I’m going to start off by saying that you cannot buy anything for your kitchen that will make you a better cook. Trust me, if that was the case, I wouldn’t spend half my food prep time scraping burnt crap off my kids grilled cheese sandwiches. What a kitchen gadget CAN do is bring some joy and ease into your cooking life.
We’ve been on a journey toward minimalism and living with less this past year and though I’ve parted with many things in my kitchen, there are some gadgets and appliances that you will have to pry out of my cold dead hands to get me to give up. This is also the reason I will likely never fully embody minimalism….but I digress. Here is my list of items that every kitchen goddess (or god…not discounting the gents out there who do the cooking) should have in some way, shape or form in this year’s kitchen gift guide:
1. A Blending Tool: Smoothies, soups, baby food, you name it and it can be pureed. One of the biggest investments we made was in a good quality blender when we had our, now, 3 year old. I wanted to make all his food and give him as many good foods as I could. I also wanted to increase our nutrient intake and smoothies was the way to go in our house. As a vegetarian, I obviously don’t rely on meat as a source of protein so in a pinch, a protein smoothie (using my favorite Vega powder…of course!) has been a fantastic way to boost my protein and nutrient intake.
There are countless options available from a high-end blenders to simple handheld blenders. Everyone’s needs are different and budget is always a factor. Over the years, I’ve added a Vitamix, a Kitchen Aide immersion blender and a mini-single serving blender to my kitchen collection (pictured above 1, 4, 5). I use all 3 and they are each amazing. I use my Vitamix for large quantities of soup, when I’m making smoothies for more than just myself or anytime I want something to come out super creamy and velvety (like my coconut ginger cauliflower soup!). It’s definitely an investment item but if they have refurbished models available, you can save some money that way. The warranty is fantastic and I’ve used it twice when my blender broke. It was repaired and back in my hands in about 2-3 weeks, no charge for shipping. Now…the fact that it’s been broken twice in 3 years may not be the most ringing endorsement for it and truth be told, I may opt for a different brand next time around, I will say that it has more than paid for itself in the time we’ve had it.
If you’re looking for something a bit less expensive, immersion blenders are fantastic! A bit more labour-intensive if you’re blending a large soup but mine is great for a quick smoothie (it puree’s spinach and kale no problem), soup or anything that needs a quick blend. It’s also ridiculously fast and easy to clean too.
If you want something less expensive still, you will LOVE this Hamilton beach blender for one. It’s practically free. Seriously. And it works so well! I make my morning smoothie that I bring to work with me in it. It takes a minute to throw it all together. I paid about $15 for it. You seriously cannot go wrong with that.
2. Storage: Not everyone can have a massive kitchen with lots of storage. Most of us have a modest pantry to hold all our staple food items. What I’ve noticed in the last year is that as I’ve done more cooking from scratch, I’ve accumulated a whole lot of loose ingredients around the house. Between the various flours, dried beans, spices and items I keep on hand so I’ll always have a food option for dinner, my pantry was looking pretty gross. My solution was to buy a whole bunch of mason jars for storage. They have been fantastic! I’m slightly addicted. It’s helped me organize my pantry soooooooooo much!! I can’t even show you a “before” picture because I was too ashamed to take one. Here’s why I love them so much: they’re glass and don’t hang onto any food smells the way plastic does, they look pretty lined up in my pantry, I can buy food from the bulk store in the quantities that I need so I’m not wasting, they’re way cleaner and they’re cheap!! I even use them for lunches to pack soups (no spilling!), for my smoothies and hubby has taken a few to put various hardware items in. It’s not a glamorous gift but believe me when I say it’s a very practical one.
3. Tools: I’m not talking about the bacon rack or the egg poacher or other gizmo’s that only have one purpose (although I suppose if you’re eating eggs and bacon every day…). I’m talking about good quality, useful, practical things the cook on your list would love to have around the kitchen. Some of my favorite’s are these measuring cups and spoons from Lee Valley:
My mum gave me these for my birthday last year and they are simply awesome. They are very good quality which I like because on any given food prep weekend, I will be washing them multiple times so they get a lot of use. I also love that they fit into my smaller spice jars.
Other good tools to consider: a whisk, glass mixing bowls of various sizes, several spatulas and mixing spoons.
It’s really a simple task and kitchen supplies are gifts that keep on giving because they’ll get used over and over again. Investing in something good quality will ensure you’re not constantly replacing it. If you’re still not sold on the idea of a practical gift, look at it this way: if they key to your heart is through your stomach, keep your cook happy in their kitchen 😉