Kitchen Tools You Need to Start Cooking

Jan 4 2017
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

I know that frequent fast-food visits and restaurant meals aren't exactly great for my weight-loss goals, but I'm a total spaz in the kitchen. What are some basic kitchen tools and techniques that'll make it easy for me to cook healthy meals at home?

Kitchen Newbie
Answer@2x Hi Kitchen Newbie,

Good for you... Way to get in front of it! Whipping up your own meals is a great way to save calories and cash. But without the right tools and know-how, you'll never actually do it. So before you get started, here are nine kitchen essentials you need, plus tons of recipe ideas!

Food Scale

First things first, get your hands on a food scale so you can weigh out accurate portions. This is a calorie counter's best-kept secret. It's especially helpful when it comes to calorie-dense foods like meat, nuts, and avocado. A food scale will also sharpen your calorie estimation skills when you're out and about. Once you know what a 6-oz. steak looks like, you'll recognize an oversized fillet if it shows up on your plate. Knowledge is power, people!

Microwave-Safe Mugs

Mugs aren't just for coffee anymore! If you're looking to make portion-controlled eats in minutes, microwave-safe mugs are fantastic. From breakfast (egg mugs for the win) to dessert (how good does a personal PB cake sound?), there's so much you can make in a mug! These are ideal for anyone strapped for time. Seriously: The egg mugs are life-changing...

Veggie Spiralizer

Pretty much everyone loves pasta, but a single cup has around 200 carby calories. With a veggie spiralizer, you can turn vegetables like zucchini into low-calorie noodles! Perfect for z'paghetti (get it?), veggie-noodle soup, and more. Don't be intimidated; spiralizers are super easy to use! I like the kinds by Veggetti, this one by OXO, and the Inspiralizer. Order online, or pick one up at a place like Bed Bath & Beyond. Then start churning out HG recipes like these!

Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are the best! The phrase "set it and forget it" will become part of your everyday vocabulary once you get your hands on one. You can literally just dump a bunch of healthy ingredients into it, and hours later you've got a flavorful meal. Try it with any combo of lean protein, veggies, and light sauce. Chicken breast, bell pepper slices, and marinara? Heck, yes! Here are over 100 HG recipes you can make in a slow cooker.

Mason Jars

These grab-n-go glass jars are a healthy eating must-have! I love making salads in mason jars because they're totally portable and can be made well in advance. Adding the dressing first prevents soggy lettuce! You can also use mason jars for make-ahead breakfasts, like overnight oats and yogurt parfaits. Get a bunch of 'em in a variety of sizes.

Measuring Spoons & Cups

These measuring tools are pretty much mandatory, both for recipes and everyday cooking. Aside from measuring out ingredients, use them to keep your serving sizes in check. You could eat A LOT of peanut butter if you just go sticking any ol' spoon into the jar. But if you use a tablespoon to dole it out, you'll know what you're in for.

Basic Skillet

From morning egg scrambles to evening stir-frys, a standard skillet is a serious multitasker! It's also perfect for pancakes and French toast. This BBQ Stir-Fry is one of my favorite skillet meals ever. And like best buds, you can't separate the skillet from nonstick spray. The spray will keep you from adding hundreds of calories' worth of oil. I love the non-aerosol line by Pompeian.

Muffin Pan

Sure, muffin pans are great for sweet baked goodies, but the fun doesn't stop there. Use a muffin pan to make perfectly portioned savory stuff like my meatloaf cupcakes and tiny taco salads! Muffin pans are also excellent for mini egg bakes... Such a smart make-ahead breakfast or mid-day snack! Just like your skillet, you'll want to pair this with nonstick spray.

Aluminum Foil

Imagine a meal that cooks quickly and requires hardly any cleanup. You just envisioned a Hungry Girl foil pack! Throw some veggies and a lean protein on top of a piece of heavy-duty foil (spritzed with nonstick spray), and drizzle with sauce. Top with another foil piece, tightly seal, and bake on a baking sheet. Dinner is on its way! Check out all the things you can make in a foil pack...
Now get cookin', you!

Chew on this:

It's January 4th, a.k.a. National Spaghetti Day. Grab that spiralizer, and whip up some Z'paghetti Primavera!

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