11 Kitchen equipment essentials you need for whizz bang lunches!

A workman is only as good as their tools…and if you’ve ever tried to cut a ripe tomato with a less-than-sharp knife and watched the plump fruit explode untidily all over your white tiles (and probably your white shirt, if you’re me) then you know a kitchen needs certain things. If you want to make nutritious and interesting lunches quickly, without faff, and without ruining your Zoom-ready attire, then this is a starter list for what kitchen equipment we think you need.

We’ve even linked to a budget and a higher quality example of each item of kitchen equipment or tool on the list.


Food processor/blender

A good food processor or blender is an essential piece of kitchen equipment and can give a real whizz to your meal preparation. If you’re cool with shop-bought soups or hummus (and there are a lot of tasty ones out there), then you can get away with a small stand-alone blender,  or even a plug-in hand blender for things like roasted tomato soup or marinades. But if you want to make your own bespoke hummus (with less salt and preservatives than the shop bought versions) or you want to branch out into smoothies for your 4pm snack, then you need a decent blender and/or food processor. Otherwise, you’re just going to end up disappointed with the end result.

A food processor is better for dry or slightly wet mixes – breadcrumbs, or a hummus, while a blender will work for wetter things (soups and smoothies).

The cream of the crop are the Magimix and Vitamix brands. They last forever and are easy to clean, but the price reflects this.

For something slightly less pricey, Morphy Richards’ hand blender with various attachments can get you where you need to go.

 

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Magimix 18471 4200XL

Slow cooker

Sometimes you really don’t have the time to make something for lunch. And if you’re working from home during the wonder of the global pandemic, popping across the road to Pret is not an option. Its in situations like this that you will come to love another essential piece of kitchen equipment – your friendly slow cooker. Not only can you make pulled pork in it for cold winter evenings and impress your family, but you can also throw in a bunch of ingredients whilst you’re making breakfast, switch it on, and then ladle out piping hot stew, or soup whenever you want it during the day.

If you want something snazzy, with the ability to pressure cook (cook things in a much shorter space of time than usual) as well as slow cook, then the Sage Fast Slow Cooker is for you.

The Lakeland 3.5l slow cooker has a dishwasher safe bowl, and can fit in enough food for your lunch as well as dinner for the rest of the family. And its a steal at £29.99

Get the kit – our top picks!

Sharp knives

I refer you back to my sad tomato story at the beginning of this article. Knives need to be sharp – no-one wants to eat a bludgeoned vegetable! There are many knife sets that include about 163 different blades so you can use a different one to fillet your salmon than you do to peel your mango than you do to dice your onion. But the truth is, you probably only need 4. ( And that’s because the one you want will always be in the running dishwasher when you need it!)

Two chefs knives (Either 8 or 10 inches) – this is your workhorse. You can go traditional, or opt for one of the new Santoku knives. These have indents along the blade that make it less likely whatever you’re cutting will get stuck to it, making your chopping and dicing lightning fast (Watch the fingers!)

 A serrated bread knife (Obviously we’re not suggesting you go make a sandwich…. But you may need to slice croutons!)

 A paring knife – the small one that will do a lot of the little jobs – peeling, dealing with garlic, and other fiddly stuff (also this may help with the cherry tomato issue)

 

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Sheet tray/baking tray

Your favourite baking tray becomes like a trusted and reliable friend overtime! They really come into their own for roasting vegetables, chickpeas, fish, chicken, or pretty much anything (you can also use the sheets for making cookies afterwards – bonus!) You can usually pick these up pretty cheap, but in my experience these don’t last too long. If you’re ok buying a new one every 6 months then that’s fine,

If not, go for something a bit heavier, with a better non-stick coating.


Large cast iron pot

Perfect for soups, stews, one-pot dinners you can turn into lunches, a large pot that you can put on the hob as well as in the oven should be near the top of your kitchen equipment list! Le Creuset is obviously the goal (in whatever colour brings you joy!) but will be expensive. It’s worth checking charity shops for these though, as sometimes you can pick up a random one for a song (mine was £9!)

For a more budget option – just make sure it has a thick bottom again – or when you put onions/garlic/etc. In at the beginning of cooking anything, it will burn.

 

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Storage tubs:

A lot of what makes it easier for us come lunchtime, is preparation. You can read some of the best ways we stay prepared here. But if you’re preparing things in advance then you need a safe and organised way to store it all. A lot of people are steering away from plastic these days, for health and environmental reasons. There are loads of metal and bamboo bento type boxes you can buy these days. But, here at Anything But Sandwiches, our aim is to make your prep as easy as possible, so we’d suggest that your boxes need to be dishwasher, fridge, freezer and microwave safe.

Glass is a good option. IKEA does some great tubs in different sizes. They have plastic lids, so make sure you go BPA free

Or you can go for something from Stasher. They make reusable silicone upright storage bags. They’re airtight, and leak-proof, so you can store portions of soup and salad in them as well as your ready-prepped couscous or even dressings.

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Jam jars

In the spirit of considering our environmental impact, these can be empty and washed jam/peanut butter/capers/the nutella that you ate with a spoon at the beginning of lockdown jars.

Keep them in the cupboard as an easy way to make up dressings and marinades – just a quick shake needed!


Chopping boards

Pretty straightforward really – some of our recipes involve chopping…and you will need a board on which to do this. A couple really, if you don’t want to be doing too much washing up. If you’re like me and you can be quite a messy cook, then you might want one of these, which scoop to make it easier to pour things into bowls or pans chopping boards by Joseph Joseph

Otherwise, this collection of chopping boards by Lakeland have some great options.


 

Frying pan/skillet

I pan fry a lot of things. And, as long as you keep an eye on the amount of oil, (or alternative cooking spray), you’re using, this is often just as healthy as other cooking methods. For best results you want something with a thick bottom, and a good non-stick coating.

Anything smaller than 12″ in diameter and the food won’t have the space it needs to cook properly.

This is definitely a piece of kitchen equipment worth investing in, rather than ending up with a cheap pan, peeling coating and rusting bottom.

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kitchen-equipment-essentials-IKEA-TROVÄRDIG-Frying-pan
Does the Job.

TROVÄRDIG Frying pan


Garlic crusher

If you’re flicking through our recipes you’ll notice a lot of them contain garlic…it’s not just because Zoom meetings mean you no longer have to worry about your after-lunch breath when you’re talking to your boss…that is a bonus though!)

Garlic is a stalwart ingredient in dressings, marinades, and bases for stews, soups and roasts. It’s also really really good for you – great for your immune system, has antibacterial properties, and new research suggests it helps combat heart disease due to it’s anticoagulant effects.

(It’s also one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world!)

However, cleaning the garlic crusher is the bane of my life. The dishwasher doesn’t cut it, and I’m sick of trying to dig out the remains of the clove with the end of a fork. Since I bought this one, however, it is no longer something I worry (rant to my husband) about.

The kitchen craft garlic crusher has a removable garlic chamber than you can rinse through and then shove it all in the dishwasher.

Measuring things!

There are days (usually at the weekend) when, whilst holding a glass of wine rakishly in one hand, you can add a “pinch of this” and a “glug of that” and” ooh, maybe this will work!” and end up with a fabulous meal without using any numbers whatsoever.

However, there are also days when you need to be a bit more restrained, and then you’ll need a set of measuring spoons/cups and a pair of scales. You can pick up a pretty decent pair of scales for £20 now – these are great, or you can go a little more aesthetically pleasing and traditional.

With measuring spoons, you’ll want some you can throw in the dishwasher. These are a good choice. But these will look better on your kitchen counter.

Get the kit – out top picks!

So there we have it. If you’re still with me, then you’ve got yourself a list (or an amazon basket). Go forth and shop, my friends! And then head to one of our fabulous recipes to use all your shiny new tools.