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My essential tools for cooking

Introduction: Cooking at home is a great way to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. In this article, I’ll share the essential items I use in my kitchen to prepare healthy meals.  The second important note is that I am not a chef and my cooking knowledge is almost zero 🙂 That’s why I need hacks to be able to cook while minimizing the time in the kitchen. The third important note is that all those tools or gadgets are cheap. I travel a lot and when I am in America or Europe for some time I need to be able to get them easily.

Here’s my list of best bang for a buck kitchen gadgets: 

  1. Chef’s knife: A sharp chef’s knife is a game changer in the kitchen. It makes cutting and chopping much faster and more precise, which can make meal prep faster and more enjoyable. You can get a good knife for $40. I prefer German blade that is heavier and more durable. And from my perspective it is enough for me – not a big cook. I normally travel with this knife – that is why i prefer German blade that is more durable, but more on that in traveling backpacks post soon. 
  2. Cast iron skillet: If you’re a steak eater like me, you definitely need a cast iron skillet. You can get one on amazon for $30. It will do its job just perfect. Not only for meat. For me it works for everything i do on a pan.
  3. Blender: Making healthy cocktails, smoothies, protein shakes, etc. … I’ve tried a lot of different blenders but the best one I’ve found is this one. This one costs like $60 but the beauty is that it has metal to metal connection. That’s the only reason I use it. It can chop and blend anything – nuts, frozen veggies, frozen fruit, ice, anything you can imagine. I’ve been using it for years now without any issue. Sometimes it’s not so easy to get in Europe, but it’s doable. The only requirement for me is the metal connection. Nothing else matters.
  4. Slow cooker: This solves my daily problem: time. I don’t want to cook. You just take a meat, without any preparation, you put it in and you can put it together with potatoes, vegetables, etc…. Cooking is at low temperatures for a long period of time, usually 8 hours. This slow and gentle cooking method helps to break up tough cuts of meat and the flavors to blend, producing tender and flavorful dishes. I turn it on during the day or even cooking overnight and when I wake up, my food is ready. A total game changer for me. I usually have a cheap one – just turn the button on and off. And that’s it. I know that in Europe you can get one for about $40 in Lidl store. Similar is in the US in bestbuy.
  5. Rice cooker: Similar to the slow cooker in terms of time savings. You throw in the rice and it’s all done in 20 minutes. Again, you can get one for about $30 with just turn on/off button. 
  6. Water filter jug: I drink tap water most of the time almost everywhere. Obviously there are some countries where it is not possible, but in the countries where I usually stay in Europe, USA, Latin America (most Latin American countries) I drink tap water. This pitcher is an inexpensive solution to have good tasting and smelling water. It is not the solution for everything but it saves some money in long term and it really works for me. I use Brita brand (filters you can get anywhere in the world for a good price) and the whole set costs about $30.  

Bottom line:

I understand that this setup may not work for everyone. But my diet is mostly meat, eggs, vegetables sometimes. So this is all I need for cooking. I need to eat well and be time efficient. All the meals I cook take me max. 20 minutes. With the slow cooker it’s only about prep and cutting = 5 minutes of prep. The rest is done automatically without my supervision. 

Let me know what works for you. I like to keep it simple and effective.