In order to increase the amount of food you prepare from scratch and therefore decreasing the amount of packaging and unnecessary additives you have to make it easier for yourself. If you look at cooking as something time consuming and a chore you are more likely to grab a take away or processed food.
Sometimes buying more expensive kitchen equipment will save you a lot of time and money and a lot less stress.
Wood is durable and stands up well to everyday use. It also doesn't blunt your knife as much as glass or plastic. Several studies have shown that the wood is able to halt and kill bacteria on its surface. Wood binds up the water the bacteria need and also has antimicrobial properties.
The best wood to use is Oak. Be careful with cross contamination. Use a separate board for animal products if you eat them.
Care - Wipe off food and wash quickly with soapy water, don't ever leave the board in water or put it in the dishwasher. If the boards smells of food rub over with a lemon or, as I do, rub a salt paste into the surface. Oil the board after a deep clean. You should use a mineral oil or specially designed oil for chopping boards. I don't, I use a light covering of olive oil. Apparently this isn't recommended but I have never had problems with the oil going rancid.
Filter for water
When making sourdough, kefir or kombucha it is essential to use filtered water. We use a lot of filtered water for cooking and we drink a lot of 'fizzy' water. We changed our water filter jug to a glass jug which used refillable cartridges but even with the biggest jug it didn't really provide enough water. Our kitchen tap needed replacing and for not much more than a good quality tap we bought a three way tap with an integrated water filter.
Is it sustainable? We don't buy any water in plastic bottles, the company offer free replacement parts, there is less limescale which will mean the kitchen appliances may have a longer life. Is the company we used protecting the environment, I can't decide, but they do show their reports clearly on their website and have a sustainability manager.
Hot water dispenser
Very useful for quick, small amount of hot water. Economical as you only heat the water you need. It doesn't boil the water so not great for loose tea. If you do change from a kettle be careful when you drink tea or coffee outside the home you might scald your mouth...
I now also use my camp kettle on the hob. Great for making tea with loose tea. In the evening I boil the whole kettle about 1.8 litres and then once cooled pour into a small demijohn and leave overnight to dechlorinate. I then use this water for soaking nuts, beans, lentils and for adding to kefir and sourdough fermentations.
Kettle for the hob
I use my camp kettle on the hob. Great for making tea with loose tea. In the evening I boil the whole kettle about 1.8 litres and then once cooled pour into a small demijohn and leave overnight to dechlorinate. I then use this water for soaking nuts, beans, lentils and for adding to kefir and sourdough fermentations.
Another way to use the kettle is to boil the kettle in the morning and put the water you don't use into a flask and make your hot drinks etc from that.
This really is a good investment especially if you make plant milks, plant cheese or smoothies. It is extremely noisy and quite scary at first as this article, from Lee Anne Savage - The Blender Lady, points out Sounds the Vitamix Makes and What They Mean
I have the Vitamix A2300i Ascent Series it can link to the Vitamix Perfect Blend app which allows a large amount of additional programs including cleaning all controlled from a smartphone. The programs control the speed of the blender and takes it through various levels - you only need to press start on the machine.
One thing to watch is that the Vitamix container writing on the lid needs to be lined up with the spout for the blender to recognise it.
I bought this for making soya milk. As well as making plant and soups. It comes with a grain/coffee mill jar which is really great for grinding linseed/flaxseed and milk thistle seed. The soyabella is great for making soya milk as you can set it up and leave it to do its thing. Including frightening the life out of you when it suddenly grinds.
Make sure that the grinding jar is securely fixed and that the tabs are not worn. Mine came off and the blades gauged it, luckily I was able to get a replacement.
The Soyabella is expensive but I do use it at least once a week and the time saved in making soya milk for tofu is well worth it.
Electric Pressure Cooker/Multi cooker
I grew up with the sound of a pressure cooker, my mum cooked cheaper cuts of meat in it and also used it for preserving. It made such loud hisses and depressurizing sounds and occasionally nearly exploded. Modern electric pressure cookers can save a lot of time, energy and money.
Multi cookers can replace many different kitchen gadgets. They can perform the tasks of a steamer, rice cooker, slow cooker, egg boiler, yoghurt maker, and pasta cooker. They can be used on a delayed start and have keep warm functions. I have an Instant Pot. I went with this make as there are so many recipes specifically for the Instant Pot. It also has a lot more safety features.
I use it mostly for steaming vegetables, cooking rice and for cooking dried (soaked) beans, peas and lentils.
I actually have two which is great for making a curry in one and then using the other to cook the rice.
Fridges and Freezers
Try to buy the most energy efficient rating you can afford. Work out the size you need. Chest freezers are more energy efficient as the cold air doesn't fall out when you open the door. However they are not as easy to find things in and you might not have room in your kitchen for one.
Washing Machines and Tumble Dryers
Try to buy the most energy efficient rating you can afford. Avoid tumble dryers if you can.
Look out for washing machines with microplastic filters they are being developed.
Wash at 30 degrees, most laundry liquid/powder is now suitable for this. Wash a full load.
Dishwasher and Washing Up
Same advice again. Try to buy the most energy efficient rating you can afford.
Wash a full load. The eco setting uses lower temperatures and less water but has a longer cycle, ideal for us during the day when the solar panels are generating power.
Watch out for people (my three boys) who wash up with a brush and some liquid and the tap running! I did not teach them that!