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22 Things That'll Completely Change How You Make Dinner

Consider your dinners transformed.

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1. Naturally, an Instant Pot or Crockpot multi-cooker, because there's basically no other way to put from-scratch chicken tacos on the table in 15 minutes.

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Promising review for the Instant Pot: "Never used one of these before and OMG. I am absolutely IN LOVE. Meats come out like they're from five-Star restaurants, and its quick cooking time is amazing. This was recommended to me by a friend, and it's quickly becoming a staple tool for my weekly meal-prep Sundays." —Elizabeth

Here's our full Instant Pot review.

Promising review for the CrockPot Multicooker: "I am cooking again! With a busy family, I need fast! I wish I had this appliance before now! What sold me was the ability to cook with frozen meat. I can start with frozen chicken and not have to thaw! I cannot tell any difference between thawing before or when I started with frozen meat. My Chinese dishes are much better and faster than running for takeout, not to mention healthier and cheaper. My family was amazed at the individual Chocolate Lava cakes I was able to make quickly and easily. My picky 17-year-old son deemed them better than the restaurants and I agree." —Miller SC Shopper

Get the six-quart size of either on Amazon: the Instant Pot for $84.99 and the Crockpot multicooker for $69. (And check out a bunch of recipe ideas for inspiration!)

2. Or if you're not interested in trying a pressure cooker, a simple slow cooker that lets you dump a bunch of ingredients in at once, basically ignore it, then come back a few hours later to a hot, delicious meal.

Promising review: "I absolutely LOVE this Crockpot. It is programmable for high, low, and warm. It also has a timer so it comes in very handy when you are cooking on a time schedule. I have a full time job, so making a home cooked meal ready for my family can be difficult as work and life can be unpredictable. It's six-quart so it's large enough to make enough to feed like six to eight people if needed (depending on what you're making). Many of the recipes I make require six to eight hours. Since I often leave very early in the morning and am not home until late in the evening, those meals were always a challenge until I bought this. In the morning before I leave for work I simply set the CrockPot on low or high for six to eight hours (depending on the recipe) and when the timer is finished, it automatically switches it to "warm". No more overcooking meals!!" —WhitneyGet one on Amazon for $39.99, and for recipes, check out 264 Slow Cooker Ideas For When You're Not Sure What To Make.
amazon.com

Promising review: "I absolutely LOVE this Crockpot. It is programmable for high, low, and warm. It also has a timer so it comes in very handy when you are cooking on a time schedule. I have a full time job, so making a home cooked meal ready for my family can be difficult as work and life can be unpredictable. It's six-quart so it's large enough to make enough to feed like six to eight people if needed (depending on what you're making). Many of the recipes I make require six to eight hours. Since I often leave very early in the morning and am not home until late in the evening, those meals were always a challenge until I bought this. In the morning before I leave for work I simply set the CrockPot on low or high for six to eight hours (depending on the recipe) and when the timer is finished, it automatically switches it to "warm". No more overcooking meals!!" —Whitney

Get one on Amazon for $39.99, and for recipes, check out 264 Slow Cooker Ideas For When You're Not Sure What To Make.

3. A classic cookbook packed with literally thousands of recipes that, besides being incredibly delicious and never too complicated, will teach you how to cook along the way.

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Promising review: "This is a massive, encyclopedic work about cooking. There is so much information in here. I've tried several recipes already, to positive results. In particular, the Yogurt Biscuit recipe was earth-shattering. I've been trying to make homemade biscuits for some time now, with marginal success at best. Who knew that the secret is yogurt?

He seems to write this book as a stepping stone on your journey to successful cooking. He doesn't want the book to be the be-all end-all of your cooking repertoire. He wants it to be an educational experience that unlocks your own potential as a skilled cook. I love this book so far and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone." —Boxman

Get it in hardcover on Amazon for $20.99 or from your local bookstore on Indiebound.

4. A top-rated restaurant-kitchen-favorite chef's knife so sharp it'll speed up your prep no matter your knife skills.

It's the BuzzFeed Reviews pick for best (cheap) chef's knife. Promising review: "This is the finest kitchen knife I have ever had the pleasure of using. DO BE CAREFUL! This thing out of the box is nearly as sharp as a single-edged razor blade. Take your time getting accustomed to it. It will cut thru some things so fast and with so little pressure you may have to relearn how to use a Chef's knife." —Wayne MGet it on Amazon for $35.76.
BuzzFeed

It's the BuzzFeed Reviews pick for best (cheap) chef's knife.

Promising review: "This is the finest kitchen knife I have ever had the pleasure of using. DO BE CAREFUL! This thing out of the box is nearly as sharp as a single-edged razor blade. Take your time getting accustomed to it. It will cut thru some things so fast and with so little pressure you may have to relearn how to use a Chef's knife." —Wayne M

Get it on Amazon for $35.76.

5. And a Scrap Trap to catch all of the extra bits before you toss 'em in the garbage disposal...OR to hold everything you're about to dump into the pan.

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Either way, it makes your life a little easier.

Promising review: "It's roomy, so it holds lots of cooking scraps, packaging, zip tops — loads of room to hold, and takes up ZERO counter space! That's really important for me, because I have not so much a kitchen as a galley. It's like living on a boat, and counter space is at a huge premium, so a thing like this which allows me to just brush stuff from counter into the bucket without having to hold it or make room for it while I'm trying to prep my meals — man, it's awesome.

The design is smart. The lip is narrow, however: be aware that if your drawers are thicker than about 7/8", this will not fit. However, there's a nice indent to accommodate your drawer handles, and a built-in pocket to hold the scraper that comes with it: it's a sturdy plastic card with a brush on one end for crumbs and flour or sugar, and a tapered side for sweeping bigger bits into the bowl. When you're done, you just pop the card back into the slot, and it's always where you need it." —Gail B.

Get it on Amazon for $13.23.

6. A whetstone you can use to keep all your knives samurai-sword sharp.

Promising review: "Gets my knives RIDICULOUSLY sharp. Works equally well on cheap stamped steel knives and forged stainless steel ones too...I have an $11 steel blade that can now cut thru ripe tomatoes with nothing more than the weight of the blade resting on top and a little back and forth." —balconioGet one on Amazon for $13.03, and learn more about using it here.
amazon.com

Promising review: "Gets my knives RIDICULOUSLY sharp. Works equally well on cheap stamped steel knives and forged stainless steel ones too...I have an $11 steel blade that can now cut thru ripe tomatoes with nothing more than the weight of the blade resting on top and a little back and forth." —balconio

Get one on Amazon for $13.03, and learn more about using it here.

7. Plus a pair of cut-resistant gloves, so you can use your newly sharp knives (and other somewhat ~dangerous~ prep tools, like mandoline slicers) with complete confidence.

amazon.com, amazon.com

Promising review: "My wonderful wife frequently uses a mandolin in the kitchen. When she gets into julienning, I'm just waiting with car keys in hand to take her to the ER. So, as a proactive measure, I purchased these. They are quite comfortable. They stretch with excellent elasticity. She loves them and I feel more comfortable that she is wearing something that can protect her. She has used these gloves dozens of times. Not a single issue and she has washed them with the kitchen towels. No problem. For about $10, it's a great safety tool for the kitchen." —Jon

Get them on Amazon for $10.99 (four sizes).

8. To slice and dice as quickly as possible *without* the risks of super sharp knives, a veggie chopper to tackle onions, celery, and even tomatoes in a matter of seconds.

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Promising review: "it’s amazing! We’ve been doing Crockpot recipes and it has saved us probably an hour of chopping and it’s actually fun to use. Just make sure you cut to the size of the blades, then press and boom you’re done. For clean up I just rinse thoroughly and leave to dry." —John R.

Other reviewers report using it for cucumbers, bell peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and more. Although you should still avoid touching the blades — they're sharp!

Get it on Amazon for $22.97.

9. Or a food processor, which was literally invented to chop, shred, and slice all kinds of foods with the ~power of electricity~.

Promising review: "I got this a month ago and I'm loving it so far. It shredded my cheddar cheese block (it worked great once I figured out the pressure to use). I've finely chopped onion, mixed meatloaf, shredded lettuce, sliced carrots, and I've put the bowl in the dishwasher numerous times. Everything has come out great ." —D.G.Get it on Amazon for $158.96 (14 cups). Or if you don't have the space (or the budget) for the full-size, get a mini version for $29.95 (21 ounces, which is 2.6 cups), also on Amazon.
Cuisinart

Promising review: "I got this a month ago and I'm loving it so far. It shredded my cheddar cheese block (it worked great once I figured out the pressure to use). I've finely chopped onion, mixed meatloaf, shredded lettuce, sliced carrots, and I've put the bowl in the dishwasher numerous times. Everything has come out great ." —D.G.

Get it on Amazon for $158.96 (14 cups). Or if you don't have the space (or the budget) for the full-size, get a mini version for $29.95 (21 ounces, which is 2.6 cups), also on Amazon.

10. A microwave steamer that can cook a full meal of fish and veggies in five minutes or less — or just a perfectly al dente side of pre-chopped broccoli — so you can spend your valuable time accomplishing everything else you want to get done.

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Promising review: "It has been perfect for putting together quick dinners with healthy steamed veggies. Could not be easier or simpler to use. Goes in the dishwasher, although top rack is probably best. Probably the best part: it allows you to use the cook top for making other parts of dinner rather than worrying on a pot getting up to a boil and timing and so forth. So you can get dinner done and also have the vegetables or even small potatoes ready via the microwave and reach the goal of having everything ready at the same time. RECOMMENDED." —APC Reviews

Get one on Amazon for $8.99-$11.99 (3 sizes).

11. A compact airfryer to turn veggies, frozen fries, chicken wings, and more into a fast-food-worthy meal in no time — and with less oil.

Promising review: "This air fryer is fantastic. It saves me from having to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen just to cook some frozen fries, etc. It cooks quickly and gets the food very crispy. It is very compact in size (about the same size as our coffee maker) and so it doesn't take up too much room on the counter. There are just two of us in our family, so the size is perfect. If you have a larger family, you would want to purchase a larger one." —Joy HardinGet it on Amazon for $39.99+ (five colors).
amazon.com

Promising review: "This air fryer is fantastic. It saves me from having to turn on the oven and heat up the kitchen just to cook some frozen fries, etc. It cooks quickly and gets the food very crispy. It is very compact in size (about the same size as our coffee maker) and so it doesn't take up too much room on the counter. There are just two of us in our family, so the size is perfect. If you have a larger family, you would want to purchase a larger one." —Joy Hardin

Get it on Amazon for $39.99+ (five colors).

12. A cookbook that's already done all the meal-prep planning for you, so you can enjoy incredible dinners with (somewhat) minimal work.

Promising review: "If you’re an aspiring foodie who enjoys cooking seasonally and aren’t daunted by the idea of spending a couple hours of your weekend cooking meals for the week ahead, you will love this book. I’d been in a food rut since the birth of my baby, and I wondered if I’d ever have the time to cook the kinds of adventurous meals I’d enjoyed making before. Amanda Hesser and co-author Merrill Stubbs showed me the way! By cooking 1-2 main dishes ahead of time and combining them with different components to create a variety of meals, you can make the most of your time and ingredients throughout the week. I appreciate that dessert is always a part of the menu, and that several options are given for simplifying your weekly meal plan if you find yourself short on prep time. Thank you for helping this foodie and new mom find joy and confidence in the kitchen again!" —Emily G.Get it on Amazon for $22.47 or from your local bookstore on Indiebound.
James Ransom / Food52

Promising review: "If you’re an aspiring foodie who enjoys cooking seasonally and aren’t daunted by the idea of spending a couple hours of your weekend cooking meals for the week ahead, you will love this book. I’d been in a food rut since the birth of my baby, and I wondered if I’d ever have the time to cook the kinds of adventurous meals I’d enjoyed making before. Amanda Hesser and co-author Merrill Stubbs showed me the way! By cooking 1-2 main dishes ahead of time and combining them with different components to create a variety of meals, you can make the most of your time and ingredients throughout the week. I appreciate that dessert is always a part of the menu, and that several options are given for simplifying your weekly meal plan if you find yourself short on prep time. Thank you for helping this foodie and new mom find joy and confidence in the kitchen again!" —Emily G.

Get it on Amazon for $22.47 or from your local bookstore on Indiebound.

13. A pair of scissors that make prepping fresh herbs incredibly fast, so you'll actually use all of the ones you buy.

Which means all of your dinners will have *that* much more flavor. BTW, these scissors helped an home cook cut herbs at the same speed as a cooking-school-trained Tasty chef! And you don't even have to worry about cleaning them after — they come with a cover that makes it easy. Promising review: "These scissors are the best tool ever! Instead of chopping up my fresh herbs and scraping them into whatever dish I'm making, I just hold the herbs over the dish and clip away. Fast, convenient, no mess, no fuss. In the morning, when I'm preparing a fresh salad to take to work, I just snip the fresh basil into the salad instead of having to drag out the knife and cutting board. If you flip the cover of the scissors around, the slotted side slides out the bits stuck in the scissors. Quick, easy and no waste. Love it!" —Amazon CustomerGet them on Amazon for $9.99.
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Which means all of your dinners will have *that* much more flavor. BTW, these scissors helped an home cook cut herbs at the same speed as a cooking-school-trained Tasty chef! And you don't even have to worry about cleaning them after — they come with a cover that makes it easy.

Promising review: "These scissors are the best tool ever! Instead of chopping up my fresh herbs and scraping them into whatever dish I'm making, I just hold the herbs over the dish and clip away. Fast, convenient, no mess, no fuss. In the morning, when I'm preparing a fresh salad to take to work, I just snip the fresh basil into the salad instead of having to drag out the knife and cutting board. If you flip the cover of the scissors around, the slotted side slides out the bits stuck in the scissors. Quick, easy and no waste. Love it!" —Amazon Customer

Get them on Amazon for $9.99.

14. A set of eight prep bowls with lids so you can actually start practicing ~mise en place~, or simply organize your regular prep.

Promising review: "I'm usually rushing to cut or chop up something or look for and measuring spices, etc. in the middle of cooking. So, these, for me at least, have been perfect. They hold about 4 oz. and they seal very well. I've pre-chopped onions, garlic, ginger and stored them in my refrigerator for recipes I want to make in the next day or two. The lids are tight and they never leave an odor in the refrigerator. I've used plastic storage containers but they are generally too large and the chopped veggies don't seem to last as long as they do in these little glass cups. Plus, I don't have much counter space and these take up very little. Since they are all the same size and stack well I don't have to work around them. Makes pre-assembly and organizing ingredients easy and makes cooking a lot less stressful." —W. OliverGet the set of eight (with lids!) on Amazon for $23.99.
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Promising review: "I'm usually rushing to cut or chop up something or look for and measuring spices, etc. in the middle of cooking. So, these, for me at least, have been perfect. They hold about 4 oz. and they seal very well. I've pre-chopped onions, garlic, ginger and stored them in my refrigerator for recipes I want to make in the next day or two. The lids are tight and they never leave an odor in the refrigerator. I've used plastic storage containers but they are generally too large and the chopped veggies don't seem to last as long as they do in these little glass cups. Plus, I don't have much counter space and these take up very little. Since they are all the same size and stack well I don't have to work around them. Makes pre-assembly and organizing ingredients easy and makes cooking a lot less stressful." —W. Oliver

Get the set of eight (with lids!) on Amazon for $23.99.

15. A subscription to Cajun Crate, a monthly delivery of full-sized products exclusively from Louisiana guaranteed to bolster the flavor of whatever it is you're cooking.

It comes with recipes and product guides, too, so you always know how to use each and every product. Promising review: I'm excited to try everything that came in my first box! Even the Cajun chicken and dumpling mix, which I usually don't care for. And the Slap Ya Mama Hot sauce is going straight to my hot sauce loving friend! Thank you! —KristenSubscribe on Cratejoy for $39+ per month.
Cajun Crate / Cratejoy

It comes with recipes and product guides, too, so you always know how to use each and every product.

Promising review: I'm excited to try everything that came in my first box! Even the Cajun chicken and dumpling mix, which I usually don't care for. And the Slap Ya Mama Hot sauce is going straight to my hot sauce loving friend! Thank you! —Kristen

Subscribe on Cratejoy for $39+ per month.

16. Or a subscription to a full-fledged meal delivery kit, like Sunbasket, which serves healthy, mostly organic meals.

Hannah Loewentheil / BuzzFeed

They offer all sorts of meal plans too: you can select vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten-free, pescatarian, diabetes-friendly, lean and clean, quick and easy, or just the default chef's choice. Hannah, a Tasty writer, sampled eight different meal delivery kits last year, and this was her favorite by far — here's her review.

Subscribe starting at $10.99 per serving.

17. A three-sectioned nonstick skillet so you can make a full meal for just yourself while only dirtying one pan.

Because when you're the only one cooking and eating, you're the clean-up crew, too. It also works fabulously for breakfast foods, and is oven and dishwasher safe. Promising review: "There’s no words to describe how awesome this thing is. Had it for maybe a year now. It’s long lasting and still highly effective. I love making hamburgers. Takes about five to ten minutes. Throw the meat on there and bacon, fried egg on the other side and grill up the buns. All comes together on one skillet. Superb." —Stephanie M. Get it on Amazon for $29.64.
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Because when you're the only one cooking and eating, you're the clean-up crew, too. It also works fabulously for breakfast foods, and is oven and dishwasher safe.

Promising review: "There’s no words to describe how awesome this thing is. Had it for maybe a year now. It’s long lasting and still highly effective. I love making hamburgers. Takes about five to ten minutes. Throw the meat on there and bacon, fried egg on the other side and grill up the buns. All comes together on one skillet. Superb." —Stephanie M.

Get it on Amazon for $29.64.

18. A sushi roll mat set that includes two mats plus two rice tools will make it easy to not-cook your favorite raw (or vegetarian!) rolls right at home.

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Promising review: "This little kit is so inexpensive but it worked perfectly! It was so simple and my rolls came out nice and even. The rice paddle and spreader worked great. The spreader really makes it easy to get the rice down in an even layer without the rice sticking to it. It comes with two mats, slightly different styles but both worked equally well. My family said the rolls looked so pretty and just like what we would get at our favorite restaurant. Clean up was easy too. You simply wipe them down with a soapy cloth, rinse with clean water, then set out to dry. I cleaned the paddles like I do any other wooden cooking utensils. I look forward to experimenting with different kinds of rolls with this thing!" —ja19

Get the set on Amazon for $5.49.

19. A full-size cookie sheet, so you can embrace the gospel of ~sheet pan dinners~: where you toss some meat and veggies together with oil and seasonings or sauce, and simply bake for a bit.

amazon.com, number-2-pencil.com

Add some rice or quinoa, and you've got yourself and easy dinner! For recipe inspo, check out Sheet Pan Dinners That Will Save You Serious Time, Delicious Sheet Pan Dinner Ideas, and Easy One-Tray Oven Dinners. And get the recipe for this Sheet Pan Chicken BBQ from No. 2 Pencil.

Get the cookie sheet on Amazon for $17.39 (21"x15"; of course, it's' an excellent choice for baking cookies, too).

20. The "Fasta Pasta", aka the product that makes cooking a batch of your favorite noodles MUCH easier and faster — you don't even have to wait for the water to boil.

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Promising review: " I didn't expect too much from the Fasta Pasta and my expectations were thoroughly exceeded. It is clear they designed in with clear thought about how it would be used. From the water lines, pasta portion holes, strainer or simple directions it's designed with the microwave cook in mind. Most of all, my results have been excellent and very tasty. That a 5 star performance in my cook-for-1 kitchen.

The Fasta Pasta is quick, precise (one or two serving size measuring holes in the top) and easy: just how I like things. Since I've adjusted timings for my microwave my results are consistently excellent and that's the bottom line for me. One thing I found out is there is very little water to pour off when done compared to using a pot on the stove. The water measurements are pretty precise and when done there is very little extra water used. Another plus!" —Stephanie Sullivan

Get it on Amazon for $16.99.

21. An indoor grill that lets you make flavorful chicken breasts, burgers, steaks, veggies, and more all without leaving your kitchen *or* heating up your oven.

If you're like me and live in an apartment or condo with zero space for an easy gas grill, but love grilling, this product's practically made for you. Promising review: "Seriously, I love this grill. Recently moved into city and can't use my grill so thought I'd give this a try. Man, it's amazing how well this works considering what it is and what it costs. I really can't see why anyone would have ANYTHING negative to say about it. No, it's not a Traeger Grill and clearly has its limits but the first two meals I cooked on it looked fantastic and tasted even better. Seriously, if you've been on the fence about this grill get off and just buy it. You won't be disappointed." —AdventureChuckGet it on Amazon for $64.99.
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If you're like me and live in an apartment or condo with zero space for an easy gas grill, but love grilling, this product's practically made for you.

Promising review: "Seriously, I love this grill. Recently moved into city and can't use my grill so thought I'd give this a try. Man, it's amazing how well this works considering what it is and what it costs. I really can't see why anyone would have ANYTHING negative to say about it. No, it's not a Traeger Grill and clearly has its limits but the first two meals I cooked on it looked fantastic and tasted even better. Seriously, if you've been on the fence about this grill get off and just buy it. You won't be disappointed." —AdventureChuck

Get it on Amazon for $64.99.

22. A rotating oven that transforms your favorite frozen foods into crispy fries, perfect chicken nuggets, and (of course) delivery-worthy pizzas.

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You can even put a few fries and six nuggets and a personal-size pizza on at the same time, and everything will still get perfectly cooked.

Promising review: "What we've cooked on it so far: jalapeño poppers, frozen fish filets, frozen pizzas, and egg rolls. It cooks about as fast as the food would inside a conventional oven. It browns well, tastes great, and it's easy to clean. It cooks everything well through the middle with no cold spots. It's very versatile, so don't just think of it as a pizza maker. We got ours because our conventional oven isn't working currently, and cooking everything on the toaster oven, stove-top, or in the microwave just wasn't cutting it. That's another thing: there's a lot more room ON this thing than there is inside of even the larger toaster ovens. The best fifty bucks I ever spent!" —Claire Rowe

Get it on Amazon for $41.98.

The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.

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