You love to cook. It’s cheaper, healthier, fun and can sometimes even taste better (if you know what you’re doing). But it’s almost never easier than going to your fave food joint and ordering up a dose of goodness—be it in the form of a refreshing fruit smoothie or a filled-to-the-brim burrito packed with all of the things. It is, however, much, much better for you.
In one study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers found that when people cook most of their meals at home, they consume fewer carbs, less sugar and less fat than those who cook less or not at all—even the ones not trying to lose weight!
While there’s no quick solution or incentive to getting people to cook at home more, there are a few ways to make it easier and more appealing, and that starts with go-to kitchen gadgets that make just about everything you do over your stove, counter or sink a whole lot easier.
We asked our fave R.D.s to share their faves:
Digital kitchen scale
“This one tool saves me from washing multiple measuring cups. I simply put my bowl or plate onto the scale and measure my first food, say the cottage cheese, that I have for breakfast in the morning. Once the scale signals the amount I want in grams or ounces, I reset the scale and add the second food. Then the third food goes on and so on.
I know the amount I want by reading the food label. For example, a 1/2 cup serving of cottage cheese is 113 grams. I scoop until I hit about that amount or depending on how much I want. Then I add 15 grams of raisins and 15 grams of muesli. That’s what I ate for breakfast. I measured three items and didn’t dirty a single measuring cup or spoon! I do the same with many other foods. I don’t have to use measuring spoons to portion out 2 tablespoons of peanut butter. I just put the plate with my English muffin on the scale, zero it and use a knife to spread 32 grams of peanut butter—the amount the label tells me is the same as 2 tablespoons!”
– Jill Weisenberger, Virginia-based R.D. and author of The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition
“It might sound cliché, but my blender is my most used and most loved kitchen gadget. I’m not going to lie, I felt ridiculous spending the amount of money I shelled out for my quality blender when I could just buy a cheap one for a couple of bucks. But since I’ve had it, I use it at last once a day to make smoothies, soups, dips, marinades and more. In fact, the last trip I went on I brought it with me and saved big time on breakfast and lunch!”
– Tara Coleman, San Diego-based clinical nutritionist
“I love my Nutribullet because it is so versatile. It helps me whip up quick and healthy meals or side dishes. It allows me to use whole, real foods, instead of higher processed foods, like making my own almond butter from whole almonds or cooking with whole grain rolled oats instead of white flour. I use it to make smoothies, chop nuts, grind spices, make nut butter, and turn rolled oats into oat flour.”
– Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness
“Pasta lovers, listen up! My spiralizer helps me make turn almost any veggie into a decadent, pasta dish without all the guilt and extra carbs. It helps me teach my clients how to make healthy plant-based dishes that are nutritious and also ultra-delicious! Especially for those who are not particular fond of the texture that comes along with some vegetables, squeezing them into these long, noodle-shaped pieces can make it a much more enjoyable culinary experience. Toss in your favorite sauces from marinara to pad thai and even alfredo!”
– Isabel Smith, R.D., a New York City-based celebrity dietitian and fitness expert
“I’m a little nutty about my spatulas. I’ve used just about use every size, shape and material, depending on the other surfaces and equipment I’m cooking with. From flipping omelettes to scrapping out homemade dressings from my blender to pouring batter mixes and prying out baked goods, they make healthy cooking much easier. It’s a relatively inexpensive investment to build a spatula inventory over time. Plus, they’re necessary for eking out every last drop to prevent reduce food waste.”
– Rachel Begun, M.S., R.D.N., culinary nutritionist and consultant
“I use my food processor to make just about everything like hummus, proteins bites, nut butters and even creamy soups. By making my own creative meals and snacks in my food processor, I always have healthy, nourishing foods around. The plus side of using a large processor is you can make your items into larger quantities and freeze them in individual portions. This helps prevent the urge for ordering takeout or making impulse buys when you get hungry. Just pull out that single serving protein bite and you’ve got a nice little sweet treat. The possibilities are endless!”
– Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T., and founder of Shaw’s Simple Swaps
“It’s almost always sitting on my countertop. I love it because it’s so versatile. You can make all kinds of different sandwiches: use tortillas instead of bread, egg sandwiches for breakfast, pizza paninis for lunch, add veggies like spinach or roasted peppers, and, of course, cheese. But most of all I love the fact that it’s an easy way to make a warm, comforting meal when you’re short on time or ingredients.”
– Melissa Joy Dobbins, M.S., R.D., C.D.E, “The Guilt-Free R.D.” and blogger at SoundbitesRD
“I use my handheld lemon juicer every single day (or just about!). It makes squeezing lemons so easy—no cords, countertop equipment or bulky storage. It’s an easy handheld device that costs very little and can fit into any kitchen drawer. And once you have a lemon juicer, you will find a million reasons to use lemons—in your daily salad with EVOO, drizzled over roasted veggies, mixed in soups and dips and whisked into baked goods. Lemon juice not only adds a kick of vitamin C (which is an important antioxidant), but it can also brighten up the flavors of your foods naturally so you need less fat and sodium.“
– Sharon Palmer, R.D.N., The Plant-Powered Dietitian, author of Plant-Powered for Life