I was in the middle of my usual Sunday batch cooking session yesterday (this week’s frugal pre-payday efforts included Madhur Jaffrey lentil curry, Deliciously Ella carrot, raisin and lentil salad, a vat of soup, loads of brown rice and cacao chia puddings) when I realised we’ve never really written about the equipment we use all in one place. There’s so much out there it can be confusing and easy to convince yourself to spend loads on something that may end up cluttering up a kitchen cupboard rather than changing your life as promised on the box.
I’ve put together a guide to the things we actually use and some ideas where best to spend your money – please share your own secret weapons in the comments!
This is probably the most used piece of kit in both of our kitchens but you don’t necessarily need to spend a hundred quid for a decent one. We use them almost exclusively for smoothies – a good way to dip your toe into the healthier side of life, but I personally wouldn’t splash out initially in case you don’t end up loving them.
Chaz loves her Nutribullet – they cost about £100 and she got it as a birthday present a few friends clubbed together to buy her for her 30th.
I have the Breville BlendActive and while it isn’t as fancy as the Nutribullet it does the job perfectly well – I’ve had mine almost a year and it is literally used 2-3 times every day.
The Nutribullet is ultimately better as it breaks everything down in a more nutritious way (or so they say), but for £22 the BlendActive is a good place to start.
2. Food processor
While I have long had the Magimix on my wish list in reality I use a food processor I picked up at Aldi for about £14. It took me months of breakages and frustration to work out I shouldn’t test the limits of my blender for things like hummus, energy balls, and raw cheesecakes when I first started trying out these kind of recipes. Since buying a separate processor there have been fewer kitchen tantrums.
There are plenty of models out there between my budget option and the Magimix but for what I actually use it for on a weekly basis (soup, hummus, veggie burger mixes, pesto) this works just fine and I’ve seen them on those lucky dip middle aisles regularly since. They do a blender and juicer too which I haven’t tried but are probably decent enough.
3. Slow cooker
My slow cooker was a Christmas 2014 gift and I use it so much. For £14.50 (I asked for a cheap one in case I didn’t use it) it really earns its keep. At first I had a few fails trying slow cooker specific recipes which turned out really bland (sure that was more my fault for being a crap cook more than anything else) but after working out I could slow cook some of my favourite recipes I was on a lazy roll and never looked back.
These are the things I use it for most often:
- Anna Jones’ Proper Chilli (from A Modern Way To Eat) – tasty, filling, protein packed and makes about 8 portions, even carnivore Ric loves it
- Minestrone soup – this is the basic idea but I throw in any veg and beans I have in
- Naturally Sassy’s Sweet Potato and Spinach Korma – I use my BlendActive to make the curry paste as it’s liquidy enough
- Deliciously Ella’s Cannelini Bean Stew – throwing this in the slow cooker is the easiest thing ever and everyone I know who has made it agrees it’s a lot tastier than the sum of its parts
Until I bought one of these I struggled to make big enough batches of soup with a normal pan set – there are loads of different sizes and brands but it’s worth getting one if you’re going to be doing a lot of batch cooking.
The novelty with this one died down after a few months (I seriously ate courgetti every day for a fortnight) but it’s something we both still use and they’re inexpensive enough to try it out for fun (they make a good gift for anyone interested in getting healthier or losing weight too). We have this one; the Hemsley + Hemsley one looks good too. I’ve only really used it for courgetti, cucumber and carrots but there are plenty of other vegetables you can try. This Buzzfeed is great for ideas.
George Foreman Grill
Since I stopped eating meat I haven’t used mine much, but before I did I found it really handy for healthy meals. Great for chicken, steak, burgers and whatever else you like, they seem to be pretty cheap these days. With hindsight, I may have actually stopped using mine (or indeed stopped eating meat) when I accidentally grilled a slug that had found its way into the cupboard and was nestling inside the actual grill. I rang Sandy in a panic and she firmly advised “throw the whole thing out Al. I’ll buy you another.”
Not kit as such but once you start embracing the batch cooking you can never have too much tupperware. I keep meaning to get really organised and buy loads of portion sized tubs to make life even easier so I can freeze more and not have to divide things out for lunches in the morning.
My jar cupboard is out of control but they are just so useful I hoard them like mad (and I am NOT a hoarder). I use them to make ahead portable bircher pots and chia puddings for breakfast, to store homemade hummus, guacamole, pesto and tomato sauces and to mix together dressings – shaking it up is so much easier than whisking and does the job just as well. My faves are Bonne Maman jam jars and the small Meridian peanut/almond butter jars for these purposes but anything works.
What’s your kitchen must-have?
Images from Amazon and Tesco.com