Raise your hand if you’ve ever combined the words “too busy” and “cook” in one sentence.
I think we’re all guilty of this one from time to time.
But the truth is cooking a healthy meal doesn’t have to take hours. And it certainly doesn’t have to be fancy.
Especially when you’ve got some time-saving tools of the trade up your sleeve.
And, no, we aren’t talking about the microwave here. Don’t get me wrong - I’ve got a microwave. I use that microwave. But I’m usually not using it to cook up some healthy home cooking.
So here are ten kitchen tools that will save you time so you can actually eat a healthy meal without spending all night in the kitchen.
Have you ever read a recipe that specifically says something like, “If you don’t have a high-powered blender, blend the water and spinach first.” Or: “Stop to scrape down the sides as needed.”
That’s a time suck.
Get yourself a high-powered blender. You know I use my Vitamix on average two times a day. It helps me effortlessly whip up smoothies, sauces, and soups in about five minutes flat.
I have a confession. Up until recently, I was only using my food processor to, you know, process things. Similar to my blender but on a smaller scale.
But there’s these handy extra attachments that you can use to shred and chop your veggies. What? Where have I been? My food processor made quick work of some carrots, and I was impressed and enamored.
If you’re like me and chopping is akin to sitting through a weekly progress meeting, befriend the food processor.
No offense to those knives we’ve all got that are great at spreading nut butter on toast but not much else, but a good knife does the job about 50 times quicker. And it makes less of a mess.
You know how, when you try to cut a tomato with a not-so-sharp knife, and the seeds ooze out everywhere? Or you have to, like, shove the tip of the knife in and then and only then can you start to slice, otherwise the entire tomato will end up as mush?
Doesn’t happen with a good knife. More precise, clean cuts equals less time trying to chop and rechop.
Also, do you know how badass it is to have a block of knives sitting on your counter?
If you were to open my dishwasher right now, you’d find about 10 Mason jars in there. There’s also a jar on the very bottom shelf of my fridge holding what appears to be a very old and suspicious-looking turmeric paste…
I love them for storing my smoothies and my overnight oats. And leftovers. And pantry staples. You know, when you open a bag and it rips all the way down the side and no chip clip can save that disaster…?
But you can also use Mason jars to build salads for portable lunches. You can use them to make a quick salad dressing - just dump and shake.
They’re like Larry in accounting - he crunches numbers, he makes jokes that are actually funny, he puts the most thoughtful notes in birthday cards, he makes a mean vegan banana bread… Mason jars (and Larry) are like jacks-of-all-trades.
This one is also for anyone whose knife skills could use a little work (myself included). Instead of struggling to cut nice, thin slices, risking life and limb, slide that veggie down the mandoline and bask in the ease with which you just created perfect little potato slices ready for chipping.
Bonus: You can also use a mandolin to shred things! I love a good multitasker.
And make sure you use the safety guard that comes with this thing. Or at least have a buffer between your hand and the veggie. That blade really is sharp.
I know what you’re thinking: But they sell shredded carrots and lettuce at the store. And ain’t nothing quicker than grabbing a bag of pre-cut veggies or fruit.
Sure. That’s all well and good.
But a box grater does so much more than shred stuff.
You can use it to zest lemons or oranges. You can use it mince ginger or garlic. You can grate zucchini. You can grate fresh nutmeg and cinnamon. It’s like a secret jack-of-all-trades.
And it’s so much more fun to actually prep those veggies by hand than go to the store, in my opinion. I mean, that giant pile of shreds…how fun is that?!
You’ve probably seen chefs chopping up their fresh herbs and making it look super easy.
When I try it, cilantro goes flying everywhere and seems to adhere permanently to my cutting board.
If you can use a regular ol’ pair of scissors, you can use herb scissors and have fresh, fragrant, finely chopped herbs in half the time. No fancy knife skills required.
(And, yes, the flavor is better than dried herbs about 99% of the time.)
On far too many occasions for my liking, I have attempted to hand squeeze my lemons and ended up with seeds all up in my food.
The recipe does not call for lemon seeds.
With a citrus squeezer, you’re saving yourself precious minutes fishing lemon seeds out of your dish.
(And, just like with herbs, fresh squeezed lemon - and lime and orange - juice really is better.)
Have you ever tried to make veggie noodles yourself? Me neither. You know why? It takes way too much time, patience, and, frankly, knife skills, that I just do not have.
Enter every vegan’s dream come true: the spiralizer.
This torture-device-reminiscent gadget makes noodles (and quick work) of just about anything you test it with: zucchini, carrots, sweet potatoes, even butternut squash.
Spiralize yourself some veggies, sauté with some sauce, and you’ve got yourself a quick dinner.
Ah, the lazy cook’s best friend. It doesn’t get much easier than dumping your dinner in the slow cooker, setting the timer, and coming home to a nice, warm meal.
You can make soup, chili, stew, salad, beans, rice, curry, stuffed peppers, pasta, pizza, cake, mashed potatoes, enchiladas, French toast casserole, oatmeal, poached pears…the possibilities are endless.
(I feel like Bubba right now…)
Seriously. Just Google “slow cooker recipes.” You’ll see the interwebs have thought of everything, and you’ll probably get tired of using your slow cooker before you run out of recipes to try.
Ever wanted a peek inside my kitchen? This week, you can see the exact tools I own, plus a few bonus items I think you’ll enjoy. Wink wink.
P.S. (Is it appropriate to put P.S. on a blog post?) My friends at Rootz Nutrition are running an amazing giveaway right now - a year supply of their super popular Energizing Superfood AND Protein Superfood! So of course I wanted to share it with you. You can enter the giveaway here. If that weren't enough, you can also use the code TRACIE to save 10% on your purchase until the winners are announced on November 22, 2017. Sounds like a win-win to me.