You don’t need a kitchen full of expensive gadgets to start cooking more healthful.
Here are our top kitchen tool picks for making heart-healthy meals simple on a budget:
- Chef’s knife – If you can only afford one kitchen knife, this is the one to own. This large knife, either 8-inch or 10-inch, can chop tough cuts of meat but also slice through a delicate tomato. You’ll save big bucks buying whole vegetables and fruits versus expensive precut packaged produce.
As your knife skills improve, try buying a whole chicken to cut up the legs, breast, wings and other pieces on your own – another big money saver. Always wash your knife really well after using, especially if cutting raw meat and then vegetables. And keep your knife sharp to make prep work simple and safe; a very sharp knife is actually much safer than a dull knife.
- Thermometers – If you cook meat, poultry or fish, a food thermometer is a must-have tool because eating healthy also means eating safe. Cooking food to the right internal temperatures helps prevent the spread of illnesses caused by contaminated food.
It’s also wise to buy inexpensive refrigerator and freezer thermometers to make sure that the fridge is cooling (below 40 degrees) and the freezer is freezing (0 degrees or below.) Not only is this a smart practice when it comes to food safety, but correct temperatures will help keep your food fresher for longer periods of time.
- Roasting sheet – This heavy duty baking tray with an edge is perfect for roasting vegetables. Since roasted veggies take on sweet, smoky and delicious flavor, you’ll want to eat vegetables more often. Just toss chopped up cauliflower, carrots, onions or other veggies with a little bit of olive oil and your favorite herbs and let the oven do the rest.
- Colander – This inexpensive strainer, some with feet, can be used for many things. Usually for draining pasta, use your colander to drain and rinse canned beans, a process that removes even more of the sodium. Use it to wash and pat dry delicate fresh fruits and vegetables, like berries and lettuce. You can even place a metal colander into a large pot filled halfway with water and use to steam vegetables or fish. Do not put a metal colander in a nonstick pot because the metal can damage the nonstick surface.
- Kitchen Tongs – Many cooks think of tongs an extension of their hands while cooking. You can use tong for many things in the kitchen including stir frying or sautéing; tossing a salad; removing corn on the cob or pasta from boiling water; handling baked potatoes; or turning hot trays in the oven. Who couldn’t use an extra pair of hands in the kitchen?