When it comes to cooking, convenience can be a double-edged sword. On one side you have ready meals, which we’re sure we don’t have to tell you aren’t great for your health. On the other side are time-saving devices that help you to skip some of the arduous work in the kitchen to help you cook for yourself even when you’re pressed for time. And we firmly believe that being able to cook for yourself well is the cornerstone of a healthy and delicious diet.
Naturally, it costs to kit out your kitchen, but once you’ve done that cooking from scratch is as kind on the wallet as it is on the waist. Here’s where 21st-century technology can help, and we’ve picked out some top gadget recommendations too.
Buying a slow cooker is a fast means of upping your kitchen game. Once you’ve chopped the ingredients, bung everything into the slow cooker, set it to work and in four to ten hours you have melt-in-the-mouth meats and rich stews – no further attention required.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Slow Cookers
Top pick: Lakeland 3.5L Slow Cooker
A budget option that’s also great value, this model is large enough to cater to a family of four and there’s three cooking settings to let you speed things up if you’re pressed for time. The removable ceramic pot also retains heat so you can take it to the table to dish up, pop the lid back on and your seconds will still be warm.
Buy from Lakeland | £29.99
There are two kinds of juicer: centrifugal and masticating. The former will use a fast spinning blade to break down your fruit or veg, separating out the excess pulp. It’s quicker, and centrifugal juicers tend to be cheaper, but the process is said to not retain as many nutrients as masticating juicers. There slowly press and squeeze the juice out, a method that’s also better suited to handling tougher items like kale or wheatgrass.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Juicers
Top pick: Dualit Dual Mix
This is a great juicer for busy people. The chute is big enough for apples and oranges to go through without requiring them to be pre-cut, and being a centrifugal juicer it produces the goods quickly. What’s more, it handles veg comfortably, which tends to be an issue for centrifugal juicers at this price.
Buy on Amazon | £84.95
Some kitchen gadgets can get a little complicated, but it doesn’t get much easier than a soup maker. Add your ingredients and stock, press a button and wait. In next to no time you’ll have a cheap and healthy meal.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Soup Makers
Top pick: Salter Soup Maker
Had a long day? Feeling like taking the easy option of quick, microwaveable food? Turn to this smart gadget instead – it’ll whip up a wholesome bowl of soup in 20 minutes and there are four settings so it’ll be blended to your preferred consistency. And with a capacity of 1.1 litres you’ll certainly get your fill as well.
Buy on Amazon | £42.94
Everyone goes through a smoothie phase. While they’ve been around for a fair while the innovation of recent years has been vacuum blending, which claims to retain more nutrients and ensure the smoothie keeps for longer. The latter is exceptionally useful if you follow the NHS’s recommendation of sticking to 150ml a day. Many smoothie makers now come with portable blending containers which cut down on the washing up and, if you’re partial to a post-workout smoothie, can save you money by letting you swerve expensive shop-bought smoothies.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Smoothie Makers
Top pick: Salter Nutri Pro 1000
Are your creations known far and wide? Want to have a transportable container that’ll bring enough to share? Then the Salter is for you, because it comes with two 800ml and one one-litre vessel.
Buy on Amazon | £56.58
You know how parents sometimes prep healthy food to look like something different in an effort to trick kids into eating it? The spiralizer is kind of the adult version of that. If you use it as a substitute for spaghetti it’s also a fine way to cut down on carbs and calories because no-one sticks to the appropriate pasta portion size. It’s a time-saver too, because a spiralized piece of veg will take roughly 20 seconds to boil.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Spiralizers
Top pick: Morphy Richards Electric Spiralizer
This sleek-looking spiralizer keeps the blades hidden away and comes with two attachments – a spaghetti-sized one and another to slice wider ribbons, which will really up your salad game.
Buy from Argos | £29.99
If the smoothie maker is the foot soldier of the blending world, the food processor is the tank. These machines will chop, blend, dice and more. The large container size also makes preparing a meal for groups much easier.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Food Processors
Top pick: Tefal DoubleForce Pro
The DoubleForce Pro is a great all-rounder. The chopping bowl has a three-litre capacity and can hold two litres of blended liquid too, while its 1,000W motor won’t struggle with anything you throw into it.
Buy on Amazon | £126
Both electric and stove-top versions are sensational time-savers, using a tight-fitting lid to trap steam and build up the pressure to maintain a high temperature, which both reduces cooking times and retains more nutrients. For instance, broccoli keeps more than 90% of its vitamin C content when cooked a pressure cooker compared with just 34% when in a boiling pan of water. If you opt for an electric pressure cooker there are also plenty of innovative features to make life that little bit easier, including delaying the start time, so you could walk back through the door to a freshly cooked meal.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Pressure Cookers
Top pick: Pressure King Pro Digital MultiCooker
This budget pick will give you change from a fifty – one lucky penny, to be precise – and it’ll bring you great fortune when it comes to dinners too. It’s a good size for couples, and has a timer and keep warm function, so it doesn’t matter if you’re both held up at work, again.
Buy from Currys | £49.99
Healthier chips are the promise and for once air fryers live up to the hype. Having one of these lets you make your favourite crispy treats with a fraction of the oil used in a deep fat fryer by circulating hot air during cooking.
RECOMMENDED: The Best Air Fryers
Top pick: Lakeland Touch Screen Airfryer
Although this device looks like it will explain its future plans of world domination while calling you Dave, knowing all the while that’s not your name, it is in fact just a very smart air fryer. There are plenty of pre-set cooking options to choose from via the LED touchscreen and the auto-off function prevents it being left on by mistake.
Buy from Lakeland | £79.99