If you have anyone on your Christmas list who’s totally stumping you allow me to propose a few items from my list this year. It’s no secret, I’ve recently gotten very into cooking. In the past 6 months my family’s diet has experienced a complete transformation and the results have been amazing. We weren’t looking for a diet or a way to lose weight, but to harness and take control of what we were putting into our bodies. To spend more quality time at home and less time eating out at restaurants. A sustainable lifestyle is what we were after and it’s totally changed our whole home life.
I was married at 21 but spent almost the next 10 years struggling to learn how to cook and prepare delicious food for my family. I did what I thought most millennials did, went to Pinterest, found a recipe, spent $37 at the grocery store gathering ingredients for the (one) meal, and crashed under the pressure of actually pulling the meal together. Most of my new and extremely expensive recipes were flops and it left me a standstill in my kitchen for years. It made me feel like a failure so I would try to avoid cooking all together whenever it was possible- at least anything more complex than dumping a few items in a crock pot.
Enter Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget. I became an ambassador for it’s new release this summer, which basically means I received the book free as long as I agreed to write 1 honest review before it’s release a week later. At the time I had no idea how much it would impact our family. I thought, sweet, my friend has talked about this blogger/writer for a long time, how cool will it be to get her new book for free?!
The recipes are simple, the meal planning is SO easy (even for those organizationally challenged like myself) and AFFORDABLE. We saved hundreds of dollars a month by eating in 6 days a week, my husband went down almost 4 pant sizes, I’m down 2 dress sizes, and we feel amazing. I started this journey to support my son who struggles with seasonal asthma and went completely gluten and dairy free with him in June. I couldn’t have predicted then where we are now.
All this to say, once I started cooking I realized there a few clutch items every new cook or bride needs in her kitchen. Some I’ve acquired over the past few months and others I’m still drooling over and keeping all my fingers crossed Santa leaves under the tree for me on Christmas Eve.
- Jelly Roll Pan- PERFECT for roasting vegetables. I used to think I hated vegetables because I’m such a texture person. Turns out I love them roasted and had never had them prepared this way for me until a friend showed me how. Now I crave them and my kids eat them without complaints. A good jelly roll pan ensures even cooking and is the perfect size.
- Saute Pan- Ditch the kit cookware and focus on a few core items. A good saute pan can take you far. Splurge on All-Clad’s Stainless Steel 4 qt or take a chance on this new brand Great Jones’ Deep Cut. Great Jone’s is getting a ton of press and was started by a couple of young female entreprenuers. Several news sources are saying they are going to shake up the cooking industry by offering exceptional, professional quality products at a lower entry price!
- A pretty Spatula- It might sound silly but sometimes have something pretty (and functional) in the kitchen can really inspire you!
- An exceptional quality knife set- If money’s not an issue go for the Wüsthof Classic 12 piece with block. I myself cannot spend that much on knives so on Black Friday I bought the Wustoff Gourmet 12 Piece Set and can’t wait to start using them after Christmas! The reviews are both phenomenal so I don’t think you can really go wrong with either set.
- A stand alone mixer- I’m not sure you really need these, but I’m pretty sure as an American woman, you’re supposed to have one?! I never wanted one until I was scrolling instagram one day and Williams Sonoma’s ad for this Kitchen-Aid Mixer showed up and it was so beautiful I could almost cry. Yes, I now have gray hairs sneaking in and get excited over mixers. I’m not sure what’s happening but I’ve decided to embrace it and not fight it. This dreamy vintage inspired edition comes with a hefty price tag but you could also go for the Kitchen- Aid Mini Mixer. In my mind this is not a necessity and I’ve not once missed one in the 10 years I’ve had my own kitchen, but they sure are pretty!
- Absorbant Kitchen Towels- Might seem obvious to most, but my kitchen was stocked with tea towels I’d collected instead of something that might actually help me dry my dishes. For a 3 pack, I promise it will be $15 well spent.
- A Dutch Oven- I found my Le Creuset at Home Goods, but Sur La Table currently has theirs on sale for 50% off, so if you see this before the deal is over buy it! You won’t regret it- a staple you’ll have the next 30 years!
- Kitchen Aid Food Processor- I didn’t realize I needed one of these until I started cooking more. It’s not something you’ll need all the time but when you need it, you really need it.
- Narrow SS Spatula- I have a similar product I purchased from Pampered Chef years ago and it’s something I reach for at least 3-4x a week, especially when I’m baking! It helps you cleanly remove fresh baked goods from the cookie sheet without losing the bottom half to the pan. It’s clutch, seriously. I’ve almost melted the handle off mine in my dishwasher because it fell off the top rack once and I refuse to let it go.
- Cookbooks- Last but not least, cookbooks! Stop gathering random recipes that require different spices and ingredients. Keep it simple! I can’t speak for Danielle’s because it’s a new release, but both of Lisa’s offer meal planning guides that even include your weekly grocery list and what supplies you should have on hand in your pantry. It takes me all of 10 minutes to meal plan for the week and it has relieved so much stress around 4pm everyday because I actually do know, what’s for dinner?! These are the three I’d be sure to stock, 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget, 100 Days of Real Food , and Danielle Walker’s Eat What You Love.
I hope I didn’t ramble too much, but here you have it! My list of must haves for any one in your life who’s hoping and praying to love their time spent in the kitchen. Any one of these items will help ease the process and help them enjoy it more.