“Want a little help with dinner? Keep these tools on hand. See more easy weeknight meals pictures.Digital Vision/Thinkstock
There was a time, not so long ago, when cooking dinner meant hours of prep and lots of manual labor. Slicing and dicing had to all be done by hand and mashing and pureeing was done with elbow grease instead of a blender or food processor. With the invention of cool kitchen gadgets, we can kiss those long prep times goodbye and get on with the job of making dinner for our families.
There’s nothing like having the right tool for the job to make any kitchen task that much easier. Sure you can peel a potato with a knife, but a peeler requires less work for your hand and will probably leave you with more potato put in the pan instead of stuck to the peel. The only problem is that you end up with a kitchen full of specialty gadgets that only serve one function. Here are five of our favorite multi-purpose kitchen tools that are great for whipping up a quick dinner for your family.
- Complete Set of Sharp Knives
- A Vegetable Chopper
- Adjustable Measuring Cup
- Kitchen Shears
- Multiple Cutting Boards
5: Complete Set of Sharp Knives
One of the best tools you can have for any kind of dinner prep, especially when you need to move fast, is the right knife for the job. Paring knives won’t work for cutting chicken and a cleaver isn’t exactly the right tool for slicing tiny garlic cloves. If you’re a regular in the kitchen, it’s a good idea to invest in the best set you can afford. And the sharpness of the knife is incredibly important because having to saw back and forth a bunch of times through meat or green peppers is time consuming and hard on those muscles, so be sure to have them sharpened on a regular basis.
In 1669, King Louis XIV of France tried to minimize violence by ordering knives illegal at the dinner table.
4: A Vegetable Chopper
“Chopping by hand could waste valuable time.iStockphoto/Thinkstock
This tool is a little controversial, since technically, it performs the same task as a good knife, and it doesn’t have the advantage of being multipurpose like said knife probably is. The thing is, though, unless you have some mad knife skills, you’re not going to reduce that onion into the smaller sum of its parts in nearly the time that your chopper will — or with the same consistency. When you’re looking for quick way to dice a pepper or some garlic, it’s nice to have a veggie chopper on hand.
3: Adjustable Measuring Cup
These handy tools resemble a drink tumbler, operate like a push pop and offer the convenience of a full set of mixing cups in one piece. The external piece is clear plastic with marks for measurements from 1/8 of a cup to one cup (or two, depending on the size you bought) and everything in between. The interior wall provides a seal so that when you measure liquids they don’t leak, and the ability to push liquids into the bowl means there’s no residue left in the cup, which is great for when you’re working with honey or other sticky substances.
You can check the accuracy of your measuring cup by measuring out one cup of water and then weighing it. It should weigh 8 ounces exactly.
2: Kitchen Shears
Kitchen shears are one of those prized all-in-one tools that can be used for virtually everything and take up very little space. They’re not only great to have on hand for cutting open bags of food, but they’re also great for many food-related tasks. You can cut herbs, lettuce and veggies, trim fat off of meats, cut thin raw meats such as bacon, trim pizza dough and debone a chicken. Its uses don’t end there, either; the list goes on. Be sure to select rust-proof models that are dishwasher friendly.
1: Multiple Cutting Boards
If you do a lot of cooking with meat and vegetables, than you’re probably a big fan of your cutting board. If you really want to speed things up in the kitchen, you’ll want at least two more. Not only do multiple cutting boards save you a trip to the sink to scrub every time you need to start cutting a new item, but it will also help you avoid cross contamination between meats and veggies, which is responsible for a lot of foodborne illness.
Contaminate No More
Every year in the United States, 325,000 people are hospitalized because of a foodborne illness.
Lots More Information
- 10 5-minute Dinner Ideas
- 10 Essentials for Crock-Pot Recipes
- 10 Essentials for Quick Casseroles
- Ewalt, David M. "No 1 The Knife." Forbes.com. Aug. 31, 2005. Nov. 14, 2011.http://www.forbes.com/2005/08/31/technology-tools-knife_cx_de_0831knife.html
- Food and Drug Administration. "Food safety for Moms-to-Be." Fda.gov. Nov. 14, 2011.http://www.fda.gov/Food/ResourcesForYou/HealthEducators/ucm095399.htm
- Parkinson, Rhonda Lauret. "Essential Cooking Utensils." Netplaces.com. Nov. 14, 2011.http://www.netplaces.com/quick-meals/quick-cooking-essentials/essential-cooking-utensils.htm
- University of Nebraska – Lincoln. "30+ Time-Saving Kitchen Tools." Unl.edu. Nov. 14, 2011. http://food.unl.edu/web/fnh/cooks-tools.