Cooking is not my forte. To be honest, I hate cooking. For me, it is a necessity–a means to an end. In the corresponding post, One Hour–Seven Dinners, I describe the plan that has literally eliminated a lot of stress in our household: Pre-Cooking or what I like to call Power Cooking. This is when I plan out a batch of dinners that can be frozen for future eating and then I pre-pare the meals in separate large freezer bags or serving trays. Not only does it save time, but it also helps me answer the day-end question: what to have for dinner. Another benefit: you save money! When I shop at the grocery store, I know exactly what dinner ingredients I need (and those are the only dinner ingredients I purchase).
When I was preparing the meals outlined in One Hour–Seven Dinners, I realized just how grateful I was for some of the cooking tools that I had on hand. For someone who is all about making things easier, I can whole-heartedly testify how great these products are. I thought I would share some of these obvious — and not-so-obvious — cooking tools that I love.
I will start with the obvious: a crockpot. The meals in the One Hour: Seven Dinners post all involve dumping ingredients into a crockpot so that you can simply walk away and let this amazing mechanism do the work for you. While I have not purchased one with a timer yet; we still have one that we received almost seventeen years ago as a wedding present, I will say that a timed crockpot is on my wish list. This would be especially helpful, as I have learned from experience, when you cannot get home within the 6 – 8 hour cooking window that many of these meals require.
Mini Electric Chopper
This is one of my absolute favorites–I have even talked friends into buying this. This little, inexpensive chopper literally chops up onions, celery, and other produce within seconds (onions in photo took less than 10 seconds to be chopped). There are no watery eyes with this bad-boy. A lot of the meals for my power cooking require cutting up onions; so to save time, I use this device to cut all the needed-onions as the first step. Also, it is great to use at Thanksgiving when making a big feast. We use this regularly to prepare tuna fish with celery and onion. Yes, I love it, I love it, I love it.
We have one of these grease guards and it has come in so handy. Not only does it eliminate grease splattering on the stove or countertops, but it also helps you drain the grease after browning ground beef (or whatever you are frying up).
A mini colander such as this Tablecraft HC1 0.75 quart Mini Colander are a must when draining and/or rinsing beans, corn, grapes–you name it. Many of the recipes I use have beans that need to be drained and rinsed–no problem. I have enclosed a photo of my colander, which I could not find online, so I included this stainless steel version which is a mini version of my larger one.
I have a can opener that I purchased years ago from Pampered Chef that I love. I have since learned that they do not carry this exact version; the newer version is not as nice (so the reviews tell me). The version shown above is quite similar and has excellent reviews. While the can opener takes some getting used to–you have to place the cutting section differently on the can than you do with old-school can openers. However, the cans open smoothly without jagged edges on the lid, allowing you to open and recycle the can without getting cut. The best part is the little pincher tool that allows you to pick up the top from the rest of the can.
These are probably the most-used kitchen utensils that we have in our kitchen. We use them to not only melt butter in the microwave, but also to put all our cut items inside. Taco Night for example: our cut-onions, tomatoes, black olives are all placed inside these convenient containers. Having a party and want to lay out a small bowl of peanuts or M&Ms? These work. Chocolate flambe, mini quiches? These do the trick. You will be amazed at how often and for what purposes these ramekins will be used.
Pyrex Portable Glass Cookware
One of the best wedding presents that my husband and I received is this pyrex portable cookware set. It is almost seventeen years later, and we are still using the same set. The glass baking dish is perfect for any type of casserole; you can place it directly in the oven and then remove it to serve right out of the dish. The companion travel bag allows hot dishes to remain hot and cold dishes to remain cold. And, for those dishes that did not get finished and you want to store for later, simply place the rubber-made top on the dish and put it in the refrigerator. Easy and convenient!
Disclaimer: I may receive a small commission on affiliate links, but I only recommend products that I highly believe in. These, for example, have 100% made cooking so much easier!