Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to healthy eating, stocking your kitchen can be confusing. Every ad, now so carefully targeted to you online, tells you about some new kitchen gadget you just can’t possibly live without. Before you know it you’ve got 100 tools you never use, and somehow you still can’t make yourself enjoy cooking healthy meals regularly.
I aim to simplify that by telling you my eight recommendations for must haves in your kitchen. I’ll let you know what I personally use, although many other companies make similar products. Your needs may be slightly different than mine, so I’ll leave this general enough for you to use it as a stepping stone without excluding your specific needs. Let’s jump in!
#1. A Food Scale
If you’re only going to make one change based off this list, make it a food scale. This small and inexpensive tool will change the way you prepare your food. Most models are $10-20 and can be found at any home store (Bed, Bath and Beyond, Target, etc) or Amazon. Make sure your model shows you both grams and ounces.
The reason why I recommend this as a must have for your kitchen is due to portion size. As you may know, eating the right amount for your goals, activity level, and body size is crucial to weight control, whether that be gain, loss, or maintenance. You can eat as healthy as you like but if you’re regularly eating 6 oz of chicken when 3 would be more appropriate for you, or 4 servings of peanut butter in a sitting where you think you’re having 1, you’ll soon wonder why you’re not hitting your goals. A food scale will help make you more aware of what you’re putting in your body.
#2. Measuring Cups and Spoons
Along the same vein as a food scale, this one’s important again to measure your food intake. It’s very important to not “eyeball” anything, at least not until you are more confident in the kitchen.
#3. Lots of Seasonings
You may have heard before that eating healthy has to be boring and bland. Nothing could be farther from the truth! There’s no need to eat steamed unsalted broccoli three meals a day. While yes, some sauces and dips contain more calories than you’d think (side note, this doesn’t mean don’t have them, it just means be aware of what you’re eating and eat sugary/fatty sauces in moderation) seasonings are a great way to “spice up” your meals without adding any calories at all. Regular seasonings and spices can be bought at any grocery store, although I am partial to a company called Penzeys, which has multiple stores around the US and also ships online.
#4. An Easy Protein Source
While it’s always best to get your protein (and, in fact, all your food) from whole sources (meat, eggs, etc) sometimes that’s just not possible. Most quick, easy to grab food is carb and sugar heavy, and very deficient in everything else. Therefore, it’s important to have a quick source of protein you can grab to add to an easy meal or snack.
I’m partial to protein powder. I use a whey version but many other kinds (egg white, lactose free, or vegan kinds such as soy or hemp) are available to you. What I like about protein powder is that it's mostly just protein, which means you can get your fat and carbohydrates from a different source. If that’s not for you, I’d suggest having chia or pumpkin seeds, dairy (milk or yogurt), or nuts, nut butters, or nut powders on hand. Each of these do have a higher fat content, which isn't a bad thing, just remember to factor that into your daily caloric intake.
It seems like such a simple thing, but trust me when I say you can never have enough. Whether you’re packing leftovers or meal prepping for the week, you’ll need lots of containers to store your food. I prefer the stacking ones just to make storing empty containers easier, although there’s no limit to your options.
#6 Crockpot or Pressure Cooker
While you may be shaking your head at the thought of adding another large gadget to your kitchen, I can assure you that this one’s worth your while. There’s nothing worse than getting home from a long day of work or school and there’s nothing to eat. Even those with the best intentions will grab the first thing they can!
That’s why it's important to have something healthy ready to go for you and your family. Crockpots are a great choice, and make it easy to make a healthy meal! Just add all your ingredients (you can find lots of easy recipes on Pinterest) and “set it and forget it”. Easy!
#7 Mixer or Blender
This one ties back into #3, an easy protein source. A mixer or blender will make it easy to prepare a quick healthy smoothie or meal. And after a long busy day, or when you return from work, school or the gym hungry, time is of the essence! I have both a Magic Bullet and a Ninja blender, although there are countless options to choose from. The Magic Bullet is great if you’re just making one smoothie: there’s almost nothing to wash and it’s very small and simple. The Ninja blender is a better choice for you if you are making multiple smoothies at a time or are blending something (like ice) that needs a little extra power. However, as I mentioned, you have many options from small handheld blenders to single serving blenders to large industrial ones.
#8 Tool for Cutting Veggies quickly and easily
A sharp tool to make cutting veggies easy is a must. Some examples include a mandoline, julienne, spiralizer or food processor. If you’re a fan of the simple things, treat yourself to a sharp knife. They can carry a large price tag, but it’s 100% worth it to get one very sharp knife for your kitchen.
I hope these tips help you cook and eat healthy meals! It’s tough to change any habit, but once you make things easy for yourself and get in the swing of things, it’ll be second nature. Best of luck!
This information was originally shared with our members during a Facebook Live Free Seminar on July 23. Join us on Facebook to find out more about our free virtual events!