November 21, 2023

My Favorite Things: Part 1 (kitchen)

Okay, this post was taking way too long to write, so I'm going to group some things together into separate  posts. (This is the first; you can find PART 2 here.)

I've been meaning to post this about two months ago, and I kept postponing, knowing it was going to take forever. However, I like to do a "favorite things" post once a year--I usually think of it when I'm going about my day and think, "I love this thing". When I really love something, I want to tell everyone about it!

This list is long and varies wildly--from kitchen items to clothes to pet care--so some of it may or may not be relevant here. Regardless, it's fun to make a list of my favorite things. Some of these items have been on my list for years; others are new.

Before I get into the list, I want to note a "life lesson" that I've learned semi-recently and have been trying to teach my kids: quality is the most important factor when buying something that really matters to us. I've always been thrifty and over the years, I've learned what "real" quality is and isn't. This is why I buy a lot of things secondhand. I can get very solid, high-quality secondhand furniture for cheaper than the poor quality brand new stuff!

Some of the items on my list are on the relatively pricey side. This is after years of letting cost be the deciding factor for items we needed. I would buy what was cheapest; and eventually, have to replace it. Only to replace it with something just as cheap. Over the last few years, though, I've finally understood that it's actually less expensive in the long run to buy a good quality item up front, saving the buy-and-replace routine.

If it's something I use a lot, I'll even pay extra for the bells and whistles, if that's what I really want (although, I'm almost always a "give me the basic model" person). I tell my kids to save up for the things they *really* want rather than settling on something (just because it's cheaper) that won't meet their expectations. The quality is worth it. I only mention this because a lot of the things on my list were bought after years of trying cheap alternatives. Okay, here goes...

[Most of the links to Amazon are affiliate links, which means that I may get a small commission if you purchase through the link. I'm not affiliated with any other brands/companies. All of these items were purchased with my own money.]

Food storage containers - If you read the story of the pantry moths, then you know why these are a staple in my house now. (If you haven't read it, you can find it here.) These ones have been awesome! I put literally every single thing that goes into my pantry into an airtight container; I'm not going to deal with that disaster again, haha. Just for your information: the tall containers in my sets did not fit in my mom's cupboards; they fit on my pantry's tall shelves. Just make sure you measure the space you'll be using them before you order! There are several different sets to choose from. I bought a few different sets after the pantry moth incident.

These are the ones that I have: Chef's Path Airtight Food Storage Containers

airtight food storage containers

Reusable bags - I am seriously obsessed with these reusable bags! My mom had some when we went to Eastern Market and I immediately went on Amazon when I got home. They fold up into a tiny pouch (about the size of a cell phone, only more on the square side). They are EASY to fold back into the little pouch--something I wasn't really expecting. I carry six(!) of these in my purse for grocery shopping, although I usually only use 4-5 on a large grocery trip. They are VERY large--it's so nice to be able to bring everything into the house in one trip from the car. Since I carry them in my purse, I don't ever forget them in the car when I go shopping, either.

I used to be a grocery bagger (my first job). I always hated bagging things like cereal boxes because 1) they took up the entire bag, and 2) the corners of the box would tear right through the plastic grocery bags. Then we were told to "double bag" those--that's so much waste!

I really like these bags because I'm able to load a bunch of boxes in there without risk of tearing. I can't even describe how much can fit inside, especially if you really tetris it in there. (Yes, I use "tetris" as a verb.)  They are very thin and light material, but much sturdier than you'd expect. I love these bags!

You can find them here on Amazon: BeeGreen Reusable Bags. (there are a ton of different combinations of designs and quantity in the pack you order)

BeeGreen reusable folding bags
I promise that they are just as easy to fold back up!

Food Processor - I have a Cuisinart 14-cup food processor. Ever since becoming vegan in January of 2022, I have used some sort of blending appliance almost daily! I wish I'd known how much I would use them and what I'd be using them for, because it would have helped when choosing what to purchase for our needs. I make seitan several times a week (which involves making a dough), and a good food processor is crucial (at least, it saves my hands from the horrible carpal tunnel I deal with).

I had no idea how expensive a good quality food processor was. However, because I use it at least 4-5 times a week, I think it was totally worth it. I have made other things with it, but 90% of the time, it's for making seitan dough.

making seitan
making seitan, of course ;)

Cheesecloth - I make seitan very frequently, which I wrap in cheesecloth before cooking. I didn't like always having to buy cheesecloth (the gauzy stuff), and it finally occurred to me one day to see if there is reusable cheesecloth (of course there is). This is the cheesecloth I bought: New England Stories Reusable Cheesecloth. It looks very stiff and thick when you first open it, but after washing, it's much looser.

before and after washing

Parchment paper - Every time I use parchment paper, I comment out loud (even if it's just to Duck) about how it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. I never grew up with parchment paper in our house and I always thought that wax paper was the same thing. My mind was BLOWN when I tried actual parchment paper for the first time a couple of years ago. It makes *everything* non-stick on baking sheets and then it's soooo easy to clean the dishes. This is one of the biggest game changers in my life--I'm not even kidding. I'm sure parchment paper is one and the same, but here is the one that I use: If You Care Parchment Baking Paper.

Blender - I have a Vitamix E310 Explorian blender, which I believe is the least expensive in the line of Vitamix blenders. I didn't want any bells or whistles with this--just high powered blending. So, with this model, the quality is there but it's the most basic model. (I think mine was $220 on a Black Friday deal; it's not listed for a deal on Amazon right now, so I don't know if it'll be included in any sales.) 

Anyway, I use my blender very frequently. I blend cashews for various vegan recipes and before the Vitamix, the process took a long time. I had to soak the cashews in hot water for a while, then cool them because my blender couldn't handle hot liquids, then blend them a few times over in order to get them perfectly smooth. The Vitamix allows me to skip straight to the blending part of the cashews.

Because I also blend a lot of spice mixes, I eventually got the "dry container" for Vitamix as well--it's used for dry items like grains for making flour. One day, Jerry wanted cream of rice (something I used to make frequently) and we didn't have any in the pantry. I realized I could probably make it with the Vitamix, so I threw some dry rice in there and about 30 seconds later, I had perfectly blended cream of rice. I've also made chickpea flour, almond flour, oat flour, and lots of spice mixes. I'm not sure exactly how the dry container works differently from the regular one, but it does.

Vitamix E310 Experian blender

Water bottles - I have always been a water bottle hoarder, but I've gotten a lot better about it over the last couple of years. Still, I have to mention these because they are my FAVORITE water bottles. I had some of these ages ago but I have no idea what happened to them. When I came across them on Amazon, I was thrilled! They are the size of a standard disposable water bottle, but the plastic is much harder and very good quality. I don't like cheap plastic with rough edges; these are nothing like that.

They are so easy to clean, too! Not only can you take the cap off to drink, but the whole top of the bottle comes off for easy washing. (I always hand wash mine, but I think they are dishwasher safe, other than the cap.)

I like to keep these filled in the fridge so I can grab them whenever I want. After I quit drinking (alcohol), I was drinking a lot of La Croix sparkling water. While La Croix is cheaper than alcohol, I was still spending way too much on something as simple as WATER. It was just convenient to grab one from the fridge whenever I was thirsty.

With these water bottles, I fill them with water and then add a packet of True Grapefruit (which I'll mention below). Then I put them in the fridge and each time I empty one, I refill it. That way, I always have one in the fridge. Here is a link to the water bottles: Copco Hydra Reusable Water Bottles.

Copco reusable water bottles

True Grapefruit/Lemon/Lime/Orange - I first learned of True Lemon (it was only the lemon flavor at the time) when I worked at Curves about 20 years ago. A nutritionist that we worked with at Curves was recommending them. The packets aren't sweetened--they contain literally just crystalized citrus juice, the equivalent of the juice from one wedge of fruit. I like all of the flavors, but the Lime and Grapefruit are my favorite. I actually buy a 500-pack because it's much cheaper that way (per packet). And I go through them quickly (4-5 packets a day). Here is a link to a 100-pack, in case you don't want to invest fully in the 500-pack, haha: True Lemon.

True Lemon Lime Grapefruit Orange

Measuring cups - I never paid a lot of attention to what I like/dislike about measuring cups, but I use them so frequently that I found I have my favorites. These measuring cups are made of one solid piece--the handle isn't separate--and the handles are on the shorter side, so they fit more easily into smaller containers. The measurements are engraved on them, so they can't rub off. And each of them has an "odd" measurement in the middle of the cup--like the 1/4 cup has a line for 1/6 as well.

Here is a link to the measuring cups on Amazon.

Tofu press - Tofu is one of my most favorite foods. I LOVE IT. It's not unusual to have tofu pressing and/or marinating in my fridge pretty much at all times. When I first made tofu, I pressed it by using a popular suggestion of placing paper towels and a plate and heavy cans or books or something on top, changing out the paper towels... not only did I not like how wasteful it was with the paper towels, I just found it to be inconvenient to have taking up the counter space. I quickly invested in this tofu press; and then I ended up buying another because I frequently make two blocks of tofu at a time.

This press (by Tofuture) makes it SO easy to prep tofu for marinating or cooking. I always press the liquid out of tofu even if only to replace it with a marinade--then it adds a lot of flavor. For this tofu press, you just set the tofu inside of the green inner piece (with the holes on the bottom). Then put that piece inside the white container and top with the lid. I pull the silicone straps down to the lowest notch in order to squeeze out as much water as possible. If I'm in a hurry, I'll even press down hard on the top in order to squeeze out the liquid right away.

Tofuture Tofu Press

If you're new to tofu, I highly suggest trying this recipe linked below. You don't have to buy any special ingredients (you can just skip the nutritional yeast--no big deal). And you don't even have to press the tofu! You just combine a few everyday ingredients in a bowl, crumble in a block of tofu, spread out on a baking sheet (lined with parchment!), and bake for 40 minutes or so. It will look kind of like ground beef. Then you can add a jar of your favorite marinara sauce (or use homemade) and serve over pasta. Super easy and if you've never tried tofu before, this is a great way to give it a try. Recipe is at It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken.

Baking mats - Ever since I discovered the amazing parchment paper, I don't use baking mats in the oven. However, I love to use them when I need a "clean work surface" to knead dough (again, I make a ton of seitan). I just lay it out on the counter and whenever I need to set some dough aside, I can just set it on the mat. I can flour and knead on the mat, too. Very convenient. They are probably one and the same, but here is the ones I have: Kitzini Silicone Baking Mats.

Spice jars - One of my very favorite parts of my kitchen is my spice shelf. Since becoming vegan, I've used SO many spices that I'd never used before. In the past, I had about 10 spices that were routine. Now, I regularly use ALL of what you see in my pantry. I really love this jar set that I have--it makes everything look so nice and neat! Here is the set on Amazon: Glass Spice Jars with labels.

spice jars

...And that's what I've got for the kitchen. I have so many favorite things! I'll post more tomorrow... (edit: You can find Part 2 here.)

Also: I always like hearing what others are loving and their favorite things, so please share yours! You can either post here or I started a Facebook post and you can share there (with a link). Here is the link for the post on Facebook: Favorite things


  1. What kind of bags are those? I don't see a link

    1. Gah! I knew I'd miss something. I just edited the post to include the link. Thanks for pointing that out! :)

  2. The link for the cheesecloth takes me to the spice jars? Sorry! Thanks.

    1. Thank you for letting me know! These posts are stressful because I *always* miss things like that, haha.

  3. I think you missed the link for the measuring cups too. Great list though!

    1. Thank you, Robyn! No matter how many times I check over the post, there is always *something* (or more likely, a few things) that I miss ;)

    2. No problem! To err is human and all that. Btw because I think you might also appreciate these, sharing the measuring spoon set that was the first thing that came to mind when I thought, "What products do I love?"

      I could write paragraphs about how well-designed these are, but, to be brief, they're magnetic so they're both easy to pull apart and put back together; they have both a round and a narrow side so they fit in all kinds of containers; a leveler is included! They make me so happy every time I use them :)

  4. We have two sets of those measuring cups and love them. I never noticed the other measurement in them! Thanks for mentioning it.

    1. Aren't they great? It sounds silly to *love* measuring cups, but I use them all the time and those ones are my favorite for sure.

  5. the link to the cheesecloth takes me to the spice jars. i am going to get some of those bags for sure! i'm always forgetting mine in the car.

    1. You're right--thank you for pointing it out! My brain gets totally fried while I write posts like these with a lot of links. Today's is going to be worse, I'm sure, hahaha. I updated the link, so let me know if you still have any problems.


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