When you’re a busy mom, it’s always a challenge to find the time to make healthy meals for your family. As the work-at-home mom of twins, it sure is a constant struggle for me! Luckily, I’ve stocked my kitchen with several gadgets and appliances that make meal prep easier and quicker for me. Here are five of my favorites:
1. Chef’N VeggiChop Vegetable Chopper — I’ve owned several vegetable choppers over the years, and they all required me to smack the top of them down in order to chop the veggies. The problem is that I’m a weakling, so it would take me, like, 10 tries to get the veggies chopped. (Once, in a fit of frustration, I pounded the top of a chopper with all of my might and accidentally cracked it.) Plus, the choppers contained lots of little blades, which made it nearly impossible to clean them.
Then I received the VeggiChop as a gift—and it was like a breath of fresh air. The VeggiChop couldn’t be easier to use. You place whatever you want to chop into the bowl, insert the double-blade mechanism, screw on the top, and pull on a handle to operate the blades. The more times you pull, the finer the chop will be. And it is really easy to pull the handle! The VeggiChop can chop everything from fruits and veggies to nuts and meat. The lid, blade mechanism, and bowl are all dishwasher-safe. And you can chop foods ahead of time and refrigerate them right in the bowl with the storage lid on it. This is my favorite kitchen gadget ever! The VeggiChop sells for $19.95 on williams-sonoma.com.
2. OXO Good Grips Melon Baller — My boys love watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. They eat them so fast that I feel like I’m constantly buying new melons and having to cut them up. This melon baller makes it easier for me to do so. I can quickly scoop out balls of melon for the boys to pop into their mouths. The smaller head makes perfectly sized pieces of melon for toddlers. That’s a great feature, because many melon ballers only make larger pieces of melon that I would then have to cut even smaller before serving to the boys. I’ve had this handy little gadget for years now and it’s still in great shape! The OXO Good Grips Melon Baller retails for $8.99 on Amazon.com.
3. KitchenAid Stand Mixer— There are several reasons our grandmothers and mothers sung the praises of the KitchenAid Stand Mixer: It’s powerful, it does practically everything, and it lasts a lifetime. That’s enough to make it well worth its hefty price tag. I own the KitchenAid Artisan 5-quart mixer, and I use it constantly to mix ingredients when I’m baking or cooking. But I don’t even begin to scratch the surface of what the mixer can do. There are several models of the mixer available that have varying capacities, speeds, and features. They come in more than 20 colors to match any kitchen, and you can buy more than a dozen attachments that would allow you to make homemade pasta, sausage, and much more. My kitchen would not be complete without my KitchenAid stand mixer! Seriously—if I didn’t have it, I’d bake a whole lot less.
4. Cuisinart Prep 9 9-Cup Food Processor — I didn’t own a food processor until recently. I thought food processors did the same thing as blenders. I was wrong. This baby allows me to make pesto and other sauces, purees, and so much more in minutes. Seriously, I just dump all the ingredients in, push a button, and voila! Plus, all of the removable parts are dishwasher-safe. I love the modern look of this model, and it’s got just the right capacity so that it holds a lot, but doesn’t take up too much space in the kitchen. Shop the Cuisinart Prep on Amazon.com.
5. Cuisinart 6.5-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker — Honestly, I feel that every busy mom needs a slow cooker in her kitchen. I happen to own this one, and I love it! It’s got an easy-to-use touchpad, four heat settings, and a large removable ceramic pot that’s dishwasher-safe. When I know I’m going to have a busy day, I measure, chop, and prepare ingredients in the morning or the night before, then dump them into the slow cooker before I head out for the day. I set the slow cooker to the heat setting I want and the number of hours I want the food to cook, and I’m done! When the time is up, the slow cooker automatically switches to the “keep warm” setting. There’s nothing like walking into the house after a busy day to the smell of delicious pulled pork, chili, or beef stew—hot and ready to eat! Shop the Cuisinart Slow Cooker on Amazon.com.