Gifts to make cooking easy and fun!

A superb kitchen tool expedites cooking. While an old and poorly designed utensil causes frustration … and it can even be dangerous. With the holidays coming, it is perfect timing to buy (or ask for!) new kitchen gear. Plus, if you have good kitchen tools, you’re more likely to enjoy cooking, and I’ve noticed as clients have tools that work well and fit their style, they start to make cooking a habit—which often grows into a fun hobby.

Start with must-have kitchen tools

 1. Good knives: At the very minimum, you need chef’s and pairing knives. Ideally, you should have four or five that help with certain tasks. For specifics on picking a knife, read the “Kitchen Knife Buying Guide” from Consumer Reports.

Need a complete set? Consider something like J.A. Henckels. Specifically, look for the sets made in Germany or Spain. They tend to be higher quality than the China-made knives. Costco often sells sets for a great price. Williams-Sonoma also runs sales, which include Henckels and other high-quality knives. I also like Cutco knives which, you can find at Costco sometimes!

Some helpful notes about making your knife last:

  • Wash it by hand: The dishwasher dulls knives quickly, and if your dishwasher tends to leave water on the dishes, your knife might rust. Not good. If you really want a dishwasher-safe knife, consider an inexpensive brand that you can still sharpen, like the nonstick Kuhn Rikon knives. They come in fun colors, and they’re packed in sleeves, which makes them good for camping and traveling.
  • Store it smartly: Don’t let it hit other knives, which will dull it faster. And, you don’t want to reach into a drawer and cut yourself. Purchase a knife holder, if needed. There are several options.
  • Sharpen it regularly: Watch this YouTube video to learn how to sharpen. Local grocery stores, like New Seasons, host knife-sharpening events regularly. Watch your store’s calendar for details.

2A dependable cutting board: Whatever your preference, find a cutting surface that allows you to follow safe food- and knife-handling practices. For example, wood cutting boards are beautiful, but you need to be aware of cross-contamination with meats and veggies, as the boards can be hard to sterilize.

You might prefer an easy-to-clean option. I’ve been interested in an up-and-coming brand—called Epicurean boards—that are dishwasher safe and manufactured in the US from recycled or planet-friendly materials.

Some cooks like flexible cutting boards that are easy to lift and move. Others like a board with a slope for transferring food into a pan. The possibilities are endless. Find one you like that is easy to clean and doesn’t bounce or slip when you’re using it.


3. Clear glassware: Food containers make cooking possible. You can prep food and keep ingredients fresh in air-tight glass containers. You can chop veggies and store them for easy snacking. Leftovers are actually tasty when stored correctly. Plus, with glass, you can actually see what’s in the container. You’ll minimize the scary lost-and-found food routine. Glass containers are also easy to reheat and don’t have BPA. I’d recommend visiting Costco for the best deal on glass Snapware containers. These Costco glass containers are actually the ones I use.  You should never store food in plastic because of the toxins in them – even if they say BPA free!  So these glass containers are an excellent choice!

Expand with tools that are surprisingly necessary

From big to small, you’ll definitely benefit from these four items.

  1. Vitamix or Blendtec blender: From pureeing fruits and veg to crushing ice, you’ll appreciate a blender that can take the workload—for years! If you want a dependable machine that gets the job done, go with a Vitamix or Blendtec blender.  Costco has great deals on both of them throughout the year.
  1. Garlic press: This small tool makes garlic accessible. You’re in a hurry. So, purchase a garlic press to make cooking faster and fresher.  I love my garlic press!
  1. Old-school glass lemon squeezer: Fresh orange, lime, or lemon juice adds flavor to cooking. A glass lemon squeezer is fast. Plus, it’s conveniently dishwasher safe.
  1. Immersion blender: Salad dressing? Check. Soup? Check. Single-serve smoothie? Check! While I’m a huge fan of my traditional blender, I also love the ease and quick clean-up of an immersion blender. For a delightful and thorough review of why and which immersion blender, read this article from Serious Eats.

I hope you’ve found some fun and practical inspiration for shopping this season. Happy and healthy holiday cooking to you and yours!