1. Mixing bowls
Anyone who makes meals regularly will at some point need mixing bowls. I really enjoy baking (when I get the chance), so some good quality bowls are essential. My favourite mixing bowl has a special seal on the bottom that sticks to the bench, and means the bowl doesn't move around. I also like plastic bowls, because they are just less noisy when you use beaters or metal spoons in them. Multi sizes are also handy for different uses.
2. Voucher / subscription to food delivery service
You will remember that I used Lite'n'Easy food service for an extended period, and I swear by it. It is a great way to eat healthy, balanced meals, and you also learn about portion sizes. This is a great option for people you know who might not want to cook meals.
I've also seen other meal delivery services that provide you with all the ingredients for a set number of meals each week, and by following their instructions, you make the meals yourself. This is a great way to build new cooking skills, and to try new food combinations. Something like Hello Fresh seems to be taking off here in Australia.
Another options is to have a service just delivery fresh fruit, vegetables and other goods. Aussie Farmers' Direct is a great option in Australia. There are heaps of different box mixes and sizes, or you can choose your own contents. They also deliver other groceries such as milk, bread and meats. If you know someone who has difficulty getting to local producers, this can be a great service for them.
3. Heat proof utensils
Some of the healthiest meals you can make are based around grilling or pan frying - with a little or no oil. Some essential tools to assist are heatproof utensils. And good quality ones can be hard to find! Look for something made with a silicone tip, so they don't scratch your pans, but you want something heat resistant all the way up the handle. Spatulas, spoons, tongs and egg flippers are all handy variations and will be used repeatedly.
4. Smoothie blender
Smoothies are such an easy, healthy alternative to breakfast and snacks. But it can be surprisingly difficult to find a blender that crushes ice, and that lasts. We have been through three different smoothie blenders in the last year. The bonus from a standard blender is that the smoothie versions often come with single serve shakers, so you can blend, screw on the lid, then go. I've had my eye on the Nutri Bullet for awhile, but there are other similar products out there.
5. Fruit processor
A product I've seen around that I am intrigued by is the frozen fruit processor (like Yonanas). Basically the plan is that you freeze fruit, put it through the processor, and you get icecream like soft serve from it. That sounds yum and healthy! Fruits with lower water contents such as mango and banana are supposed to work best, but I'm sure you can try any fruits and they will taste devine. A great summer dessert alternative.
6. Filtered water jug
I know I should drink more water. But water is boring, and from the tap can be warm and contain particles that I maybe don't want to drink if I have the choice. So a great way of making water more appealing is to use a filtered water jug. You use tap water, which goes through a filter, and if you keep it in the fridge it will be nice and cold on a hot summer's day. In some you can also add fruit pieces to flavour the water - lemon, lime, orange, strawberries etc. Even I might drink more water if this was a regular option! You just have to change the filter now and then, so if you give someone a jug as a gift, include a couple of spare filters.
7. Storage containers
Anyone who wants to make home made meals will NEVER have enough storage containers. I am always on the lookout for more dishwasher and freezer proof containers of all shapes and sizes. I have round ones for overnight oats, large, deep square ones for icecream and leftover meals, and tiny little ones for sauces and dressings. You can never have enough. Ever.
8. Measuring cups
Again, if you know someone who cooks at home a lot, they will constantly be using measuring cups, spoons and jugs. And probably need multiple sets because some become permanent fixtures for certain purposes. For example, we use a half cup measure for Angus' food, and I have a quarter cup measure I use for my porridge contents. I was always losing measuring spoons until I found a set on a plastic key ring - lifesaver! And don't forget a liquid measuring jug either!
9. Fry pan
As mentioned above, frying pans are a great way to make your meals healthy and quick. You can pan fry vegetables, meats, pastas, stir fries and even make sauces and eggs. Our fry pans are used daily (if not multiple times) and so get quite a workout. We regularly need new fry pans - whether replacing old ones, or finding uses for new sizes. One of my best gifts has been a really large, heavy bottomed fry pan that has a heat proof handle. I can pan fry vegetables, add eggs, then put it in the oven to make frittatas and quick quiches. Oh, and a lid that fits is also incredibly useful. 100% essential item in our kitchen.
10. Salad dressing jar
A really great item that I would actually love is a salad dressing jar. Store bought salad dressings can have all kinds of additives that basically don't need to be there. Home made salad dressings are so simple, but the trick can be getting the right ratios of oil, acid and herbs. I have seen salad dressing jars that have measurements and even recipes on the actual glass of the jar to guide you through the ingredients and quantities required. Genius!
I hope you found some good ideas for your foodie friends and family. Good luck with the Christmas gift hunt!
What is your recommended piece of essential kitchen equipment that every person should have?