15 kitchen tools and equipment you will need in a busy family kitchen
There is a reason why some parents turn to ready meals and takeaway when so much of their time is taken up looking after the kids and the daily multitude of tasks bestowed upon them. There’s no time to go to the loo, so how do you find the time to cook up a fresh homemade meal three times a day (or more if you have hungry monsters in the house)? Gone are the days where you could casually waltz up to your kitchen counter and glaze over your artisan-style food ingredients that were purchased from authentic over-priced food markets.
From the moment you gave birth, it felt like you gave up the right to spend more than ten minutes on yourself at any given time, unless you manage to have it sussed, in which case, share your secrets, please! It’s all about speed and convenience and, even though I like to ensure that my kids eat fresh, healthy and homemade as much as possible, I don’t have the time or the resources to spend £40 on 67 ingredients to create one elaborate and lengthy meal. I have 6 and 7-year-old boys and their tummies rival their hungry eyes, so I’m literally on the go, cooking up lots of homemade recipes (including my legendary waffles for breakfast!) that include as much of the different healthy food groups as possible. And, I’ve almost got a few of the speedy kitchen skills sussed too. Most of these ideas boil down (no pun intended) to the kitchen tools and equipment that have fast become my best friends over the years. Before I list my essential kitchen tools, I want to stress the importance of having a convenient and efficient kitchen. For example, a kitchen with a kitchen island will help you to prepare food easily, without you have to trot back and forth between utensil and appliance. Take a look at Kitchen Warehouse where you can find some great kitchen units that will help you on your way to becoming a whizz in the kitchen.
So, here are 15 kitchen utensils and equipment that I seriously cannot do without and that help me whip up some pretty awesome family meals (sometimes) in a busy kitchen.
Ready, set, go!
Wooden cooking utensils are a great and a thick cutting board made of bamboo is quite low maintenance and sanitary too. Bamboo is dense enough to resist knife scarring and it naturally resists water penetration too, preventing bacteria from seeping in and growing. You just use hot water and soap (or diluted bleach) to clean the board and you’re good to go. If you want to be really fancy, you can find some great kitchen worktops, like these great worktop examples from Worktop Express, where you don’t need a cutting board to do the work.
Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is the real deal in food utensils. It is a versatile and durable piece of hard iron that can be used to make pretty much anything over a gas or electric stove. Boil up some spaghetti, brown some chicken or bake casserole dinners in the oven, you can use the skillet on almost any surface (but not in a microwave) and it is easy to clean too. Just rinse well with hot water and then dry with a towel.
A good strong pot
Something pretty large that will help you boil pasta and cook a healthy amount of soup or sauce for the family is ideal. One pot dinners are the mother of all kitchen time savers and made quite doable with cooking items a large saucepan or pot.
A hand blender can make smoothies, soups, dips, and salsa in a flash, and it can also chop up items with less washing up to do afterwards. It will fast become your best friend for anything that needs whizzing up quickly, especially during the baby weaning stage.
Microwaves are one of my saving graces! They can not only cook food faster, but tastier too. In fact, it has been said that food cooked in a microwave oven is often more nutritious than that of other conventional cooking methods. Microwaves are also safer because they cook without fire and are easier to wipe clean as well. A great microwave to look at is a combination microwave by Panasonic because these revolutionary microwaves can combine their power to steam, grill, bake or simply microwave your food.
A Chef’s Knife
Sharp enough to chop up a swede (have you tried to chop up a swede?), kitchen cutting tools like a Chef’s Knife are ideal for chopping up anything, from herbs to meat. You can slice, dice, chop or even pulverise using a Chef’s knife. To gain confidence with using such a large and sharp knife, do what I did and watch tonnes of YouTube videos on how to hold the knife properly and position your hands correctly. Bad habits are hard to break, so make sure you get these right at the very beginning to avoid chopping off fingers too!
A colander is a multifunctional tool that can help to wash and drain food, as well as keep fragile food fresh in the fridge. A metal colander can also steam vegetables and keep flies away (when you flip it).
Personally, I like to limit skinning fruits and vegetables because a lot of their nutrients come from the peel. However, we live in a world of chemicals including pesticides, which are sprayed onto our produce and ingested by our children. I don’t want to think about the long-term effects of non-organic food (even though organic is not that natural anymore either), so I reluctantly peel my non-organic fruit and veg. I would recommend going with a ‘y-peeler’ because it is generally sturdier, sharper, cheaper and easier to grip.
The beauty of casserole dishes is that they are so versatile. In the winter, you can enjoy a slow cooked hearty meal and in the summer, you can quickly roast some lovely vegetables with salmon if you desire. But, the benefit of the casserole dish is that it can withstand complete cooking. And you can skimp on the washing up since casseroles can be served in the dish that they are baked in. They are also easy to clean and economical too – they are generally dishwasher safe. If you’re stuck for ideas on what to make, Worktop Express have brought out a great ‘Garden to Table’ recipe eBook in time for the summer season and created by foodies like myself (check out my Tomato Chutney recipe in the eBook too!) to help you make the most of your home-grown produce. The Mediterranean Vegetable Casserole looks delicious!
Generally, you can go by feeling when you’ve become accustomed to creating recipes in the kitchen, but there are some ingredients that you have to measure in order to get the final recipe right, especially when baking. That’s where kitchen scales come into play. With light baking, there is even less margin for error and so you need to measure your baking ingredients correctly with kitchen measuring tools to ensure that the final recipe is top notch. Digital scales are the best as they tend to measure more accurately. Plus, they’re so cheap these days that you’ll be able to find a decent one for under £10.
Kitchen tongs are great for tossing salads, turning meat and just picking up hot food without using your hands. They are, in fact, an extra pair of hands when you can’t use your own, so I would definitely say a pair of tongs are essential gadget tools to have in the kitchen!
If you can have a solid spoon and a slotted spoon, perfect. Wooden spoons are not only easier and more comfortable to handle, but they’re also nonconductive. That means you can leave your spoon in the boiling sauce for a while and not burn your fingers when you pick up a metal conductive spoon. Wooden spoons won’t scratch non-stick surfaces either or react to acidic ingredients like metal can. So, if you’re going to have some spoons in your kitchen, go for the wooden kind.
Slow cookers are ideal fun kitchen gadgets for parents and they can be as cheap as chips to buy nowadays. You can cook virtually any meal you want, from oatmeal to casseroles and make enough for the whole family too. Prep your food, add it in the morning before school drop off and then come home from school to a slow-cooked dinner! You get a healthy hot meal anytime and every time, even on the busiest days of the week. To check out a review of the best non-toxic slow cookers, head to
Mixing bowls are great for mixing the batter and creating cold dishes. I would opt for a larger bowl as it’s easier to handle food. Also, you have yourself a salad bowl whenever you need it, so they’re multifunctional too!
So, there you are, my top 15 kitchen tools and equipment that I use in my family kitchen that save time, money and my sanity. You really can spend less time faffing about in the kitchen preparing the food and more time enjoying the finished dish with your family.
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