If your vacation has left you overloaded and undernourished, changing your cooking routine is a great way to start feeling better. To take a more organized approach to healthy eating at home – and save money along the way – you need the right kitchen equipment.
Here are the appliances you need: a countertop stove, a blender and an alternative to frying. They will allow you to prepare meals in advance, prepare fresh dishes from scratch, and reduce oil consumption in your kitchen. Read on for tips on what types of devices to buy and specific product recommendations.
Buy a multicooker, slow cooker or pressure cooker
The best way to stick to healthy eating habits is to do it as easily as possible. Get a countertop stove and soups, stews, chili, curries and rice dishes are all simple to prepare in one pot.
And, if you get a larger volume cooker, you can prepare meals ahead of time and freeze them in batches. But what type of countertop range is right for you?
Is a slow cooker right for you?
Buy it for: cook in advance. If you know you’re going to be too tired to cook something healthy after work – and therefore 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 will be ready for you.
If you cook a lot of meat, we recommend the Russell Hobbs 6 Quart Slow Cooker & Sous Vide, for £ 66.99. It has a built-in meat probe, which makes it ideal for roasting and, in addition to the sous-vide function, for cooking steaks. It also comes with a removable, dishwasher-safe ceramic pot you can serve from.
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 harder beans and cuts of meat, but the difference is, it will do it in 45 minutes.
If you’re planning on doing your cooking for the week ahead on a Sunday, this is the appliance to buy. You will be able to prepare, cook and distribute a week of food in a few hours.
The Instant Pot Duo is one of the top rated pressure cooker buys. You can buy the John Lewis 8 liter Duo Pot for £ 139.99. A 5.7-liter version costs just £ 99.99, but we still recommend going 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 sautéé, reheat dishes, make broth and, with more programs, bake cakes, cook eggs, sterilize and sous vide.
Get yourself a blender – but what kind?
A blender is essential kitchen equipment if you want to prepare food from scratch. But buying the right blender is key to getting the most out of it. So should you opt for a hand blender or a countertop blender?
Should you buy a hand blender?
Buy it for: soups. A hand blender or an immersion blender is the best option for blending hot, high volume foods. If you plan on making a lot of soups, for example, this is a great investment. It is not necessary to transfer your ingredients. Simply prepare a little broth and vegetables and when it’s done, immerse your hand blender in the pot to make a silky and creamy soup.
If you buy one with additional accessories, you can also use it for chopping, mashing and whipping vegetables.
Best luxury buy: We reviewed the 700W hand blender from Smeg. It’s extremely powerful, and you can buy it in a set with accessories including a whisk, 1.4 liter pitcher, sealed chopper, and potato masher. The set is available by Currys in the colourway red, for £ 129.
Best cheap buy: If you’re looking for something a little more economical, try the Russell Hobbs Desire 3-in-1 Hand Blender. For £ 39.99, you’ll also get a whisk, a mixing cup, and a mini chopper. However, it is not as rugged 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: make your own hummus, salsas, smoothies, protein shakes and more. If you want to prepare small amounts of food from scratch, puree vegetables and mix fruit drinks, this is the appliance for you.
Best luxury buy: Zwilling’s Efinigy Table Mixer does just about anything you want it to do. You can use it on hot and cold foods, it’s easy to use, it can crush ice – and it looks gorgeous while doing it. We liked it. The catch? It costs £ 199.
Best cheap buy: For only £ 35, you can purchase Blend Active from Breville. It is a brilliant kitchen helper that will chop, mix and mash. On the negative side, it only has a capacity of 450ml, so it is not ideal for large families.
However, if you are single or in a relationship, this is a solid option. You can also use it as a personal blender, as it comes with a travel bottle in which you can directly mix a shake and take it to the gym. Find out more in our review.
Find an alternative to frying
Cooking with oil adds a surprising number of calories to food. If you want to cut down on deep or shallow frying while still retaining the crunchiness of your fries and the browning of your steaks, consider an air fryer and health grill. We have found some of the best options.
Air fryers do not fry food at all. They are, in fact, mini convection (ventilated) ovens, but they are fast, economical and give food a crispy crunch when cooked.
Air fryer with smart functionality: We tested the 5.5-liter Proscenic T21, which also has some smart features. It’s a connected device that you can set up and monitor from your phone, as well as access dozens of recipes optimized for the air fryer. It is currently available for £ 98.
Multifunctional air fryer: If smart technology isn’t important to you, the big advantage of the Ninja Foodi Max Health Grill and Air Fryer (£ 179.99 at Amazon) is that it is a two-in-one appliance that can fry and grill in the open air. It also has settings for baking, roasting, reheating and more.
Health grid: A grill gives you an option beyond frying meat, fish or vegetables in oil. Once you get used to it, you won’t automatically reach a frying pan. Our choice would be the new George Foreman Flexe (Curries, £ 49.99). You can use it as an open or closed grill as a press, make panini and toast, and store it vertically for a tidier kitchen cupboard. Take a look at our review to find out more.
Happy cooking and happy new year.
If you need help with your health in other areas, we’ve got some ideas. Need to focus on a better night’s sleep? Take a look at our roundup of the best lighted alarms we’ve found. And if you’re struggling to get through the dark months of January and February, you might want to consider one of our proven SAD lights.
Or, if you’re trying to improve your fitness game, check out our recommendations for smart scales and the best Fitbits we’ve tested.