Have you found yourself in a bit of a rut with cooking? It’s easy to slip into a habit of making the same old foods, and mealtimes can become boring and uninspiring. If every time you open a cookbook your lack of equipment means you’re unable to venture out into new territory and try new things, it might be time to update. A kitchen that’s well stocked with equipment can make cooking meals so much easier. But for a home kitchen, it can be difficult to know what’s essential and what’s just going to take up much-needed space. Here are some of the pieces that it’s well worth investing in, that you’ll get plenty of use from and will allow you to expand your repertoire of recipes.
A Stand Mixer
If you love to bake, a stand mixer will make your life so much easier. No more aching arms while you stir or whisk mixtures together! As well as sweet treats a stand mixer can also make doughs for pizzas, bread and pasta and things like pastry for pies. It’s a great all-rounder for the kitchen. The kind of piece that once you have one, you’ll wonder how on earth you ever did without.
Accurate Weighing Scales
When it comes to baking, you have to be precise for recipes to work. Unlike other forms of cooking where you can bend and adapt recipes to whatever you want, with baking those measurements need to be spot on. And so reliable weighing scales are a must. Scales are also useful for the kitchen if you’re slimming and need to weigh out things for meals. You could opt for a digital set which has the advantage of being very accurate and can also be set back to zero between weighing each ingredient. Traditional mechanical scales are inexpensive, but the mechanism may wear out over time. This will make them less accurate. Either way, they’re an essential bit of kit that no kitchen should be without.
Sharp knives will make your cutting much more clean and precise, and can reduce the risk of cutting accidents too. Although this seems like the opposite of what you would expect! This is because with a sharp knife you need to use less pressure, and each cut will be more predictable. In contrast to a blunt knife can easily slip, and will require more brute force to cut. If you invest in a knife sharpener too you can easily keep your knives at their best without having to constantly replace them. This is one area in the kitchen that you’re better off spending a little more for quality. You will need a selection of different sizes and shapes for different kinds of cuts and preparation. So do some research beforehand, and work out which will be best based on the kinds of things you cook (or are hoping to cook!)
Good Quality Pots and Pans
Pots and pans should have good quality handles that won’t become loose over time which could result in dangerous spills or accidents. Any lids should fit on securely, and the pan bottoms should be thick to distribute heat gently and evenly. Again this is one area where it’s better to spend the extra and go for something more high quality. A good set of pans will last you far longer than cheap ones, and so you’ll save money in the long run. A set of saucepans in a few different sizes, a wok, a frying pan will all be useful in most kitchens. If you cook steak or meat on the stovetop often then go for a good skillet or griddle too. Do your research to find out the best grill pans for your needs and budget.
Hardwood Chopping Boards
When you’re cutting things up, bashing meat to tenderize it and playing with various herbs and spices in the kitchen your worktops can become prone to stains, marks and scratches. Protect your kitchen and buy some chopping boards. Wood chopping boards came under scrutiny for a while, but research found that they were actually safer than plastic. This is because wood tends to be tougher and will develop less deep scratches for bacteria to hide in. Therefore, a set of wooden chopping boards is your best bet. You should have at least a couple of different ones to use for different ingredients and reduce cross contamination. You could have one that you always use for meat and another for fruit and vegetables. That way when you’re preparing a meal with both elements you won’t accidently transfer bacteria. If your chopping boards become very worn and scratched, be sure to replace them.
A Food Processor
If you don’t cook as often as you’d like because you’re put off by the food prep, buy a food processor. This makes light work of chopping, grating, and slicing and can drastically cut the preparation time off a meal. It also chops things much more finely than you would be able to do by hand meaning things cook more evenly too. It’s a great way to ‘hide’ vegetables in meals so great if you have children and picky eaters in the house. For example, you can use the chopping attachment to finely dice things. Onions, mushrooms, courgettes and carrots can be added to dishes like bolognese. Since they’re so small, they’re barely detectable with the other flavors but gives you extra nutrients. You can also make things such healthy homemade salsas and hummus in a flash, with no messing around chopping and mashing things by hand. A food processor is a quick way to get out of a rut with cooking. It instantly gives you quick and easy way of preparing a whole new range of meals that you probably wouldn’t have been able to make otherwise.
Have you ever found yourself in a rut in the kitchen? How did you get out of it, and what would you recommend others to try?