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KITCHEN ESSENTIALS » for food prep & efficiency

August 13, 2019

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*This video and blog post are not sponsored. All items were purchased by PUL and the thoughts and opinions are our own. 

 

Disclaimers 

If you see something you like and you purchase it using the links on this site, Pick Up Limes receives a very small commission. We only recommend products we believe in, so we hope you enjoy them too.

 

We did our best to link to the exact product if we could, but there are some tools and items that have been discontinued or are now unavailable, and for those we have linked to the closest alternative we could find. 

 

 

Top Kitchen Appliances

It's so easy to go crazy with appliances. Rice cookers, slow cookers, one-pots, stand mixers, toasters, pressure cookers, air-fryers, and sous-vide.... the list can go on and on. There's an appliance for almost every possible cooking method or dish out there. 

 

Although there are merits for many of those appliances, if you're trying to stay minimal or if you're just starting out, then these three appliances are the ones we find the most useful: 

 

1) A High Powered Blender 

 

Used to blend ingredients into a uniform liquid; especially used to make smoothies, salad dressings, sorbets or nut milks, and you can also usually use it to puree soups if you don't have an immersion blender.

 

When it comes to blenders, at one end of the spectrum, there are super powerful and high quality ones, but they usually also come at a steep price… and at the other spectrum you've got more affordable ones, but then you're sacrificing on power or capacity.

 

Important To Note

Before we begin, there are two important things worth mentioning regarding appliances: 

 

  • The higher the wattage the better, because it means it'll be more powerful to blend things like nuts and seeds.

  • Invest in a good one once, because you'll be using it for years. It'll make your life in the kitchen so much more enjoyable and easy. 
     

 

At the studio, we use a Vitamix. It's a blender that is consistently rated at the top of its field. Why?

 

  • Power: it crushes ice with ease, and leaves you with a uniform consistency. No chunks anywhere. 

  • Large capacity: it can blend up to 2L of liquid. 
     

If you're the type of person who makes smoothies and nut milks on a regular basis, then this machine is great. 

 

 

At home, we use the Ninja BlenderThe reason we chose this blender for the house is multifold:

 

  1. Compact: it's super compact, and hardly takes up any room on the counter.  

  2. Affordable: it's very reasonably priced considering a food processor is included (more on this below).

  3. Portability: you can replace the blades with a drinking lid and take it with you to go!

It's worth noting, it's not as powerful as the Vitamix so sometimes chunks remain. The volume it can blend is also smaller. 

 

All-in-all, blender is one of the most crucial kitchen appliances for us, and we highly recommend it.

 

 2) A High Powdered Food Processor 

 

One of the most frequently asked questions we have is:

 

"Can I use a blender instead of a food processor?"

 

The blender and food processor look similar: they have blades, they blend up food, but they serve totally different purposes. The blender is meant to blend things that are liquid, while the food processor blends things that are more semi-solid. These are things like almond buttertahini and creamy dips like hummus, you can make energy balls, falafel, date and nut based desserts like brownies or the base to bars. You can even use a food processor to knead dough. It's a really versatile machine.

 

 

Why we love our Magimix:

 

  1. Powerful: almond butter made in no time. 

  2. Quiet: especially when compared to other food processors. 

  3. Compartments: with three separate compartments, you can blend depending on the volume you need.  

  4. Accessories: accessory components let you quickly shred things like carrots, beets or cabbage. Need evenly cut potatoes? Put them through the slicer!  

The Magimix also has different models that come at differing price ranges, depending on what you're looking for.

If you're looking for something more compact, I can recommend the food processor we use at home: 

 

 

As with the blender, we use the Ninja Food Processor at home, given they came together as a set. 

On the upside, it's compact and affordableon the downside, it's smaller and not as powerful as the Magimix. 

 

We'd highly recommend a food processor (maybe even more than the blender) especially given how versatile it is!

 

3) A Hand Blender

 

The studio hand blender comes with three parts: one is the immersion blender, which we namely use to puree soups. One is a whisk, which we use to make coconut whip or meringues, and finally, my favourite, is the mini food processor. We use this compartment to make small volumes of dressings, pestos or creamy guacamoles. The benefits to this thing are:

  1. All-in-one: with these three features, it's super useful across the board!

  2. Compact: it's small and hardly takes up any room.

  3. Easy to clean: it's super easy to clean, especially if you don't want to clean a big food processor when you're only making a small amount of something.

  4. Affordable: the whole set tends to be quite affordable, no matter where you find it.

 

The Tefal brand we got from a local shop in the Netherlands and couldn't find it on Amazon.com, but a close equivalent is this hand blender by KOIOS.

 

 

Kitchen Tool & Equipment Essentials 

Appliances aside, there are two other key equipment essentials that we use almost daily. 

 

4) A Pot to Last a Lifetime

 

The Le Creuset Dutch Oven was a birthday gift from Robin. I've been using it for 2 years already and it's my favourite pot to cook with. 

 

  1. Versatile: we use it to make curries and pastas and soups… just about anything! And it can be used on both the stovetop and in the oven. 

  2. Non-stick: It has a non-stick base.

  3. Light colour: it's a light colour on the inside, so it's easy to tell if things are browning too quickly. 

  4. Induction: it works on induction, which is great because it's what we use at the studio. 

  5. Holds in heat: and given it's cast iron it hold heat in really well. 

  6. Lifetime warranty: it's one of those kitchen pieces you'll be using for years and years. 


It's worth noting, the pot is heavy and the handles can get hot; that combination can make it difficult to handle sometimes. But the handles are wide so easy to carry if you just slip on some oven mitts

 

5) Sharp Knives 

 

There are two knives I use for pretty much everything: the chef's knife - for cutting vegetables and nuts, and the paring knife, for cutting fruits.  A bread knife is nice to have, but a sharp chef's can also do that job. 

 

You might also want to consider getting a really good knife sharpener too, because sharp knives make all the difference when you're cutting veggies, and especially things like sweet potatoes or squashes. It's also more dangerous to be cutting with a dull knife.

 

Honourable Mentions

 

The list of 5 items above - blender; food processor; hand blender; cast iron pot; knives - these are the basic 5 I'd recommend to anyone just starting out. These are tools that we use the most often, and that have made cooking in the kitchen so much more effortless and enjoyable. 


Aside from these 5, a few other kitchen items deserve honourable mentions:  

 

Coffee Grinder

Despite what the title suggests, I don't use my coffee grinder to grind coffee. I use it to grind flax seeds. High in omega fats and fiber, flaxseeds are best blended in small batches to enjoy over the next few weeks. Once the flaxseed is ground, it can go rancid or bad faster, so it's best to blend only small amount at a time, and the coffee grinder does this job really well. I also use the coffee grinder to grind whole spices into ground ones, like coriander seeds or cumin. This machine isn't a necessary one, I'd say, because you can always buy these things pre-ground, but I think the nutrient value and freshness is much better when you grind it fresh. 

 

 

Garlic Crusher

Minced garlic and crushed garlic add a different flavour profile to recipes, and being able to crush garlic with ease is super handy. You can also batch crush garlic and freeze to add to meals quickly when you're in a rush. You can mince garlic with your chef's knife, but sometimes you just want to get the job done quickly. 

 

 

Wooden spoons & silicone spatulas

This one is a no brainer, wooden spatulas don't heat up and they don't scratch the inside of your cookware. Having a few is always really handy if you have more than one pot going at a time.

 

Silicone spatulas really help to clean out the inside of the food processor when you're wanting to get out every last bit of your food, without wasting anything. It also really helps when you're spreading a sticky mixture out, like our 5-ingredient brownies, because the mixture doesn't stick to the silicone spatula, but it would definitely stick if you used a spoon instead.

 

 

Spice Jars

We use little spice jars for all our spices, both at home and at the studio. They're transparent so easy to see what's inside, and we just write on the bottom what's in each jar. They are also really easy to refill. 

 

 

Mason Jars

We use small ones for nuts, seeds and dried fruits, and bigger ones for our grains and dry legumes. One pro tip, especially when it comes to nuts and seeds, is to buy in bulk and keep some in jars for regular use, and then store the rest in the freezer. Nuts and seeds can go rancid or bad quickly, and freezing them slows down the process. Just refill the little jars as needed. 

 

 

Measuring cups & spoons

I know a lot of countries weigh their food as opposed to measuring using cups and spoons, but it's really handy to have some measuring cups and spoons on hand, especially when following recipes from North American bloggers or cookbook authors.

 

 

Air-tight containers

We use them to store leftover food or ingredients that we've food prepped, or to store things in the freezer, and I use it as a lunch container too. It's nice when it's airtight because it keeps the food fresh for longer, and prevents spills.

 

 

A sturdy cutting board

Not just for cutting, we also use our boards as serving platters and as a place to rest hot dishes. You can find similar boards here, here and here

 

 

Kettle 

Although you can boil water in a pot on the stove, having a kettle is quick, and you aren't heating up your whole space. You don't need to babysit it, as most turn off when the water boils. Using a kettle to pre-boil water helps to cut down on cooking time for pasta. 

 

Pots and Pans

Along side the Le Creuset, we use a wide-base pan for our stir-fries and anything that needs pan-frying (like our pancakes, BBQ tempeh, or tofu scramble) and we also have one smaller pot that we use for small batch cooking, like reheating a serving or two of soup, cooking rice or making stewed berries

 

 

Want To Learn More?

Interested in other kitchen essentials? Read our article PANTRY ESSENTIALS » + printable grocery shopping list

 

What About You?

What are your favourite kitchen products? Let us know in the comment below or share your recipes with us on Instagram with the hashtag #pickuplimes

 

❤ By: Suzy (PUL operations manager) & Sadia 

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