Somehow the middle of August snuck up on us, and that means many of my fellow college students are heading back to school and/or moving into new apartments. One of the most difficult parts of transitioning into college life is the cooking dilemma. Recently I’ve been getting a lottttt of questions about how I find the time to cook, how I cook healthy meals, what I like to make, etc., so I’m going to start posting about exactly what I do to make my life as simple as possible in the kitchen.
I promise, it can be done.
In my opinion, one of the most important things to do is to invest in your kitchen. There are a few kitchen accessories I’ve invested in that really help simplify the cooking process, and I can’t imagine life without them. I’m all about convenience. Invest in a few key things, and thank me later.
Today I’m going to share with you the top 5 kitchen accessories that I personally use all the time and think most people would benefit from buying. I’m not talking about a microwave, pots, pans, baking sheets, or any of those obvious essentials. I’m talking about the extras. A lot of people don’t want to pay for these things because they’re “extras,” but they’ll save your life in the long run. If you can get into a routine of cooking for yourself rather than eating out for most of your meals, you will save so much money over time. LET’S DO IT.
After buying a crock-pot, MY LIFE CHANGED. The key to efficient cooking is buying and cooking food in bulk. I’m going to address that topic in-depth relatively soon, so stay tuned for more details. Crock-pots are by far the easiest way to cook in bulk because you can just toss your food in, wait a few hours, and come back to enough food for a week. For example, you can throw a bunch of chicken in your crock-pot with some spices and olive oil, head off to class, and come home to a ton of beautifully cooked protein. Sidenote: crock-pot shredded chicken is A DREAM. It’s beyond delicious.
You can do this with any kind of protein. I find myself cooking a lot of chicken, salmon, turkey, and ground beef in my crock-pot, but you can really put anything in there. And you don’t have to keep an eye on anything the way you would if you were cooking on the stove or in an oven. I mainly use it for veggies, meat, and soups. Especially homemade bone broth, which is amaaaazing for digestive health. It’s also my favorite way to cook spaghetti squash because it requires no struggle. Lemme know if you want a tutorial on that. Other fun things to make in a crock-pot: lasagna, apple crisp, chili, pulled pork…EVERYTHING.
If you have a crock-pot and don’t know what to do with it, I promise it’s super easy. Just throw in your food with some oil and seasonings of your choice, set the timer, and come back whenever the timer’s done. Easy peasy. I linked to the crock-pot that I personally own, but pretty much any version gets the job done.
The blender itself is the most important part of this, but this is the exact blender system I have, and I’m obsessed with it because it comes with EVERYTHING. The actual blender is huge and very powerful. It’ll blend anything you need it to. The food processor is also AMAZING. I’m really picky about food processors because a lot of them aren’t strong enough to process what I want them to. I use my food processor much more than my blender, to be honest. You can use your food processor to make cauliflower or broccoli rice, hummus or pesto, cashew cheese, diced-up veggies, or raw desserts. Let’s be real – making raw desserts is the most important function. Gotta be able to process nuts, dates, seed butters, and everything else that gets sticky. Plus, you NEED a food processor to make the best ‘NANA ICE CREAM in the world.
I also adore this blender because it comes with 3 Ninja cups, so you can make a smoothie right in the cup and drink straight from that. Less dishes means more time! I drink a green smoothie every single day, so I love having the Ninja cups. I just put my ingredients inside, blend it together, drink it up, and then clean the cup. Done. There’s really no need to dirty a whole blender and then pour it into another cup if you’re just serving yourself. I also love how there are multiple cup sizes depending on how much you want to make. Smoothies are a great on-the-go snack or quick breakfast, and this blender has saved me on so many days when I’ve been running late to school or to work.
The most important part of any blender, though, is that it’s STRONG. I’ve never had any problems with this not being able to blend what I put inside, and I’ve definitely tested the limits. I’ve used my friends’ Vitamixes multiple times before, and I honestly think my Ninja is much better. It might seem like a big investment, but it’s well worth it.
I’m obsessed with this thing. First of all, LOOK AT HOW CUTE IT IS. IT’S A HEN. Second of all, it’s a lifesaver. You can hard-boil, soft-boil, or poach multiple eggs at once with this lil’ guy. I named mine Henny. I usually use it to hard-boil eggs because it’s so easy. You just pop ’em in their spots, add some water, and leave until you hear the bird start chirping. When it chirps, your eggs are done! Hard-boiling eggs on a stove feels like a hassle to me, but this is NO PROB. It’s a great way to expedite your morning process. You can pop your eggs in, go get ready, and then just grab ’em when they’re done a few minutes later and eat your breakfast. Eggs are so good for you – great source of protein and healthy fats. EAT THE YOLKS. Not only are they the perf breakfast, but they’re also a great snack. I also love adding hard boiled eggs to salads, BTW. So many options!
You can go big and get a fancy spiralizer like this, but this small, handheld version is what I prefer, and it works perfectly. If you want to make different kinds of veggie noodles, then you’ll probably want the fancier version. I’m totally fine with my basic spirals, though. Zoodles are one of my all-time fave meals to make because they’re so quick and easy. Healthified pasta? Yes, please! You can spiralize zucchini, squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets – basically anything with a slightly cylindrical shape. Don’t know if cylindrical is a word, but I’ll roll with it. I’m not sure why, but I swear vegetables taste MUCH better in ribbons. And they look much prettier. Spiralized meals are Insta-worthy, always.
I almost didn’t include this because I feel like it’s such an obvious necessity, but then I remembered how many people I know who are “too lazy” to pick up a Brita filter. You need filtered water! Tap water has some weird stuff in there that you do NOT want in your body. Having a Brita filter was essential for me in the dorms, and it’s still essential for me in my apartment because we don’t have a fancy fridge with a filtered water system. WATER IS SO IMPORTANT, so make sure you’re not drinking 2 liters of chemicals, pesticides, and hormones every single day. Yeah, I went there.
There ya have it! My top kitchen essentials that I swear by. These are staples in my life, and they really do make a huge difference in cutting down on my cooking time and minimizing my effort in the kitchen. What are your cooking must-haves? Let me know in the comments! XO