But a food processor or learn better knife skills?

My daughter has an illness that requires a highly specialized diet of food prepared completely from scratch. This is prescribed by a major university teaching hospital. Her illness causes severe life threatening multiple food allergies and we can't take any chances on pre prepared foods. Even frozen veggies have been sometimes treated with things she is allergic to, so everything must be fresh and from scratch. Add to that that I have a 13 year old son who is in a growth spurt and eats mountains of food due to his growth, and my husband and I are working in losing weight and getting fit. The result is that cooking is literally full time for me now to keep up with it all. I try to cook many batches of each recipe at once and vacuum seal meals to try to stay ahead but it takes hours to prepare the mountains of veggies that need to be sliced, chopped, diced, quartered, etc. should I buy a food processor or take a knife skills / food prep class?

Update:

I have already been cooking big enough batches to last a month. I am used to that. So I know how much time sealing the meals takes. It is exhausting. But so is the endless cycle of daily food prep. Sometimes I just want a break for a few days! I like to cook ahead because her food is so extremely time-consuming and difficult and tedious to prepare (I will spare you the details but almost every step is more time-consuming than for food that people typically prepare, due to her diet prescription and the number of substitutions I have to make). We have already been using a vacuum sealer and freezer and have not found freezer burn to be a problem. I need to freeze ready-made meals because I need for my kids to be able to microwave ready made meals when I am not at home. My son has a mild developmental disability and tends to be messy in the kitchen, even when microwaving ready-made things. This leads to cross contamination in the kitchen and my daughter becomes extremely ill as

8 Answers

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  • LaAn
    Lv 7
    6 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Food processors are better if you have a lot of grating, shredding and thin slices to do. If you need to cut things into little chunks, it's not so useful. You don't really need to take a knife skills class. You can find all that on youtube with proper grip and techniques. The rest is down to practice. Maybe a mixture of both would be best.

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  • 6 years ago

    Most food processors, like the Cuisinart, come with 3 blades. The main blade chops and purees foods; there is also a slicing blade and a shredding blade. You can also buy additional blades that will shred or slice foods finer. A food processor will certainly save you time, but it is difficult to control the size of foods you want diced. Aside from the blades and base, the rest of the food processor parts can go into the dishwasher.

    It sounds like you definitely need a break to do something you like, alone. So, I think you should buy a food processor and take the knife skills course. If you enjoy cooking. you should enjoy being at the knife skills course.

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  • 6 years ago

    I try to use a knife and chopping board as much as I can, but for some things I have a manual veggichop. I don't know if you've heard of it. It's just like a manual food processor. A bowl with a blade that sits in the middle, and you put the lid on and pull the string on the lid multiple times. The blades chop through whatever is in the bowl. The more pulls you do the finer the food is chopped. It's been so great, and kinda easy to clean. I use it for things like curry pastes. You might be interested too. They're only like $30, at least here in Australia. But it does sound like you have your hands really full with cooking, so maybe it would be worth investing in a food processor. But only if you think it's worth it. People survived for centuries without them...

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  • 6 years ago

    I worked in a facility where we had many "guests, patients" who needed these extensive meal preperations. I think purchasing a food processor is a good idea for some things, and going through training to hone your knife akills is great. That was the.first thing taught in my apprenticeship program and its really not hard. When you do learn proper knife skills, cutting time is cut at least in half. When you get a good knife, I use a sushi knife for cuts in things such as consomme garnish, dont go through Sur La Table or others like that. They have reatautant supply stores where you can get for WAY cheaper. Good luck

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  • 6 years ago

    I do not know how to edit the question from my mobile device but the question should read "Buy a food processor or learn better knife skills?" Sorry about the typo.

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  • 6 years ago

    take some food prep classes!

    but by cooking and freezing large batches of food does not answer the question of "fresh" foods!!

    plant a garden and feed her salads, yourself and your husband will benefit from that too. Maybe get a green house so you have fresh year round that you know how were raised!

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  • 6 years ago

    The machine. Try to get one with many cutting blades or even a mandolin. I have decent knife skills but who wants to chop all damn day??

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  • 6 years ago

    Of the two, learning better knife skills is going to help you the most. You also want a good sharp knife. It also takes a little practice. I've gone from taking forever to cut up an onion to having one totally cut up in about half a minute.

    There's also some good food prep books and videos like Wusthof's and Henckel's that are pretty good. A food processor has limited use. It comes in handy at times. But there's no replacement for good knife skills.

    For example, you could use a food processor to dice up bell peppers. But you still have to cut off the top, cut out the seed portion and cut the stem out before you stick it in the food processor. And by that time you already have most of the work done. And if you throw it in the food processor, now you've dirtied up another dish that you'll have to clean later, adding more time.

    Don't go out and buy a whole cheap knife set. Instead start off with about 2 good quality knives with a classic French style handle. A good 8" chef/cook's knife and a good pairing knife will take care of most of your needs. It is far better and less expensive in the long run to get good quality knives instead of getting a bunch of knives or a full set.

    Wusthoff and Henckels are both pretty good. One mistake many people make is they go for the "ergonomic" handles. Many brands when they make the "ergonomic" handles don't properly design the handles for a proper pinch grip. Instead, the knife gets designed to feel well in the hand when a person uses an improper grip where they hold the knife somewhat like a person would hold a sword. Those types of "ergonomic" handles will feel great with an improper grip. However an improper grip with lots of chopping will likely have your wrists hurting. And when you switch to a proper pinch grip, the ergonomic handles often feel odd in your hand. A classic style handle will feel good when gripped both ways. It may not feel as wonderful as the ergonomic handle when you use the improper grip, but it will still feel comfortable for both methods.

    The thing I see most people struggle with when cutting is they try chopping through everything instead of slicing through it. Now I'm not saying chopping is bad. For some things you want to do a quick chop.

    A knife typically cuts easiest when it slices through food. By that, I mean there is both vertical AND horizontal movement of the knife. A lot of people try just pushing the knife down vertically through the food. Think of the knife like a papercut. You can't cut your finger easily with paper if you just press the paper up against your finger. However, if you slide the paper then the paper will cut you. It is the same with a knife, that sliding movement helps the knife cut better.

    Learn to take the rounded tip portion of the knife and rest that against the cutting board. And bring the back portion of the knife up to form about a 30 degree angle to the board. Then slide the tip of the knife away from you as you bring the back portion of the knife down to the cutting board to cut. After finishing the cut, just reverse the movement. Bring the tip of the knife back towards you as you raise the back of the knife up to make the next cut.

    A good way to visualize it might be to think of the back of the knife attached to a pin on a rotating wheel. So the back of the knife is making this circular motion while the front of the knife rests on like a sliding track. Or imagine the wheels of an old steam locomotive and that bar going from the wheels to that piston shaft. That's the motion you make with your hands.

    There's about 4 major things you want to learn how to cut.

    1. Learn how to properly cut an onion (this can be applied to shallots and even garlic with the skin removed). You can smash then mince garlic. But if you have a steady hand, cutting garlic like an onion is better. Because when you smash then mince, the garlic wants to stick to the knife blace. And you keep having to push the garlic off the knife blade to mince it. The onion method is faster.

    2. Learn how to properly cut a pepper (the method for a bell pepper is somewhat similar to hot peppers)

    3. Learn how to cut a tomato. You can cut the top and bottom off. Then cut through the side and start unfolding the middle as you cut away the center, removing the tough center and all the juice and seeds for just the meaty portion of the tomato. If you want, you can then cut the skin off similar to filleting a fish.

    4. Learn how to properly mince herbs, etc

    5. Learn how to slice and chop stuff like carrots, celery, etc.

    My favorite knife design is a Japanese style of knife. I've seen the design sold by at least 3 different Japanese companies. It cuts the easiest of any knife I've used. That design gets sold under three different labels: Hattori HD, Maruyoshi HD and RyuSen Damascus. It is basically the same knife but sold by 3 different companies. Hattori and Maruyoshi call it their HD line. And RyuSen calls it their Damascus line.

    When you learn how to properly cut an onion and make that horizontal cut. That's where you can really tell the difference between the really good sharp knives and the dull or so-so designed knives. When you make that slice and you have to push or saw instead of making one easy slicing motion, that knife is too dull or has too thick of a blade.

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