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5 Kitchen Tools to Save Time and Cook Smarter

5 Kitchen Tools to Save Time and Cook Smarter | Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN

What’s your biggest barrier to eating tasty, satisfying and nourishing meals? 

Many people cite time as their biggest challenge for eating in a way that helps them feel energized and satiated. Not enough time to think about what to eat, not enough time to plan what to eat, not enough time to grocery shop, not enough time to cook meals and sometimes, not enough time to even eat meals. There simply seems to be an epidemic of time shortage! 

It’s no secret that people are b-u-s-y. Preparing delicious and nutritious meals can feel really intimidating. But here’s the thing: feeding yourself doesn’t have to be overly complicated and super labor-intensive. And here’s something I want you to remember: you deserve to eat food that makes you feel your best

Eating is a basic form of self-care that many people see as optional (especially women who are caretakers of everyone around them). Whether you’re a student, professional, parent, caregiver or whatever else, finding a way to fit enjoyable meals and snacks into your day is key to a healthy relationship with food (and it can support your mental and physical health).

And let’s be honest, how we eat affects so much else! It impacts our mood and our energy and can be either a positive highlight of our day or a stressful part of our day. So if you want to decrease the angst surrounding food, spend less time worrying about it and more time filling your belly with yumminess, it’s time to think about cooking smarter!

What does cooking smarter mean?

Have you heard the phrase “work smarter, not harder?” To me this means don’t toil away for hours on end with little to show for it. Instead, think about how you can maximize efficiency and value to get your desired outcome with less input and fewer resources. 

So what does this mean when it comes to cooking? Shortcuts! We’re not chefs around here and there is no gold star for making elaborate or difficult meals. The name of the game is feeding yourself (and perhaps your family, if you live with them) tasty and nourishing meals without breaking the bank or taking too much time out of your day. 

And guess what? You don’t have to know loads of fancy cooking techniques or unique flavor combinations to make satisfying meals and snacks. With a little kitchen know-how and prior planning, you can develop a list of several go-to dishes that taste great and satisfy your appetite. 

Most of my meals include a variety of veggies or greens, a legume in some shape or form, as well as a grain or starch. Over the years I’ve found a few kitchen tools that help me prepare these foods quicker.

High-quality Knife

A good knife is by far my most favorite kitchen tool. It might seem silly to spend a decent chunk of money on a single tool, but it’s a tool you’ll use pretty much every day! A good knife is not only safer, but it can help you cut food quicker and more accurately.

The Shun Premier 6” Chef’s Knife is my go-to knife for pretty much all cutting, chopping and dicing. Occasionally I’ll use the paring knife for smaller things and my husband prefers the larger 8” chef’s knife. These knives are top-of-the-line and trust me when I say you’ll never need another knife in your kitchen. I even messed up one of the blades (word to the wise – don’t stab a massive block of baker’s chocolate) and Shun fixed it for free!

Salad Spinner

If you like to eat greens, a salad spinner is going to be a huge time saver for you! You toss in your chopped greens, rinse them or soak them in water, and then give them a whirl through the salad spinner for clean and dry greens in a very short amount of time. 

I love my OXO salad spinner and the massive base which doubles as a big salad bowl! I don’t have a large food storage container so whenever I need a really big container, I use this bowl (just remove the spinner basket) and lid! I love tools that have more than one function.

Tofu Press

Gone are the days of wasting paper towels wrapping tofu, and dangerously stacking whatever heavy objects are within reach to press out the water. A tofu press has one purpose: efficiently press water out of tofu. Pressed tofu is key for maximum flavor!

I’ve been using my EZ Tofu Press for years and its simple design has held up well. You do need to set it somewhere to drain (I usually set it on the dish rack in the sink or in a square baking dish if storing it in the fridge). If you want the water to be self-contained while pressing, opt for a design that catches the liquid, like the Tofu XPress


You can certainly get by without a mandoline or slicer and cut everything by hand with a knife, but these tools can save you a ton a time! From slicing onions, cucumber and carrots for salads to shaving a variety of veggies for slaws, soups and casseroles, a mandoline or slicer can take a lot of the pain and time out of prepping vegetables.

I love the OXO grate & slice set because it comes with a few different blades, including a large and fine grater! As well as non-slip grippers for the counter and a little handle so you don’t accidentally grate off part of your knuckle (we’ve all done it).

Programmable Pressure Cooker

When it comes to saving time in the kitchen, electric pressure cookers are king! Whole grains and many legumes take a bit of time to cook on the stovetop. If you invest in a programmable pressure cooker, you not only can cook up grains and beans in a fraction of the amount of time, but you don’t have to keep an eye on the stovetop which frees you up to do other things in the kitchen or around the house! And they’re great for batch cooking.

I’ll admit that I did not hop on the Instant Pot bandwagon as soon as others and that pressure cookers downright terrified me. I’ve never used a stovetop pressure cooker which seems even more scary and the first time I used my Instant Pot I ran out of the kitchen as soon as it turned on. Needless to say, I’ve never had any real scares, it’s super easy to use and is kind of miraculous with how quickly it cooks lentils, chickpeas, beans, rice, quinoa and more! I also got rid of my slow cooker because this nifty tool can do that, too. 

So there you have it! These are the five kitchen tools that help me save time in the kitchen and cook smarter rather than harder. They take away some of the stress associated with preparing a meal and even help reduce clutter in my kitchen as some of them have multiple functions. What are your beloved time-saving kitchen gadgets? Comment below and let me know!

Psst… this post is not sponsored by any brands but it does contain affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, I receive a small commission and there is no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for supporting this blog!

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5 Kitchen Tools to Save Time and Cook Smarter | Taylor Wolfram

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