When I first started my real food journey I was overwhelmed by how understocked I was on kitchen appliances and gadgets. Now that I’m getting married I’m trying to register for my *reasonable* dream real food kitchen. Suggestions?? If you could start fresh from the beginning what would you start with? I often come across a receipe that I would love to try only to discover I need equipment that I don’t have to make it. What basics to you suggest? If money wasn’t an object what would be in your dream real food kitchen?
Oh Bethany (clasping hands), you really don’t know (funny bouncing movement as if about to wet pants) how fun this is going to be . . . for me. You see, if ever anyone needed a registry do-over it is yours truly, and I have earnestly been making up for it via Christmas and birthday presents ever since. 🙂
First things first – a lot of the stuff I am going to recommend cannot be found at Target or Bed Bath & Beyond. But not to worry! MyRegistry.com makes it easy for you – and your friends and family – to do everything via the web. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started!
My little 7-cup food processor has been maimed in every possible way – including an “incident” in which it was partially melted – and yet it STILL works. It was retired though after my husband learned I have to hold it together while it “processes.” He bought me this 11 cup brushed stainless version and I love it!
Food processors make it so easy to whip things up in a snap: homemade salsa, banana walnut muffins, crackers, coconut butter, strawberry mint sorbet and so much more.
And it saves me money, too! Even after using the finest ingredients I always find that it costs less than the premade stuff at the store – AND it tastes better! Plus foods that we simply won’t eat if they are store bought (such as peanut butter because of aflotoxins) become a delight that when they’re made from soaked and dehydrated peanuts at home.
Hamilton Beach Crockpot
Ah, this was hands down the most useful wedding gift I received – and it wasn’t even on my list! With a little prep while you fix your hair for, uh, bed (at least this is what I did as a newlywed), you can wake up to the aroma of slow-cooked cinnamon apples. Or get started in the morning and come home to a delicious, home-cooked meal.
The best part? It also doubles as a stock pot (one less item to ask for!). I use this recipe for perpetual soup just about every week because broth is so nourishing (and it helps with wrinkles and cellulite. ahem).
Here’s the thing, though: Lots of crock pots contain lead that leaches into food. If you plan to use your crockpot nearly as much as I do (and why wouldn’t you!?!?), go ahead and invest in a Hamilton Beach crockpot – they are the only ones I know of who are lead and cadmium free.
UPDATE: My Hamilton Beach crockpot, which I received as a Christmas gift last year, died after only 9 months of use! Boo!
Cast Iron or Enameled Skillet
Teflon can release up to fifteen toxic gases and is not recommended for people with pet birds because the polymer fumes can kill them.
If you’re thinking that you need to ditch your nonstick stash pronto but don’t want to give up your perfect omelettes, a cast iron skillet would be a great addition to your kitchen. My cast iron skillet is non-stick heaven (though we don’t use it all the time for reasons listed here), and I love our enameled one from Xtrema. We use our pans for so much more than omelettes, too. They’re able to go from stovetop to oven, making them perfect for one-pan quiche and homemade stuffing.
Good Knives & Magnetic Knife Holder
Okay, I know for a fact that one of my friends (whose husband makes knives worth hundreds of dollars) is probably cringing right now. I don’t know much about knives and should probably not be advising anyone on the subject, but J.A. Henckel was recommended to me as a good middle-of-the-road option. I asked for this utility knife for Christmas and it is MUCH better than gumming my steak with my old set.
The problem with buying knives you’ll actually use is what to do with them when you’re . . . not. Storing super sharp objects in drawers for little hands to rummage through? No thanks. Fortunately there are these nifty magnetic knife holders that you can mount to your wall – keeps everything within your reach (but not theirs, though I know you’re not at that stage yet!) and looks kinda cool, too!
Natural Cutting Boards
Wood and bamboo cutting boards are more sanitary than plastic for two reasons:
- They contain natural antimicrobials
- Plastic takes longer to dry. The longer the surface is wet the more opportunity for bacteria to grow.
I have used all three in my career as a SAHM, and I must say this bamboo one is hands down my fave. It knicks less and is so easy to clean.
Safe Food Storage
These pyrex container are a great alternative to plastic storage, and they’re a two-for-one deal because you can bake with them, too! I love grabbing leftovers from the fridge and tossing them in the oven without having to switch containers (because let’s face it, we have enough dishes to do!).
This should probably go without saying, but you’re going to want to have a few casserole/pie/quiche dishes around. Glass is a great alternative to aluminum and is easier to find than stainless steel. Highly recommend!
Stainless Steel Baking Sheet
For making kale chips of course! A lot of what passes for stainless steel these has a lot less nickel (which protects from corrosion) than you’d expect. To get around this look for high quality 18/10 gauge such as the American Kitchen line from Regal Housewares.
Stainless, Ceramic or Enameled Pots and Pans
There are a lot of options here: This cuisanart set is pretty affordable, but if you’re looking for something you’ll still be using on your 30th anniversary consider all-clad. Or you can save TONS of money buy hopping on ebay and buying up some old vision cookware, which is a highly durable glass-ceramic blend that’s not made anymore. My mom picked up random vision pieces for me at resale shops and I used them all. the. time. Definite fave for the price!
And A Few Frills . . .
Okay, maybe frills and kitchen equipment don’t belong in the same categorical zip code for you, but these are some of my fave non-essentials!
Ice Cream Maker
Even organic ice cream usually contain a chemical similar to anti-freeze (not to mention pasteurized dairy!), so I prefer to make my own at home. Since cream can be expensive I make homemade coconut milk ice cream, which my kids absolutely adore! This cuisanart model is on my wish list because it’s made of brushed stainless steel instead of aluminum and it has a heavy-duty motor (I bought a cheap model made by another company off Craigslist – still sealed in the packaging – and it died the first month we had it. Lesson learned!) Update: Apparently the bowl inside is the only thing not made of stainless steel – boo! If you know of an ice cream maker with a stainless steel bowl please let me know!)
Great for drying nuts after they have been soaked and making beef jerky (a great on-the-go snack!) and fruit leather. If your farmers market has a sale on fresh herbs such as dill, basil and thyme at the end of summer you can take advantage by drying and storing for use throughout the year. So much better than store bought stuff!
BPA-Free Coffee Maker
**If** you drink coffee, this 12 cup stainless steel percolator and this french press are great BPA-free options.
Air Locks For Fermenting
I have a giant $100+ harsch crock, but if I could go back in time I would prefer to have these inexpensive fermenting jars. Many ferments (like sauerkraut and dilly sticks) do just fine in a jar, but others (like pickles) sometimes have mold issues. Airlocks prevent that, yay!
I have a pricey one, which I regret because I only use it to make chips. This one from OXO is about half the price and looks pretty good!
Abeego Reusable Wrap
Another item at the top of my wishlist, this alternative to saran wrap is made from a hemp/cotton fabric infused with a blend of beeswax and plant extracts.
Vio Liv Jars
Bio-violet glass that uses beneficial wavelengths to reshape the molecular structure of water, and drastically reduce food spoilage? Yes, it does sound kind of crazy now that you mention it. But after talking to Kathleen at Radiant Life, I really think there’s something to it. Make sure to check out Vio Liv section on their website. It shows a photo of two tomatoes – one which was stored in a regular glass jar for 7 month and another that was stored in a Vio Liv jar. They are totally different, ya’ll. I’m intrigued. (Plus I love apothecary jars and their oh-so-pretty).
Immersion Hand Blender
Love my Cuisanart Smart Stick for making coconut milk, pureeing soups in the pot, blending pancake batter (because coconut flour tends to clump) and a zillion other things. Honestly for the longest time I didn’t understand why people raved about these so much, but now I get it! Mine gets used all the time.
And Last, A Glass Pitcher
Just because I think they’re pretty. Having an herbal blend on the counter to sip on is not a bad way to while away the afternoon.
So that’s it! My real food kitchen, more or less. Now Bethany, don’t you feel like we totally bonded over this registry experience???? Hope that means my invite won’t get **lost** in the mail!
What Are Your Real Food Kitchen Must Haves?
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Photo credit: Southern Living