Without jam-packed rehearsal schedules, we're all cooking from home a little more these days. Which can be a great thing: Setting aside time to prep, cook and taste your meals increases your appreciation of food—which also helps to slow you down and regulate your portions. To enjoy the time you spend cooking, it helps to have the right tools.
Here are my five favorite kitchen gadgets.
1. Ice Cream Scoop
When sweets are forbidden, we subconsciously want them—we desire what we (think) we can't have. The result? Cravings! Rather than fearing your ice cream, enjoy it. Also, your ice cream scoop is your all-in-one guide to portions. Use a scoop as a measuring utensil when prepping packable snacks: It's a good benchmark for a serving of foods like nuts and dried fruit.
2. Mason Jars
Overnight oats are all the rage, and for good reason. Oats are packed with soluble fiber that promotes gut health and stabilizes blood sugar. This keeps you energized throughout hours of rehearsal. Prep the ingredients in a mason jar the night before, set in the fridge, and then grab on your way out the door. Mason jars are also a great way to store pantry staples like quinoa, rice and beans, or to separate your chopped veggies for easy cooking throughout the week.
It goes without saying that a smoothie is a great option for post-class recovery, but a blender's purpose doesn't have to end there. Use it to prep marinades and seasoning cubes. Simply mix extra-virgin olive oil with your favorite herbs, blend, pour into ice trays and freeze for later use. Pop a square onto your pan for weeknight cooking to season proteins and veggies.
4. Good Knives
Even if you're not planning to become the next Top Chef, a set of quality knives can be a make-or-break tool for smoother slicing, chopping and dicing of veggies, meat, poultry and fish. Cooking with dull knives not only increases your risk of injury, but you'll also spend unnecessary energy having to exert more pressure with each cut. You could even consider a knife skills class to improve your efficiency.
5. Instant Pot
For easy-to-clean one-pot wonders, simply prep your ingredients in the morning and fill your Instant Pot when you get home. Add uncooked beans and lentils for an economical punch of muscle-building protein. Steam veggies or seafood, or cook up some whole grains. These nutrient-dense ingredients will keep you full and energized.