8 Kitchen Life-Savers That Make Prepping Meals Less Of A Chore

Delicious food without the effort. You're welcome.
The Good Brigade via Getty Images

Nothing beats a homemade meal, but we all have days when we don’t have the time, energy or motivation to pull it off. On those evenings, help is in order.

Enter the time-saving kitchen gadgets and gizmos designed to make life easier. We’re talking instant pot cookers, speedy veg slicers and dinner party delights that make cooking fuss-free.

Below, you’ll find a list of such items, handpicked by us. We’ve also added some of our favourite everyday game-changers – from space-saving saucepans to toast tongs – that’ll make you’re time in the kitchen far less stressful.

Each item is personally owned (and rated highly) by one of our reviewers, so we really can guarantee their usefulness. Meal prep has never been easier.

1. The mandoline must-have

John Lewis

Perfect for those who loathe food prep, the OXO Good Grips mandoline has been dubbed a “handheld veg assassin” by reviewer Justin Myers. The mandolin slices veg and salad in perfectly matching proportions – and is surprisingly fun to use.

“Best of all, unlike laborious chopping, it isn’t boring!” he says. “It’s quite entertaining to watch the veg disappear behind the blade, to hear that satisfying swish. When sliced, the vegetables look so beautiful; I find such joy in an effortlessly sliced cucumber, gossamer-thin radish, and the elegant, curled shavings of a baby pepper.”

2. For stress-free dinner parties

John Lewis

Love dinner parties but hate cooking under pressure? You need to buy a fondue set. Preferably, a stylish cast iron version. This 70s throwback is a personal favourite of mine, and also adored by our reviewer, Anya Meyerowitz.

“Not only does a fondue set alleviate the stress of having friends over, it never fails to excite my guests. Gathering around one feels akin to huddling around a campfire, but instead of kumbaya we sing drunken renditions of Fleetwood Mac,” she writes.

“It feels innately naughty, like we’re disobeying instructions not to play with our food. Somehow, even at thirty years old, I can’t help but feel smug about managing to sidestep eating my greens to go straight for pure bread and cheese.”

3. Boil brilliant eggs every time

HuffPost UK/Amazon
HuffPost UK/Amazon

Boiling an egg might not seem the hardest culinary challenge, but it can so easily go wrong. Too fast and it’s impossible to peel. Too slow and you’ll have no yolk left for your soldiers.

The Ashley Pop In Magic Colour Changing Perfect Boiled Egg Timer (yes, that is its official name) is here to fix the problem. Reviewer Rachel McGrath bought this for her bickering housemates and it ended brunch debates in an instant.

“The timer is incredibly simple. Like soooo simple. Every time you’re boiling an egg or two, you just put it in the saucepan at the same time,” she explains. “The red circle will get smaller as they boil and the markers will indicate how cooked the eggs are; soft, medium or hard-boiled.”

4. Toast tongs your fingers will thank you for

Lakeland/Getty/HuffPost UK

It’s one of life’s great conundrums: how do you safely get toast out of the toaster when it’s still deliciously hot, without burning your fingers (or jamming in a dangerous fork)? Well, dear readers, I have found the solution: toast tongs.

This item comes recommended by yours truly and it’s an absolute bargain. The tongs are a simple tool made from bamboo that allow you to pluck your toast, crumpets, pittas and hot cross buns from the toaster with confidence. I chose this particular Lakeland pair for the handy magnet, meaning they clip to the side of the toaster and never get lost.

The long reach of the tongs also enables you to pick out any pesky bits of bread that have broken off and become wedged in the murky depths, threatening to set the fire alarm off at any moment. Phew!

Amazon / HuffPost UK

The Instant Pot has gained an almost cult-like following, for a very good reason. The product claims to be a ‘7-in-1’ cooker – pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, searing pan, steamer, food warmer and yoghurt maker (should you feel so inclined).

The best thing about it, according to reviewer Mike Rampton, is that it can “cook stuff absurdly quickly”.

“Something to do with pressure, and steam, and temperature, and Christ knows what, means you can chuck a bunch of food in with no real care and half an hour later sit down to something magnificent,” he says. “You can do a stew in, what, 45 minutes? And you end up with beautifully tender meat falling off the bone. The first thing my wife made in it – a short-rib ragu – is just about the best thing I’ve ever eaten, and went from a vague thought to satisfied belches in an hour.”

6. Some seriously space-saving saucepans


Another one straight from my own home, these Tefal Ingenio saucepans with removable handles are perfect for small spaces.

The set consists of three pans, each compatible with a single stainless steel handle that attaches and detaches easily yet securely with just one click. As a result, the handleless pans form a satisfyingly neat stack, slotting obediently into any cupboard.

They were a real godsend in our old flat, which had a minuscule galley kitchen where every inch of storage was used. We’ve since moved to a home with a little more space, but I’m not sure I’d ever go back to regular pans. Why would I?

These bad boys also conveniently slide into the fridge for storing leftovers and double up as tins for baking cakes, meaning we’ve gained even more storage space without the need for umpteen food vessels. Win-win.

Buy the Tefal Ingenio Essential Non-Stick Pots for £40.91 from Amazon

7. A tool for avocado aficionados

Salter / Getty

Possibly the most millennial kitchen tool to ever exist, this avocado slicer is a must-buy for those clumsy cooks who’ve succumbed to the dreaded avocado hand.

“So much better than grappling with a scarily sharp knife and under-powered fork, the 4-in-1 tool has a serrated edge that glides through avocado skin in a dreamy fashion, while at the other end is a scoop-shaped masher to help you easily remove the avo’s innards and then pulverise them to a delicious guacamole,” explains reviewer Brogan Driscoll.

“The knife end also has wide-set teeth meaning you can slice the fruit into chunks if you’re that way inclined.”

Buy the Salter BW05611 4 in 1 Avocado Preparation Tool for £3.40 from Amazon

8. A game-changing garlic press

Amazon / Toxitz via Getty Images

If, like reviewer Natasha Hinde, you love cooking with garlic but CBA with chopping and hate your fingers smelling of garlic afterwards, this garlic press is for you.

“What completely blew me away was the discovery of a secondary element – a little hair brush-like implement which pulls the garlic skin out of the contraption. You simply stick the brush spines through the holes on the outside and it pops the skin out, easy peasy,” she says.

“It means you don’t have to deal with the stinky fingers that would come from trying to claw the clove’s skin out manually with your nails. In short, life changing.”

Buy the Zyliss Susi 3 Garlic Press for £9.99 from Amazon