Cooking meals is advantageous for a variety of reasons. Cooking at home is a budget-friendly way to feed a family, and home chefs have strict control over the ingredients they use, which can make it easier to adhere to a particular diet and avoid foods that may trigger allergic reactions. Cooking at home also enables families to spend time together preparing meals and then eating the fruits of their labor.
Of course, preparing quality recipes at home requires not only having nutritious ingredients on hand, but also the right tools for meal-making. A combination of basic utensils and some other handy gadgets can make crafting winning meals that much easier. Here's how to stock your cabinets and drawers accordingly.
• Chef's knife: A quality chef's knife is one of the unsung tools of the kitchen. Chef's knives can be used for chopping, dicing and generalized cutting. Choose a knife that feels comfortable in your hand. It should be easy to control and not too heavy but also sturdy.
• Food thermometer: Foodborne illnesses are no joke. That means it's essential to have a thermometer for checking the internal temperature of poultry and meat.
• Various spatulas: Invest in metal spatulas of various sizes to make easy work of flipping everything from burgers to pancakes.
• Silicone/rubber spatulas: These tools make easy work of scraping down the sides of mixing bowls or cleaning out food processors.
• Kitchen shears: Sometimes a knife won't cut it. Kitchen shears are useful for snipping herbs or trimming fats from meat. Heavy duty shears can cut through bones on chickens for easily dividing up whole birds.
• Food processor/food mill: Grind up foods or chop them easily with a food processor. You can invest in a separate appliance, or some multipurpose blenders that tackle food processing duties in addition to mixing.
• Cast iron skillet: Pots and pans are made from various materials that speak to their durability and nonstick nature. One of the more versatile materials is cast iron. It heats evenly to high temperatures and retains heat for a long time. Cast iron also goes easily from stove top to oven. Caring for pans properly will help them last a lifetime.
• Nonstick skillet: These pans are ideal for scrambling eggs or making pan-fried dishes. Look for ceramic coatings, which are better for your health than chemical coatings.
• Spoons and ladles: Having a variety of spoons and ladles at the ready can simplify scooping and stirring.
• Slow cooker: This appliance is ideal for cooking meals slowly. They're easily set in the morning and can be returned to in the evening for a fully cooked meal.
• Air fryer: One of the newer gadgets on the market, air fryers cook by circulating hot air around food. They create the texture and taste of deep-fried foods without extra grease or fat.
These are just some of the handy kitchen tools to have available. Visit a department store or specialty culinary retailer for more great additions.