5 must-have items in a healthy kitchen
Before Wendy and I started eating a healthy diet, we spent a lot of money at restaurants. Sure, we enjoyed making nice meals at home, but I’d say we probably went out to eat 3-4 times per week. Usually at the local burger joint the kids liked to frequent.
When we got super serious about eating healthy food, we quickly learned how time consuming and frustrating it can be to make food at home if you don’t have the right kitchen setup.
After lots of questions from folks about what kind of devices, utensils, etc we have to keep food prep to a reasonable level, I’ve come up with five must-haves you’ll need to keep your kitchen time to a minimum without sacrificing overall budget and your health by eating out too often.
Without any preferred order, here are the top five must-have items you’ll need to build a healthy kitchen!
Programmable Pressure Cooker
I LOVE pressure cookers as they save massive amounts of time and money. We use ours to make beans from scratch, which is vastly healthier than canned options as the store. We also use it to cook chili, soups, prepare tender meats, and make the occasional rice dish.
We have an Instant Pot. This is basically an electric pressure cooker that is fully programmable. It can do just about anything from making beans to yogurt. Can’t recommend it highly enough.
High Speed Blender (Not a cheap mega-mart one, but a darned good one)
Another must have is a very high speed, super high quality blender. I’m not talking about the $20 mega-mart find, but rather a high quality blender you see chefs on television using. We have a Vitamix, which is expensive, but incredibly reliable. To save time in the morning, I make smoothies for the family during the week. I’ve been using our Vitamix for years, multiple times per day, and it still works like a champ!
We also use our blender to make almond milk, purees, and other cost and health saving recipes.
I recommend buying a refurbished Vitamix or Blendtec blender. They are less expensive that way, but still carry a pretty good warranty. I bought our blender refurbished.
Food processors are amazing devices. You can make vegetable preparation a snap. Instead of cutting up vegetables for 20 minutes, you can accomplish the same thing in about 20 seconds with a food processor. Also, it saves you a ton of money as you can buy a head of cabbage and shred it yourself to make slaw for about 1/2 the price of the store bought variety with almost no effort.
Another thing I use a food processor for is to make homemade bread crumbs and oat flour. Both are quite pricey at the store, but you can make the same with a food processor for much less money.
I probably use our food processor 3-4 times / week to prepare fresh vegetables and making homemade flour from oats. I also use it to make fresh hummus. Yum!
High Quality Knives
High quality knives and a good sharpener are a must. I can’t stress how much a high quality knife can make in food preparation. High quality does not mean expensive. I prefer to buy our knives from an Iowa company called Rada. Their knives are quite simple and inexpensive. No fancy handles. But who cares. The blades are amazing and they last for a very long time.
Every healthy kitchen should include the following types of knives:
A nice butcher knife
A cook’s knife (use this one most often)
A paring knife
A vegetable peeler
I prefer to take out each of my knives a couple of times per month to sharpen them. Even if I haven’t used one or two of them recently. This keeps them very sharp, which makes food prep easier.
Lots and Lots of Storage Containers
In our kitchen, we have a cabinet which houses our storage containers. Most of them are large enough to contain lunch made from the previous night’s dinner. This is a key to healthy meal prep. Each night, I make enough dinner to feed the family, with two portions leftover to use for lunch the next day. That way, we don’t have to head out to lunch, usually buying some dubious “food” which is probably not all that healthy, and most certainly overpriced… So, buy a bunch of dinner-sized storage containers. For a family of four, 15-20 containers should do the trick. Buy the mid-range quality and cost containers for best result. Avoid the segmented containers.
Well, that’s about it for my list of the five items every healthy kitchen should have. Sure, there are more items you’ll need, but these five high quality items are critical to keeping your food healthy and affordable