When it comes to cooking in the kitchen, I do a pretty good job of getting the job done, but I definitely couldn’t do it alone. The items in this list are ones that I canNOT live without, with a few exceptions (some closer to the end are definitely luxuries). These items specifically apply to the Healthy Choice Food Challenge that I am launching alongside my friend, Chef Kara Gambrel, on June 20. Honestly though, if you are in the kitchen a lot, or want to be, these items will just make your life easier.
Let’s face it – plain old water gets boring. In the #HealthyChoicesFoodChallenge, we will be giving you some options for making that boring old water more fun, so the following may be helpful:
For diffusing your own flavored water (so that you drink more!) I use the Prodyne Fruit Infusion Flavor Pitcher, which runs $19.99 right now on Amazon. Amazon also has a $9.99 bottle available for smaller portions and is cheaper too.
If you don’t want to diffuse your own, I’m a huge fan of HINT water. I get it delivered once a month so that I always have something available. Right now they even have a KICK & HYDRATE special running where you get my Sweat UNLIMITED DVD, an athletic headband, 1 case of black raspberry Hint Kick™, and 1 Hint® variety pack (3 watermelon, 3 blackberry, 3 crisp apple, 3 pineapple.
2. Mandolin Slicer or at least an awesome Knife
I just purchased the OXO Good Grips V-Blade Mandoline Slicer for 39.95.
They have a handheld one, Mandolin Slicer by OXO, that’s cheaper at $14.99 but with 2 young kids and not a super experienced hand, I wanted something that would stay put and close up safely. There are tons of fancy shmancy ones but one of these is all you really need.
If you don’t want to bother with the slicer, just make sure you have a really good knife. This is the one I’ve been using most recently:
Kyocera Revolution Professional Chef’s Knife, 7-inch: White 7″ at $54.95
And in case you are looking for a cutting table I’ve had both of these forever:
Stanton Trading 12 by 18 by 1/2-Inch Cutting Board, White ($15.00)
Totally Bamboo Malibu Groove Cutting Board ($28.42)
3. Storage Items: Mason Jars, Tupperware and/or Plastic Bags
If you follow me on social media, you know I love Mason Jars for so many reasons (watch HERE), so that’s going to be my first recommendation, but they probably won’t work for everything in the #HealthyChoicesFoodChallenge, so you’ll want to make sure you have some good Tupperware and plastic bags for storage and food prep.
My favorite Mason Jars (I have a variety of sizes) are as follows:
For Storage of Meals: Jarden 52505 Wide Mouth Ball Jar, 32-Ounce, Case of 12 ($14.97)
For Snacks, Greek Yogurt Parfaits, and Veggies: Either the 1pt Ball Mason Jars – Case of 12 ($15.75) or a little smaller, Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, 8-Ounce, Quilted Set of 12 ($16.30)
For things I want to make sure I don’t eat too much of: Ball Jar Crystal Jelly Jars with Lids and Bands, Quilted, 4-Ounce, Set of 12 ($8.35)
My favorite tupperware (I’ve recently converted to glass tupperware.): Glasslock 18 Piece Oven Safe Assortment Set, Blue ($33.99)
or if you don’t mind plastic: Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid 24-Piece Food Storage Container Set, Red ($18.49)
As much as I try to stay green, I can’t live without my Ziplocs Slider bags, quart and gallon, as well as 100 calorie bags.
4. Stovetop Items
I’m sure you have your own that you use and love, but in case you don’t, here are my faves.
Baking Rack: This is perfect for roasting veggies: Fox Run Stainless Steel Roasting Pan, 10 Inch x 14.5 Inch ($21.53)
Baking Sheet/Silpat or parchment paper: I have: Silpat AE420295-07 Premium Non-Stick Silicone Baking Mat, Half Sheet Size, 11-5/8″ x 16-1/2″ ($24.74) that has given me zero problems and has lasted forever. A baking sheet with parchment paper is a workable alternative.
Pot: T-fal A92280 Specialty Total Nonstick Dishwasher Safe Oven Safe Stockpot Cookware, 12-Quart, Black ($33.00)
Pan: These non-stick ones have made my life so much easier, not just with cooking but with cleaning up too! T-fal A857S3 Specialty Nonstick Omelette Pan 8-Inch 9.5-Inch and 11-Inch Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free Fry Pan / Saute Pan Cookware Set, 3-Piece, Gray ($20.89)
Also, adding some mixing bowls that Kara says, “make life so much easier.” I have a similar set and love the bright colors more than anything else. Check out this 6 Piece set for $18.95.
5. Kitchen Utensils
I know you have these, but just in case you don’t or are in need of a replacement:
I like the Prepworks by Progressive Snap Fit Measuring Spoons – Set of 5 ($5.99). They are kids friendly and stackable.I also have Prepworks by Progressive Ultimate 19-Piece Measuring Cup and Spoon Set ($12.99), which I love because they have every size imaginable.
I also use Pyrex Prepware 2-Cup Glass Measuring Cup ($6.99) a lot for bigger measurements. Plus, I like having something that has mL on it, in case a recipe calls for it.
Kara recommends a “citrus juicer, particularly the orange as i can fit lemons and limes as well as oranges.” The New Star Foodservice 42863 Enameled Aluminum Orange Squeezer for $9.99 gets great reviews on Amazon.
If you find that your spatulas have been melting, try these silicone ones: StarPack Premium Silicone Spatula Set of 4 with Hygienic Solid Coating.
6. Blender of some kind
For the #HealthyChoicesFoodChallenge, you’ll need a blender, food processor or Vitamix.
I love my Vitamix because I can pretty much use it for everything. The one I have is HERE. If you’re looking to save money and you get the 20% off coupons from Bed, Bath & Beyond and purchase one there (That’s what I did – it’s great savings!)
The Ninja Master Prep is much more affordable at $30.00, and I have the Cuisinart DLC-10SY Pro Classic 7-Cup Food Processor ($99.99) as a gift from my wedding, but I always try to use my Vitamix first since everything about it is easier.
7. Luxury Items
I only recently purchased these because I’ve been making a lot of some of the recipes included in the #HealthyChoicesFoodChallenge. You can definitely live without these but they do make your life easier and more fun!
Salad Spinner: I have to give Kara Gambrel (who helped me creat the #HealthyChoicesFoodChallenge) credit on this one. She showed me how to use it one day and I was sold. Plus, Landon (my 5 year old) loves using it too. The one I have was only $19.99: OXO Good Grips Green Salad Spinner
Crock Pot: It’s definitely NOT a necessity for this challenge but I do think it’s a necessity for easy cooking in the kitchen. I like one with a timer. Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, 6-Quart ($49.99)
I have yet to use it but was recently gifted the VitaClay VM7900-6 Smart Organic Multi-Cooker- A Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Digital Steamer plus bonus Yogurt Maker, 6 Cup/3.2-Quart ($119.00). It’s pricey but it’s organic and is supposedly 4 times faster than other slow cookers.
I’m including these because they have saved me (and my kids think they’re fun): Kitchen Elements Ultra-Flex Red Silicone Kitchen Cooking Mitt, 1 Pair ($12.90)
And lastly, for my moms out there, who have kids that want to cook with them, I’ve found these particularly helpful for filling up with extras or even just water, to keep the littles entertained while I’m cooking: Ikea Stainless Steel 10-piece Children’s Pretend Play Cookware and Utensil Set, Silver/black ($24.55)