18 Tools That IMMEDIATELY Cut Cooking Time by 20%

BY CHRIS DANILO — First appeared on my personal blog

We’ve all read an INSANE amount of blog posts on productivity and habit hacking.

I know, because I’m guilty of writing posts like these, myself. 😬

But why isn’t anyone talking about the amount of time we’re spending on food?

Whether you’re a parent, entrepreneur, student, or if you just don’t live to cook, you’ve still got to deal with the fact that we all need to eat three times a day!

None of us have time.

Something I’ve learned over cooking for myself for the past 10 years:

Having the right tools and ingredients decreased my time in the kitchen, and actually improved my cooking!

(DISCLAIMER: Each link below goes to Amazon, where I make a commission.😬 The good news about this list is that you can get all of these things from your local Goodwill or discount store, too. 😌)

Just by having a few good tools and habits, you won’t waste time shredding cheese you thought was cheaper because it came in a big block — or standing over a large, uncovered pot, wondering when it’s going to boil.

Here’s a breakdown of the ONLY 18 ITEMS you need to have in your kitchen

Spoiler alert**

**I did the math, and you can outfit your whole kitchen for under $250.

1. An Express Kettle

If you’re worried about time, this will save it.

DON’T WAIT for a cold pot of water to boil.

This is currently the fastest known way to boil water without a very expensive induction cook-top.

Boil in this sucker, and then pour into your pot.

Here’s the cheapest one I could find on Amazon.

2. A 12” Nonstick, Dishwasher Safe Saute Pan

This is your go-to, everyday, beat-the-hell-out-of-it-pan. Make it a nonstick pan to save time cooking and cleaning.

Here’s the thing about pots/pans: there’s a tradeoff for each metal used in a pan. Aluminum pans are great at heating up fast and distributing heat evenly, but they can put aluminum in your food — not good.

Copper is incredibly useful, and gorgeous, but very expensive.

Stainless steel is inexpensive, distributes heat well (enough), and often has lots of non-stick options. If you can find a steel pan with an aluminum core; that’s even better.

This one is my favorite. It’s value-priced and insanely durable.

3. A 5-quart Nonstick, Dishwasher safe, Oven safe, Sauce Pan

Big enough to cook for the week or for friends, but small enough to not take up a crazy amount of space in the pantry. Nonstick, dishwasher safe, and oven safe — to save you time and energy.

This one is great for tossing a quick and cheap sauce together. I’ve got a number of sauce recipes that can be made in the time it takes to boil pasta.

Here’s my favorite sauce pan.

4. A Serrated Bread Knife

This is going to serve you for about 10% of your cooking needs. Put this puppy to bread, veggies with skin (like tomatoes), and meat you’ve got to carve.

Though it leaves lines when you carve meat, it’s still effective, and there’s really no need to buy a fancy knife you’re only going to use on Thanksgiving or at big family holidays.

Here’s a $10 knife that works just as well as the fancy ones.

Don’t spend a ton on serrated knives, because they generally last longer than non-serrated knives. (It’s the blade’s contact with the board/surface that dulls it, not the contact with the onion.)

5. An 8” Chef’s Knife

This is it.

The #1 tool you will use in your kitchen — every single day. It’s thick at the bottom for hacking through bones, but thin at the top for slicing through veg.

You could literally spend hundreds of dollars on a great knife, but get little extra benefit beyond a value-priced one.

This one costs ~$18, and if you take care of it (that means NOT tossing it into the sink, or dishwasher), it’ll last you a while.

6. A 12-quart Nonstick, Dishwasher safe, Oven safe, Stock-pot

Chili, stew, boiling water, this thing will come in handy.

I rely on this sucker when I need to cook a lot of food for the week, or if I’m cooking for friends.

I’ll usually use the Express Kettle to boil water first and then pour the boiling water into it to save time.

Here’s one that’s affordable and has more time-saving value.

7. Tongs

These are surprisingly useful.

I use them for pretty much everything.

Pasta, turning meat, mixing up veggies, picking out the bay leaves in my pasta sauce — everything.

No need to spend a lot on these. They’re cheap, and easy to replace.

These are $10 and will also last a while if you don’t let them rust in the dishwasher.

7. A Silicone Spatula

Buying them individually is often the same or close to the same price as buying a set.

Plus, I’ll admit that I like having at least one large and one small one.

These are great for baking and dealing with sticky mixtures like pasta dough.

Here’s a set of three for ~$5.

8. A 9”x13” Pyrex Baking Dish

Yes — I mentioned the brand.

Get the goddamn Pyrex dish.

It’s got a great warranty, it’s not that much more expensive than generic ones, and it’ll last forever.

They often come with the red plastic lids to make going from the oven to the fridge stupidly easy.

This one is $10.

9. A Glass Measuring Cup

Critical for measuring just about everything.

DON’T BUY a hundred little ones.

Just reuse this one every chance you get. And you’ll probably only need to use a bigger one about once or twice per year — so I think it’s worth making two trips to the sink on this one.

Again, go Pyrex. This is the only brand I trust for this, and you won’t pay out the nose.

10. A Can Opener

No need to get anything special.

Get a cheap one at Goodwill that just works.

Don’t put this in the dishwasher, or it will rust quickly and start degrading. You should only have to buy ONE of these in your lifetime.

Don’t get tricked into buying a fancy, expensive electric one. They don’t save you time, and the certainly don’t save you any moolah.🤑🤑🤑

If you MUST, here’s a shiny new one for $6.

11. Serving spoon/Ladle

You can get this set if you really want to, but you can get by with just one of these in you kitchen.

You’ll need at least one.

This is another great item to snag on the cheap from Goodwill.

Just do yourself a favor and don’t leave them in a hot, empty pan to melt themselves. You might end up replacing the spoon AND the pan.

Here’s some fancy new ones, if you’re inclined.

12. Measuring spoons/cups

Get the set.

They’ll be cheaper this way.

Having individual measuring spoons will save you time in the kitchen.

You can just scoop right from the bag of flour, rice, etc. and brush off the heaping top. Boom. Done in one.

These are also great for measuring consistent batter portions for cookies, pancakes, etc. onto a baking sheet.

Stainless steel is the way to go here, they won’t rust, you can toss them in the dishwasher and generally beat the hell out of them for the rest of your life.

Here’s a set for $10 that will do everything.

13. A 3”-4” Paring knife

Don’t spend a ton on this, because you could.

Anything above $10 and you’re buying aesthetic.

This is handy for peeling skin off of veggies and fruits, carving little bits of something, or making shapes with your food.

Here’s a cheap one for $3.

14. A Wooden Cutting Board

This one you shouldn’t feel too bad about spending a little more dough on. Here’s why:

  1. It’ll last you forever if you don’t put it in the dishwasher.
  2. You can double use a pretty one for serving
  3. A big one will give you enough space to not feel so cramped or anxious about chopping and will be heavy enough not to move around on the counter top and increase the chance of you cutting yourself.

Big boards are safer, generally prettier, and more comfortable to use.

No need to spend hundreds on the set of 3.

The general advice here is: if it looks cheap, then it’s cheap and won’t last — but that doesn’t mean you can put a nice one in the dishwasher.

Seriously, please don’t put wood in the dishwasher. It will warp and rot.

If you’re really worried about the cost, hit up Goodwill or find an internet sale with a solid return policy.

Here’s a decent one for the price.

15. A Dishwasher-safe Plastic Chopping Board

This one is for raw meat and fish.

You don’t want to put meat and fish fluids into the wood of a good cutting board, especially if you’re going to be using it to serve.

Plus, you can not only kick the shit out of this one, but you can also toss it in the dishwasher if you’re in a pinch.

16. A Large Balloon Whisk

The larger the whisk, the easier it will be to get air into your mixture — and that’s the whole point.

Bigger whisks yield a reduction in whipping-time for sauces, eggs, cream, or whatever you’re whipping good.

Here’s a classic 10” stainless steal one you can toss into the dishwasher.

17. A Footed Mesh Strainer

You only need one size: large.

No need for the full set of little ones. It’s generally faster to just rinse and repeat if you need to wash lots of veggies, wash rice, or strain flour/powdered sugar.

You can use this for pasta, but watch out. The mesh is so abrasive that the pasta can break down and get little pockets of dough stuck in the mesh.

This will be a pain in the ass to clean, I promise. So just drain the pasta and don’t move it around too much.

This 10” strainer ought to do the trick.

18. Cloth Rags

I always have at least one of these over my shoulder while cooking.

You don’t want to go back and forth to the sink or a drawer/shelf everytime you need to wipe egg whites off your hand or to grab a potholder.

Having a bunch of these ready-to-go is cheap and makes you feel locked, loaded, and ready to cook.

Here are 15 commercial grade towels for $15. Just make sure they’re thick or long enough to withstand the heat from a 400-degree casserole dish.

Congratulations folks, you just outfitted your entire kitchen for under $250.

You’re killing it. 😎

**This entry is part of a comprehensive kitchen-hacking E-BOOK**

I’m compiling every recipe, every grocery store hack, and every quick kitchen tip into an all powerful and omniscient e-book we can all STOP MAKING EXCUSES and START MAKING DELICIOUS, QUICK, HEALTHY FOOD!!

Cue angels’ praises and hymns from the heavens


How many of us made New Years’ resolutions to eat healthier?

What about cheaper? What about all the other things we promised ourselves we’d do? How are we making time for those?

Inside this e-book, you’ll find:

  • 3 shopping lists under $45 (for a week of food for an individual person and don’t require 10 years of prep time).
  • 10 One-pot recipes (recipes that take literally 15 minutes or fewer, and only require 1 pot to make).
  • 5 simple meals that you can make, sound impressive, and will ACTUALLY look like the picture in the cookbook.

And the first 100 copies are FREE.

CLICK to get a coupon code for this free e-book!

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