All the Essential Kitchen Tools You Need — and How to Use Them Like a Pro

Learning how to use the slow cooker, Instant Pot, air fryer, food processor and blender can make meal prep and healthy eating easy.
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Equipping your kitchen with the right tools can streamline your meal-prep process and make healthy eating easier.

Everything from slow cookers to air fryers to food processors allows you to safely cook meals overnight, make crispy food in minutes and chop veggies in a jiffy.


Whether you're new to home-cooking or have been spending Sundays in the kitchen for years, our guide will spark ideas on how to make the most out of the kitchen tools you already own and might even convince you to add to your collection.

Slow Cookers Are the Meal-Prep MVPs

Your slow cooker can help you meal prep in big batches almost effortlessly — so long as you use it correctly.
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From tender, fall-off-the-bone meats to hearty soups, the slow cooker makes meal prep almost effortless.


"A slow cooker is the ultimate one-pot-wonder device for anything in the stew, soup or braising category," Emmy-nominated chef Nathan Lyon tells "It makes cooking simple and easy — especially during those super hot days when you don't want to use a traditional oven."

While it's a tool suitable for beginner and advanced chefs alike, its set-it-and-forget-it appeal makes it attractive to people with limited time. Bonus: It'll save you some cabinet space, too.

Your Kitchen Needs an Instant Pot

The energy-efficient pressure cooker makes cooking healthy meals easy and quick.
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Pressure cookers are often known by the popular brand that manufactures them — Instant Pot — and can cook food quickly, allowing you to get delicious side dishes, meals and even desserts on the table in a pinch.

Here's how the magic happens: The gadget combines heat and steam to cook food quickly — and because the heat is evenly distributed throughout the pot, there's absolutely no flipping or stirring involved.

It's similar to a slow cooker in the way that you can add all the ingredients to the pot, press a setting and then walk away, but the two handy appliances are pretty different: Unlike a slow cooker that cooks your meal evenly and at a low temperature for hours, a pressure cooker cooks via increased pressure and heat, which takes a fraction of the time.

Discover how the Instant Pot can batch-cook healthy meals that make for even better leftovers — and the best pressure cookers to buy.

Air Frying Is a Trend That's Here to Stay

Slice your favorite type of potato into sticks and pop it in the air fryer for a crisp snack that rivals your go-to fast food fries.
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The uber-trendy and impressive air fryer helps crisp up frozen fries, kale chips and crunchy fish in minutes.



And we haven't even gotten to the best part: Unlike a deep fryer, the air fryer creates that coveted crisp using very little oil — or no oil at all (we're not kidding). The tool cooks food by circulating hot air around it and removing moisture from the surface, which helps create that crunch.

"You can make healthier fried chicken in an air fryer by using a bit of oil, and the coating won't soak up as much," says David Burke, executive chef and owner of countless acclaimed restaurants.

Wondering what else you can make in an air fryer? Check out our comprehensive guide and helpful brand recommendations.

Make the Most Out of Your Food Processor

Think of the food processor as your personal sous chef who does all the chopping and cutting for you.
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Food processors can chop, puree, shred and slice ingredients with ease — which is how they cut down on prep work in a variety of your favorite recipes.


For starters, you can throw a can of chickpeas with some tahini and lemon juice in your processor for a quick hummus. And that's only the beginning: You can also use the processor to chop veggies to add to homemade marinara sauce, soups and stews. (Now that's a smart way to get more greens into your day!)

But newbies shouldn't be intimidated by this gadget's clunky appearance or push-button controls, as food processors can work for every skill level — once you know how to use them properly.

Learn how a food processor can help you eat healthier and the most creative ways to use one.

The Blender Goes Beyond Smoothies

Besides making delicious smoothies, your food blender can whip up cold soups and puree ingredients.
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The blender has rightfully earned its place on any kitchen counter, as it can mix, puree and emulsify foods in minutes (and yes, it's different from a food processor).

And a blender can do way more than whip up berry-packed smoothies or spicy cold soups: Depending on the type you have, it can be a handy tool for meal prepping, too.

"Some blenders have a chop or pulse function, which processes the ingredients just enough to break them down into small pieces without fully blending them," says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN and author of the upcoming book Smoothies & Juices: Prevention Healing Kitchen.

Get delicious and healthy blender recipes and shop the best brands for every budget.