Essential Kitchen Tools Make Meal Preparation Easy

I am always looking for ways to spend less time in the kitchen by using essential kitchen tools to help with meal preparation. When I attended the International Home & Housewares Show in Chicago earlier this year, looking for ways to cut down time in the kitchen was high on my list of things to look at. We had so much checking out all the new kitchen gadgets, and being able to play with them! I especially love finding items that help shorten up time spent in the kitchen preparing meals. One of the many brands I met was Progressive International Corporation. They have many great products that I want to share with you to help make your life a bit easier in the kitchen!

essential kitchen tools

Essential Kitchen Tools

The first two essential kitchen tools I want to share with you are the Chop-Turner and the Herb & Veggie Chopper. A little background first before I go into details on these items. When cooking ground beef I have always had a hard time breaking up the meat so it is not all clumped up. Then I met my husband and saw him cooking a pound of ground beef using a whisk! The whisk works all right, but the meat does get clumped up in it and it seems to take some muscle to get it to break up like I want it too.

Chop Turn Kitchen Gadget

This is where the Chop-Turner comes in. It breaks up ground meat like you would not believe! It is so simple in its design and use, but very effective. I used the Chop-Turner in the recipe below for breaking up Raw Breakfast Sausage and it did such a great job at not leaving any large chunks.

essential kitchen tools

For the smaller jobs, such as chopping onion and red bell pepper for this recipe, I was able to use the new Herb and Veggie Chopper. The kids are not huge onion and red bell pepper fans so I just put a little in there for taste. This was the perfect size for what I needed to chop and chopped so easily! Normally, if I were chopping larger amounts, I would use my food processor. This Herb and Veggie Chopper is also great for making homemade salsa and pesto and for chopping herbs.

I do not normally make anything like chili during the summer months since it seems to be more of a fall/winter meal. However, this year our summer weather has been very odd. All of June felt a whole lot like fall. Then there were a few weeks in July that it felt like summer, only to go back to feeling like fall again.

Skillet Chili Mac
Recipe Type: Entree
Author: Jodi
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
  • 1/2 T Cooking Oil
  • 1 C Chopped Onion
  • 1/2 C Chopped Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 – 2 Jalapeños, Chopped ([i]Optional[/i])
  • 1 lb Raw Breakfast Sausage
  • 1T Minced Garlic
  • 2 T Chili Powder
  • 1/2 t Cumin
  • 1/4 t Dried Oregano
  • Kosher Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 (7 oz) can green chilies
  • 2 C Water
  • 1 (15.5 oz) can Pinto or Red Kidney Beans, drained and washed
  • 1 – 11/2 C Dry Pasta (Elbow Macaroni or Shells)
  • 2 C Shredded Cheese (Divided in half)
  • Optional Garnishes: Sour Cream, fresh diced tomatoes, sliced green onions
  1. Heat oil in a large lidded skillet over medium high heat; add onion and peppers and cook for about 4 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Then add ground beef, sausage, and garlic, breaking up the meat until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Whip remaining grease out of pan with a paper towel.
  2. Put meat mixture back in pan and stir in chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and green chilies. Add water, beans and half of the cheese. Bring to a boil, stir, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes or until pasta is cooked through.
  4. Uncover, stir and let simmer uncovered until reduced to desired consistency. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top, cover and cook over low until cheese melts.
  5. Garnish with desired ingredients and serve.
My kids are not very fond of onions. I used only about 1/2 C and chopped them very finely. Also, my kids do not like a lot of “heat” so I did make this recipe a little more kid-friendly only adding 1/2 T of Chili Powder instead of the full 2 1/2 T. Lastly, we did not have any tomato sauce on hand so I used an 8 oz can of pizza sauce instead. It did not seem to have any negative effect on the taste at all!

There are a couple more essential kitchen tools by Progressive International that I will be sharing with you in the coming weeks. For locations to see where you can purchase great kitchen tools see their Where to Buy page. You can also find them on Facebook.


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About the Author

I am a work from home mom who dearly loves her 15-year-old daughter, 11-year-old boy/girl twins, and husband. I love my life and feel very blessed by what God has provided for me.


  1. Very cool! That looks like something we’d like!
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  2. Grace Hodgin says

    My friend has one of those chop turners and now gives them as gifts at wedding showers and stocking stuffers for Christmas. They are great. I think I’d like the Veggie chopper for small chops instead of bringing out the food processor and then cleaning it up afterwards. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. My husband would love this! He is the one in charge of the kitchen 🙂
    Jadey Sam recently posted..Diva Fabulosa Pasko sa Agosto GiveawayMy Profile

  4. I really like this chopper! it looks so sleek, but I love how it can chop up my herbs or onions without me having to really touch them or hurt my hand hitting the hand chopper down.
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  5. I am a sucker for kitchen tools! Love this.
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  6. Jenna Wood says

    I had a chance to try both of these tools with an Old El Paso Recipe; I loved how the chop turner simplified cooking ground meat, and the Progressive Choper was very easy to clean!

  7. I would like to get that Chop-Turner, I run into similar issues as you with breaking up ground beef. I don’t like large chunks of meat unless it’s chicken for a salad or something. I think something like the Chop-Turner could really help me out!
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  8. Jodi, I have that exact same issue breaking up the meat. This tool looks like just what I would need to help me out. I never knew such a thing existed.

  9. i have been wanting a good chopper for making my meal preparations easier .I need to look into getting this one!

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