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I like gadgets, don't get me wrong --- I look at an avocado peeler and think "that is so cool!" even though I don't have the need, space or budget for one. Sure it's only $10, but that $10 could be better spent...
Point is, I think people often get caught up in thinking they need fancy tools and gadgets to cook or to eat healthy... and you don't.
Maybe I was even a victim to this thinking, too --- but then we moved abroad and I had to leave all my cherished kitchen appliances behind.
My food processor--which I loved (and still miss) is in my storage unit along with my ice cream maker that I also loved (but hardly ever used) and my beautiful, sturdy stainless steel pot collection, and all my bakeware... I could go on.
These are my kitchen tools... drum roll please:
3 pots, 1 skillet, 2 cookie sheets, 1 muffin pan, 1 bread pan, 1 square baking dish, 1 glass oval baking dish, 1 blender, a spoon, a spatula, a cheese grater, 1 colindar, 3 mixing bowls, 1 whisk and standard utensil plus 2 sharp knives and measuring cups/spoons (that I brought with me from the States in my luggage).
That's it. I cook three meals a day with this limited collection of -- might I say, cheap and crappy cookware -- and I wrote an entire cookbook using them. That's right, Everyday Happy Herbivore uses only these basic tools.
Ahh... minimalist indeed.
Of course if you have the space, budget or desire for fancy equipment -- go for it... but don't feel pressure to outfit your kitchen with expensive appliances and tools. You can cook with the bare basics and still eat delicious, 5-star tasting meals.
For those starting out, I recommend spending your budget on a really good knife. You only need one and if you take care of it, it will last you a lifetime. I'm not fanatical about too many things, but I'm fanatical about my knives. I won't even try to cook or chop unless I have a good knife to use. (Andrea side note: She's not exaggerating- when she stayed with me I had almost nothing in my kitchen except for good knives and she practically hugged me!)
Next, keep your eye out for a mini food processor on sale (you can snag them for $20-$30 on sale). It's not necessary, but it certainly can make things easier if you're not fast with the knife. I never thought I'd be able to live a year without a food processor -- but I have and I have some pretty terrific knife skills now.
Also, get a blender -- but don't get sucked into thinking you need a $400 vita-mix or blendtec. You can get by with a cheap, $20 blender, but a $100 blender will do just a good job as the ultra-pricey ones. Breville and Kitchen Aid have some great, affordable options.
Stainless steel pots and pans are nice, and a great investment (something else that lasts a lifetime) but even a cheap pot set will do (it's what I use, after all). Save the expensive pots for your wedding registry.
Lastly, although I love my juicer, if I knew how easy it was to make my own juice with a blender I wouldn't have bought it -- it was really expensive, and really heavy and it's a pain to clean. And now it's in storage. boo hoo.
So there you have it -- all you need, all you don't.
Thoughts? Tips? Questions?