Black Friday is tomorrow, which is generally my reminder to get it together and start gift planning. Perhaps you organized people are done or even started, but for the rest of us slowpokes, it’s time!
So to help you with the cooks in your life, here are 15 of my favourite kitchen tools, toys, and other gift ideas, from small and practical to big splurges. Nothing on this blog is sponsored, by the way, just my opinion.
I’ve used and loved all of these products. Cooking is central for heart-healthy eating, so let’s make it easier and enjoyable for those we love.
(Note: I first published this in November 2016 and have updated every year since. I’ve just added a few new items and updated the prices.
New this year, I’m using Amazon affiliate links for the Amazon items, which means that if you buy after clicking, I get a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Trust me when I say nothing makes this list unless it’s been used and loved in my kitchen, but using affiliate links is a small way to offset the cost of hosting this blog, which I hope is a helpful resource for you!
Prices are in Canadian dollars, based on what I see today in the link I’m sharing, just to give you an idea.)
1. Water bottle carrier ($14) — This might not seem that exciting, but to a parent with water bottles scattered chaotically about the kitchen, it’s a godsend. 16 bottles seemed excessive when we bought ours, but it’s almost always full, tucked neatly in a cupboard near the sink. The bottles are ready to go whenever someone is leaving the house and wants water, tea, coffee, or a smoothie to go.
2. Rubbermaid insulated stainless steel travel mug ($24) — While we’re on the topic of reusable beverage containers… Long-time readers will notice that I’ve changed to this from my longtime favourite Starbucks mugs, after a couple of lids broke and I tried the Rubbermaid ones instead. When I ordered they were $14 too, but they’re higher right now.* So far (about 6 months) no broken lids, no spills, and they still keep a drink nice and hot or cold. My only hard-earned lesson is don’t put carbonated water in them! Let’s just say a lot of pressure builds up…
3. Nice tea or coffee ($ varies) — If you want to give something to an office, this is a creative alternative to chocolates or cookies. A client gave me a tin of this “Joy” tea a few years ago. Greatly appreciated! Coffee shop gift cards are always welcome too.
4. Aeropress coffee and espresso maker ($40) — My husband and I decided to start drinking coffee not long after having kids and started with this, after seeing it on physician Yoni Freedhoff’s blog. Reportedly it makes the “world’s best cup of coffee,” although I admit I’m not a yet coffee aficionado. I just like it because you can a fresh cup with minimal fuss. Perhaps someone in your life would like a good coffee at work without dedicating a chunk of their paycheque?
5. Fancy nuts ($ varies) — Take the classic heart-healthy snack up a notch. You can make spiced nuts at home or, for a special treat, check out nuts.com. Last year friends surprised us with a box of their goodies and we loved it. It’s an American company they ship to Canada for free if it’s over $79.
6. Gift cards that let them outsource shopping or cooking. How about helping your loved ones out with a healthy, ready-to-eat meal or two?
A couple of years ago I reviewed a few different ways to outsource your cooking, and my favourite for a gift, if you’re in Calgary would be Our Daily Brett. They only have one location, in Bankview, but I’ve also tried (but not reviewed) Made Foods, which has numerous locations in Calgary, and has similar high end, quality food.
7. Stainless steel bowls ($27 for a set of 5) – I have three of these (8″, 11″ and 13″) from Ikea, and at least one gets used pretty much every day. I switched the link to this set from Amazon because they’re flat-bottomed, which only one of mine is, and I prefer it. And they have lids! I need that.
Either way, stainless steel bowls are lightweight so easy to grab, use, and clean. I like lots of room when tossing a salad or mixing batter, so the biggest is my favourite, if you’re only buying one.
8. Apple slicer – $17 – Seriously, why does anyone cut apples with a knife? This is so easy! Ours gets used several times a week. I like it because it makes 16 thin slices, which is perfect for throwing together an apple crisp or a quick snack.
9. Swissmar peelers ($12) – I didn’t think these were anything special until we went to a friend’s cabin and used her dull, clunky peeler. Life is too short for that! I’ve had these for several years and they’re still razor-sharp. We use the straight one for hard vegetables like carrots. There is also a serrated one for soft-skinned fruit like kiwis and mango, and a julienne peeler for long thin strips, which makes veggies pretty for salads.
10. Stainless steel measuring cups and spoons ($37) – I was gifted a set of stainless steel measuring cups ($56) from Williams-Sonoma for about 20 years ago and they still look and feel great. The measuring spoons I use ($18), from Lee Valley, are narrow, so they can fit into any spice jar. And they have a 1/8 teaspoon measure, which is useful for a small amount of salt.
11. Spiralizer ($24) – A fun way to enjoy more veggies, from zucchini noodles to pretty carrots and beets for salads. Zucchini noodles actually taste pretty good on their own, sautéed lightly in olive oil, or you can throw them in the pot with regular spaghetti for the last couple of minutes.
I have the Paderno brand, but sometimes it doesn’t hold on tight enough to hard vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes. The one I linked to above is similar but with a higher rating and a lower price tag, so if I was buying today I’d give that one a go.
12. Matching food storage containers ($ varies). We use the Rubbermaid Easy Find Lid containers, but I don’t think it matters, as long as they match! Then they nest for easy storage, finding a lid is a cinch, and they stack nicely in the fridge or freezer. We saved our old mismatched containers and use them for storing lego, craft supplies, and other odds and ends.
13. SodaStream ($120) – If you like carbonated water, you must have a SodaStream. You never run out (unless you don’t have a fresh CO2 cartridge on hand) and it saves you having to buy and recycle bottles. There is an ongoing cost though, about $20 each time you replace the CO2 cartridge, which is about every 3 months in our house.
My first SodaStream broke after 2-3 years and I replaced it the next day with the lowest price model, which goes for about $80. The material feels cheap but it’s been working fine now for a couple of years. The one I linked to is a bit nicer, for a gift, but either does the job!
14. Instant Pot ($80 – Black Friday special) – I had this on my wish list two years ago and bought it on Black Friday, wrapped it (seriously), and put it under the tree to save my husband the trouble of buying something I didn’t want.
After two years, it’s replaced my slow cooker entirely, because I like how you can brown onions or meat in the same pot before cooking. Plus it speeds up slow-cooking whole foods like pot barley (great in chili), wheat berries (on a salad) and sweet potato (in curry or soup). Then it keeps everything warm until we’re ready to eat. I also do hard boiled eggs in it, and love how easily the shells slip off. You can do more, but I’m not there yet.
15. The 30-Minute Heart Healthy Cookbook ($22) – A shameless plug! But you have to admit it would kind of be remiss of my not to include my book on the list. Plus I do think it makes a great gift. 125 mouth-watering recipes that take just 30 minutes or less from start to digging in, plus help your loved one effortlessly add more vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fish to your life.
Hopefully these ideas give you some inspiration to get your holiday shopping started and help a loved one enjoy cooking even more. What are your kitchen favourites? Share here on Facebook.
*Online shopping tip: To see the price history for an item on Amazon, go to CamelCamel Camel (Canada or USA) and search for it there. They’ll even notify you when a price drops below a certain amount. It’s a neat tool!