Updated: Feb 27
As a personal chef, and someone who does a lot of cooking, I have tried many kitchen products. Some products made life in the kitchen downright annoying and some really elevated and simplified my experience. In addition to making cooking more efficient, I also strive to keep my kitchen as non-toxic and eco-friendly as possible which can sometimes limit what I use, but it also opens my world to new possibilities which I love exploring!
I've done the product experimenting, so hopefully, you won't have to! I realize some of my must-haves may not be in your budget (and some definitely will be!). Just start slow and replace things one by one; put them on your Christmas list or registry, or ask for a gift card (That's how I got one of these!). Spending a little more money on quality products that are going to last and potentially improve your health, save you time, and even save you money overall, are going to be so much more worth it in the long run. You'll also be creating less waste and it's just a win-win all-around.
Here are some of the must-have products that I use regularly:
What's the one thing you consume every single day? WATER! We drink it, cook with it, give it to our pets and plants, so we need to make sure we're getting quality water. I live in LA where the water isn't the best and definitely doesn't taste great. I was curious about the quality so I ran my local water report and found that it contains 8 contaminants that exceed EWG guidelines. Curious what the water quality is like in your area? You can check it here!
Berkey water filter systems are actually water purifiers because they remove bacteria and viruses that conventional filters cannot, as well as over 200 other contaminants. Out of the 8 contaminants in my local water, Berkey filters out >98% of 5 of them. In addition to filtering out unhealthy contaminants, it also makes water taste amazing; that may sound odd, but I swear it's delicious. I love drinking it and it's the only water I use for cooking. You can read more about why I love my Berkey, how it can save you money, and how it can help save the planet in this blog post.
If I had to pick my favorite investment, it's definitely my Berkey, followed immediately but my Vitamix! I always knew Vitamix's were great, but I stuck with my Ninja for years and never bought into the hype until 2017. It was a game-changer and I was instantly converted! My cashew cheeses are smoother and ready sooner, my smoothies aren't chunky, my soups are perfect, and it makes a pretty great margarita too ;) As a personal chef, I sometimes need to make big batches of foods while saving time and this blender really does the trick. I bought the Ascent 2500 series because it was designed to fit new accessories/attachments as they roll out. I actually have my eye on a few accessories they recently launched and will update you if and when I buy them!
I spent almost a year researching the best, non-toxic cookware and it led me to two brands. The first of these being The Always Pan by Our Place. I bought this pan in December 2019 and haven't looked back. This do-it-all wonder is designed to replace 8 traditional pieces of cookware; fry pan, saute pan, steamer, skillet, saucier, saucepan, non-stick pan, spatula, and spoon rest. It is coated in a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly ceramic non-stick coating. No PFOA, PTFE, GenX chemicals, or other questionable materials in sight! I used to have 4 different frying pans and honestly, I tossed all of them except my cast iron pan when I bought this. I'm actually considering getting another one since I love it so much and cook a ton! It makes cooking easy, fun and clean-up is a breeze. p.s. Be sure to use code "FORK10" at checkout to save money!
This is the other brand I found in my year-long search. Xtrema makes 100% ceramic cookware that is stovetop, oven, and microwave safe allowing for endless possibilities! It is made of 100% all-natural minerals, clay, and water and it does not contain leachable lead or any other harmful metals. I bought two of their pieces (thanks for the gift card, mom!), but the one I love most is the 5.5-quart dutch oven with lid. I use it for soups, curries, and any recipe where I'm making a double or triple batch (which is often). Not only will your food taste better with this non-toxic option, but you can improve the nutritional value of the meals you serve. Ceramic’s infrared heating properties ensure that your meals cook consistently and evenly from both the inside and outside simultaneously to preserve the natural flavors. And if that wasn't enough, ceramic cookware like Xtrema is an eco-friendly choice because you consume less energy overall.
These are a new addition to my kitchen and I'm obsessed! No need for environmentally unfriendly saran wrap or press 'n seal if you have these babies. Thanks to their stretchable material, these food lids will easily fit most bowls, pots, containers, mugs, cups, cans, jars, and you can even use them to cover your half-cut fruit or vegetables. They are made of 100% BPA-free, temperature resistant food-grade silicone. I own the round and square, and my only wish is that I could get bigger ones! p.s. be sure to use code "FORKINPLANTS" at checkout to save some money!
Since acquiring a variety of Stasher bags over the last few years, I have eliminated the need for plastic ziploc bags! Stasher bags are made from platinum silicone, which does not degrade over time. From freezer to microwave, from oven to dishwasher, Stasher bags are made to last. They are completely free of BPA, BPS, lead, latex, and phthalates, and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to fit all of your needs. You can even write on them with a dry erase marker for easy labeling or to make it fun for kids!
There are probably many chefs out there who will scoff at me using a $35 knife, but honestly? I love it so much. I've tried other brands, but I fell in love with this one when I tried it at a cooking school I was working with. It fits perfectly in my hand, the bolster is comfortable, and I really appreciate the grippy handle. I own two of them and use them daily as well as for cooking lessons. I honestly couldn't live without it! I just make sure to hone it regularly to keep it working efficiently and safely.
I honestly don't know how I lived so long without these bowls! I have a set of 3 glass ones I always use, but being a personal chef, I often found myself needing bigger bowls. And more of them! I ordered these bowls and they have been a lifesaver. The larger ones are great for tossing veggies with oil and seasons before roasting, the smaller bowls are great for mixing salad dressings, and I definitely have uses for all the sizes in between. Whether you're a chef, home cook, like to bake, or just need some extra bowls for yourself or the kids, these will surely come in handy!
I really could not live without this juicer! My hands are super sensitive and prone to eczema and squeezing citrus can really make them react and cause days of irritation. Sometimes I have dishes I'm making that need 4-5 lemons and I would be lost without this juicer to do it quickly, easily, and while saving my hands. If you don't have one of these in your toolbox, I highly recommend it!
If you like saving money like I do, then you'll definitely want to check out Rakuten. There is no cost to sign-up and you can save money on purchases you're already making. I downloaded the extension in December 2019 and have already made $137 cashback which gets automatically deposited into my bank! It's super easy to use; just sign-up here (that link gets you $30 cashback!), shop on-line like you normally would making sure you have Rakuten enabled on qualifying sites, relax and collect your cashback! Many of the sites I've posted above have cashback options through Rakuten; make sure to enable it if you buy on Xtrema or Vitamix because those are generally more expensive purchases and no one wants to leave all that free cash on the table!
I hope you find some of my kitchen must-haves helpful. Not only will they make your home more eco-friendly, but they're also more efficient, will save you money in the long run, and they're better for you. Happy shopping!
Thanks for reading!
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