a knife, a mandoline, an indoor herb garden, and a steamer basket are on a color background with blue and green splash

15 Kitchen Tools That Make Healthy Eating Easier

Let these tools lend a hand when you're trying to lighten up your plate.
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Every January, millions of people resolve themselves to "eat better." That's often accompanied by the equally vague goal of "lose weight."

I've been one of those millions more times than I can count. That is, until I realized "eating better" was less about avoiding pints of ice cream at bedtime or skipping the drive-thru for a salad and more about making what I'm already cooking and eating healthier. It's about reimagining meals and snacks so they're every bit as delicious as other foods but just "better" in some ways.

How you prepare your home-cooked meals — and what you're deciding to cook more broadly — can go a long way toward helping you eat better, healthier even. And even if that's not a New Year's resolution, it's an admirable goal for all of us.

Too often, we equate healthy eating with salad dressing spray bottles and stacked steamer baskets full of vegetables. If that's how you like to eat, those are great tools. For others, healthy eating may center around finding ways to take your everyday meals and tweak them just one step to make them healthier. Roasting vegetables is a fantastic way to add flavor and cut out the calories and fat of deep frying; quick-working food processors make salad dressings and sauces easier than you can dream so you skip calorie-laden, high-salt bottled kinds.

If you're looking to equip your kitchen with the right tools and gadgets to help you eat healthier, you've come to the right place. Many of these items are probably only in your kitchen; you just need a few ideas to put them to work. Others may be all new to you, but we've picked these items because they can be used again and again, for years to come, to make your meals work better for you and your health.

Kitchen Gadgets to Make Healthy Eating Easier in 2021

Related Items

Spiralizer 7-Blade Vegetable Slicer
Credit: Amazon

Spiralizer 7-Blade Vegetable Slicer

Let's be clear: You do not have to give up pasta to eat better. But sometimes, swapping the starchy strands for vegetables is a fun and colorful way to lighten up your plate. Spiralizers come in a variety of sizes and capabilities, from hand-cranked noodle makers to countertop gadgets that can churn out nearly a dozen different strands. Use zucchini noodles in place of spaghetti for meaty marinaras. Butternut squash spirals are delicious in soups. You can quickly make a fresh coleslaw with all kinds of foods from your produce drawer with this device.

Buy it: $28; amazon.com

Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer Basket Folding
Credit: Amazon

Stainless Steel Steamer Basket

If you think of steamed vegetables as limp, soggy, sad versions of their once-crisp selves, you're steaming wrong. Writer Maddy Sweitzer-Lammé shares why steamed broccoli deserves a second chance.

Inexpensive steamer baskets can be put to great use for vegetables, of course, but they're also fun to use with eggs, quick-cooking proteins like shrimp, even rice and lentils. Steaming helps many of these foods, especially the veggies, retain most of their natural vitamins and minerals, which are easily cooked out during boiling or crowded out by oil and fat with frying.

Buy it: $13; amazon.com

NutriBullet Blender Combo
Credit: NutriBullet

NutriBullet Blender Combo

A blender is a great tool for any cook, but for people who are looking to eat smarter, a blender is a must-have. These powerful devices can swiftly break down fruits for smoothies and juices. They can even puree cooked veggies for quick soups. Once you feel comfortable with the blender, you can try other dishes like homemade nut butters, pesto, salad dressings, and pasta sauces. Homemade versions can be tweaked and crafted for your nutritional needs and personal tastes.

Buy it: $140; nutribullet.com

Related: The Best Blenders, According to the Allrecipes Test Kitchen

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus Pressure Cooker 9 in 1
Credit: Amazon

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 6-Quart Pressure Cooker

The Instant Pot swept cooks by storm several years back, and its steady popularity points to the computer-turned-cooker's diversity of uses. Today's electric pressure cookers don't just tenderize meat and grains in mere minutes, they can be used to make homemade yogurt (with less sugar), rices and grains (with less salt), and many other recipes in less time and with less effort (and fewer added ingredients).

The steam option is great if you need to cook more than your steamer basket can hold. The slow cooker option cuts down on the need for another appliance altogether. And savvy home cooks, like the Allrecipes community's Instant Pot fans, are continually creating new and exciting ways to use this device so the price tag is more than covered by the variety of meals you can make.

Buy it: $120; amazon.com

prime day air fryer deals cosori
Credit: Amazon

Cosori Air Fryer Max XL

It may seem counterintuitive to recommend a frying machine when we're talking about healthy eating, but air fryers have completely changed the way we think about fried foods and healthful eating. The best air fryers are like stand-alone convection ovens. They superheat small amounts (often less than a tablespoon) of oil and swirl it around any number of foods to cook them and add a delicious layer of crispiness and crunch without the crusts you associate with deep frying.

Instead of soupy glazed carrots, what about crispy Air Fryer Sweet and Spicy Roasted Carrots? You can even enjoy Air Fryer French Fries without the unnecessary fat.

Buy it: $120; amazon.com

LUXEAR Fresh Produce Vegetable Fruit Storage Containers 3Piece Set
Credit: Amazon

Luxear Fresh Produce Vegetable Fruit Storage Containers

For most people, healthy eating often equates to buying loads of fruits and vegetables. Sure, you can probably snack on strawberries or add a few to your morning yogurt, but unless you have a plan for using them all, you're going to need smart ways to store them so they last.

Unlike boxes of crackers or bags of chips, fresh produce has a brief window when it's fresh and edible. These specially-designed produce keepers are built with saving your investment and making the food last in mind. Divided containers with individual baskets allow adequate air flow, and they'll help any excess moisture drip to the bottom of the container. These containers may cost more than a box of zip-top bags at first, but you'll save money by keeping the food better longer.

Buy it: $44; amazon.com

Mueller Austria Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Multi-Purpose Hand Blender
Credit: Amazon

Mueller Austria Ultra-Stick 9-Speed Immersion Hand Blender

A stick blender (or immersion blender) goes where a big blender can't — namely into pots of cooking vegetables to turn them into soup. What's more, stick blenders can make quick work of berries for compotes or dessert toppings. Attachments like a whisk can turn coconut milk into a whipped topping for drinks like this Matcha Latte. And running a stick blender while you mix salad dressings will help them emulsify and not separate in storage. All things that give you fewer excuses to buy pre-made or drive-thru foods.

Buy it: $35; amazon.com

Cuisinart 14-Cup Custom Food Processor
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Cuisinart 14-Cup Custom Food Processor

You probably trust a food processor already for sauces and dips like hummus. But have you considered using one to make from-scratch pie crusts (without unhealthy fats), ultra-luscious avocado puddings, homemade grain flours, and DIY nut butters? With specific attachments, you can even use your food processor to grate, slice, or chop vegetables, cutting down on how much time you have with a knife and cutting board and eliminating some of the stress we have as we adjust to our new way of cooking.

Buy it: $230; williams-sonoma.com

Click and Grow Smart Garden
Credit: Amazon

Click and Grow Smart Garden

Herbs add incredible flavor and freshness to any number of dishes, from soups to sandwiches, but buying individual bouquets or clamshells of the delicate greenery each week really adds up on your wallet. Keep low-calorie, low-sodium flavor at hand with your own indoor herb garden. These clever devices let you select the herbs you need most often — cilantro is a given if you cook a lot of Mexican food, or parsley for Italian and Mediterranean food — and plant them so they're fresh and green any time you need them.

Buy it: $100; amazon.com

Silicone Baking Mat Set
Credit: Amazon

Silicone Baking Mat Set

Silicone baking mats, also known by the name brand Silpat, are frequently purchased for baking cookies, scones, and other sweet treats, but my favorite use for them is lining baking sheets so I'm ready to roast anything from nuts (for added flavor) to vegetables (for low-calorie sides) in the blink of an eye. Then, when the meal is done, these flexible covers go right into the dishwasher, and you have zero dishes to clean.

Having something handy like these sheets may help you make the jump from "I'll eat out tonight" to "I'll cook at home" easier, and that's automatically a win for your healthy eating goals.

Buy it: $15; amazon.com

wusthof pull apart shears
Credit: Williams Sonoma

Wüsthof Pull-Apart Shears

Let me tell you a secret about kitchen shears: there's almost nothing you can't do with them. And many of those things happen to make your food healthier!

For example, kitchen shears can make splitting oversized chicken breasts into thinner cutlets easy as pie. Speaking of pie, you can cut doughs into smaller portions with shears. Kitchen shears can also make quick work of mincing or chopping herbs.

They're also — and stay with me here — the best way to cut lettuce for salads. Once the leaves are washed and dried, stand over your salad bowl and chop up the leaves instead of getting out a cutting board. You can even use them for chopping the rest of the salad toppings if you want.

Buy it: $20; williams-sonoma.com

Henckels Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife
Credit: Zwilling

Henckels Classic 8-Inch Chef's Knife

A multi-knife block is a wonderful tool, but if we're totally honest here, the chef's knife is almost always the go-to pick for anything you could need. A sharp wide-blade knife can make breaking down meats easy, and it can make quick work of thick-skinned squashes and oversized fruits. You don't even need a small paring knife for tasks like supreming citrus once you're accustomed to using it.

Buy it: $65 (originally $109); zwilling.com

Luxiv Herb Stripper
Credit: Amazon

Luxiv Herb Stripper

Now that you have your indoor herb garden growing, you can help yourself get those delicate leaves off the stems with a handy tool like this herb stripper. (It's also great for getting leaves off kale and Swiss chard stems.) Slip the herbs through the hole, and pull to loosen the herbs onto your cutting board. It's much easier than trying to hand pick each leaf.

Buy it: $6.49; amazon.com

Mueller Austria Premium Quality V-Pro Multi Blade Adjustable Mandoline with fresh vegetables
Credit: Amazon

Mueller Austria V-Pro Multi Blade Adjustable Mandoline

Much like a spiralizer, a mandoline is one of those tools that you'll keep finding reasons to use once you see how much easier (and healthier) it makes your life. Instead of slicing cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, or any other number of vegetables (or even fruits) that often need to be thinly sliced, whip out the mandoline for uniform slices in just seconds.

Mandolines may seem scary (that open blade and all), but the best mandoline slicers are designed with safety in mind. This option from Mueller also comes with blades that make matchsticks and grating easy so it's not just for rounds.

Buy it: $35 (originally $50); amazon.com

Cuisinart Egg Central
Credit: Target

Cuisinart Egg Central

Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and they can turn humble bowls of grains or beans into a filling dinner. Hard-boiled eggs are great for quick breakfasts and snacks, too. To make cooking them easier, this tiered egg cooker will hard boil 10 at once. But you can also use this same cooker to poach eggs or make omelets.

Buy it: $40; target.com