Do you think about the time that your daily activities might cost you? Upon reflection, these time-saving kitchen gadgets have saved me hours much better spent with family. I only wish I had bought them earlier.
According to a 2014 study by the United States Department of Agriculture, the average U.S. adult spends 37 minutes a day preparing food and cleaning up.
Sound low? The average varies by gender, age, and whether or not there are children present in the household. The average for men was just 22 minutes, but it jumped to 51 minutes for women.
Why does that matter? Because good tools can help you be more efficient with your time spent in the kitchen.
Not all investments are expensive. Some are downright bargains, when you work out your hourly rate compared to how long some kitchen tasks can take.
When I first became more interested in cooking, I convinced myself that I didn’t really cook all that much, so there was no reason to buy extra tools. A minimal kitchen would work just fine.
In some ways, I still agree with that. However, small items that don’t take up much space aren’t exactly a hardship to store if you actually use and enjoy them.
Others may take up a bit more space (and money), but they can also allow you to make things from scratch that you otherwise wouldn’t try. Anything you can make out of ingredients that you can recognize and pronounce decreases the amount of weird preservatives and unknown ingredients in the diet that sustains you and your family.
With no further ado, here are the time-saving kitchen tools that have make cooking a little easier and more fun for me.
Best Time-Saving Kitchen Gadgets – The Winners
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Best Time-Saving Kitchen Gadgets – Why they help
First, time-saving kitchen tool No. 1: the garlic press
Mincing garlic by hand with a knife is, to say the least, tedious. One would be forgiven for calling it terrible. Fresh garlic is delicious and healthful. Moreover, using it is an easy way to take beginner level cooking to the next level.
As a young professional I tended to avoid fresh garlic, as is societally expected for a young woman. However, I grew out of that pretty quickly once I got better at cooking and realized how tasty it truly is.
Using a garlic press rather than a knife made cooking much more approachable, easy, and fun.
Next, the nice can opener
As a young, broke student, I had a rather dilapidated can opener that technically opened cans. However, doing so required quite a lot of elbow grease and often resulted in me getting splashed with whatever was in the can.
I didn’t realize how hard I was making this task for myself until I went ahead and bought this can opener instead, after hearing high praise about this particular model. Suddenly, making chili was easy!
Remember the rage for electric can openers in the early 2000s? Clearly, the kind of can opener you mount in your kitchen didn’t stay in vogue long. However, that trend does emphasize how dreaded of a task this can be, especially with the wrong tools.
Have you ever tried to cut a tomato with a dull knife? How did it go? If you’re anything like me, I’m guessing probably not well. It can be a pretty frustrating process.
I love tomatoes. However, again as a young, broke person, I went to a thrift store and bought a secondhand block of knives. Dear reader, this purchase did not play nicely with tomatoes.
(Pro tip: If you are still in the young, broke student stage, just look for grape tomatoes on sale and don’t cut them.)
Finally, my husband requested this set of knives as a present a few years back. This may sound overly dramatic, but having nice, sharp knives was a game changer.
You can read the full review of these Wusthof Gourmet knives here.
If new knives are out of your budget at the moment, you may also wish to consider a knife sharpener. This can breathe new life into your old knives (even if they are also from the thrift store).
An Instant Pot
For many years, my husband wanted to buy a rice cooker. I kept vetoing this purchase because we are rather limited in terms of counter space, as well as under counter storage. We have a saucepan, which works perfectly well for cooking rice.
Ironically, when we finally bought an Instant Pot, the first way we used it was to cook rice. Although I must say, it was nice to have the saucepan free to steam vegetables in.
However, what really impressed me was how quickly you can cook a butternut squash in an Instant Pot. The very first time I made homemade butternut squash soup (many years ago now), I baked the squash in the oven. If you have ever done that yourself, you know it can take an hour for the squash to soften up, if not more.
With an Instant Pot, you just need to pressure cook the squash for eight minutes. Of course, it takes a little time for the pot to heat up. Once it’s done, you can either wait for the pressure to release on its own, which again takes more time, or you can use the quick release function if you’re in a hurry.
Either way, having an Instant Pot makes cooking things like butternut squash feel much more realistic, especially on a weeknight. (The one linked has a yogurt button, which, sadly, mine does not.)
A Stand Mixer
For a long time, I felt that a stand mixer was unnecessary. It seemed like the sort of thing only people who do a lot of baking need.
The first time I made homemade yeast bread, my husband was very impressed and quite hopeful that this would be a regular event.
I felt there was little chance of that. Kneading the dough was pretty labor intensive, even though it did turn out to be delicious.
However, I must say, there is something very nice about knowing your daily bread has only flour, yeast, salt, and water in it. The aroma of fresh baked bread is a perk, too.
Eventually, we bought a stand mixer of our own. While it seemed excessive at first, I can tell you that we have made a great many loaves of bread at home, and they have all been great.
I also realize how much easier it is to make things like cookies and brownies from scratch. I used to dread mixing cookie dough as it can be hard to get all the flour mixed in. Not anymore!
I hope this gave you some ideas for ways you might be able to save time in the kitchen and make cooking and feeding your family a little easier and more fun.
What are some of your kitchen tools you were glad you bought? I’d be interested to hear about them in the comments!
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Recipes mentioned in this article
- Homemade Taboule Salad
- Simple Marinated Arabic Salad
- Homemade Butternut Squash Rosemary Soup
- Marbled Cookie Brownies from Scratch