If not totally essential, the following pieces of kitchen equipment certainly make the preparation of healthy, tasty food, served in the right quantities, easier.
ELECTRIC WEIGHING SCALES
These should be on your main work surface at all times and in the early days should be used for everything so that you can get a handle on what a portion, as defined by the food manufacturers, looks like. A handy tip for ‘wet’ products like butter, spreads and condiments is to place the container and its contents onto the scales and set them to zero before scooping out the recommended portion which will show as a minus figure. Be prepared to be shocked by what 10g of anything looks like….it’s not much! Things like cereals (again 35g is probably a lot less than you are used to putting in your bowl) can be measured out directly into your crockery. It won’t be long before you instinctively know what a portion looks like.
I know it sounds daft, but smaller plates make a healthy (aka small) portion look bigger and if you are serving a meal like a roast where everyone helps themselves, it stops you all piling on too much when hunger is at its peak. Going back for seconds is fine, especially the veggies, but you are much more mindful of what you are putting on your plate and in your mouth.
A VARIETY OF DIFFERENT SIZED CASSEROLE DISHES
I use these all the time to cater for our varying tolerance to heat and meat: our eldest is a total wimp when it comes to spicy food (though our youngest loves it hot) and not all guests are happy with a meat free meal.
A REALLY GOOD KNIFE SHARPENER
The knives themselves do not need to be fancy (personally I can’t be bothered with anything that can’t go in my dishwasher and that is not a euphemism for my husband) but a good quality knife sharpener makes the job of chopping so much easier. My super funky chopping board (yet another fantastic piece of kitchenalia given to me by my foodie brother-in-law) adds a touch of joy to my chopping, but perhaps that’s just me.
AN ELECTRIC WAND
Preferably one with several attachments, including a blender for making spice pastes and a masher for making delicious creamy mashed potatoes without the need for lashings of butter and cream. The basic whizzer is fantastic for all sorts of soups and sauces, especially if any of the family are picky eaters. To this day one of my children, who to be fair is not picky but hates mushrooms, has no idea how many of the offending fungi go into one of her favourite pasta sauces.
SMALL CERAMIC FRYING PAN
Fantastic for making yummy thin pancakes (two pans halves the time you’re stood at the stove tossing and flipping) and perfect fried eggs with nothing more than a few squirts of Fry Light: poached eggs are great but it’s so much harder to get the yolk just right.
A NUTRI BULLET
While not necessarily essential, this compact blender is responsible for doubling my older daughter’s daily intake of fresh fruit and veg and transforming her skin. So if you have some spotty youths kicking around, get them blending their breakfast and watch the blemishes vanish (the spots, not the kids).