil Stew, Brussels Sprout Curry, and Baked Potato Tacos which substitute tortillas for tubers. As an added bonus, prep time is capped at a mere 15 minutes. Super easy indeed. Buy Now
“The Asian Slow Cooker: Exotic Favorites for Your Crock Pot” by Kelly Kwok, $15.83 on Amazon
If you have a craving for Asian eats but don’t have the time to go all out on a complicated meal…but also don’t want to spend the dough on takeout, Life Made Sweeter founder Kelly Kwok has you covered. Her healthy, budget-friendly slow cooker recipes include traditional meals from Thailand, China, Malaysia, and other favorites from noodles and rice to soups and curries your stomach is sure to be satisfied. Buy Now
“The Meat Lover’s Slow Cooker Cookbook: Hearty, Easy Meals Cooked Slow and Low” by Jennifer Olvera, $11.59 on Amazon
Let’s face it, there’s no better use for a slow cooker than oh-so-tender meaty mains. “The Meat Lover’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” not only covers no-knife-required braises, it’s packed with a variety of globe-spanning options including Chinese Five Spice Pork Chops, Greek Lamb, and Mexican Pot Roast. If you don’t want to go full-carnivore, not to worry. Veggie recipes are featured too. Buy Now
“The Complete Slow Cooking for Two: A Perfectly Portioned Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Linda Larsen, $13.43 on Amazon
Slow cooker recipes tend to skew towards high-yield offerings, but if you’re newlyweds, empty nesters, or someone who just doesn’t love the idea of eating leftovers three days in a row, this is the book for you. Not only does prolific cookbook author Linda Larsen provide 150 recipes that cover the classics like short ribs and chili along with mole and other more intricate fare, she also includes a lesson on “Slow Cooker 101” to help ensure you’re making the most of your machine. Buy Now
“The Chef and the Slow Cooker” by Hugh Acheson, $5.32 on Amazon
Energetic “Top Chef” personality Hugh Acheson slows things down with this Crock-Pot compendium that includes 100 recipes. There’s something for every palate here. Take soups — the unibrowed chef will help you create a simple yet flavorful chicken broth, but will also guide you on your quest to mastering pho and ramen (his overnight version is spectacular). From whole chicken to duck confit, poached eggs to preserves, “The Chef and the Slow Cooker” comes in handy for any occasion. Buy Now
3. Don't skimp on flavor
This just in (but not really): There is little to no evidence to suggest a link between sodium intake and heart disease, at least not among those without genetic predisposition to heart disease.
"Salt helps replenish electrolytes, and if you haven't been told by your doctor to avoid it, you should season all your food with it," says Ciavarella -- excellent news for those who would automatically equate healthy with "bland."
Along with fat, which we've covered before and will cover again, salt is the delivery driver of flavor, and is welcome in a healthy kitchen in moderation. But don't stop there. Lean on all of the spices -- such as ground pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and more -- in your kitchen to make healthy meals flavorful and delicious.
Courtesy of Amazon
While the name of this tool might not sound very appealing, its functionality is. Much like a spork consists of both a spoon and a fork, the chork features a fork on one end and chopsticks on the other. It's perfect for newbie chopstick users who are looking to practice their skills but may still need an assist from their fork every once in a while.
10 Healthy Meal Prep Tips to Help You Eat Clean All Week
Nutritionists and bloggers reveal their best tricks for meal prep success.
In your dream world&mdashyou know, the one you where you quit your job and never have errands to run&mdashyou'd cook all your own meals. You'd never pick up jelly doughnuts on the way to work, eat that overpriced lunch salad that doesn't even taste good, or order pizza because you're too stressed to even think about dinner.
It's time to turn dream into reality. And all you need are two powerful, life-changing little words: meal prep. Essentially, healthy meal prep is the practice of spending a few hours each week making huge batches of whole grains, proteins, veggies, and snacks, ensuring that you're prepared to fight fast-food temptation with tasty, clean, home-cooked meals all week long.
You've probably seen it all over Instagram&mdashand you definitely want to try it. But while prepping a big batch of food on Sundays to eat through the week seems simple, you may soon find it's easier in theory than in practice. To keep yourself on track, follow these clean eating meal prep tips from the pros, along with some of our favorite meal prep ideas from bloggers and our own archives.
The biggest mental hurdle of meal prep: what to actually make. Clean eating meal prep is already complex enough, so there's no need to complicate matters with culinary wizardry, says Sean Peters, the meal-prep master behind the blog My Body My Kitchen. Using recipes that require a trip to a separate grocery store or time poring over a cookbook will only make you less likely to stick with your meal-prep plan. Instead, opt for the simplest of dishes.
Always pick up breakfast on the way to work? Never have enough energy to make dinner after a long day? Your problem meal should be the one you always prep, according to Tammy Kresge of Organize Yourself Skinny. Dedicating your prep time to the meal you're least likely to cook during the week will actually make a dent in your expensive, unhealthy takeout consumption.
Just because you don't have to time to prep every meal each day of the week doesn't mean you should throw your hands up and skip meal prep altogether. When time is limited, Kresge recommends putting together a few mason jar salads. "Even the littlest bit of prep is going to make a big difference in how you eat for the week," she says. "If you only have time to prep lunch and snacks, that's fine."
Try this recipe: Lentil and Steak Salad from Prevention
Many meal-prep pros do all their work on one day of the week, usually prepping on Sundays. But there's no law mandating that you need to do this, too, Peters says. "If you're getting into meal prep, you can become overwhelmed with trying to prep a big batch of meals in one session, so consider breaking it into two sessions," he says. For example, cook brown rice and chicken on Saturday afternoon, then tackle roasted veggies or salad on Sunday. The most important thing is to find a schedule you'll actually stick to, even if it means prepping more than one day per week.
While some people who are on keto and other low-carb diets may avoid pasta, noodles can definitely have a place in your meal prep plan, as demonstrated by nutritionist Emily Dingman and other nutrition experts on Instagram. Pasta on its own can spike your blood sugar, but paired with nutritious veggies and lean protein, you'll be full and energized after every meal. Opt for whole grain pasta when you can, and keep your sauce or dressing separate so things don't get soggy.
Try this recipe: Greek Salad Pasta from Prevention
If you're new to clean eating meal prep, your instinct may be to work on one recipe at a time: baked potatoes, then quinoa, then salmon, then snacks. While that's very logical and organized, it's also very time consuming. Instead, try to use multiple parts of your kitchen at once. "I almost always have something baking in the oven, something cooking on the stove, something in the slow cooker, and I'm working on something at the counter all at the same time," says Lindsay Livingston, RD, author of the blog The Lean Green Bean. "This allows you to get more done in a shorter period of time."
The biggest downside of healthy meal prep, of course, is eating the exact same meal multiple days in a row. But there are ways to make sure you don't get bummed out by meal boredom, says Peters. Set aside one day in the middle of the week to cook something different than your prepped meals or consider earmarking one night per week as the day you eat out (bonus points for a restaurant you've never tried). Another trick: Roast five different types of chopped veggies during your meal prep session and eat a different one each day of the week.
Anyone who's ever tried to store meals in the fridge for several days knows that it can be hard to keep food fresh. "Lining your food-storage containers with paper towel helps absorb moisture and keep your food fresher for longer," Kimberly Gomer, RD, LDN, the Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa, said previously. "There's nothing worse than putting in all of that legwork by washing and chopping your fruits and veggies, only to have them spoil prematurely."
One of the simplest things you can do to make meal prep way less of a burden on yourself is to ensure you always have the basics on hand, Jessica Fishman Levinson, RDN, culinary nutrition expert and healthy living blogger, said previously. "Fresh produce and protein are important, but non-perishables can also fill out weeknight meals and save serious time," she said. A big bag of rice, canned beans, pasta, soups, canned vegetables&mdashthese are all essentials that can save the day if you run out of meal prepped food (or just need a quick weeknight meal).
Try this recipe: Green Envy Rice Bowl from Prevention
After you have a few weeks of clean eating meal prep under your belt, identify a few dishes as your weekly staples, says Livingston. (For her, it's Quinoa Breakfast Bars, Sweet Potato Bites, hard-boiled eggs, and carrot sticks.) "Prepping staples that I've made 100 times makes my time in the kitchen less stressful," she says. Plus, once you've got some go-tos on lockdown, it'll be easier to branch out and add variety with new recipes.
What Else You Can Do
- How to Support Local Businesses When You Can’t Go Out – You don’t actually have to patronize a restaurant in person to help support them here are five ways to show some love to local spots (and help keep them afloat) during these challenging times.
- Sign This Petition to Help the Restaurant Industry Survive – Small tokens of support still matter, but alone, they won’t be enough, so big-name chefs like Alice Waters and Curtis Stone helped create a petition to get government support for their imperiled industry.
- Where to Donate During the Coronavirus Crisis – Food banks, community pantries, and other charitable organizations can also use help right now if you’re able to give, here are some places to donate to, but look for local options as well. (And don’t forget about donating to hospitals too.)
- Buy Restaurant Cookbooks to Show Some Love – Another way to support your favorite restaurants, near and far, is to buy their cookbooks. Bonus: You’ll be able to recreate your favorite dishes when you can’t go out to eat.
- 9 Online Cooking Classes to Keep You Full & Fulfilled – If you’re looking for something to do that will not only entertain you but teach you new skills, now is a great time to dabble in online cooking classes—and there are lots to choose from, for every budget, skill set, and taste. (We also rounded up a secondary list of all free options, and a special selection of MasterClass cooking classes where you can learn from big name pros.)
- 5 Tips for Starting a Garden – If you’ve been wanting to grow your own food, here are some tips for getting started (you’ll also find specific growing guides for potatoes, tomatoes, onions, beans, and herbs).
- How to Regrow Scallions – The easiest first step to growing your own food, and perfect for those without space for a garden.
- 13 Kids’ Crafts to Keep Them Occupied & Fed – These fun activities are even better because they’re edible.
- How to Use Your Food Scraps in Cooking – Food feels more precious than ever right now, so here are strategies for wasting as little as possible.
- Follow These Chefs for #QuarantineKitchen Inspiration – Lots of big names are taking to Instagram to show us all how to cook from what’s on hand (and keeping us entertained or offering emotional comfort in the process).
- See How Celebrities Are Helping the Cause – Check out some of the initiatives celebs are involved in to help those affected by COVID-19.
- Binge on Netflix Food Shows – We picked our favorite streaming options with a foodie bent, from new offerings to old faves.
- Stream These Fab Food Podcasts – Samin Nosrat has a new one, and we wrapped up the first season of our own podcast—but there are lots of other great options to listen to while you cook…or veg out on the couch.
- Get Food Assistance During the COVID-19 Crisis – If you or someone you know is struggling to secure food, there are places that can help.
- Help Support Food Justice – Food insecurity has been a major issue in America (and elsewhere) for a long time, and the pandemic has only exacerbated it. So if you have the means, here are some more ways you can help others.
Keep tabs on the latest COVID-19 coverage on CBS Interactive’s sister sites:
The Ultimate List of Kitchen Tools for Healthy Cooking
It might happen slowly at first: A new, delicious chicken recipe requires a proper roasting pan and carefully measured ingredients. It also calls for minced, diced, and julienned add-ins. (“Hey Siri, what’s julienne?”)
Or it could happen all at once: Mom drops by for a surprise visit and the only things on hand are plastic cups and a jar of peanut butter… oops.
Maybe it’s time to stop using cookbooks as coasters and turn to their intended purpose instead — which means new cooking supplies (and kitchen skills) are in order.
Whether you’re living and cooking solo for the first time or in need of a kitchen overhaul, we’ve picked the best (and most necessary) tools to wine, dine, and entertain like a pro.
Editor’s note: We determined price ranges based on what we found in nationwide and online retailers. The price key for our picks are as follows:
You might like
1. Paring knife
When going for a delicate cut, turn to the paring knife. It’s perfect for dicing smaller fruits and vegetables, mincing garlic cloves, and deveining shrimp.
2. Chef’s knife
One of the more versatile knives available, a chef’s knife allows you to chop, slice, mince, and more without switching tools. You’ll be like a kitchen Karate Kid!
A great knife may cost you a pretty penny, but it’s a worthy investment. It’ll quickly climb it’s way to the top of your most-used items list.
Tip: Look for a stainless steel variety to keep away rust.
3. Cutting board
The workhorse of every kitchen, the cutting board is your faithful culinary friend. After all, how many dinners don’t involve cutting and chopping?
While plastic boards are inexpensive and easy to come by, wooden versions tend to be more sanitary since they lack grooves for germs to hang out in. They also help keep your knives in tip-top shape.
4. Measuring cups and spoons
Did Mary Poppins mean a teaspoon of sugar or a tablespoon? Either way, having measuring tools is essential for following almost any recipe — or just portioning out serving sizes. Who knew a cup of cereal was so small?!
5. Kitchen shears
Used for everything from chopping fresh herbs and vegetables to slicing dried fruit and even meat, shears make every kitchen task so much easier. Take that, regular scissors!
Though it’s possible to drain pasta using a pot lid, the result isn’t always pretty. (Jump-cut to rogue noodles escaping and burning yourself on hot steam.) Avoid this drama by using a colander, which drains water like a pro.
Bonus: Colanders make it super simple to wash fruits and veggies. Buh-bye soggy pasta hello clean produce!
7. Can opener
There are few things worse than reaching for a can of pumpkin and realizing there’s no way to open it. Or soup, coconut milk, beans, or anything else deliciously canned.
Though many goods have pop-tops these days, it’s always better to be prepared — ’cause you don’t want to have to hack into a can slasher-film-style just to make dinner.
8. Mixing bowls
Think mixing bowls are just for baking? Think again. Use them to marinate meat, dress veggies with sauce or seasoning, and make salad dressings and dips (give one of these a whirl).
Tip: Skip glass bowls that chip easily and opt for lightweight stainless steel versions.
These master mixers are used to whip up smoothies, mixed drinks, soups, nut butters, sauces, and oh-so-much more. And they can do it all in a matter of seconds. How’s that for an all-in-one appliance?
Graters are most commonly used to shred cheese — quesadilla, anyone?
But they’re also wonderful for zesting citrus fruit, grating chocolate, and shredding vegetables like potatoes and zucchini. How else did you think hash browns came to be?
This funny-looking tool has many more uses than beating eggs and making whipped cream.
It’s also great for mixing vinaigrettes, combining dry ingredients for baking, removing lumps from sauces and gravies, and standing in for a microphone during impromptu dance parties. (Trust us on this one.)
12. Vegetable peeler
Peeling veggies with a knife: Top Chef status. Peeling veggies with a peeler: just as good, minus the likelihood of an ER visit.
Spare your fingers and stick to this tool, which serves as a master potato peeler and a fancy veggie ribbons creator. Peelers are also great for shaving off pieces of hard cheeses, like Parmesan.
13. Rolling pin
A rolling pin is a must-have if you love making dough (the kind you bake with, anyway). This kitchen staple will help create perfectly flattened crust for pies and pizzas. It’ll also come in handy for making holiday cookies.
Tip: When rolling, use a pin that’s longer than the width of the dough. This will help ensure it’s even.
14. Food processor
It may be a bit bulky to haul off the pantry shelf, but a food processor takes the elbow grease out of innumerable kitchen tasks.
This workhorse can chop vegetables, purée soups, make fresh pesto or salsas, grind nuts, and whip up homemade breadcrumbs in seconds. Nobody puts the food processor in the corner!
15. Food scale
Whether measuring meal portions or baking your next masterpiece, food scales provide a more precise measurement than cups and spoons alone. Once you start using one, you may wonder how you ever got by without!
Whether you call it a flipper, a turner, or a spatula, this tool is surprisingly flexible. It can scramble eggs, flip pancakes, stir sauces, and more.
Don’t let the name fool you saucepans aren’t just for sauces. From simmering soups to making quinoa, a saucepan will quickly become one of your most-used items (if it isn’t already).
18. Sauté pan
Not to be confused with a skillet (a sauté pan has straight sides), these pans are perfect for braising meat and cooking lots of leafy greens. And thanks to those higher sides, sauce is less likely to spill all over the place.
One of the most versatile stovetop tools — you can cook nearly anything in a skillet. Nonstick varieties are inexpensive and make it easy to cook foods without needing to add much butter or oil to coat the pan.
Cast iron versions can go from the stove to the oven to make one-pan meals a snap. And while they’re more of an initial investment, with proper care they can last a lifetime.
20. Baking sheet
Even if baking cookies isn’t your thing, these sheets are super handy. Use them to roast veggies, make homemade fries, cook chicken, or bake bacon.
For easy cleanup, cover the surface in aluminum foil and spritz with cooking spray. When the food is done, remove the aluminum foil — no washing necessary!
21. Oven mitts
We’ve seen enough burned fingers to know not everyone has mitts lying around. Use these to protect both you and your kitchen from the wrath of a hot oven. (Yes, they’re actually more effective than a kitchen towel.)
22. Roasting pan
Intended as a tool for roasting meat, this pan produces juicy, flavorful results and requires little kitchen prep.
Its size also means it’s great for making large quantities of food: Think meatloaves, lasagna, casseroles, and more.
Tip: Choose one with a rack to make cooking that Thanksgiving turkey a snap.
23. Dutch oven
No, we’re not talking about the stinky prank your brother used to pull on you. Dutch ovens are actually a great tool for making one-pot, slow-cooked meals like stews, pot roasts, and soups.
A six-quart version should be large enough to make most meals.
24. Cooling rack
Cooling racks help ensure cookies and other baked goods cool quickly and evenly. A quality rack is also great for getting the perfect crisp on Colonel Sanders’-style breaded meats by eliminating sogginess.
25. Grill pan
If you don’t have outdoor space or it’s too cold to fire up the grill, a pan can create similar results indoors. It may not impart the same smoky flavor, but it does leave those eye-catching grill marks on meats and veggies.
It’s also an easy alternative for grilling foods that are often lost between traditional grates — think shrimp, fish, or asparagus.
26. Potato masher
Though it may not see as much action as other kitchen tools, a potato masher is vital for making lump-free potatoes… as anyone who’s attempted to make mashed taters with a fork will agree.
For even more plant-based goodness, use this tool to mash beans for bean burgers, or avocados for guacamole.
Wok this way to get your stir-fry on! The high sides of this Asian-style pan mean you can stir and flip food without fear of anything escaping onto the stovetop.
Tip: For best results, preheat a wok before adding the oil.
28. Meat thermometer
Never eat underdone or overcooked meat again! A meat thermometer ensures meat remains moist and safe to eat.
For the most accurate reading, stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, away from fat and bone. A digital instant-read thermometer gives a temperature in just seconds.
No more hoarding forks and knives from local takeout joints — you’re movin’ on up!
If you’re opting for a stainless steel set, go gentle on the dishwasher detergent too much can cause silverware to rust. Now go brush up on your table-setting skills.
Hint: The fork always goes on the left.
It sounds pretty basic, but yeah, we’re gonna go there: If you’re a grown-up, ya need plates!
Not only do real plates make delivery pizza feel gourmet, they can also be an extension of your personal style. If you’re feeling extra fancy, get yourself a set of both dinner and salad-sized options.
BFF to late-night cereal and scoops of ice cream, bowls are a necessary ingredient for any kind of slurping.
They also work as makeshift mixing bowls if sticking to small portions like salad dressings or scrambled eggs for one.
We won’t tell if you prefer guzzling milk and juice from the carton, but there is a more civilized way of drinking beverages.
Sticking to glass prevents the leaks that sometimes accompany Solo cups — and makes you feel that much more adult.
While mugs may conjure up visions of sipping morning joe, they’re more than a coffee-delivery vessel.
When the dishwasher or sink is full, they make great stand-in glasses, and they’re perfect for concocting quick and easy mug cakes.
34. Salad bowl
These larger bowls are perfect for serving salads loaded with lots of veggies and other add-ins. Simply throw ingredients into the bowl, give them a good toss, grab some tongs, and get after it.
35. Serving bowls
Serving bowls are must-haves for big dinners, barbecues, or any occasion where food is being served family-style.
Set out everything needed for a delicious meal, and let guests serve themselves. Then bat your eyes and accept the compliments on your cooking.
36. Serving plates
Use serving plates to showcase food and make it easy to dig in. A large oval serving plate is essential for large meats and heaps of roasted vegetables, while specialized ones like cake serving platters are more specific.
Tip: Stick to a lower price point if you don’t host large-scale gatherings often.
37. Serving spoons
Look Ma, no more losing spoons in a pot! Use a slotted spoon for lifting big pieces out of liquid (like potatoes from a stew), a non-slotted one for spooning sauce over food, and a ladle to serve soups.
These claw-like tools are crazy-versatile. They can flip meat (sans bacon grease burns), serve salads, toss stir-fry ingredients, or squeeze juice out of a lemon like a champ. Heck, you can even use them as a bottle opener!
39. Wine opener
There’s no point in stocking up on “Two-Buck Chuck” without an opener, right?
While you can find plenty of spendy wine openers, the corkscrew variety is compact and easy to store or carry along. (You never know when you might be the hero in a wine emergency!)
Nothing says homey quite like a big pitcher of a refreshing drink. It also eliminates the need to constantly refill guests’ glasses. Who wants some sangria? (*Raises hand.*)
41. Food storage containers
Storage containers are great for saving leftovers and keeping ingredients like chopped veggies fresh and ready to toss into a dish at a moment’s notice.
Sets with different sizes are useful for storing foods of all sorts, while containers with un-detachable lids means tops won’t magically disappear.
42. French press
The best part of waking up is coffee in your cup — and a French press makes it even better. Brewing is simple, the aroma is delicious, and it takes up much less room in the kitchen than a coffee maker.
If you live for hot beverages, the high-pitched whistle of the tea kettle isn’t annoying — it’s a siren song of warm, tasty goodness.
While your teapot of choice doesn’t have to be short and stout, it sure does help that it has a handle and a spout. This makes boiling water easier to pour (and easier for hands to avoid).
Tip: Heat water in the kettle to quickly cure ramen noodle cravings.
44. Immersion blender
Immersion blenders are sneakily useful tools. Simply stick one into a pot of soup ingredients, purée away, and viola: smooth soup sans blender fuss.
They’re also great for getting lumps out of mashed potatoes and making creamy hummus.
Fresh-squeezed juice outdoes the bottled kind any day, elevating marinades, sauces, and homemade baked goods to something special and sweet.
When it comes to juicers, you can get as fancy as you want (helloooo, $100 extra-quiet, nutrient-extracting cold-press). But for day-to-day turning lemons into lemonade, all you need is a basic model.
Last but not least on this list of essentials: the humble cooking apron. It’s there to protect you (and your clothes) in everything from a brownie batter spill to faucet spray come dish time.
While you can’t go wrong in classic black, we prefer to add a little more sass into our style. Our favorite one of the bunch says it all: this shit is going to be delicious.
Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your kitchen stash won’t be either. To avoid total overwhelm, focus on getting one item on your wishlist at a time, master it, then move on to the next one.
As you gradually work your way to a solid collection of appliances and utensils, you’ll be ready for whatever cooking occasion comes your way — not to mention you’ll feel all kinds of fancy at your next dinner party.
GET THE RECIPE
Chicken Cordon Bleu may make you think of a generic banquet hall buffet, but give this a try and you’ll have a change of heart. One thing that Chicken Cordon Blue has gotten right is the combination of smooth cheese and delicious ham paired with lean, healthy chicken. Those aspects aren’t lost here in this perfect “cupcake.” Makes 12 “Cupcakes.
NUTRITION INFORMATION PER CUP:
152 calories | 10 g carbs | 4 g fat | 17 g protein
- 12 oz (2 ½ cups) cooked diced or shredded chicken breast
- 3 oz thinly sliced deli ham, chopped
- 8 wedges of The Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese Wedges, chopped
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 24 wonton wrappers
- 6 slices 2% Swiss Cheese, each cut into 4 equal pieces
- 0.75 oz seasoned croutons, crushed
- Preheat the oven to 375. Lightly mist 12 cups in a standard muffin/cupcake tin with cooking spray and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe mixing bowl, combine the chicken, ham, chopped cheese wedges, and mustard and stir together. Place the bowl in the microwave and heat on high for 1 ½ minutes until contents are warm. Use a spoon to mix contents and smush the cheese wedges until they’ve coated the meat.
- Push a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each of the sprayed cups in the muffin tin. Using about half of the chicken mixture, spoon evenly into the wonton wrappers. Place one of the 2% Swiss pieces on top of each cup. Press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat the layering steps with the remaining chicken mixture and 2% Swiss cheese.
- Bake for 10 minutes and remove it from the oven. Sprinkle crushed croutons evenly on top of each cup and return the pan to the oven for another 8-10 minutes until the wontons are golden brown and the contents are heated through.
10 Reasons Why You Should Keep a Clean Kitchen
The trash is overflowing, the garbage disposal smells like the inside of a dirty sock and the sponges lining your sink are so full of bacteria that any second they may stand up and start crawling away. Is it a big deal? Will that rivulet of grease developing on your range hood topple your careful plans to create a comfortable, safe home for your family? Well, yes.
Keeping your kitchen (and other parts of your home) clean is important for a number of reasons we'll get to in a second. If you aren't worried about the biology, think economy instead. Cleanliness can save you money. It's also politically and socially correct. We have 10 reasons you should take an hour a week, or less than 10 minutes a day to keep your kitchen tidy. We aren't advocating a frontal assault on all things disorganized, jumbled or in need of a friendly wipe-down. A few crumbs in front of the toaster are nothing to get obsessive about. We want to root out dirty or neglectful kitchen habits that can make you sick, cost you money and time, or send a negative message to your kids.
10: Set a Good Example for Your Children
You may think all those cereal boxes cluttering your kitchen countertops and the dishes you use directly from the dishwasher instead of putting them away first are a compromise move that you'll get a handle on when life is less hectic. The fact is that whatever you're doing -- or not doing -- is making an impression on your children. They won't love you any less if you never clean out the ice dispenser tray, but they may adopt your less desirable cleaning habits later in life. Cleanliness may not have the almost religious importance previous generations of housekeepers attributed to it, but it's a good habit to teach your children by example.
The average household spends around $3,465 annually on food to cook at home.
Have you ever noticed that letting one potato in the bag go moldy makes the rest rot faster, or that leaving a head of lettuce to liquefy in the crisper seems to have an adverse effect on all the other veggies in the drawer (not to mention your enthusiasm for eating them)? Taking a proactive approach to food maintenance will help you reduce spoilage and have more confidence in the leftovers you have in your fridge. Discard spoiling food immediately. Keep vegetables like potatoes and onions separated to prevent naturally occurring ethylene gas from turning them too quickly. Reduce the risk of encouraging bacterial growth by keeping your sink, refrigerator, cutting boards and stovetop clean. Americans waste a staggering 30 percent of the food they buy every year. Taking the time to tidy up will make it easier to reduce that figure and save some green at your house.
Sponges have gotten a bad rap in the last few years. If you keep them clean, they won't become magnets for bacteria. In fact, you can save some money and the environment if you use fewer paper towels and rely on sponges for wet jobs. To kill bacteria on your trusty sponge, wet it and put it in the microwave on high heat for two minutes. You'll be sterilizing the sponge and giving yourself a reliable and reusable tool to help clean kitchen surfaces fast.
8: Take the Hassle out of Kitchen Prep
It's dinnertime and you're exhausted. This morning's dishes are on the counter where you plan to chop onions, and the sink is full of salad debris that never made it into the disposal. In order to get a meal together, you'll have to clean out the kitchen first. While you're cursing whoever left the sponge full of pasta sauce, you're thinking of ways to cut a few seconds from dinner prep so you can get off your aching feet.
If this sounds familiar, you'll probably acknowledge that cleaning when you're tired or in a hurry isn't good cleaning. If you're plagued by sticky countertop residue, raise your hand. Hasty cleaning probably takes more time in the long run, too. One good countertop cleaning -- you know, the kind where you take everything off the counter and do the job right -- may take 10 minutes. Having to drag a rag around your countertop appliances, the mail basket and the bread box twice a day for a hurried cleaning could pile up a lot more minutes by week's end. If you get into the habit of cleaning regularly, you'll save a few steps and keep your frustration meter out of the red zone.
Cleanliness isn't just an aesthetic concern. It's about safety, too. Drips on the floor from yesterday's margarita disaster could cause someone to take a tumble, and that oil slick on the stove from taco night may start a grease fire. The kitchen is one spot where water, high heat, electricity and sharp objects all come into close proximity, and the best way to control this potentially dangerous environment is by keeping it clean and organized. No one plans on starting a kitchen fire, slipping on dribbled maple syrup or dropping the blade end of a greasy knife on a toe. Keeping the kitchen clean may help you forestall calamity so you're never the guy who has to spend a day at the emergency room because of a silly kitchen accident.
6: Manage Food More Efficiently
Kitchens are all about food storage and preparation, and having an effective and consistent food maintenance strategy is a good idea. Foods like milk turn relatively quickly, and keeping your fridge clean and organized will help you keep track of food stores so you can use them before they spoil. When the inside of your refrigerator looks like it might be ripe for a visit from the health department, don't expect to be able to monitor or control what goes on in there. Decaying food will produce odors and sometimes bacteria that can escalate the decline of other foods, and when you leave spills in place, you risk creating problems with cross-contamination.
The cupboard is another spot to keep an eye on. Although canned foods may be relatively indestructible, baking powder, spices, nuts and other products should be monitored. If you know the freshness date on that loaf of whole wheat bread is about to elapse, you may be able to turn it into breadcrumbs before it turns green and fuzzy. While you're checking around, keep a look out for insect activity and vacuum up any flour or other food crumbs or dust. Spilled, spoiling and neglected food can breed legions of bacteria and encourage insect invaders. If you're waiting for the next holiday to mount a cleaning campaign, your bread may go moldy and a thriving community of weevils could move into your flour, dried pasta and other packaged foods in the meantime. Food is perishable, and using it to its best advantage requires regular cleaning and maintenance.
5: Extend the Life of Your Appliances
The kitchen is appliance central in most homes, and we aren't just talking about the big stuff. Your garbage disposal, range hood, dishwasher, toaster, coffeemaker, food processor and other appliances will all work more efficiently when they're clean. Efficiency means longer life. When a vent or filter is dirty, an appliance has to work harder to do its job. It will usually work hotter, too. That means a shorter useful life for that electric knife or electric potato peeler than if you'd kept it clean. Will a little dust or grease destroy all of your countertop gadgets? No, but the effects are cumulative, and prolonged neglect will do more than make your appliances a little sticky and unsightly.
Keep raw poultry and seafood in the fridge two days at most. The same goes for raw ground meats of all kinds. For uncooked roasts, steaks and chops of beef, pork, lamb or veal, you have a three to five day window. Once meats have been cooked, refrigerate them for up to four days.
4: Entertain Without Embarrassment
You may prefer the idea of having the kitchen all to yourself when you're having company over, but folks usually like to gravitate to the kitchen to see what's going on. It's the place where all the action is. Don't be surprised if your tidy living room is empty and your guests are laughing and having a great time standing within a couple of feet of the garbage bag you just filled with corn husks. Life is so unfair, but the fact is that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Sadly, it can also be the dirtiest room in your house. Before your sister-in-law starts telling the story of the day she opened your refrigerator and discovered a block of cheese covered with inch-thick mold, expect the unexpected by getting your kitchen in shape and keeping it that way.
3: Limit Household Use of Harsh Chemicals
When things get really dirty, it's easy to think you have to bring in the heavy artillery. Cleaning agents used in kitchens and bathrooms kill germs because they consist of a string of strong chemicals that get the job done, but can also leave residue behind.
Humans aren't immune to the biological effects of strong anti-bacterial agents, and keeping your home clean using safe practices can be challenging. One thing is certain, though. Maintaining a regular cleaning regimen keeps bacteria under control, so there's less of it to deal with. The chemicals you use, whether you decide to go green or employ a more aggressive, powerful option, will be available in reduced concentrations at any given time. If you've ever spent a weekend of heavy-duty cleaning only to have your home smell like you're preparing a chemical stew, you know what we mean.
We love the idea of cleaning with wholesome products like white vinegar, a mild but effective acid, and baking soda, a mild abrasive. Whether you go this route or not, a little regular cleaning will create lower concentrations of harsh chemicals and less opportunity for dangerous exposure than a quarterly cleaning marathon.
All that chemical-laden mop water from your cleaning efforts is going into an eco-system near you and may even end up recycled into your drinking water sometime in the not too distant future. It's one reason you might want to explore a few eco-friendly cleaning options.
Dirt, dust and grime build-up can be expensive, especially in your kitchen. Your refrigerator is a prime example. When the condenser coils behind or under your refrigerator get dirty, the compressor runs longer and hotter. This can have some surprising repercussions. It's easy to see that you'll use more energy when your refrigerator is cycling on more often, but it'll also be making your kitchen hotter. If it's summer, that means your air conditioner will need to run longer to process all that hot air. It's a double whammy. Oh, and because your fridge is working inefficiently, the compressor may burn out faster, too.
The refrigerator door gasket is another place where cleanliness matters. When the gasket is clean, it makes a good seal between the door and the cold box. When the gasket is dirty, it allows a little warm air to leak in, forcing the refrigerator to work harder to maintain its interior temperature. This uses energy and puts your food (especially items stored on the door) at risk. It also shortens the life of what's probably the most expensive appliance in your home.
Let's move to the stove. If you have stovetop reflectors under your electric burners, they're there for more than decoration. They actually help to reflect the heat from the element back up to your pot or pan. When they're dirty, they don't do the job as well, so it takes additional energy (and time) to cook food on your stovetop. There's more. Your oven is a marvel of design it isn't just a big box that warms up when you turn a nob. The interior sides and bottom are actually designed to reflect heat onto your food. When your oven is covered in baked on gunk, it uses more energy and cooks food less evenly. In essence, you'll be paying more to prepare a roast that's overcooked -- but only on one side.
1: Prevent Foodborne Illness
One of the biggest concerns about cleanliness in the kitchen is foodborne illness due to spoilage or cross-contamination. You know about safety precautions like using different cutting boards for meat and vegetables, always washing your hands after handling raw meats and cleaning the sink and countertops regularly. These are just the basics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that every year, there are about 76 million cases of food borne illness in the United States. This is contamination from all sources, including food manufacturing, but that figure is still shocking.
Some of the biggest culprits introduced in food are: Salmonella, Campylobacter, pathogenic E coli and Listeria. There are others that can be transmitted to food from unwitting human carriers and then distributed to others in the household. They include: hepatitis A virus, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, Shigella sonnei and rotavirus. Although foodborne illnesses are much more likely to present severe health risks to young children, older adults and those who are already ill, even a mild case of food poisoning is an experience to avoid.
Here are a few chores to consider adding to your kitchen routine to reduce the risk of foodborne illness:
- Always wash your hands before and after handling perishable foods.
- Wash cutting boards in hot, soapy water every time you use them. Discard cutting boards with deep scoring or gouges.
- Wash your hands after touching your nose, mouth or eyes.
- Wash your hands after handling raw meat or eggs.
- Keep household cleaners away from food prep areas.
- Don't forget to clean all the gadgets you use for food prep like: meat thermometers, measuring cups, measuring spoons, can openers, sieves, colanders, blenders, wooden spoons, cookie sheets and spoon rests. If it touches perishable foods, it should be cleaned.
- Dispose of spoiled food promptly. Never keep leftovers in your refrigerator longer than four days.
- Refrigerate perishable foods after no more than two hours at room temperature.
- If a food item looks or smells off in any way, pitch it.
If you maintain a sparkling kitchen, it's going to be a lot easier to get your significant other to opt in for a few chores than if the place is always a mess. You'll probably avoid some criticism and complaining, too.