Friday, September 10, 2010

Efficient Mommy: Kitchen Products

This post may contain affiliate links.
Things get pretty busy in life, no matter how many kids you have or whatever gets busy. But as I add children to my life, I come to appreciate more and more the products in life that just make things easier. I thought I would share things I have found to make things easier, and hope you will share with me the products that make your life easier. Today's theme: the Kitchen. This s in no particular order.

I have found these to be multi-functional. I can use them as serving dishes. I love the look of food in clear glass. I can also use them as "tupperware." Whenever we have something like tacos or Hawaiian Haystacks (anything that requires toppings), I put the various toppings in these dishes. Then, when there are some left over, I pop the lid on and clean-up is done. I have a lid for my 13x9 baking dish. Whatever is left over can just stay in the dish with a lid on top. I like the idea of storing food in glass rather than plastic.

You can also cook in these dishes. I use the small circle ones to make individual cakes for kid's birthdays. Then they can have their own special cake. This is especially handy on that first birthday if you want to let baby dive in.

I don't know if this necessarily makes my life easier, but it makes it better and since I am talking kitchen, I thought I would throw this out there in case you haven't heard of them. If you bake, this really is a must-have. This is a product that fits in your cookie sheet. You put your cookies, rolls, etc. on it. The easier part is that it creates a non-stick surface without having to grease the pan. You can also use these to roll dough out on, so you don't have to flour your counter up. The better part is that food cooks very nicely on it. These are pricey (about $20.00 a piece), but worth it. Very worth it. It rolls up nicely, so it could make a nice stocking stuffer (and has in mine :) ).

Most people probably own a pizza cutter. Let me tell you the pizza cutter's best use. Cutting pizza? No, no. Cutting whatever food up for your young children. Pancakes, waffles, can spend several minutes with a fork or a knife, or several seconds with a pizza cutter. Oh yes, this thing is quite handy. And it makes my life so much easier.

This is one of those things I heard about but didn't buy for years because, really. Who needs a cookie scoop? I can use a spoon just fine.

Oh! I need a cookie scoop. I do. 

Yes, I bought one within the last two years. Do you know how much time I save making cookies? I don't either, but it feels like an eternity's worth of time. So simple. It also makes your cookies all quite uniform in size, which honestly doesn't matter to me, but matters to some.

And this thing isn't only useful for cookie dough. I have also used it quite often when scooping out butternut squash after I have baked it for McKenna. Love it. 

My guess is this is something some people will love and others will ignore. I LOVE this thing. There are some cute and fancy ones out there, but mine is exactly like this and sells for 1.80 on Amazon. It is so easy to get the green and the core out of the strawberry with this thing. Now, my husband usually just uses a knife, which baffles me. I ask him why he doesn't use the huller and he says the knife is fine. The knife is fine; this is faster, more efficient, cleaner, wastes less of the actual I much prefer it, but my husband doesn't use it even it is five feet from him, so I guess it isn't for everyone.

We love garlic at my house. If a recipe calls for one clove of garlic, we will put at least three in. We love it. We had previously been using a garlic press, which we thought was better than chopping (and it is). But it wastes a lot of kind of juices the garlic. My mother-in-law found this and gave it to us one year at Christmas. 

Oh yes, this is what you want for garlic. Fabulous. Easy to use. Cuts the garlic nicely. Easy to get every last bit of that garlic out of there. This makes my life much easier.

I make a lot of rolls and breadsticks. I always like to baste them with butter. My mother-in-law noticed one year that my (cheap) baster was not looking so hot. She found some silicon basters for me and I have really liked them. They clean really well, which is something my old baster (made from wood, metal, and something else??) lacked. These wash well in the dishwasher without rusting or cracking. Anything that washes well in the dishwasher makes my life easier.

This is another one of those products I really like but my husband doesn't use. I find that this makes nice, uniform slices. He prefers to just use a knife and cutting board. 

This product is one both my husband and I love. I have memories as a kid sitting at the table grating cheese before a meal that required it. I hated that job. So now that I am the mom, I don't want to be grating cheese anymore, and my kids are too young for me to trust with the grater...or have been...maybe Brayden is close.

Anyway, say we are having Tacos and want cheese on our tacos. Rather than grating cheese and estimating how much we will use, we just grate cheese right into the taco. Love this.

Truly, this is one of my all-time favorite items in my kitchen. Like I said, I make a lot of rolls and breadsticks. I also make sugar cookies, pizza dough, and other things that need to be rolled out. This little thing makes rolling out so much easier and cleaner! I roll my dough out into a cookie sheet. I use this little beauty. It is small enough to be able to roll dough well in the cookie sheet, and I don't have to overwork the dough with it. 

Rubber Spatula

I got my rubber spatulas from a kitchen supply store that is owned locally. I absolutely love them. The problem is I have no idea what brand they are or anything. So, I recommend you go to a local kitchen supply store and see what they have. A good spatula make a world of difference. You can see what I have here.

Tupperware Quick Shake
My mom gave this to me a couple of years ago. It is very handy for mixing simple stuff up, like pudding.

This is one of my very favorite things in my kitchen. Love it. If you are a bread maker at all (rolls, bread sticks, bread, etc.), this is the kitchen mixer you want. It can make so much more at once, which saves you time. It does great on all of the other kitchen stuff, too. It isn't as "cute" as a KitchenAid, but really just a lot better if you do bread at all. My mother-in-law has a KitchenAid and when I try to make my rolls in it, my recipe is too much for it. There are also lots of attachments you can use with the Bosch Kitchen Mixer, like a blender and graters.

Salad Spinner
I have this salad spinner. I love salad spinners. They get the water off of lettuce so well, which makes for an easier time making salads. Spinning the salad spinner is one of those jobs kids love to do, so that is another bonus of the salad spinner. The basket removes, so you can use the clear bowl as your salad bowl after you finish spinning the lettuce, which means one less dish to wash.


We have this slowcooker from Rival. I am so happy with it, I bought one for a friend and another one for myself. That way I can always have one available (or two!). This has a timer, so it cooks for as long as you set it and then switches to warm. I do about 2-3 slowcooker recipes most weeks. They are so easy to do and the meat is always cooked very well.

101 Things to Do with a Slow Cooker
If you have the slowcooker, you need some recipes. This cookbook along with the 101 More Things to do with a Slow Cooker are fabulous. The include a variety of recipes from main dishes, to drinks, to soups, to desserts...we really enjoy these.

Microwave Cover
Okay, if you use a microwave, you really must get one of  these. This is an item you put in your microwave. I leave it in there at all times. Then whenever you put something in there, you put it under this. You would be able to go months without cleaning your microwave. Really. You throw that plastic cover in the dishwasher when it is dirty and walk away smiling. I wipe down my microwave as a formality. It takes me a few seconds. Cleaning is no more!

Last, but not least, we have the Cuisinart food processor. This makes making baby food, freezer jam, zucchini bread....lots of things lots easier. I shredded a years worth of zucchini to freeze in the amount of time it would have taken me to do one batch of zucchini bread shredding by hand. So I love it.

Reader Favorites
Here is the section for you! I would love to hear from you. What makes life easier for you in the kitchen? Please share. Simply leave a comment with the name of the product and a link if possible. Share why you love it. Thanks!


Jamie said...

My favorite spatula of all time is this one from KitchenAid.,default,pd.html?ecid=se&utm_source=googleshopping&utm_content=pfaltzgraffshopping&utm_campaign=googleshopping

Sorry for the crazy long link...and I couldn't find a picture of just my spatula, so it's the one on the left in the picture.

melissa said...

My favorite kitchen item is the Tupperware Rice Maker. I can cook a bit of rice in just 20 minutes. In fact, I need to go and do that now.

Gabrielle said...

I have several favorites, including the Vidalia Onion Chopper, which I received as a Christmas gift a few years ago. We cook with lots of onions, so this saves quite a bit of time. I chop extra and put the rest in the freezer to save time later.

I also love my heat-safe rubber spatula. It's great for making omelets and other hot items.

Gabi said...

Kitchen shears. I use them the way you use your pizza cutter... to cut up EVERYTHING for my kids. I actually have two pairs and I rarely leave the house for a dinner out without them. I can't remember the last time I used a knife to cut up the kids' food! :)

Stori said...

WOW! Thank you! I am always looking for items to make my life easier and more efficient. I just realized that I have almost none of these products! I need to start adding them to my kitchen.

bunnypryor said...

My KitchenAid Immersion Blender does everything!! It purees soups right in the pot so you don't have to make a mess pouring it in the blender or cuisinart. It purees homemade baby food perfectly. It has several attachments for whisking, chopping etc. It saves me soooo much time!!

Kelly Lee said...

My faves: Kitchen Aid mixer with slicer/ shredder attachment, Vitamix blender for dry and wet items, pampered chef scrapers that don't melt!!, and my kitchen scissors for cutting kid food!!

Nikki said...

I love the OXO apple corer, my girls like to eat there apples and pears whole, and LOVE that they don't have to worry about chomping into seeds :)

On another note, Val do you have any food/recipe related blogs? I would love to pick your brain on what favorite meals you make and how you meal plan etc.

Nikki said...

Oh and my other favorite is the mini cutting boards that hang on a rack. I got them here,2,4,112,10004&iProductID=11895

Beth said...

The "magic bullet" Someone gave us this as a gift a while back, but we didn't use it much until we had our son. It makes great baby purees, we use it to chop meat for his quesadillas, and it makes great smoothies. All the attachments are dishwasher safe, and they have tops to store things in the fridge for later. I use it at least once a day!

Leigh Anne said...

Thanks for all of these kitchen gadgets! I own a few but would love to have many of these :) Will help when people ask me for Christmas suggestions!

Christine said...

I have a "help a reader out" question! What are your favorite bedtime prayers for toddlers?

Plowmanators said...

Thank you everyone for sharing! So many great ideas, and definitely some I can see being of use in my home.

Plowmanators said...


I contribute on a couple of food blogs, but not constantly. There is:

it is me and my SILs.

There is also:

Plowmanators said...

Christine, that will run tomorrow

Kristy Powers said...

Thanks to you and the commenters! I got the Pyrex glass dishes and I LOVE them. Perfect for everything you said and they take up so little space in the refrigerator because they stack nicely. Plus no leaking in DH's lunch bag. If you see this, I am curious to hear more about your crockpot since my pot just cracked and the link you included in this post is "unavailable" at this time. :)

Plowmanators said...

So glad to hear Kristy!

It is a Rival crockpot. I think you can get them at Walmart. We got ours at Shopko. They might be updating the model or something. It has four time lengths and you can do "low" "high" or "warm."

Kristy Powers said...

Thanks, Valerie!

Ajenkstrio said...

I knew I'd read this post several weeks ago but had a really hard time finding it again. Perhaps you could add a category for kitchen, or just add the blog label mealtime to this post for easier reference? Thanks for all the good suggestions.

Plowmanators said...

Thanks for the suggestion! I did both.

maria smith said...

I have been thinking about getting a cookie scoop, and now with your recommendation I must! I have a cute compost bowl in my kitchen. That helps with my green cleaning efforts.


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