Tools.

I want to preface this by making my opinions on kitchen tools clear:

I am not a “buy all the things” advocate, especially when it comes to kid’s tools. You do not need special brightly colored measuring spoons targeted for kids. You do not need a chef’s hat with your child’s name embroidered on the front. You do not NEED kid friendly anything.

Here’s what I am an advocate for: you and your children coming together as a team to help prepare the family’s meals. I’m an advocate for kids learning how to use real kitchen tools. I’m an advocate for cooking in the kitchen being viewed as a normal part of life rather than an elaborate pinterest worthy ordeal.

I don’t try to make things kid-friendly. I don’t put in extra prep work for my kids to do kid-specific cooking activities beyond what I’m already cooking each day. I want them to learn to really truly be helpful in the kitchen. When you’re spending a large portion of your day in the kitchen and cooking everything from scratch, ain’t nobody got time for extra work. I think we often actually hinder our kids when we try too hard to make it fun and appealing because we can set them up to only want to cook when something is flashy and exciting. I want my kids to love cooking for the sake of cooking.

Furthermore, the reason your kids come into the kitchen is because they want to be with YOU. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to lure them in with food shaped like their favorite animal or Frozen-themed mixing bowls. Lure them in with your love and desire to let them be a part of your life. Make them feel respected and grown up by letting them use your tools. Don’t stress yourself out trying to prepare something that looks exciting, YOU are exciting enough. Relax, refrain from buying gadgets you don’t need, slow down and focus on the heart of your child! We’ve only got one shot at this parenting thing. I don’t want to busy myself preparing unnecessarily elaborate cooking ordeals when I could slow down and bond with my kids instead.

So, here’s a list of our normal, non-kid friendly gadgets that we love!

 

Our Favorite Tools:

[with clickable links]

 

Knives

  • Pampered Chef Knives for the adults – I strategically hosted a PC party right around my birthday to get this set half off and use my birthday money to buy them! They are good quality and I’ve loved them so far. Realistically, I’ll never afford the over-the-top awesome knife sets out there, so this was a good middle ground option for me.
  • Pampered Chef Paring knife for the kids – Ours was pretty dull from the start but I’ve had other people tell me theirs are way too sharp for kids, so use your judgement based on your paring knife!
  • Lettuce knife from target for the kids – We got ours several years ago so I don’t see it on their site anymore but this link is for the same brand.
  • Curious Chef knife for the kids – We don’t own this yet but I’ve heard amazing things about them. This is the only tool I feel is worthwhile to buy a kid version of. Emery can’t do everything with a paring knife and the lettuce knife isn’t sturdy enough for many things.

Large Appliances

  • Blendtec Blender – We got ours on sale at costco for Christmas and love it so far. We haven’t done a ton with it yet, other than smooties, pestos, and homemade nut butters, but I can’t wait to do more soon!
  • NutriBullet – Another Costco purchase, and one I’m not sure I could go without. We make smoothies for breakfast almost daily, to get the kids supplements in [Fermented Cod Liver Oil, powdered probiotics, and a digestive enzyme] and their cup sizes are perfect for a daily smoothie for 3, rather than using the blendtec. Ours is an older version and came with 4 cup sizes.
  • DehydratorThis was gifted to us and I’m over the moon about it! I thought it would be years before we could ever splurge for one. We haven’t had a ton of time to use it so far, but we’ve made fruit leather and dried kombucha SCOBYs for our dog so far! This one is on my wishlist, when our garden gets bigger and we have more produce to preserve [and after i’ve collected all the change from the couch to afford it ;-)]
  • Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Maker – This was a gift and since going dairy free I’m ever so thankful for it! We make coconut milk ice cream all the time! I store this in our deep freeze so I’m always ready to make ice cream on a whim – i can have it whipped up in 20 minutes when the mood strikes. Also, this fits both types of kitchen aids.
  • Breville Juicer – We only juice occasionally and there are far better juicers out there, but this was a good middle ground quality for us
  • Immersion Blender – this is another must-have for us. I use it for Primally Inspired’s Fudgey Brownies, pureeing soups, making homemade mayo, etc. It gets a work out. There are fancier ones out there with more attachments, but we like this for our needs.

Cookware

  • Cast Iron pans – We have Lodge Iron and love them!
  • Great Northern Popcorn Maker - Ok, this might sound like a non-necessity, but this is one of my favorite purchases to date. We used to have a plastic electirc popcorn popper but I prefer not to use plastic to cook my food, it was a pain to clean because of the plug in, and Andrew accidentally broke it [which i was pumped about!] We bought this as our family Christmas present and I LOVE IT! It’s stainless steel [not aluminum – aluminum is linked to alzheimer’s, among other things], it’s super easy to clean, and if I need to make multiple batches at a time I don’t have to clean it in between, which I was worried about [we make large batches of kettle corn for friends.]
  • Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pans - I have the large, medium, and small and LOVE them. The small one is perfect for reheating meals in the oven. I got them at a discount for hosting a party.
  • Pampered Chef Stoneware Loaf Pan – I have 2 of these and love them as well. We avoid non-stick teflon surfaces as much as possible. 

 Gadgets

  • Tongs – I have 3 large and 3 small because I use them for EVERYTHING!
  • Vegetable Peeler - I’m such a Pampered Chef vegetable peeler snob that I literally take these on vacation, even when using other people’s well stocked kitchens [since we cook all our own food every where we go.] I bought 2 because I use them so often. They peel with such ease compared to other brands!
  • Garlic Press - I’ve been through several garlic presses in our 8 years of marriage and the only one that hasn’t rusted is my zyliss! It’s the best press I’ve ever used BUT I have my eye on this to replace it someday.
  • Measuring Cups – I replaced our old ones with these because the handles are flat. My old ones stuck up a little and i couldn’t get them to stack and fit into my drawer. Also, the handles were heavier than the cup so if i didn’t fill it with something heavy it would tip over, which was super annoying. LOVE these because I don’t have either of those problems!
  • Measuring Spoons – I got these in addition to our original set because I can fit them into spice jars!
  • Glass measuring cups – Basic staple in the kitchen. I got an additional 1 cup because I use it permanently to ladle our kombucha.
  • Mandolin - I couldn’t find our exact mandolin to link up, but we bought a cheap one at first [$15] to see if it was something I would even use regularly. I definitely want to invest in a better quality one some day – it’s such a useful tool. It especially makes sauerkraut a breeze!
  • Spiral Veggie Cutter - I’m not a die hard fan when it comes to this particular one…I have nothing to compare it to! It does the job :-) We do loving having it though – it’s great for when we’re in the mood for “pasta” style dishes 
  • Microplane – We use this to grate our ginger and nutmeg, zest citrus, etc. It’s easy to use and easy to clean if you rinse it immediately after using it.
  • Microplane Cheese Grater - This is another thing I’m snobbish about. I will never own another grater again. I’ve had box graters and cheese graters that were awful – this is so easy to use and easy to clean. We don’t currently eat cheese but I use it to shred carrots, beets, and especially potatoes for homemade hashbrowns. It’s so quick and easy to use that I’d rather hand grate potatoes than bust out the food processor and have to deal with cleaning it. [ + guns for days.]
  • 12 oz Freezer Mason Jars – I use these to freeze broth into 1 cup portions because there’s enough head room for expansion. I typically prefer to freeze in 1 cup portions so it thaws faster and it’s easier to thaw the exact amount I need. If you want to freeze in larger quantities, just know that if you’re choosing a mason jar with “shoulders” you need to keep the broth well below the shoulders where the glass gets skinnier. If the broth doesn’t have enough room to expand without hitting the shoulder, it will break your jar.
  • Plastic mason Jar Lids - These are awesome for freezing broth! Easier to clean, less parts, and it doesn’t matter that they’re not as cute as the metal lids because they’re hiding in your freezer ;-) The one’s on this link fit the freezer jars linked above.
  • Popsicle Molds There’s probably a way better chemical free option out there, but this is what we currently use. They are the perfect size for my kids – we have another set that are just too big for my kids to eat in one sitting. We use them at least once a week for smoothie popsicles

Fermenting Tools  [some of these are repeats, I just wanted fermenting tools specifically organized with explanations ;-)]

  • 2 Gallon Glass Jar – DO NOT buy these from this link, I swear they’re at walmart for about $12 each. I throw the lids away and use these for our 1st ferment of Kombucha. We have 3 going at a time, which I cover with a flour sack towel and a rubber band.
  • 1/2 Gallon Mason Jars – We use these for second fermenting kombucha.
  • Funnels – I purchases 2 of these 2 packs from walmart for a dollar each. We use them, with the mesh strainers listed below, to strain our fermented drinks.
  • Handheld Wooden Juice Reamer - We use this for seedless citrus, to juice directly into our second ferments.
  • Citrus Juicer/Strainer – We use this for citrus with seeds, when adding citrus to our second ferments.
  • Plastic Mesh Strainers – We have 2 sets of these from walmart – they’re $2 each and I usually only use the smallest 2. Using metal strainers is controversial so I prefer to play it safe and keep my cultures away from metal. I’ve only seen strainers with black handles at the store though.
  • Fido Jars – These are great quality, air tight jars that we love for fermenting. There are many sizes to choose from!
  • Mandolin - I couldn’t find our exact mandolin to link up, but we bought a cheap one at first [$15] to see if it was something I would even use regularly. I definitely want to invest in a better quality one some day – it’s such a useful tool. It especially makes sauerkraut a breeze!
  • Microplane – We use this regularly to add ginger to our second ferment

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