Primary Care in Rochester and Kasson

How to make your kitchen equipment work for you

12/20/2021 by Kelly Sommer, RDN


Imagine coming home from a long day at work to be welcomed by a meal that is already prepared or requires less than 30 minutes of hands-free time. Many would consider that a dream come true. 

While few people have the luxury of a private chef, it's likely that you own a well-loved slow cooker. Or maybe you've recently acquired one of the newer must-have pieces of equipment, a pressure cooker. These appliances seem to promise the world. However, they can become forgotten pieces of equipment when it comes to making nutritious meals. 

Let slow cookers and pressure cookers do the work of preparing meals for you. They allow you to set it and forget it or reduce the amount of time needed to prepare food. 

Preparing meals ahead of time can help you plan nutritious meals throughout the week. You also can try batch cooking where you make several portions at once and consume these portions within three to five days. 

Batch cooking is ideal for: 

  • Grains, such as brown rice or steel-cut oatmeal. 
  • Proteins, such as beans, poultry, beef, fish and lentils. 
  • Vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, beets, green beans, corn, potatoes and squash. 
  • Whole meals with multiple food groups, including soups and stews. 

Consider these tips and tricks:

  • For slow cookers, use a liner to make clean up a breeze. 
  • Use the ingredients you have on hand, including frozen and canned ingredients. 
  • Start simple with a few ingredients and work up to recipes with more ingredients. 
  • Prepare plain ingredients to allow flavors to be unique for each meal by adding various spices, herbs and citrus juices. 
  • Include different food groups — grains, vegetables, proteins, dairy and fruits — such as oatmeal made with milk and served with diced apples and walnuts. 

Starting to use slow cookers or pressure cookers may take some adjustment, but once you get into the groove, they can help support a healthy lifestyle. If you're struggling with ideas, check out Mayo Clinic's slow cooking recipes for inspiration or visit other websites. 

Kelly Sommer, RDN, is a dietetic intern at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She grew up in Southeast Minnesota and studied at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Her areas of interest are nutrition through the life span and sustainability.