If your vacation has left you overloaded and low on energy, changing your cooking routine is a good way to start feeling better. For a more organized approach to eating healthy at home, and saving money along the way, you need the right kitchen equipment.
Here are the appliances you need: a countertop cooker, a blender, and a frying alternative. They will allow you to prepare food ahead of time, prepare fresh dishes from scratch, and reduce oil consumption in your kitchen. Read on for tips on what types of appliances to buy and specific product recommendations.
Buy a multi-cooker, slow cooker, or pressure cooker
The best way to maintain healthy eating habits is to make it as easy as possible. Get a countertop pot and soups, stews, chili peppers, curries, and rices are easy to make in one pot.
And, if you get a larger volume pot, you can prep your meals and freeze them in batches. But what type of countertop kitchen is right for you?
Is it a slow cooker for you?
Buy it for: cook in advance. If you know that you are going to be too tired to cook something healthy after work and therefore you are likely to be tempted to order food delivery, you need a slow cooker.
Add your ingredients before work in the morning, and once you’re done, your dinner is ready for you.
If you cook a lot of meat, we recommend the Russell Hobbs 6L Slow Cooker and Sous Vide, for £ 66.99. It has a built-in meat probe, making it ideal for pot roasts and, together with the sous-vide function, for cooking steaks. It also comes with a removable, dishwasher-safe ceramic pot from which you can serve.
Should you buy a pressure cooker?
Buy it for: batch cooking quickly. Like a slow cooker, a pressure cooker will help you get the most out of ingredients like tougher beans and cuts of meat, but the difference is that it will take 45 minutes.
If you plan to cook for the next week on Sunday, this is the appliance to buy. You can prepare, cook and deliver a week’s meal in a couple of hours.
One of the highest rated pressure cookers is the Instant Pot Duo. You can buy John Lewis’s 8-liter Duo Pot for £ 139.99. A 5.7-liter version costs just £ 99.99, but we always recommend opting for the larger model.
The best thing about the Duo is that it is multifunctional. In addition to a pressure cooker, it is a rice cooker, a slow cooker yogurt maker, and a steamer. You can also use it to sautéIs, heat food, make broth and, with more programs, make cakes, cook eggs, sterilize and sous vide.
Get a blender, but what kind?
A blender is an essential piece of kitchen equipment if you want to prepare food from scratch. But buying the right blender is key to getting a lot out of it. So should you go for an immersion or countertop blender?
Should you buy an immersion blender?
Buy it for: soups A hand or immersion mixer is the best option for mixing hot, high-volume foods. If you plan to make a lot of soups, for example, this is a great investment. No need to transfer ingredients. Just cook up some broth and veggies and when you’re done, dip the hand blender into the pot to make a silky, creamy soup.
If you buy one with additional accessories, you can also use it for chopping, shredding, and blending.
Best luxury buy: We reviewed Smeg’s 700W hand blender. It’s extremely powerful and you can buy it in a set with accessories, including a whisk, 1.4-liter jug, sealed chopper, and potato masher. The set is available from Currys in the red colourway, for £ 129.
Best economic purchase: If you’re looking for something a little cheaper, try the Russell Hobbs Desire 3-in-1 Hand Blender. For £ 39.99, you also get a blender, blender cup and mini chopper. However, it is not as robust or powerful as the Smeg hand blender, so you will need to treat it with care. Find out more in our review.
Should you buy a countertop blender?
Buy it for: making your own hummus, sauces, shakes, protein shakes, and more. If you want to make small volumes of food from scratch, puree vegetables and blend fruit drinks, this is the appliance for you.
Best luxury buy: The Zwilling Efinigy Table Blender does just about anything you want it to do. You can use it on hot and cold food, it’s easy to use, it can crush ice, and it looks beautiful while doing it. We loved it. The inconvenient? It costs £ 199.
Best economic purchase: For just £ 35, you can buy Breville’s Blend Active. It’s a brilliant kitchen assistant that chops, mixes, and puree. On the downside, it only has a 450ml capacity, so not ideal for large families.
However, if it is a home alone or as a couple, it is a solid option. You can also use it as a personal blender, as it comes with a travel bottle that you can mix a smoothie in right away and take it to the gym. Find out more in our review.
Find an alternative to frying
Cooking with oil adds a surprising amount of calories to food. If you want to eliminate deep or shallow frying, but retain the crunch in your fries and the browning in your steaks, consider a healthy deep fryer and grill. We have found some of the best options.
In reality, deep fryers do not fry food. They are in fact mini convection (fan assisted) ovens but they are quick, inexpensive, and give food a crunchy crunch when cooked.
Air fryer with smart functionality: We tested the 5.5-liter Proscenic T21, which also has smart functionality. It’s a connected appliance that you can configure and monitor from your phone, as well as access dozens of recipes optimized for deep fryers. It is currently available for £ 98.
Multifunctional Air Fryer: If smart tech isn’t important to you, the big advantage of the Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill and Air Fryer (£ 179.99 from Amazon) is that it’s a two-in-one appliance that can air fry and grill. It also has settings for bake, broil, reheat, and more.
Health grill: A grill gives you a choice beyond frying meat, fish, or vegetables in oil. Once you get used to it, you won’t automatically reach for a pan. Our pick would be the new George Foreman Flexe (Currys, £ 49.99). You can use it as an open grill or closed as a press, make panini and toast and store it upright for a neater kitchen cabinet. Take a look at our review to learn more.
Happy cooking and happy new year.
If you need help with your health in other areas, we have ideas. Do you need to focus on getting better sleep at night? Take a look at our roundup of the best light alarms we’ve found. And if you’re having a hard time getting through the dark months of January and February, you might want to consider one of our proven SAD lamps.
Or, if you’re trying to improve your fitness game, take a look at our smart scale recommendations and the best Fitbits we’ve tested.