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Do your plans to eat healthy home-cooked meals often go out of the window when the evening rolls around and you're faced with a choice between lengthy meal prep and a take out? It could be that your good intentions are being sabotaged by your kitchen set up.
Healthy eating doesn't have to be a chore, nor should it mean missing out on treats (especially when delicious air fried chips and grilled steaks can be part of a balanced diet). You just need the right kitchen kit to hand to make sprucing up your diet a doddle.
From air fryers and blenders, to oil sprayers and steamers, we've rounded up the top-rated kitchen kit that can help to boost nutrients and reduce your intake of salt and unsaturated fat (while also often saving you time and money in the long run). The best part? All of these gadgets cost less than £50.
Ambiano Air Fryer | £39.99 at Aldi
If you love the taste and crispy texture of deep fried foods, but would love a healthier alternative, air fryers are a good option. You can use them to cook pretty much anything you would prepare in an oven or deep fryer, so this gadget is sure to get a lot of use.
Air fryers work by blasting hot air around the food to cook it, (in a similar manner to a fan oven), meaning you can use little or even no oil or fat and still create crisp and tasty results. Many air fryers will set you back around £100 to £150, but this model from Aldi is great value for money at just under £40.
With a digital control panel with eight preset programmes it couldn't be easier to use and the frying basket is dishwasher compatible so cleaning up will be quick too.
Morphy Richards 501021 Compact Soupmaker | £49.99 at John Lewis & Partners
Hearty soups are a great healthy lunch option, especially if you make your own, as you'll be able to keep the salt and sugar content at a minimum.
The only problem? Traditional soup recipes usually involve lengthy (and messy) prep from chopping to simmering and blitzing. But there is another way — soup makers blend and cook in one go, reducing time spent on both prep and washing up.
This model is smaller than standard soup makers, which makes it better suited to those who want to make smaller portions or who don't have the space for a full-sized model. It can make between 0.8 litres and 1 litre of soup in one go - enough for about three starter-sized bowls or two larger portions.
It is very easy to use with two pre-set programs for either smooth or chunky soup, one for blended drinks, such as smoothies or milkshakes, and a manual blending button. There is a countdown timer, so you can see at a glance how long is left until your soup is ready.
A John Lewis customer who bought one in December 2021 described it as "a godsend to a busy lifestyle."
Misto Oil Sprayer | £9.99 at Lakeland
If you find your glug of oil to coat your pan tends to come out as an oil slick rather than a light drizzle, then a mister could make your meals healthier and more economical.
Simply fill this aluminium-bodied mister with your oil of choice and pump the cap to pressurise it ready for spraying.
One Lakeland shopper commented in the reviews that they have used this gadget "almost every day" since buying it, adding that "it's great for frugality as it makes the very best use of a small amount of oil and this has to be good for health reasons too".
Stainless Steel Slow Cooker 6.5L | £29.99 at Aldi
Slow cookers work by cooking food over a low heat, which is thought to help ingredients retain more nutrients than if cooked at high temperatures on the stovetop or in the oven.
This budget option from Aldi is large enough for a family dinner or for batch cooking as it has room for up to eight portions.With the three heat settings, you can simply switch on the cooker in the morning and return to it in the evening for a scrumptious, piping hot meal — reducing the time for urges to snack while waiting for your dinner.
Nutribullet 600 Series Starter Kit | £39.99 (Was £59.99) at Robert Dyas
Nutribullets' enduring popularity comes down to their simplicity. There are no programmes to select, just lock the cup onto the base and it will get to work blending your ingredients.
This is a blender, not a juicer, so rather than leaving fibre-rich pulp behind, it will blitz up all of the fruits and vegetables, including the skin, seeds and stems. Plus it can handle other ingredients such as nuts and ice.
Lékué Quick Quinoa and Rice Cooker | £17.99 at Lakeland
"Rice and grains are an excellent choice of starchy food," according to the NHS. "They give us energy, are low in fat, and good value for money." But if you struggle to cook rice without it going mulchy, this microwavable cooker could make you more likely to include grains in your diet (and enjoy them).
As well as both white and brown rice, this pot can also be used to cook up to four servings of quinoa, couscous, millet, bulgur wheat, barley, oats and other grains and cereals.
There’s no need to boil the water first, just add the specified amount of cold water to your grains, then place in the microwave. The pot's silicone lid is specially designed to prevent things bubbling over.
One shopper notes in the reviews that "it cooks wholegrain rice perfectly, in less time than in a pan of water on the stove", while another adds that it is also works well for steaming vegetables.
Lakeland Digital 3-Tier Electric Steamer | £49.99 at Lakeland
Steaming meat, fish and vegetables helps your ingredients retain more nutrients than boiling or frying. With this tower you can steam three different parts of your meal at the same time, just set the timer and the digital display will makes it easy to see when things will be ready.
Plus a 1.5 litre rice bowl is also included for cooking grains. With dedicated programmes for cooking meat and poultry, fish, vegetables, rice, and eggs, all the guesswork is removed.
Ken Hom 2-Tier Bamboo Steamer Baskets, 20cm | £17.99 at John Lewis & Partners
These bamboo baskets are a great alternative to an electric steamer if you don't want another gadget cluttering up your countertop. Suitable for use with any size wok, this set comes with a recipe leaflet to help get you started.
With John Lewis customers giving the product an average of 4.4 out of five stars, one commented in the reviews: The taste and quality are amazing and the product certainly has earned its place in my kitchen 'must-haves'. Very pleased... only wish I had bought it sooner".
Joie Kitchen Gadgets 35033 Storage pod, Silicone | £4.99 at Amazon
If you often end up with leftover fruit and vegetables turning brown and leaving a nasty smell in your fridge, these nifty gadgets will help you keep your ingredients fresh for longer, reducing food waste and saving you money, as well as making it easier to up the veggie content of your meals. Available in shapes for avocados, onions and lemons.
George Foreman Entertaining Grill | £49.99 at Currys
Grilling food is a healthier alternative to frying, as excess fat can drain off your meat. This electric grill is large enough to feed a crowd with space to cook seven portions in one go. The adjustable grill can be angled to help drain fats when cooking meats, or positioned flat when doing a toasty to keep all your filling inside. As no oil is required when cooking with this grill, there will also be no stubborn grease to clean afterwards.
Tower T11003 2lb Digital Bread Maker | £48.95 at Amazon
The smell and taste of freshly cooked bread far surpasses packaged loaves. Plus, baking your own is a healthier option as you can keep an eye on exactly how much salt, sugar and saturated fat is in the recipe, avoid emulsifiers and additives used to extend shelf life and give your loaf a nutrient boost with a sprinkling of seeds,
Few of us, however, actually have time to regularly bake from scratch, which is where a bread maker can come in handy. This model features an ultra-fast function so you can bake fresh bread in 60 minutes. Plus, there are options to choose whether your loaf will have a light or dark crust, and you can keep an eye on your loaf using the large viewing window, so there’s no need to disturb the baking process.
OXO Good Grips Easy Pour Veg Chopper | £20.23 at Amazon
Whether making Soffritto or a curry base, increasing the veggie content of your meals can become much quicker and less labour intensive with this chopper, which allows you to effortlessly cut up fruit and veg into small evenly sized pieces. It has a non-slip base for extra stability when chopping, and easily comes apart for cleaning in the dishwasher.