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7 Kitchen Gadgets For Lazy Cooks Who Crave Home Cooked Meals

I hate cooking, but I love to eat!

Something you should know about my queer household is that no one is “the cook.” No one here likes to cook or bake. No one here is particularly good at cooking or baking. No one here is working on a sourdough recipe. No one has cultivated a super-secret sauce recipe. I suppose I like the art of cooking when all other conditions are ideal, when I can get lost in the process, but getting that kind of cool-quiet, hot-tea-sipping, long-noon-stretching day is a rarity. And when I get those days, I prefer to fill them with travel, tv binges, family time, and naps. So does my spouse.

That said, we all have to eat and we all feel better in our bodies when we’re not living on fast food morning, noon, and night. Plus, I feel some sort of obligation to get healthy-ish food into our kiddo. Here are some kitchen gadgets, big and small, that help me muddle through putting a hot meal on the table.


1. Avocado Slicer

Whenever I see a professional chef whack into the center of an avocado to remove the pit, I cringe. Call me lazy if you want. I agree with you.

This is one of those random-ass gadgets I saw online that seemed really unnecessary, but I actually use very frequently. I’m really happy for the investment in not worrying about cutting myself with a knife while holding a slippery avocado.

Get it: $10.99


2. Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer

picture of the ninja foodi 9 in 1This one is a splurge, but, but it will replace several other appliances that lazy cooks rely on. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law had one of these and when our old inexpensive air fryer (a lazy cook staple appliance) was dying, we decided to get the Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 for our house. The biggest drawback is that this baby is big and doesn’t fit under all cabinets. Measure before you buy. However, we were able to massively downsize and donate our Instant Pot, slow cooker, rice cooker, and steamer, and replace the air fryer. Do we have too many appliances? I don’t know, probably — we’ve acquired them over almost seventeen years of living together, though, so cut us some slack.

So anyway, the Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 is a genius solution for lazy cooking. You can use it to cook fresh or frozen proteins, carbs, and veggies instead of baking them in the oven, in a fraction of the time. By combining a pressure cooker and air fryer in one appliance, you can pressure cook your proteins to get a moist, tender cook and then switch to the air fryer to get a crispy crust, without dirtying additional pans. You can also use the Ninja Foodi the same way you’d use a pressure cooker or slow cooker for stews, rice, making everything from cakes to hard-boiled eggs. And you can use the air fryer function to cook up all your favorite air fryer recipes. The inside cook bowl is extremely easy to remove and clean.

If the Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 is way outside of your price range, and you have a little extra to spend on kitchen gadgetry, I’d suggest lazy cooks get an air fryer. You can get an air fryer for about $40. They’re incredibly easy to use and let you eat healthier, with much less prep and clean-up time.

Get It: $269.99


3. Wooden and Silicone Cooking Utensils

picture of wood and silicone cooking utensils

One of my favorite pastimes is melting plastic cooking utensils by leaving them sitting on the edge of the pot or overheating metal utensils using the same method. Wooden utensils have saved my cookware and give me the freedom to not give a fuck if I leave a spoon in the pot. Wood and silicone are also easy to clean and last a long time. The only downside is that the wooden spoons sometimes pick up stains, but I literally do not care.

Get it: $10


4. Handheld Immersion Blender

image of immersion blender with two attachmentsDo you need to blend or whip some shit? Do you have a fancy Kitchenaid stand mixer or a fancy blender with fancy attachments? Additional question, do you want to take out, set up, use, and clean your fancy blender or stand mixer? I thought not.

How about an immersion blender to do small batches of blending and mixing? You can use this to blend soups, smooth salsas, and anything else. You can use the mixer attachment to whip up frosting or whipped cream, beat eggs and make meringues. All in the pot or bowl in which you’re already mixing or cooking! Fewer dishes to wash, more home-cooked tastiness and you can throw the attachments in the dishwasher if you have one or just dip them into soapy sink water and give them a spin to get them clean.

Get it: $19.99


5. Garlic Peeler and Press

product image of garlic press system

I know, this looks like something you’d buy off of an infomercial. But please, stay with me.

This kitchen tool makes it so much easier to cook with fresh garlic. Learn knife skills, KaeLyn. Be less lazy, KaeLyn. I know, I know, but I am who I am. The garlic peeler alone is worth it–such a time saver versus peeling garlic by hand. Especially if you don’t want to smash the garlic with the side of a large knife for the recipe, which is the only other lazy way to peel it. The silicone pulls the peel off the garlic without smooshing it. Then you can use this tool as a garlic press, but better — because you don’t lose any garlic at all. This does create slightly more dishes than the cutting board/knife method, but it’s a small amount, and this stores in tight spaces. If the garlic press part doesn’t appeal to you, I’d still suggest getting the little silicone garlic peeler thing. You can get them alone for a few bucks.

Get it: $13.49


6. Pot with Straining Lid and Lock

You may be noticing a theme here and that theme is that I love an opportunity to wash fewer dishes. May I introduce to your life, the pot with a strainer built into the lid?

There are many versions of this pot, but I’m telling you right now that you need one, with a lid lock ideally, like this one here. No need to use a strainer when making pasta. Or potatoes. Or, like, I don’t know, Kraft mac or whatever you’re making that requires you to boil water and then drain the water. This seems like a small thing, but it will change your life and also prevent scalding hot water burns while you’re trying to juggle a full pot of boiling water and a strainer.

Get it: $49.99


7. Hello Fresh Meal Kits

Let me level with you. A major part of my kitchen laziness is just generally feeling uninspired and not wanting to make or clean a bunch of dishes.

My challenge with meal kits in the past has been–you guessed it–the number of dishes some of them create and the amount of prep work and just, like, the time I want back even when everything is portioned out for me. I have also found that I don’t need elaborate recipes. I gain nothing by learning to make a bechamel from scratch. It’s interesting, but I’m just not the type of person who’s going to be spending my precious time making a bechamel when I can…not do that.

Some meal kit companies have figured out that there’s a target market in busy cooks who don’t have time to cut a million vegetables up but still want fresh food. Hello Fresh now has 20-minute meals on the menu every week and you can easily adjust the number of meals you receive, pick your own menu items, and skip a week, pause, or cancel your account at any time. It’s definitely worth it to try one of the 20-minute or one-pan meal kits if you are a lazy home cook who’s feeling completely uninspired in the kitchen.

Get it: $7.49-$11.99 per meal


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kaelynrich

KaeLyn is a 39-year-old (femme)nist activist, word nerd, and queer mama. You can typically find her binge-watching TV, standing somewhere with a mic or a sign in her hand, over-caffeinating herself, or just generally doing too many things at once. She lives in Rochester, NY with her spouse, a baby T. rex, a scaredy cat, and a rascally rabbit. You can buy her debut book, Girls Resist! A Guide to Activism, Leadership, and Starting a Revolution if you want to, if you feel like it, if that's a thing that interests you or whatever.

KaeLyn has written 225 articles for us.

38 Comments

  1. Maybe this article is what it finally takes for me to get an immersion blender. My spouse keeps telling me I need one but I don’t think I realized how affordable they are. Thanks for all the suggestions, KaeLyn!

    • My immersion blender gets so much use! Probably once a week or more. I make a lot of soups when it’s cold, lately I’m on a lentil soup kick. I’ve got one that is steplessly adjustable and that’s my rec, because you can perfectly adjust the speed. And I make a lot of hummus so I got one with those mini food processors too, because I like those for making hummus.

      • definitely worth it! my GF is French and thus thinks chunky soup is a crime. I use it constantly to make soups, but also hummus or other spreads. Another favorite is baking a whole eggplant wrapped in tinfoil and roasting some garlic with it. Then toss the garlic and the eggplant flesh and some feta and spices into a tall cup thing (usually comes with the immersion blender), mix ’em up a bit and use it as a base for pizza in place of tomato sauce.

        It’s such a time saver for fast soups, too. I like to just slice a butternut in half, scoop out the seeds and put oil and salt on and pop it in the oven when I have a free minute. Bake it until soft then turn let it cool and whenver it’s time for dinner I just blend it with some broth, onion flakes and curry powder, a bit of cream or coconut milk.

        Also frozen broccoli: just throw some in broth until hot, with some seasoning (I like smoked paprika, garlic), add a bit of cheddar and mix it up. So fast and tasty. Or sauté a bit of curry paste in oil, then add broc and broth and heat. Blend it with some coconut milk and cilantro.

        TLDR: definitely a good investment!

    • Yes, here for team immersion blender! The soup possibilities are plentiful!

      My local grocery store has microwaveable fresh sweet potatoes. I love to microwave them, add a few cups of broth, and blend it into sweet potato soup!

      Truly, you don’t regret it.

    • Honestly…not really. The peeler is the really exciting part. This press takes less time, but is not any easier to clean than the circular handheld press, which I also have a version of. It does make it so you don’t have to gather the bits of mashed garlic and repress them, though.

      Full disclosure, I use the peeler every single time, but sometimes just do the chef knife and cutting board to chop the garlic, particularly if I can quickly mince it. I do use the press if I need to cut up a LOT of garlic. It saves a lot of time.

  2. I have the simpelest garlic peeling system. Requires no extra implements to clean, because I enjoy cooking but I hate doing dishes. Just put a clove down on the counter, put the ball of your stretched hand on it and lean on it. Once you break the clove up a bit the peel falls right off.

    That pot with the strainer and a lock is pretty genius. I’ve seen enough pots of pasta end up in the drain by tring to do the draining with the lid a little bit loose.

    • Ok, ok. Taking notes. Honestly I’m totally trying this the next time! That is basically what the peeler does, allows you to slightly squish the garlic and loosen the peel. I never thought about doing it with my bare hand!

      The locking pot is in regular rotation in our house. It’s so satisfying on top of being efficient! And if you have to rinse something your cooking you can put cold water back into the pot, swish it, and drain again. It’s amazing!

      • Downside to peeling garlic by hand is that you can get some garlic smell on your hands. I do not care about that personally. I mince my garlic with a knife, because being a lazy dishwasher every extra implement that I do not use is good, and I always get some on my hands anyway.

        Another great option: stick a whole bulb of garlic, skin and all in a medium heat oven for half an hour or so, untill it is soft but not leaking or brown. (I always squeeze mine in next to other dishes.) You can save the bulb in the fridge for ages. If you need garlic, squeeze one of the cloves and you’ll likely have pureed garlic or a very soft clove. The taste is a little less sharp, I use this for hummus and other dishes that don’t get cooked after the garlic is added.

      • if you don’t want your hand to smell, just use a big knife. Put the garlic under the base of the blade down close to the handle and push the bottom of your fist onto the blade (towards the dull back side of course). I’m clumsy AF in the kitchen and have never cut myself doing this, skin is off in a flash.

  3. A heads up for those of us who are bad ag doing dishes: you can’t leave wooden utensils (or bowls or cutting boards) in water to soak, and you ABSOLUTELY cannot put them in the dishwasher.

    They’ll crack and split and become full of tiny little crevasses for germs to live in if they don’t straight up shatter

    • Lay a damp paper towel flat over the top of your cutting board! It takes some getting used to because it changes the surface texture, so if you pride yourself on onion chopping speed this may not be for you but it works. I guess the onion tear chemical is attracted to whatever the nearest source of water is, so I’ve also tried setting a damp wadded up ball of paper towels next to the onion chopping station but it doesn’t work nearly as well.

  4. I *adore* my home chef meal kit subscription. they have an option for oven ready food which is a godsend when I’m low on spoons.

    also, does anyone have any suggestions for how to cut onions without having your eyes water so bad you can’t see to not cut yourself?

      • It doesn’t completely fix it, but helps me a lot if the onions are cold. Onions don’t have to be kept in the fridge, but I do because it makes cutting them so much more tolerable.

    • I’ve got nothing other than getting like using a food processor or getting that thing…what’s it called? The slap chop? Does that still exist?

      I do find that chopped onions don’t bother me as much when they’re frozen so you could start buying them in the frozen aisle? Flash frozen is still pretty healthy. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    • I got an Oxo Good Grips Vegetable Chopper this summer and that takes away 90% of the crying. You still have to cut the onion into big slices (3-6 depending on onion size and preference) then put it into the press and it will dice it and it drops into the box underneath. I rarely get more than a slight eye watering with it. The only downside is that it takes more effort to clean than a knife but a quick rinse immediately after use helps with that. I also second frozen onions! They make life so much easier!

    • For the onions: use a very sharp knife if possible, not serrated, breaking as little cells as possible. Make sure to keep your eyes as dry as possible. Stuff from the onions reacts to liquids, so the more tears develop, the worse it gets. Dab your eyes frequently. And lastly open up a window and create airflow.

      • second the very sharp knife. Also take some time to learn how to cut an onion efficiently (there are youtube videos that make it clearer, but basically cut it down the length so the root bit stays on and you can hold on to that to keep it in place and chop quickly) so it’s over fast.

    • Oops, posted this to the wrong comment thread above, so I’m reposting here:

      Lay a damp paper towel flat over the top of your cutting board! It takes some getting used to because it changes the surface texture, so if you pride yourself on onion chopping speed this may not be for you but it works. I guess the onion tear chemical is attracted to whatever the nearest source of water is, so I’ve also tried setting a damp wadded up ball of paper towels next to the onion chopping station but it doesn’t work nearly as well.

  5. Okay I am so impressed with all of y’all who actually use fresh garlic! I am at the level of lazy where I just buy the minced garlic in a jar.

    I got that avocado slicer for Christmas last year and it’s seriously one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. I use it all the time!

  6. I love cooking but have limited energy for it thanks to long covid so I’ve had to change the way I cook with a few gadgets like a vegetable chopper but the best things are things that mean no chopping, like buying frozen diced onions and butternut squash and jars of dried garlic. I have no idea why I used to waste time chopping butternut squash by hand!

  7. I have never, ever had a HelloFresh recipe take any less than 3x the time indicated. I enjoyed them to vary the menu a bit, but definitely never saved me any time or clean up. Then I got mad at them for changing what recipes I got and sending me crap that was far too simple for the price they charge.

    I wanted to try an alternative service over the holiday, but the ones we have here (France) didn’t have very exciting menus this week so I ended up splurging for a service that just delivers fresh ready to eat meals. The price comes out about the same per meal as HF, but I just pop it in the microwave for 2.5min and eat. Only a fork to wash. Totally been worth it. Uses loads of plastic, though, so aside from the price it won’t be a weekly occurence for me. But definitely worth it for an occassional treat when the week will be busy.

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