The New Year for me and so many bring a fresh perspective, a new light, focus, and specific planning for the year. It’s an exciting time for me to think about my small business and future goals and projects. I actually bought a physical planner this year for the first time, even though I’ve been historically subjugated by my Ical and the 8 calendars on there!
But alas! After all this New Year’s excitement and the anticipation of kids going back to school and me getting to work….sickness pervaded the household. So…I’ll reach out to you all on my newsletter with upcoming events and projects. Meanwhile, I am a week behind or more on posting about fresh ideas…but eating healthy should go on for ALL of us much past January, right??!
To get you all started back in the kitchen this year, I thought I would post a much needed list for either beginner cooks or those with some experience. I get requests for kitchen equipment and brands all the time. People say…”I couldn’t find your recommendation on your website”. Well, I can’t believe I haven’t ever posted something like this!
So here you go, a list of kitchen essentials for cooking healthy food. Pots and pan recommendations as well as larger and smaller kitchen gadgets will have to come another time…this list is more specific to planning your meals, increasing produce, amping flavor, easing cleanup, and eating healthy.
- Lidded containers to store fresh prepped produce. Chop once. Eat all week. Useful for after-school snacks, lunch boxes, and dinnertime sides or salad components. These were the best containers I found thus far. Cons: I wish them to be a little larger, but I have a set of 2. And also, they’re plastic and I’ve done away with almost all plastic in my kitchen. I would love to see a lidded metal set that’s stackable.
- Microplane coarse grater, for ginger and garlic. USES: asian stir-frys, Indian curries. Take my Skillshare class and see this and other techniques in action!
- A Dutch oven. USES: soups, stews, deep frying, sautés, roasts, baking, everything! This is a costly item but invest in one now and you will never regret it. It also goes from stove to oven directly for many uses. They are extremely heavy, but clean up is a breeze. Hardly any sticking occurs. I now have 3 sizes, but if you’re going for one size and you have a family of 4-5, go with the 5 1/2 quart round which is useful for all of the above. The 3 1/2 quart round is good for soups, sauces and broths but won’t be big enough for roasting a bird, making a large batch of something, or bread-baking.
- A blender, preferably a high-speed blender, for sauces and condiments like this one: small quantities=big flavor. Remember that blenders are not only for smoothies!! Again, this technique, along with how to use a much cheaper blender is in my Skillshare class mentioned above.
- Lidded mixing bowls. USES: mixing salads, combining ingredients without using utensils (cover and shake), coating vegetables with oil pre-roasting, baking. See this video recipe to see why this is an essential in your kitchen. Often I see a set at Costco, or you can get them online here.
- Small and/or medium-sized glass mason jars with lids. USES: salad dressings. So easy. Make extra. Store in fridge in the same container. No oily mess or extra spoons necessary. Just screw the top on and shake to emulsify. These are fantastic to have for more than just vinaigrettes. They make great containers for spice blends, good for edible gifting, and also for arts and crafts. The larger Mason jars are great for taking salad-to-go or storing leftovers.
- A meal-planning white board. Mine also functions as the family extra-curricular/carpool calendar. I have one from Pottery Barn and this one is comparable. Just be sure to measure it before you purchase and put it in a very visible and usable wall space near or in your kitchen. This is a MAJOR source of meal planning and communication for our family. During our Sunday family meetings, I leave slots for the kids to pick a few meals and I pick the rest.
- Ice cube trays. USES: freezing leftover condiments. Currently in my freezer, I have freezer cube sizes of cilantro chutney, garlic chutney, harissa, tomato paste, ginger-chili paste, iced coffee, and tamarind chutney. I like those square larger ones by Arctic Chill because they make great ice cubes for cocktails too.
- Small organizing toolkit: rubber bands, sharpie pens, label maker, or dry-erase labels (have been using this brand for years). I keep this in a drawer with all my zip-baggies and saran wrap/foil etc.
- Spice grinder. USES: well, only spices, but can be used for other things if you clean out the odor by whirring stale bread through the blades. A spice grinder is KEY for adding HUGE flavor to elevate a dish without adding excess sugars and fats. This is my small one, a Bodum, which I demonstrate in my online Skillshare class. I have a larger one that I got on eBay because I can’t find one around anymore! It’s for when I need to make larger amounts (like 1.5 to 2 cups) of spices. I would definitely start with the Bodum (or this one looks like it’s getting great reviews) if you’re new to handling spices.
OK well that’s a good list to start with I think. In the near future, I’ll have a few more lists to get you going on your ultimate healthy-eating-ready kitchen!