5 Kitchen Gadgets You’ll Actually Use
I HATE kitchen gadgets. You know, the kind you put on your wedding registry because Bed, Bath, and Beyond was so overwhelming and you weren’t paying for it anyway. When’s the last time you used that stainless steel avocado slicer or automatic hardboiled egg machine? Do you know even where they are? They are in the back of the drawer getting stuck when you try to open it, that’s where.
Be very careful if family members get the idea you like to cook. You’ll start to receive all sorts of junk for Christmas, probably from your mom or mother-in-law, both of whom are suddenly very proud of you. Yes, I like making homemade pizza, but that doesn’t mean I want a monogrammed pizza peel or industrial pizza cutter for my birthday. Cash is just fine.
My general rule is that if a gadget only does one thing, I don’t want it. It might be nice, on occasion, to have a melon baller or a potato masher, but on the other 364 days of the year it’s just taking up space I don’t have. You don’t need perfect balls of melon to impress your party guests anyway. Slices taste just as good. And it’s not that hard to mash a cooked potato. You could do it with your hands if you had to.
There isn’t much a good man can’t do with a knife, a spoon, and a spatula. Get yourself a decent set of knives and a few solid utensils (nothing is worse than a floppy spatula). Of course you’ll need a few pots and pans and measuring cups. Do I have to mention that a refrigerator helps? An oven? But that should cover 99% percent of what you do.
For that other 1%, here are 5 tools to make your life a little easier that you will actually use (#notsponsored):
Garlic Press – Garlic is an essential ingredient. It’s healthy, tasty, and cheap. I use it in almost everything. Fresh garlic is infinitely better than the powder unless you are baking, but it can be a pain to chop it up into small enough pieces. Don’t get me started on the minced garlic in jar, just…no. A small garlic press will save you a lot of time and hassle. It doesn’t take up much space, you will use it multiple times a week, and you can throw it into the dishwasher when you’re done.
Amazon: Freetoo Garlic Press
Immersion Blender – Regular blenders kinda suck. They are bulky, don’t work half the time, and a pain to clean. But good luck trying to make a smoothie or milkshake or protein blend without one. Opt for an immersion blender instead. It puts in the blender on a stick, so you can blend using any cup or bowl, with a lot more control, a lot less bulk, and an easy way to clean. My kids love frozen strawberry and banana smoothies, so I always keep immersion blender handy to make a quick, kid-sized portion. Then I don’t have to clean the whole thing. I just rinse the blade so it’s ready for the inevitable moment they ask for seconds.
Amazon: YISSVIC Hand Blender
Rice Cooker – This one breaks my single-use rule, but it’s a worthwhile exception. Rice is an easy and filling side for any dinner, and it’s used as the base in tons of great dishes. Sure, it’s not hard to boil some water in a normal pot and cook your rice that way. I won’t try to stop you. But often you will want to cook your rice in advance, so its ready to eat or use when you need it. That’s why a cheap rice cooker is so handy. You can set it to cook while you finish work or get the kids from school or prepare everything else. You don’t have to wait for it to boil, watch it, or set a timer, and it turns out perfect every time.
Kitchen-Aid Mixer – Your wife probably put one of these on your wedding registry. Everyone has one, it seems, and they all have a Kitchen-Aid, because it’s the best. Your grandma probably still has hers from the sixties, and it hasn’t changed much. They are built like rock and last forever. Whether you’re making homemade cookies, biscuits, or pizza dough, you are going to need a good mixer. If you don’t have one, this is a good investment.
Zester and Cheese Grater – You’ve probably seen the standard cheese grater, the kind that look like a teepee or pyramid, with different options on each side. Those work—that is, the cheese will end up shredded—but have you ever tried to clean them? You have to literally put your hand into a cheese grater. A better alternative is a zester, which is like one side of the normal grater with a handle. You may not need to zest fruit very often, but there’s really no other way to do it when you do, and they work great for cheese, too. Buying a block of parmesan or cheddar or whatever is often preferable to getting the bags of shredded cheese at the store. The blocks last longer and taste better, because the bags use additives to keep the shreds from sticking together, so having a better way to shred cheese yourself will make your life easier and your cooking better.