Meal Planning Archives - Page 2 of 2 - Percolate Kitchen

The 5+ Best, ‘Must-Have’ Kitchen Appliances Every Cook Needs


What are the best, ‘must have’ kitchen appliances to keep in your arsenal?

I’m talking about the kitchen gadgets and ‘must have’ kitchen appliances you turn to every day. Is your kitchen well-stocked? Bare as can be? Do you keep your favorite, most-used items organized neatly, or are there gadgets and measuring spoons falling out of every cupboard?

A worker is nothing without his tools, and the same goes for a cook in the kitchen. However, a quick stroll down the kitchen aisle in Target tells you there are likely way more ‘must have’ kitchen appliances you could ever use or need; the trick is figuring out what’s is a must-have, and what’s a must-not.

After all: all the fancy ingredients in the world don’t really matter all that much if you don’t have a can opener!

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So what’s a cook, especially one who’s hoping to streamline their kitchen processes, to do?

Which appliances do you make sure you own, which to get rid of, which do you own but keep out of the kitchen in the name of reducing clutter?

Which kitchen appliances do you really need?

For this next post in my ‘Make the Most of Your Kitchen‘ series, I’ll go over the 5 essential gadgets/appliances I think every good kitchen really should have, plus a few gadgets I consider helpful if you’ve got the room, but not in the category of essential.

What’s even better? A FREE COOKBOOK that features recipes used in this post, plus the others: How to Cook ‘Family Meal’ Just Like a Chef, Repurposing Leftover Ingredients, and 3 Reasons Why You Need Better Kitchen Organization. They’re all bundled together, full of checklists and guides and recipes, and it’s yours if you want it. Just leave your email down below and I’ll send it over to you immediately!

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Ready? Let’s go!

Before I begin:

You have a good knife, right? I consider a good chef’s knife so completely essential that I’m not even going to list it here as a must-have. Needing a good knife in the kitchen is like ‘needing’ CO2 to convert air into oxygen; it’s that important. So make sure you’ve got a good one, keep it sharpened (more on that below) and let’s start with the rest.

How stocked is your kitchen arsenal? I'm talking about those essential, must-have products and gadgets in your kitchen. What do you have to have?1. Handheld grater 

We use our small, hand-held grater just about more than anything else in the kitchen, with the exception of a knife and cutting board.  I use it to grate garlic when I don’t feel like mincing and to finely grate cheese into the kids’ omelets in the morning. I grate nutmeg into cookies and smoothies in the winter. I’ve even grated stale bread into breadcrumbs when I forgot to buy more and needed them for a recipe!

Tip: Make sure your grater has a handle that is comfortable and won’t slide off after a few years of use.  I also like the plastic protector on this one; ours got lost years ago. We now have to keep it up and away on a higher shelf, so tiny fingers don’t get cut when ‘helping’ in the kitchen.

Replace your grater every 3-5 years or so, so the holes stay sharp. The difference between a sharp grater and a dull one will amaze you.

I Recommend: This OXO Good Grips Grater, $10

Great Budget Buy: Culina Hand-held Fine Spice Grater, $5

Make this with it! Chilled Tomato Soup

How stocked is your kitchen arsenal? I'm talking about those essential, must-have products and gadgets in your kitchen. What do you have to have?2. Slow Cooker

Truly, I can’t mom without a slow cooker. This is the exact model we have here at home, and it’s a steal at only $19.

It’s inexpensive but does the job, for sure. I feed our family of four using this Crockpot slow cooker at least once a week in the winter.

Pros: It cleans up easy, is light to transport, and has an even heat distribution although I feel it runs a little on the hot side.

Cons: This particular brand is round, so I can’t fit oddly shaped cuts of meat or a whole chicken comfortably inside. The lid rattles during cooking, meaning that occasionally I have to tie the lid down using rubber bands attached to the handles

I Recommend This Black and Decker Teal-Colored Beauty. $33. It would look amazing in my kitchen #noshame

Great Budget Buy: (pictured) Crock-Pot 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker, $19

Make This With It: Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

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How stocked is your kitchen arsenal? I'm talking about those essential, must-have products and gadgets in your kitchen. What do you have to have?3. Hand Mixer

Besides being great for mixing cookie dough and cake batter, whipping egg whites, creaming butter, and all other baking activities, I love my hand mixer because it makes such fabulous homemade mayonnaise and Caesar salad dressing.

Have you ever made either from scratch? It could not be easier with a hand mixer, especially if your mixer comes with a whisk attachment as well as beaters. Not only that, but freshly made Ceasar dressing keeps for up to two weeks in the refrigerator and tastes a million times better than anything you’d buy bottled. (Want the recipe? Click the ‘Make This With It recipe below!)

I RecommendKitchenAid 7-Speed Digital Hand Mixer, $66

Great Budget Buy: (picturedHamilton Beach 62695V Power Deluxe Hand Mixer, $27

Make This With It: Homemade Caesar Dressing

How stocked is your kitchen arsenal? I'm talking about those essential, must-have products and gadgets in your kitchen. What do you have to have?4. Food processor

Likely one of the more expensive items on this list (though still under $100!) I love my food processor. If the house was burning and I knew my husband and kids were safe, I would grab my food processor.

I use it constantly, especially when making chicken nuggets, meatballs, soup, patties, hummus, and so much more. (There’s a recipe for chicken nuggets below, the free download!)

I Recommend: This KitchenAid 7-Cup Food Processor, $79

Great Budget Buy: Hamilton Beach 10-Cup Food Processor, $36

Make This With It: Chicken and Spinach ‘Nuggets’

How stocked is your kitchen arsenal? I'm talking about those essential, must-have products and gadgets in your kitchen. What do you have to have?5. High Quality Cutting Board

There is something lovely about chopping vegetables with a well-made cutting board.

This may seem like a silly investment, but for under $20, it totally upgrades your cooking experience. A good quality wooden board just feels nice under your knife.

 

 

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To properly care for your wooden cutting board, follow these tips:

  • Make sure to wash in extra-hot and soapy water
  • Rinse well
  • Hand dry immediately to prevent cracks or warping. Every once and a while,
  • Every once and a while, rub it down with mineral oil.

I Recommend: I adore my Martha Stewart brand rosewood cutting board with nonslip feet, but they don’t make them anymore. If you’re feeling like a splurge, I popped this guy into my cart earlier today while browsing for this post.  $40

Great Budget Buy: (pictured) Extra-Large Bamboo Cutting Board , $19.99

Make This With It: 10 Minute Apple and Cabbage Slaw

More kitchen items I recommend:

Regarding the chef’s knife: it’s so important. You don’t have to go out and buy a Wusthof in order to have a good chef’s knife; this does not need to be an expensive investment. This is a link to a pretty decent knife, and it’s less than $30. 

My number one request of your chef’s knife? Keep it sharp, please. You have a better chance of cutting yourself with a dull knife than a sharp one. If you don’t know how to sharpen your knife or don’t care to learn, have it sharpened a few times a year by a professional. Most hardware stores will do it for you.

Immersion Blender, $26: I’ve had this little immersion blender for almost 10 years now and it is a total workhorse. It’s mid-range on price but a powerful kitchen tool. I use it mainly for blending soups right in the pot, although I have also used it to make baby food and smoothies.

Mandoline, $30: perfect for slicing potato chips, zucchini chips, crinkle fries, and potatoes for a dauphinoise or Spanish tortilla.

Pyrex Glass Measuring Cups, $7 : I rely on these just as often as I do my smaller, individual measuring cups. I prefer to use these for liquid measures and my individual cups for dry measures. (Check out this post for a recipe converter sheet, if you’re ever halving or doubling a recipe!)

3-Inch Mini Strainer, $9 : So cute and so functional. When I’m in a hurry at dinnertime (uh, always) I sometimes give my daughter an individual serving of peas as her vegetable choice. This little sieve makes draining the peas super simple. I also use it for loose tea.

And, that’s a wrap! You really don’t have to break the bank to outfit your kitchen. Oh, and don’t forget the coffee maker. My kitchen would look naked without a coffee maker. My brain would feel naked without the jolt that the coffee maker gives me. It’s important.

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Check back next week for the final post in the series! I’ll be covering how organizing your fridge and pantry can save you oodles of money. It’s a keeper.

Did you see the recipe suggestions for these favorite items? If you’d like them all in a printable pdf sheet, leave your email above to grab the download.

Please note the affiliate links in this post! If you click a link and make a purchase, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for supporting Percolate Kitchen!

How stocked is your kitchen arsenal? I'm talking about those essential, must-have products and gadgets in your kitchen. What do you have to have?

“Don’t Throw That Out!” Reusing Leftover Food In Your Kitchen

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

Stop! Don’t throw out those old leftovers before reading this first. Here’s a handy guide to repurposing and reusing leftover food.

It’s the hallmark of good meal planning; stretching one dinner into two. Of course, it’s a simple change to turn a roast chicken dinner one night into chicken salad the next; but what do you do with those really random ingredients, which might not be so obvious? Reusing leftover food can save you so much time and money!

You have to think outside the box and figure out just how you’re going to use up the rest of that buttermilk, but that’s not always so easy when you’re busy and dinner needs to get on the table, pronto.

One Meal, Two Dinners

I have totally been there! So I put on my designer hat and created a handy cheat sheet that helps you figure out just how go about reusing leftover food in your own kitchen.

You can pin the image to save for later! It’s got some great recipe ideas, each of which is listed below. If the recipe is available on this site, it’ll be a clickable link. If you want access to all the recipe, click the big yellow button below to download a full PDF.  Follow the ‘read more’ link for more!

Stop! Don't throw it out; follow this guide to reusing leftover food. Here's a huge list of ideas, with downloadable recipes & an easy infographic.

(psst! Before you click- leave your email to access ALL 22 recipes, cheat sheets, worksheets, templates and advice in this ‘Make More Of Your Kitchen’ series!)

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How To Cook ‘Family Meal’ Just Like a Chef

Have you ever heard of the restaurant “family meal”? It’s a term used in the hospitality industry, and it usually means a big meal that the chef makes for the rest of the staff.

Before service, everyone on shift that night sits down and eats together. Family meal is the perfect way to connect with your fellow staff members before the insanity of a busy dinner shift hits. It’s also the perfect way for the kitchen to reuse leftover food and cook straight from the heart, instead of ‘by the book’.

Since everyone is sitting together, the family meal also gives the manager a chance inform the staff about important things going on that night. They’ll run through specials, what’s 86’d (ie what the kitchen or bar has run out of), big parties or special guests that have reserved tables, or give a heads up on items that need to get “pushed” (ie, encourage your customers to buy)

Isn’t that just like how you imagine a good family meal in your own home to be? The best meals use up whatever is currently in the kitchen to make a big, satisfying meal, then everyone sits down together and hashes out their days and plans.

(psst! First, download ALL 22 recipes, cheat sheets, guides and templates from this kitchen series!)

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This is the Ultimate Pantry Essentials Checklist (includes my go-to items!)

What's in YOUR pantry? Here's a handful of some of my go-to items, products, and ingredients that help me cook simple, quick dinners and meals.

Check out this handy Pantry Essentials Checklist to make sure you never run out of your most-used items!

Click the image to be taken to the pantry essentials download, and then read on to see some of my favorite quick recipes and meal ideas using these essentials. I like to slip this printable into a plastic sleeve and then use a dry-erase marker to check things off as needed.

Go to percolatekitchen.com/pantry-essentials-checklist to download the full pdf!

Life is easier when we’re not rushing around to get food on the table! One of the simplest ways to stay on top of meal prep is to always keep a well-stocked pantry. Having a trove of your most-used non-perishable goods on hand will make quick and simple recipes easier to pull off, leaving you less stressed, with less waste, and on top of your game. a pantry essentials checklist keeps your on your game!

Below you’ll find a handful of items I always keep in my cupboards, fridge, and freezer, with a short explanation of how I use these items. It’s right there after the jump!

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My Top Three Meal Planning Basics

My top three meal planning basics are juuuuuust a little different from what you might normally see online when people recommend you start a meal plan! 

I’ve spent a lot of time and effort in trying to figure out how to create the best meal plan for my family. Not every piece of advice I had read or heard would work for our family! After some trial and error, I eventually honed my meal planning efforts well enough that we could see a marked difference in not only our grocery bills, but my overall stress level as well! I’d love to share with you today my top three meal planning basics, which I turn to every week as I sit down to plan out what we’ll be cooking and eating. 

The standard meal plan recommendations you typically find online are usually this: 

  1. Go through your recipes and decide what you want to eat this week
  2. Keep a recipe box or binder of your favorite recipes as go-to’s
  3. Buy groceries (in bulk if you can) 
  4. Above all else: stick to the plan

The biggest problem for me was that “the plan” so often wound up resorting to overly processed food in order to be made quickly enough to get on the dinner table. I wanted to make fresh, homemade food for my family that didn’t rely on canned soups, seasoning packets, or other flavor boosters that take the place of longer cooking times. 

We’re a meat-eating, dairy-loving, no-allergy family with zero special diets to consider. If I had a hard time figuring out what the heck to make for us, I can’t even imagine what it would be like for people and their families who are on special diets or living with allergies.

Something had to give! So I created this handy list of my top three meal planning basics; it’s there, after the jump!

(Psst- want my handy meal planner template? It’s FREE! Fill out the form with your email and I’ll send it to you!)

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