I’ve gotten tons of questions about the kitchen tools, blog and web tools, and also the ingredients that I use (and where I find them), so putting this page together made a lot of sense.
Here are our absolute favorite products and services right now!
*I am definitely in a few affiliate programs, so some of these products do benefit me if you click on them, but these are only products and services that I use and love (unless otherwise specified), so they are on this page simply because I really do endorse them and want to make it super easy for you to find what I’m talking about with a single click!
I definitely use WordPress for my site! I started on WordPress.com, which is free, and then moved my site over when I started self-hosting. I am still using the free software, and so far, it’s been awesome! Because technology is not my forte, it took a little while to understand that in order to use those cool plug ins you read about, you need a self-hosted site, so once I understood that very basic fact, I signed up with SiteGround, where my WordPress site is hosted.
I use Siteground for web hosting, and have had zero problems so far! I’m a total tech rookie, so when I’ve gotten completely stuck and created a ticket requesting help, they have gotten back to me in a very short time. That alone earns my recommendation! There is a fee to use any web hosting site, but SiteGround starts at just $3.95 per month. Moving my site meant that I could use all of the cool plug ins, so it is absolutely worth it in my book. With all of the trouble that people have been having lately with certain other web hosting services, the reliability and consistency of SiteGround is so amazing to have behind my site. I care about this place and it’s such a relief to know it’s well taken care of.
Minimalist Baker’s Food Photography School Looking for some serious help with your food photography? Everybody swears by this site. Everybody. Check it out!
Though I’m using (and loving!!) Site ground now, I used to use HostGator through a bunch of stuff that my father was doing. I struck out on my own, but he is an absolutely loyal HostGator user, and since his life has been internet based since before the internet was really a thing, I’m definitely including that information for you.
If you want one convenient place to schedule your social media posts, Hootsuite is awesome! With the free version, you can only choose three social media accounts to schedule posts to, but that’s a great way to get started! After a while, you’ll realize how necessary the full service is and you’re pretty much guaranteed to upgrade. It’s an awesome service and so easy to use!
If you want to try it out, they offer the pro version for free for the first 30 days, which is a phenomenal deal. That allows you to schedule and automatically publish hundreds of messages, manage and post to multiple social profiles, and they have seriously awesome analytics which allow you to measure your reach and track your success right there in your account! Plus, if you’re interested, you can also addd up to nine team members into your pro account!
They also offer Hootsuite University, which is an amazing way to learn all there is to know about social media!
I’m also a big fan of Buffer for scheduling on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. There is a free version, but you are limited to 10 posts that you can schedule in advance. If you want more, they have really well priced plans that allow you to schedule lots of posts. They do the research about what time is the best to post on your sites and also how often your posts should go out. After a bunch of initial loading, you are totally set up for success!
TweetDeck is fantastic for keeping an eye on Twitter and scheduling tweets, if you want a separate place to manage your Twitter account. I do! TweetDeck has features for viewing Twitter activity that are easy-to-use and really helpful to have!
Analogy is an amazing site for planning, tracking, and scheduling pins on Pinterest. It’s also really pretty! The tricky part is that you need to apply to work with them, and they will review your application and then decide whether or not they want to work with you. If they choose to work with you, however, it’s free!
Is the overall best pin scheduler I’ve found so far! It’s not free, unfortunately, but they do offer a free introductory period where you can try it risk free. It simplifies the pinning process hugely! You are able to select huge swaths of pins in maybe two clicks and then schedule them out in the most effective way. It’s a lifesaver and it’s definitely worth the investment!
If you’re making anything that would benefit from great pictures, sites like Canva and PicMonkey are awesome for that. Even if you don’t have someone creating images for you, these sites have templates and book cover ideas that you can use for free plus some really nice paid options! If it’s an eBook cover you need to design (a very important part of the process), there are tons of options. I just started poking around Canva and it looks awesome, but I’ve been using PicMonkey for everything! All of my long pins for Pinterest were created on PicMonkey, the collages, plus cover images for sites like FaceBook are all super easy to do (even for free!) on PicMonkey.
There are always options when it comes to shopping, but Amazon is easy and accessible, so I wind up getting a ton of things there. Because they have so many options, I often default to getting a bunch of products through Amazon just so that I can qualify for free shipping. A ton of the ingredients that I purchase are under $5 or $10, so having one company ship them makes a lot more sense than paying for shipping on lots of different tiny orders. Ingredients, tools, office stuff, personal chef/catering necessities, and so on all in one place!
They have amazing deals and discounts too, so it’s worth watching prices and looking for awesome deals on the things you know you want. Huge shout-out to Prime, which allows me to get pretty much everything I could ever want in two days or less! Not a Prime Member? Join now! It’s not just the free two-day shipping, it’s the massive collection of free movies and music that you have complete access to! I barely look for music anywhere else now, I just check my Prime Music App!
Looking for the best give ever? You can always give the gift of Prime!
This site was absolutely, hands down the best introduction to blogging i could have found. They have podcasts, videos, thousands of forum chats, and a blog all on the topic of starting a blog. They cover creating your blog, using plug ins, social media, food photography, creating an ebook, and just about everything else you might have questions about while you’re getting started. It totally costs money; there is a monthly fee, but it’s really worth it for any new blogger.
They also offer an awesome free ebook for anyone who’s just getting started!
Udemy is just plain awesome. It’s an online academy where you can sign up to take (and teach!) courses in just about everything from cooking to photography to coding, to just about any subject that you can think of. Loads of seriously affordable classes, but of course there are also tons of classes that can cost whatever the instructors choose to charge. It’s also an incredible platform for anyone who has a skill that they want to teach! Great at Java? Do you take incredible pictures? Are you an awesome chef? You can apply to be an instructor and earn some serious money! This site is seriously worth checking out, especially since 90% of the courses people choose to take on Udemy are priced under $50!
Looking for affiliate networks to join? Check out shareasale.com!
I ‘m trying to be really super transparent about the fact that I am involved with affiliate programs, and the easiest way that I’ve found so far to become a part of campaigns (especially as someone who’s not one of those massive power bloggers) is by joining ShareASale. You only join the campaigns that you choose to join, so there’s no way that you could accidentally share products or services that you don’t believe in. Plus, since they’re huge, applying for a specific program with a company that already works with ShareASale (there are a ton of them) becomes super easy. Basically, you just log in right with that company, choose whether or not to include a short note about how you plan to advertise their product or service, and then click “OK.” So easy!
(Ones I own now and love and ones I have loved in restaurants and will own in the future)
the gold standard when it comes to blenders. I haven’t actually owned one yet, but every decent restaurant has one and there just isn’t another blender that can compare. Plus, they can withstand an incredible amount of abuse!
Of course, most people can’t justify spending that much on a blender, even if it is the best blender in the world. There are a number of great less expensive options that will still do the job!
perfect for soups where you want a little texture and is unbeatable for sauces, foams, and makes salad dressings and fresh aioli a breeze!
This gets used all. the. time. Perfect for grinding spices for recipes, easy when you need to toast and grind spices perfectly, awesome for large batches of freshly ground black pepper, and super handy when you want to turn some freeze-dried blueberries into blueberry dust!
I almost couldn’t decide whether to put this here in the tools section, or down at the bottom where I have links to stuff that’s just plain fun. Because I’m a big fan of shrubs, this soda stream winds up being a seriously useful tool for homemade sodas and cocktails, so it’s here with the tools. I use my Soda Stream every single day and managed to get my family hooked on it as well. You have constant access to fresh sparkling water made from nothing more than tap water or filtered water, so you can be totally sure about the quality, lack of sugar, and total lack of weirdness in your never-ending sparkling water supply! They also sell flavor pouches that you can simply and easily use to make homemade soda, but I really enjoy making my own!
Nothing is more important than you knife. Nothing. I’m a huge fan of Shun, but they are far from cheap! Whatever you wind up choosing, take care of it like it’s the most important thing you own, and it will take care of you!
A mandolin is a constantly useful tool if you can just get past your fear of it! If you’re safe, it’s no more dangerous than a knife or vegetable peeler, so get comfortable! You can have slices of fresh vegetables, potatoes, onions, or whatever else in seconds, which makes prepping ordinarily frustrating recipes like caramelized onions and potato gratin a breeze!
I don’t actually own one yet, but I’ve always loved having access to a slicer in restaurants, and I just realized that Amazon sells a few in the $60 range! Awesome for meat, cheese, bread, vegetables, and whatever you have a big quantity of that you want sliced in a flash!
Nakano Natural Rice Vinegar
Awesome in pretty much all recipes. It’s lighter and less acidic than most of the standard vinegars which means it adds a much gentler flavor in soups and baked goods, and it works incredibly well in salad dressings.
Not only awesome in recipes, it’s also a great and super healthy addition to drinking water, for those of you who are also doing the crunchy healthy thing!
San-J Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce
It’s a great gluten-free (check the label, of course) soy sauce substitute!
- Aleppo Chile Peppers
- Piment d‘Ville
- Chipotle (Morita) Powder
- Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
- Red Alaea Hawaiian Salt
- Hawaiian Black Lava Finishing Salt
- French Grey Sea Salt
(when in doubt, I always go with Bob’s Red Mill. Amazon carries them!)
(actually, Whole Foods often carries this in their bulk section, so if you don’t think you’ll be using a lot at a time, you can save a bunch of money by just getting a little bit when you need it.)
- Xantham Gum
- White Sugar
- Brown Sugar
- Baking Soda
- Baking Powder
- Katsuobushi Dried Bonito
- Nutritional Yeast
- Calabrian Chilies
- Chia Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Flax Seeds
Totally Just for Fun
Dean & DeLuca has an actual storefront here in the Napa Valley, and it’s just incredible. I could spend every last dime that I have on their incredible selection of gourmet foods and ingredients, tools and cookbooks. Really. I hyperventilate just thinking about that place!
Savings up to 50% off select products at Dean & DeLuca. Shop Now!
ModCloth – Unique and awesome clothes and accessories! How can I resist?
Earn money on the things you’re buying online through Ebates! Really! It’s not everything all the time, but keep an eye on this site, click through to the stuff you were going to buy anyway (they offer deals for pretty much every online store out there), and make your purchases. You’ll get cash back! It’s that simple! You don’t have to pay any kind of membership fee and you don’t have to buy anything you weren’t going to buy anyway. All you need to do is go to the store through the Ebates link and purchase your items as usual.
Chronicle Books – I’m just an absolute sucker for books. Not just fiction, but gorgeous art and photography books as well. Chronicle has all of the books that you could possibly want at really reasonable prices. I waste hours here just drooling over the books I absolutely need to buy.
Food and Drink Books at ChronicleBooks.com
Art and Design Books at ChronicleBooks.com
Fiction Books at ChronicleBooks.com
Cook Book Sale
This is actually here because the awesome dude is a huge Giants fan. Because of this, the MLB shop winds up being my go-to gift shop of choice!