5 Real Food Dinner Tools You Can’t Live Without

When I used to “try to cook” before I really started focusing on our meals, it was frustrating – even difficult to impossible in some ways. I was frustrated trying to chop, I was frustrated at not having the correct ingredients, or not having the right mixer… the list went on and on. But what I learned quickly is that having the RIGHT tools makes it faster, easier, and tastier! (And of course a plan solves the lack of ingredients).

After years of real food cooking, I have decided on the top five items I really couldn’t live without to continue cooking. Honestly, it was hard to narrow it down to only five of my favorites – but let’s just jump right in! (Oh and don’t forget to grab your MUST HAVE Real Food Tools Checklist for the complete list below!)

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Slow Cooker

This is the number one item that a busy family needs to have at their disposal. I use this for many dinners, but I have also learned to use this for breakfast, and other items that I need to batch cook for the week.

I use my slow cooker to batch cook proteins for the week when I am home and am either using my other cookers, or just want an easy way to get something done I don’t have to think about.

I also do many meals in our slow cooker. My favorite is our whole chicken! You can get broth out of it, as well as the chicken meat! It’s amazing.

How I do my slow cooker chicken
For my slow cooker chicken, I toss in a whole chicken, about 1 c of water, some olive oil, 1-2 carrots and celery sticks, and some salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, minced garlic, a splash of thyme, oregano, and some basil. I cook it over eight hours. Then I just simply strain out the “stuff” and save the broth while we enjoy the chicken! YUM!

Looking for some tips on using your slow cooker for breakfast? Check out this article.

There are many sizes of slow cookers, and I actually have two. I have a smaller one that I use for sides or just overflow if I am using it for a family event, and then a larger one that I do most meals in. There are also timers and settings to each brand and type, and you can choose what fits your needs. I love our timer slow cooker, I set it and it turns itself to keep warm when the time is up!

Food Processor

This was a close second to my slow cooker. Man we use this thing almost daily for something! I will give you some links below to ways to use this – but just so you know – it is different than a blender and they do work quite differently. Nice processors have all types of different cutting tools making a ton of easy quick options for real food cooking.

I personally own a version similar to the image below. We use all the attachments to make things from zucchini noodles, to our energy bites, to our apple butter, a chickpea salad mix (vs. tuna), and so much more! We even make our own almond butter (which costs $15/jar at the store), as well as peanut butter!

What is the difference between this and a blender?
Actually quite a lot. This has so many neat attachments that do the zucchini (or other veggie) quick slice into strips/noodle shapes, it also has the blade that breaks down foods fast – like a pesto or for a sauce. Chuck in the chunks and bam done in seconds.

Your blender typically comes with a single blade (a standard blender) that does a similar thing, but you can’t get quite the same consistency. But if all you have is a blender, go for it and try to make up some things!


This was one of THE FIRST items I upgraded when we started cooking at home. I realized RIGHT AWAY that there had to a better way to chop things up than with the dull crappy knives we had at home. I personally love the Pampered Chef knives. I use all different types of their knives, and they offer a honing tool which helps them stay sharper longer before replacing. These are affordable knives for real people cooking at home. There are LOADS of other awesome professional knives out there, but if you are looking for something you can afford, and that works great. Check them out. Plus, you can support a local small business person by choosing a representative you know!

My other love, that isn’t technically a knife, but slices is my mandolin! I didn’t have one of these until more recently but that thing saves me so much time. It slices just the right thickness and can go so fast – it is such a time saver, and really slices the food the way I want so we consume less because it looks like more!


You really need both a cheese and fruit grater. If you have an older style stand up type you can do both on it – but I use that mainly for cheese and then use a special specific rind grater (handheld) for the fruits.

One thing you will notice as you start reading your labels when shopping for real food is that any pre-sliced or pre-grated cheese generally has a lot of preservatives and additions to it. Not all cook things. They are there to keep the shelf life and create a certain (unnatural) consistency to the product for your texture liking. However, if you look for the blocks of cheese they are generally not filled with additives or chemicals, you just have to shred and grate them yourself.

The great news about this grating situation is that you are going to burn more calories cooking. 😉

Storage Containers

Now this may seem odd to you, but the MOST important thing you need to contain all of these awesome real foods you cook, and then store or prep and store are glass containers.

I absolutely love Pyrex. I have bought off name brand glass containers, and they work, BUT the lids often crack, and they break far far sooner than the Pyrex brand. I have no affiliation with Pyrex at all, but I can say from using the brand it is far superior in how long it lasts (in fact the whole set is still in tact and has no flaws after years of use). The off brand I bought at about the same time frame has reduced by half or more in terms of the glass part breaking, and nearly every lid has a crack.

Why use glass?
We try to reduce the plastic use, and plastic breaks down and glass does not. We do use some resealable plastic bags from time to time, and have a reuseable fabric bag for our lunches. Check out our other lunch favs in this article.

If you want to know all of the kitchen tools I recommend – be sure to grab this Kitchen Tools Checklist below!

Grab Your Kitchen Tools Checklist! Make real food cooking easier, and less time consuming with these tools!

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Let me know if this sounds familiar…

I felt terrible. I just didn’t know where I would get the energy to cook and make changes I knew we ALL needed to feel better and live a healthier life.

You Are Busy

Let’s face it – it’s a fast paced world out there and we all struggle to keep up.

You Have Struggled in the Past

You have struggled to make changes in the past and probably even tried different approaches, but you can’t seem to keep up and nothing seems to stick.

You Don’t Know Where to Start

You just don’t even know where to start with better meals and healthier eating at home. Let’s face it – who even knows how to really cook today?

You Know It Has To Be Easier

You know there has to be an easier and healthier way to eat, but you don’t know where to begin.

Learn more about this program.

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