Decoration

My Favorite New Kitchen Tools That Are Making My Life Easier Without Clutter – Let’s Get Chopping!!

Despite having a digital job I like the analogue. Much like moving from book to Kindle, it took me six years to move from chopping with a knife to using a “chopping tool”. It’s not that it felt like cheating, it’s that I enjoyed the “one knife, one board” simple and meditative process. When I started to actually cook, in 2018 (kids were 2 and 4) I really needed the mental meditative chopping break between work and parenting (this was once they could be on their own while I cooked in the kitchen). I actually wanted the soup to take 1/2 hour to prep because I would throw on a podcast and the kids would know that that was my time. This carried through Covid where I sought out recipes that would take over 2 hours to prepare (I don’t bake and never got into the sourdough thing so I put all my kitchen energy into crazy complicated soups and gourmet salads which kept me entertained and distracted and I learned so much). That’s all to say that our nights are VERY different now (kids are 8 and 10 and they have different sports at different locations on different nights so we are out until at least 6:30 three nights a week). I do most of my meal prep for the week (for at least Brian and I who don’t want to eat only frozen chicken nuggets) on Sundays. And after also cleaning all day on Sundays I wanted to speed it up (the charm has worn off and I’ve already listened to four hours of podcasts at this point). I know that a lot of people aren’t into meal prep but here is what I do: I prep out Tupperware containers of salad makings for lunch (thinly sliced cucumber, carrots, radishes) and then I make at least one if not two soups to last us til Thursday (usually one that is more broth-based that lasts til Tuesday and one more bean or lentil based that lasts longer). But what I didn’t want was a bunch of tools with a bunch of parts that I would have to keep track of, clean, and then know how to use for what vegetable, etc. It’s just too much and ends up in a landfill (for me at least, I’m sure others can handle this complexity). I have a food processor and I’ve used it twice. I liked a big knife and a board until I found these three gadgets which are still simple and satisfying, but just speed it up a bit (and are easy to throw in a dishwasher and store).

Vegetable Chopper

Onions were the first culprit, the “pain point” as they like to say in marketing (and I’m a crier). So I found this chopper (via Amazon, but from Oxo which is a brand I really trust for whatever reason) and it’s SO SIMPLE, only two parts, easy on/easy off, and chops into nice large diced pieces (and equal sizing). It’s easy, and fun and the kids obviously enjoy it because it makes a powerful and has satisfying click when it cuts all the way through (they cut comically small apple snacks like this). Then the onions stay in the dish and have an opening in the back when ready to throw in the pot. I also use this with carrots, radishes, apples, and anything on the harder side that I want diced and not sliced (I’m not an expert so maybe you could use it on cherry tomatoes but anything with a tougher skin might not go through. Skip the fancy multi-part tools for dicing if you want to speed things up a bit (and then throw it in the dishwasher). I love this new tool. ****OOh I also made sweet potato croutons with this for my salads – you have to slice them into large discs first with the mandoline, but then it makes them uniform so some don’t burn while others are undercooked.

Mandoline

I’ve been using this mandoline 1-2 times a week for what feels like forever (2 1/2 years) and it has absolutely improved my life (and food). I did a lot of research before I bought this one because AGAIN so many have a ton of blades, and parts, and also what my favorite chefs recommended were over $100 which just seemed a bit nuts (I get it, I recommend high-quality home stuff, too). But I’m a basic (if not prolific) home cook for just four people so I don’t need all the options for mass quantity or too many varying shapes/sizes. I just want to cut carrot chips, cucumber chips, sweet potato chips, and radish chips. I want thin slices for salad toppings and thicker slices for snacking and dipping in hummus.

This tool adjusts SO EASILY to go thicker and thinner and has a protective slider thing that grips onto the fruit/veggie when you get down to the nub (where you can easily slice yourself). You can use this with apples, pears, red onions, and tomatoes for burgers, too – anything you want to cut thin and uniform. Using a knife to do really thin slices is virtually impossible for me and with my poor knife skills can be dangerous. Anyway, do your own research but I think this one is the perfect balance of simple to use, few parts, easy to clean, does the job so well, and isn’t crazy expensive (while also not being super ugly which is nice).

Hand Chopper

I bought this chopper to experiment with garlic and nuts and also so the kids could help more with some of their snacks (cut-up fruit mostly). This is the tool I use the least of the three (while it works for rusticly chopped garlic, I like mine minced so I use a press). But it’s a $10 purchase that is fun for kids to help with because they just have to slam, slam, turn, slam, slam turn and they can control how chopped something is (good for ice cream toppings, too). While we try to let them use all the knives at this point (they have to learn somehow) sometimes after school when we have 6-8 kids here on our days I don’t want a bunch of knives out and I like that I can hand them a bunch of strawberries and they can take turns cutting up their own. I’m sure I’ll find other purposes for this, but if not it’s small, only has two parts, is affordable, and is getting used.

Also if you are into my cutting board know that I can’t find any on the market that are large like this – almost like a 1″ wood chopping surface (butcher blocks are too cumbersome and heavy, and the thin ones don’t look good just sitting on my island), but I do love those new Made-in Knives (they make my induction pots that I love a lot, too). So pretty, a great weight in the hand, and while they are still new they sure are sharp.

If there are any basic/simple tools that I’m missing let me know. You can probably tell how I feel by now, but it seems like companies try to “make life easier” but just complicate home cooking (some garlic presses have like 4 parts, and NO we don’t need a separate avocado slicer unless you run a restaurant or do 30 person taco Tuesday nights). If you have a large family you might have a totally different opinion. It’s just more dishes to clean, more stuff to clutter up our lives and eventually more stuff to end up in landfills (IMHO). So while I’m certainly not perfect nor an expert, these tools are consistently used, nice to look at, and make my life easier without cluttering it up. I had NO IDEA that I had so much to say about these tools, but there you go. 🙂

Mandoline Here
Dicer/Chopper Here
Manual Hand Chopper Here
And don’t forget my favorite soup or healthy cookbooks are here (ha, I also don’t like looking at an iPad while cooking)

*Photos by Kaitlin Green

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