Who isn’t looking to shave a few minutes off their everyday meal-prep routine? Whether you’re making individual salads for weekday lunches or cooking up a big batch of penne bolognese for the next few dinners, you don’t want to spend all your free time in the kitchen.
But organizing your fridge and cabinet space, and streamlining the food-prep steps, can actually yield quicker dinners—and maybe even fewer picky eaters.
To get to this golden place, you don’t have to enroll in cooking school for enhanced knife skills. And there’s no need to go full-on Marie Kondo with every inch of your kitchen. Instead, shop wisely for the best gadgets and gear to help you save time and your sanity.
Here are the eight items to pick up, pronto!
1. Lazy Susan
Katie McCann, a home and office organizing pro at Haven, swears by Lazy Susans as a ticket to the most organized pantry ever. Group your oils, jams, and spices by type or cuisine, so you can easily find whatever you need. And if you get a Lazy Susan that’s durable and affordable, all the better.
2. Drawer tray
If you can’t find the spatula you want, the grilled cheese will burn—and then there will be tears. The fix: a smart-looking drawer tray, says McCann, especially the wider version, which can accommodate bigger utensils. It’s even expandable, so it’ll fit nearly every space you own ($30, Crate & Barrel).
3. Plastic bag holder
Leftover plastic bags are the bane of most homeowners’ existence. They spill out from under the sink, overflow from the container you’ve designated in the closet, and just look kind of messy. Stress less and pick up a holder for these pesky items, especially one that doesn’t take up much space, like this version ($19, Wayfair).
4. Pantry bins
“Multipurpose bins are recommended for organizing cleaning products, under-sink items, pantry staples, and more,” says McCann. But don’t get anything opaque or solid—you may lose track of what’s inside.
Sturdy wire, mesh, or clear plastic is the only way to go ($15, Bed Bath & Beyond). And to keep things organized, group like items together. McCann suggests pasta in one, rice and grains in another, kids’ snacks in a third, and so on.
5. Silicone baking mats
The French are onto something with their genius, nonstick mats ($25, Amazon).
“I can’t live without my Silpat mats for baking cookies,” says Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP. “They’re great for rolling out dough, too.” You’ll finally be free from chipping away at burnt-on bits, a savings in time and frustration.
6. Immersion blender
Using a blender to create soup is a royal pain, since it involves dragging it out, decanting the liquid, and then washing all the parts. And if the soup is on the hot side, you could get burned.
A better idea: this magic immersion blender ($17, Walmart). Plug it in, pop it in your pot to whiz away, and you’re done.
7. Kitchen scissors
Kitchen-safe scissors ($20, Williams Sonoma) will basically save your life in the kitchen and make fast work of opening bags of cereal, rice, and crackers. You can even use them like a knife, to snip herbs and cut up bite-size pieces of chicken or steak for stir fry.
Cleaning these clippers is a breeze, because they separate in the middle, so they can fit in your utensil basket in the dishwasher.
8. Citrus squeezer
Squeezing lemons and limes by hand is only so effective; there’s a large possibility you don’t get all of the juice out of the rind. That’s where a citrus squeezer comes in handy.
Another bonus: The color of this squeezer is so vibrant, it’s likely to inspire you to dream up recipes with citrus in them just so you can grab the gadget from the drawer ($25, Amazon).
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