If you are too tired to cook a full meal by the time you get home from work, being able to cook a quick meal is a great skill to have. If you end up ordering in far more often than your budget can stand simply because it takes too long to cook a fresh meal from scratch, there is good news; it does not have to be that way. There are so many time-saving gadgets, tools and accessories that can help you make fresh, delicious meals in minutes. Whether you combine them with the new breed of fresh-packed convenience foods or use them help you make up your own “convenience foods”, cooking and kitchen accessories can make your entire life far easier.
One of the most time-consuming and labor-intensive parts of cooking great meals is the preparation time, the time spent cutting, slicing, dicing and otherwise getting ingredients ready to cook them. Great tools can put a serious dent in the amount of time it takes to prepare your food for the oven or the grill.
Cutting fruits and vegetables is much easier when you are using tools that were designed specifically for the job. The handiest food prep tools to have in your arsenal include:
- Stainless steel wire cutters to hold things like tomatoes and onions still so you can make uniform slices for burgers, sandwiches and bagels
- 5-in-1 Egg Slicer, which makes it easy to slice, dice, chop and wedge hard-boiled eggs – and other things like strawberries, onions and mushrooms
- Apple Corers, melon slicers and pineapple corers make short work of cutting up fruits in uniform slices or wedges and getting rid of the core. A must if you like serving fruit salad or fresh melon to your family for breakfast or dessert
Cooking Faster – Or Slower
If you thought your only option to cook things fast was the microwave, you haven’t seen some of the handiest cooking gadgets available. There are ovens, slow cookers (yes, for quick meals!), electric skillets and more. Here are just a few of the ways that you can take advantage of cooking accessories to get healthy meals on the table for your family fast.
Take a whole new approach to cooking with a NuWave counter top oven. The NuWave cooks foods up to 50% faster than a traditional oven – and it can cook from frozen for those nights that you forgot to defrost something for dinner. It’s big enough to hold a 10 lb turkey – or a 16 lb turkey if you choose the deluxe model.
Another countertop oven choice is the 9-in-1 Oven. It may look like a toaster oven, but it’s so far beyond that. You can toast, roast, broil and bake inside, and the top is a non-stick griddle/grill! It even comes with a rotisserie so you can roast a chicken or a roast on a spit. The convection setting cooks foods fast!
How does a Slow Cooker speed up your meal times? Take five minutes in the morning to drop a chicken and some spices into your slow cooker, set it on low and get to work. When you get home in the evening, your meal will be cooked to perfection and ready to serve. All you have to do is set the table and dish it up! Choose a Slow Cooker with easy cleanup features like a dishwasher safe removable insert and save even more time.
One last indispensable cooking appliance is a countertop griddle like the Electric 4-in-1 Grill/Griddle. Grilling is so much healthier than frying, but firing up the grill can seem like a whole lot of work for a quick meal. An electric grill can make it so easy to grill steaks, chops and even vegetables. Pick a multi-purpose grill and you can make Panini, stuffed sandwiches, pancakes, eggs and more.
Most people would agree that getting food to the table in only half the time with the same taste would be a great improvement. Cleaning up after the cooking sometimes takes longer than the meal. Invest in a few handy gadgets to make cleanup time much easier and quicker.
One of the best ways to reduce the amount of time you spend cleaning up spills in your oven is to keep those spills from getting there in the first place. A silicone oven liner will catch the spills and keep them from baking on. Just pull it out, wash it and put it back in. The oven liners can be cut to fit any size oven, and are even available to fit your toaster oven.
Keep your stovetop clean, too. It’s easy to do with a Ceramic Spoon Rest or a lid and spoon rest that holds your cooking utensils and keeps them from dripping on your stove. Add burner bibs made of spun fiberglass that will keep all those boilovers and spills from baking onto your stove surface, and the cleanup is as easy as popping them into the dishwasher.
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Sandy Darson is freelance writer who writes about baking and cooking, offering recipes and discussing specific topics such as cooking accessories.
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