Are you looking for some favorite kitchen tools for easier meal prep and cooking to make your life in the kitchen more enjoyable? I love learning about new kitchen gadgets and tools that truly help to make cooking more fun.
I don’t know about you, but when I get home from work I am tired and don’t really feel like standing in the kitchen to cook. So any gadgets or tools I can find to help cut down on the amount of time I spend in the kitchen in the evenings is a huge plus!
Cooking and eating at home are so important for saving money. According to Forbes.com, it’s just about 5 times more expensive to have food delivered from a restaurant than it would be if you made the exact same meal at home!
Also, you may know that I am a huge fan of meal planning. Since meal planning and meal prep go hand in hand, I also have a few basic meal planning tips for you at the bottom of my list of favorite kitchen tools!
Today I want to share my favorite kitchen tools for easier cooking with you. I hope you will find something new on this list that will make cooking and meal prep more enjoyable for you!
So let’s get started!
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My Top 10 Favorite Kitchen Tools for Easier Cooking
1. Instant Pot
The Instant Pot is a huge time saver! You can make such delicious meals in it. We have had ours for almost 3 years now and use it a couple of times every single week.
Instant Pots are great for a number of reasons. You can make one-pot meals, which makes for easy clean-up. You can also make cheaper cuts of meat super tender in an Instant Pot.
We also use ours to make hard-boiled eggs, which peel so easily, and we make mini muffins for the kids in it.
If you are thinking of getting an Instant Pot, it may be helpful for you to also get a good cookbook so you can learn how to use it.
We love this cookbook. Each dish in the cookbook has both recipes to make in a pressure cooker (Instant Pot) and a slow cooker (Crock-Pot).
I have to admit, ever since we got our Instant Pot, we don’t use our Crock-Pot as much. However, since this post is about my favorite gadgets and tools to make meal prep and cooking easier, I have to include the Crock-Pot.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, Crock-Pots are the next best thing because you can cook your meal while you are at work.
There is nothing like coming home from work to a meal that is already cooked that smells delicious as you walk in the door!
3. Waffle Iron
I picked my waffle iron out of a catalog for my 10-year anniversary gift for work and we use that thing almost every single weekend.
The kids love the Belgian waffles we make with it! We either use the store-bought pancake and waffle mix or this recipe for chocolate waffles from The Salty Marshmallow.
We make Belgian waffles every Saturday morning for breakfast with our waffle iron (as long as the kids don’t have soccer games really early). We usually have enough left over for the kids to have them for breakfast once or twice during the week. Refrigerate the leftovers and just pop them in the toaster to reheat.
You could also make a couple of batches at once and freeze them to eat throughout the month. Pull them out of the freezer and reheat them in the toaster or microwave. This is a more frugal option than buying boxed frozen waffles from the grocery store.
One more tip! Waffles and ice cream are also a delicious treat your family is sure to love. We like to make ice cream sandwiches using 2 quarters of a waffle.
4. Stand mixer
I splurged on a stand mixer a few years back and I could not believe I used a hand mixer for so long! This was literally a game-changer for baking. Clean-up is so quick and easy.
You can also use a stand mixer for mashed potatoes, shredding cooked chicken or pork, and mixing up meatloaf or meatballs, as well as many other things!
These measuring cups by OXO are my absolute favorite! I used a Pampered Chef measuring cup for years that could be used for both dry and wet ingredients. I only ever used it for wet ingredients since I have other measuring cups for dry ingredients.
These do not get hot in the microwave when melting butter or chocolate. They are also squeezable to make pouring from them easier.
Plus they are super easy to clean because they are made of silicone and ingredients don’t stick to them. They also dry out so quickly. I love these!
Non-stick baking mats are a must-have for baking sheets. I used to use parchment paper or foil all the time and then I got a set of these and love them! Just make sure you check for the correct size you need when ordering.
I enjoy making corn muffins from scratch to go with several of the meals my family eats. Jiffy also makes a really good box mix and it is super cheap! I use my silicone muffin pans all the time for those and they work great.
8. Instant read meat thermometer
You need a good digital meat thermometer to make sure you are cooking all your meats properly. I use ours a few times a week. It is quick, easy to read, and easy to clean.
We got our electric can opener as a wedding gift over 16 years ago and it is still going strong. I remember I didn’t even think we needed an electric can opener, but the woman helping us with our registry at the department store convinced me otherwise.
And boy am I glad she did! When we make chili or anything else with lots of canned beans, sauce, or tomatoes, I am so grateful to have it. This one is very similar to ours.
10. Cutting mats
I also really like the fact that they are so slim for easy storage. Regular cutting boards can take up so much room, especially when you use different cutting boards for different tasks.
11. Salad Spinner
A salad spinner is a must-have for saving money. It is so much cheaper to buy a head of lettuce (we buy a 3 pack of romaine hearts) than pre-chopped bagged lettuce. We chop our lettuce at the beginning of the week and store it in special containers (see below) to keep it fresh.
Just pull out your green container and throw some lettuce in a bowl, along with your favorite chopped vegetables, for a super quick side salad with your dinner.
12. Green containers
These green produce containers are a must-have if you love fresh produce. We use them for our lettuce, baby spinach, baby carrots, green pepper, tomatoes, and celery. I really do think produce lasts longer when stored in these containers.
13. Baking sheets
Quality baking sheets are so important for meal preparation and are so versatile! Here are some uses for baking sheets:
- Baking cookies
- Roasting vegetables
- Sheet pan dinners
- Drip catchers (use under anything that could cook over in oven)
- Serving tray
- Freezing fruit before bagging
- Cooking bacon
- Use on pantry shelf to set oil bottles and sticky containers on to keep shelf clean
We have these Nordic Ware baking sheets in the half sheet and quarter sheet sizes. The thing I love about them is that they don’t bend or warp when they get hot in the oven like my thinner non-stick ones used to do. They are thick, heavy-duty baking sheets.
Immersion blenders are also quite versatile! Our favorite way to use it is to purée a cheesy vegetable soup we make in the Instant Pot. Here are a few other uses for an immersion blender:
- Making smoothies
- Making milkshakes
- Beating multiple eggs
- Blending homemade hummus
- Puréeing soups
- Making salsa
If you will be buying meat in bulk and separating it by weight to freeze, you will need a digital kitchen scale.
You can also use a digital scale to manage portions of food. I use ours for measuring pasta since we only make half or a third of a box at a time, depending on the rest of the meal. My husband laughs at me for this, but I can’t help it…I like things equal.
When you have quality kitchen tools for cooking, it really makes meal prep and even clean up so much easier. If meal prep is easy, you are more likely to continue to cook your meals at home on a regular basis. This will save you money in the long run by eating out less often.
Eating at home is key to saving money. Meal planning is a necessity if you are trying to eat at home more often. There are a few things you can do to make meal planning easier, so you can stick with it, in order to cut back your food expenses.
Meal Planning Tips
Here are just a couple of tips to get you started with meal planning. If you would like some more in-depth reading on meal planning or cooking at home, check out
- The Easy Way to Make a Monthly Meal Plan
- Meal Planning on a Budget
- Easy Meal Planning with Dinner Theme Nights
- 12 Quick and Easy Ways to Reuse Leftover Food
If you are going to get serious about meal planning, you have to get organized. It is a good idea to keep your calendar, recipes, grocery list, and inventory list all together in a folder or binder so you can easily grab it. You can download my meal planning guide to help you get organized!
You will also want to get your fridge, freezer, and pantry organized so you can clearly see what you have on hand. This will help you with my next tip.
Check to see what you already have in your freezer, fridge, and pantry before you make your meal plan for the week. This will help you to eliminate waste and use up what you have instead of buying more food.
Incorporate at least one “leftover meal” into your meal plan to cut back on the number of times you are cooking. For example, if you are planning to cook a meal with chicken on Monday, why not cook up some extra chicken to use later in the week for another recipe?
If you would like some extra ways to incorporate leftovers into your meal plan, check out my post on ways to reuse leftovers.
Watch out for upcoming busy nights
Do you have a doctor’s appointment after work? Or maybe your kids have sports practices or games on certain nights of the week?
Knowing which nights are going to be the busiest nights of the week is key in creating a meal plan that you will be able to stick to. Make sure you plan something really easy to cook or designate that night as the leftover night to avoid getting takeout or ordering food at the last minute.
Double check your grocery list
Take your time when creating your grocery list so you don’t forget anything at the store. There is nothing worse when you are getting ready to start dinner only to open the pantry or freezer to find out you forgot a major ingredient for your meal!
But don’t worry if that happens. And it WILL happen!
We are only human and we forget things. You could check to see if you have something you can substitute for the ingredient. If not, swap that meal with another meal from the week. Then you can pick up the ingredient from the store the next day.
Final Thoughts on My Favorite Kitchen Tools
It is important to have good-quality tools in the kitchen so you can be efficient during meal prep and cooking. I know some of the tools and gadgets I recommended here are a bit pricey.
However, I do think they will pay for themselves many times over when you use them to prepare delicious home-cooked meals for your family instead of ordering take-out or going out to eat.
Investing in some kitchen tools that you know you will use will save you time and money and help to make cooking more enjoyable. You will be able to conquer mealtime so you can eat at home more often!
Meal planning and meal prep do not have to be difficult! By investing in your favorite kitchen tools for meal prep and being intentional with your meal planning, you will succeed in eating at home more often so you can save money!
What are your favorite kitchen tools or gadgets you can’t live without? Please let me know in the comments because I would love to hear about them!