Whether you're an expert chef or a humble home cook, all of us want to save time in the kitchen. It means more time spent eating at the table with our family and friends. But it doesn't always have to be about adhering to 30-minute meals or cooking like a maniac. Sometimes the appliances, tools or gadgets we use can make all the difference. Instead of struggling with a knife to slice your onions, use a mandoline. Or instead of waiting for your green veggies to air dry, use a salad spinner. These are just a couple examples of the tools that can help shave off precious minutes from your cooking schedule. See all of them in the slideshow below!
Flexible Cutting Boards
Everyone needs a cutting board in the kitchen, but if you were forced to only choose one kind, go with the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/MIU-Flexible-Cutting-Board-Set/dp/B00011RTE8/" target="_hplink">flexible kind</a>. With one you can easily transport chopped vegetables to stockpots and dry ingredients to mixer bowls. There's never any dropping of food on the floor -- unless you're a complete klutz. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/saska/5276073887/" target="_hplink">Saska01, Flickr</a>.
Many people take the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-International-HG-925-Deluxe-Grater/dp/B000HMAF6A/" target="_hplink">box grater</a> for granted -- it usually ends up in the bottom of the cupboard where it never sees the light of day again. But it's such a valuable tool for grating and shredding cheese, cabbage, carrots and more. Whether you're making lasagna or slaw, the box grater comes in handy to speed things up. And it's less of a pain to clean than a food processor.
Peeling garlic takes a lot of time, that is unless you use a <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Zak-Designs-E-Z-Rol-Garlic-Peeler/dp/B00004RDDP/" target="_hplink">garlic peeler</a>. Chefs use the side of their knives to whack garlic cloves to remove the skin, but we don't always want smashed cloves. When you need your cloves whole and peeled, use this rubber tube to roll the skins off in just seconds.
A regular blender is a standard appliance in any kitchen, but it's always a chore to transfer hot soups to it and it's a hassle to clean. When you've got an <a href="http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=sr_kk_2?rh=i%3Agarden%2Ck%3Aimmersion+blender&keywords=immersion+blender&ie=UTF8&qid=1345498027" target="_hplink">immersion blender</a>, all you need to do is stick the appliance in a pot and puree. Cleanup is a breeze because all it needs is a good rinse in soapy water.
Shears aren't just for cutting twine -- use <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Wusthof-5558-1-Come-Apart-Kitchen-Shears/dp/B0000631ZM/" target="_hplink">shears</a> to butcher chicken or cut up roast chicken. Use it to snip herbs for recipes and even snip slices of bacon, which is a whole lot easier than slicing with a knife (<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2j5RZo3cWs&t=0m46s" target="_hplink">if Nigella Lawson does it, why shouldn't we?</a>)
Forget about a citrus juicer or reamer. A <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Imusa-VICTORIA-70007-Lemon-Squeezer-Yellow/dp/B00164TKA0/" target="_hplink">citrus squeezer</a> is what you need to save time. Though squeezing with your bare hands is a fine method, using a squeezer gets out a lot more juice. Bartenders popularized this tool when they needed to make drinks fast. Use it to get your dishes done quicker, whether it's a marinade or lemonade.
When you don't have all the time in the world to slice your vegetables for a soup, stew, salad, etc., turn to the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-Quick-Slice-Mandoline/dp/B000II4AIW/" target="_hplink">mandoline</a>. You don't need an expensive mandoline -- just buy a simple one with a good blade. Use it to slice onion, cucumber, carrot and more.
The <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Microplane-40020-Classic-Zester-Grater/dp/B00004S7V8/" target="_hplink">microplane</a> is such a great tool -- we don't know what we would do without it. It does the job of a regular grater faster and better. Use it for grating garlic, ginger, horseradish and more. It's also perfect for zesting citrus or grating spices like cinnamon or nutmeg.
Why wait for washed lettuce to dry when you can spin it dry? But don't just use your <a href="http://www.amazon.com/OXO-Good-Grips-Salad-Spinner/dp/B00004OCKR/" target="_hplink">salad spinner</a> for lettuce. Use it to dry herbs before chopping or mincing them. Spinach, kale, collards, mustard greens -- all can be spun dry in the salad spinner. Use your salad spinner for all your leafy greens. It also works for drying beans and peas in their pods.
There's a reason why chefs and TV show cooks have lots of <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Luminarc-Stackable-8-Piece-Prep-Set/dp/B002BW51AE/" target="_hplink">little bowls</a> full of the different ingredients that go into a recipe. It helps bring a meal together faster. Once you've prepped everything ahead of time and put them in bowls, you'll find cooking will go much quicker. Plus you won't burn the garlic while you're still chopping the onion. The French call this "mise en place," which means everything in its place -- that's the perfect motto. Don't worry about spending too much time on cleaning up -- if you only had chopped vegetables in those prep bowls, all the bowls require is a rinse under running water. Photo from <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wickenden/3158607756/" target="_hplink">wickenden, Flickr</a>.
Related on HuffPost: