Making meals is a little like making magic. You toss some
ingredients together and voila ... they change into muffins or a
mixed vegetable medley!
Some days you may wish your magic wand was speedier. That it
didn't take quite so long to clean, peel, chop and mix fresh
vegetables for a salad. Or measure, mix, beat, blend and cook a
In search of faster kitchen magic, several Internet discussion
groups of dietitians, home economists, chefs and other food
professionals were asked their favorite time-saving kitchen
tools. The response was overwhelming! Here are 30+ tools to
quicken your kitchen performance.
Tools of the
- Tool 1: Garlic Peeler
- The type mentioned most frequently is a rubber tube you place
the garlic in, roll it a couple of times and the skin comes off.
An added benefit: No more garlic smell on your hands!
- Tool 2: Anything Dishwasher Safe
- Check for the magic time-saving words "dishwasher safe"
before purchasing any item! Don't buy anything you have to wash
by hand until you check to see if there's a comparable
dishwasher-safe item from another company.
- Using the dishwasher saves time and helps assure kitchen
items are thoroughly and safely cleaned. Plus, sticking your
utensils in the dishwasher gets them out of sight
- Tool 3: Flexible Plastic Cutting Board
- Flexible plastic cutting boards are favorites with several
people. After cutting vegetables, fruits or herbs, you can lift
them up and pour the contents into whatever bowl or pan you're
using. They're also dishwasher safe!
- Tool 4: Own More Than One Cutting Board
- Avoid cross-contamination when cutting different types of
foods for the same meal by owning several cutting boards. This is
especially important if you're cutting raw meats, poultry or
seafood and then need to cut ready-to-eat foods. With more than
one cutting board you can avoid spending extra time washing your
board before cutting the next item.
Plastic or other non-porous cutting boards are easier to
safely clean as they can be run through the dishwasher.
- Tool 5: Pump-Spray or Mist-Spray Bottle for Oil
- Fill this nonaerosol sprayer with your favorite oil and use
for flavoring vegetables, coating pans and grills or spraying
directly on bread. NOTE: Buy a container specifically
advertised for use with oil.
- Tool 6: A Good Quality, Sharp Chef's Knife
- This tool is a must in many cooks' kitchens. Use a chef's
knife to quickly chop, cut, slice, dice and mince fresh produce.
You can do some procedures faster with a chef's knife than with
your food processor. It's important to keep your knife sharp.
Check what type of sharpening procedure or device the
manufacturer of your knives recommends.
- Tool 7: Food Processor and Blender
- A food processor can make quick work of slicing, dicing,
shredding, grating and chopping -- especially for large
quantities of food. For smaller quantities, hand-held kitchen
tools such as a chef's knife or a grater sometimes are
- A blender makes quick work of pureeing ingredients, such as
for soups, and is terrific for making smoothies! Buy a heavy-duty
blender if you want to crush ice. Some people like an immersion
blender for pureeing soups in the pot or frothing hot
- Tool 8: Lots of Colanders
- If you tend to wash and/or drain a lot of foods for meals, an
extra colander or two may save you time and help prevent
- Tool 9: Kitchen Shears
- Sturdy, sharp kitchen shears can perform many tasks, from
cutting herbs, bacon and pizza to trimming dough to deboning
chicken and cutting poultry joints. Many are labeled dishwasher
safe and will separate for more thorough cleaning. As with any
sharp item, use caution. If you wash shears in your dishwasher,
place them in a location where they won't bump against other
items or cut someone on removal.
- Tool 10: Apple Corer/Wedger
- Use this tool to quickly core and separate apples and pears
into wedges. You also can buy just an apple corer.
- Tool 11: An Assortment of Whisks
- A whisk can be your quick and clever companion in many food
adventures. Match the size and shape of your whisk to the task.
An article from "Bon Appetit's" Web site (www.epicurious.com)
recommends a "big, rigid whisk" for foods in large pots; a
"medium whisk for soups, sauces, creams and custards;" and a
"small whisk" (about 10 inches long) for "salad dressings, sauces
and folding flour into batter."
- Some whisks are longer and narrower -- others are like big
balloons. Use the "ballooningest" ones when you want to beat a
lot of air into a mix, such as whipped cream or meringue. Choose
whisks with thin and flexible wires for whipping air into
batters, and thicker, more rigid wires for thicker mixtures such
- Choose whisks that have the area sealed where the wires go
into the handle. This helps assure your whisk stays clean. These
whisks may be more expensive, but will probably last longer and
cost less over time. Look for "dishwasher safe" whisks to save
time and to help assure your whisks are thoroughly and safely
- Tool 12: 1- and 2-Quart Microwave-Safe Glass Batter
- Use these multi-talented tools to measure; mix (batters,
sauces and toppings); cook foods in the microwave; and reheat
foods you want to pour, such as soups. Many come with plastic
covers so you can use them for storage, too!
- Tool 13: A Good Quality Vegetable Peeler
- Quickly and evenly remove the outer skin from fruits and
vegetables with a sharp, durable vegetable peeler. Many have a
sharp, rounded edge at the end to pop out the "eyes" of
- Tool 14: A Digital Timer
- Help keep your kitchen tasks under control with this
battery-operated device. Time the exact seconds, minutes or hours
needed for a cooking process. Many come with a flip-out stand and
a magnetic backing, so you always can keep them handy. Some can
be clipped to your belt if you need to leave the kitchen. Others
come with a string to hang around your neck.
- Tool 15: Kitchen Tools With Erogonomic Rubber-Type
- Many cooks find these special-handled tools easier on their
hands, particularly if they use a certain tool, such as a
vegetable peeler, for extended periods.
One cook specifically mentioned a hinged, 2-piece grater that
doesn't "get away." You can hook this grater over a bowl or plant
it firmly on your counter.
- Tool 16: Egg/Mushroom Slicer
- If you use hard-cooked eggs in salads, etc., you might like
one of the small egg slicers with closely spaced wires for making
perfect slices. Look for one described as strong enough to also
- Tool 17: A Set of "Scoop" Measuring Cups
- For items such as sugar, oatmeal, rice, etc., quickly scoop
the amount you need. Some scoop-type cups are a cross between a
scoop and a regular measuring cup -- they have a long handle
attached to a cup base.
- NOTE: You wouldn't "scoop" flour for most recipes. To
avoid packing, it's usually advisable to measure flour by
spooning it lightly into your measuring cup.
- Regardless of your preferred type of measuring cup, you may
wish to own at least two sets to save clean-up time between
- Tool 18: Cookie Dropper
- If you bake lots of cookies, use this tool to make more
uniform cookies in less time than you can by dropping dough from
a spoon. Cookie droppers look like mini ice cream scoops where
you push a lever on the handle to push out dough into muffin
- Tool 19: Funnels
- Kitchen funnels are helpful for transferring bulk items into
smaller containers. One cook ground a week's worth of coffee, put
it in a jar and stored it in the cupboard. The rest of the beans
went in the freezer. If you transfer ground coffee to a smaller
coffee container, a funnel is handy. It's also great for filling
sugar shakers from a larger package of sugar.
- Tool 20: Detergent Dispenser With A Brush On It
- Save an extra step by dispensing soap as you scrub. Some
dispensers may work better for you than others. See if you can
buy one at a store where the staff tried the product.
- Tool 21: Salad Spinner
- If you're washing lettuce, spinach leaves, etc., this tool is
a must. Simply toss in your washed greens and "spin" them dry.
These products work in various ways. Some have knobs you turn.
Others operate through a push-down mechanism. Check around to
find one with the features you like.
- Tool 22: Long-Handled Bottle Brush
- This cleaning tool is great for cleaning in the crevices of
jars and bottles. It also works well if you're trying to get your
brush in close around the inside bottom edges of pots and
- Tool 23: Multi-Functional Baking Dishes and Mixing
- Save cupboard space and cleaning time by purchasing baking
dishes suitable for baking, microwaving and storing food.
Likewise, purchase microwave/oven safe mixing bowls suitable for
storage and attractive enough to set on the table!
Some baking and mixing dishes come with their own covers,
making them especially handy for storing foods. Be sure to follow
the directions that come with these dishes and bowls to prevent
- Tool 24: Non-Stick Skillet With Sloping Sides
- This utensil helps you cook with a very small amount of oil,
and clean-up is quick! The sloping sides make it easy to turn and
remove food. To protect the nonstick surface, use spatulas,
stirring spoons, etc. made for use with this type of
- Tool 25: Heat Resistant Spoon-Shaped Spatulas
- Mix, scrape and stir again at the stove with this one
utensil. Once you try these, you may want them in several
- Tool 26: Jar Opener
- If your only jar opener is a flat piece of rubber or you
don't have an opener at all, check out the kitchen gadget section
at your favorite store. Some of the latest models let you stick
the jar lid between two prongs and twist. If you're tired of
holding jars under hot water, hitting lids on the counter or
giving up and reaching for a different food, this may be the tool
- Tool 27: Cheese Slicer
- If you eat a lot of cheese sandwiches, this tool makes quick
work of slicing a block of cheese. These are especially handy if
you make toasted cheese sandwiches; all the cheese is the same
width and melts at the same rate.
- Tool 28: Small, Narrow, Long-Handled Rubber
- Use this kitchen utensil to scrape out the last bit of food
from the nooks and crannies of jars.
- Tool 29: Multi-Tiered Food Storage Shelves
- A handy way to store your spices for quick and easy access is
to purchase the small stair-step type storage shelves. Many have
three levels for storing spices and other small containers. Some
will expand to fit various cupboard widths. Larger sizes may be
available for storing bigger containers such as cans, olive oil,
- Tool 30: Food Clips
- Plastic clips that snap shut and look sort of like hair
barrettes are great for fastening opened bags. Keep a bunch handy
in your kitchen for quickly closing bags of frozen vegetables,
One student with a very small budget recommended using little
binder clips instead of buying more expensive chip clips. When
she opens a bag of something that needs resealing, she folds over
the bag and clips it shut with a binder clip.
Credit : COOK IT QUICK!, University of Nebraska
Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County