I don’t know about you, but cooking overseas turned out to be a lot more time-consuming than I thought it would be. Back in the USA, I did cook from scratch most of the time, but once you add filtering the water, making the bone broth, chopping the tomatoes instead of opening a can and dumping…you know what I’m talking about.

So what makes it easier? This stuff. For real. 

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1. Simmermat 

This little plate has been a lifesaver. My stove is a little bit cheap, and its “low” setting looks startlingly like its “high” setting. I couldn’t get a soup to simmer, I couldn’t get my rice to steam at the end. And then, it came…it was more of a metal plate than a mat, but given the results, I wasn’t going to complain. Suddenly, I had a real stove again! And if you get it from Lehman’s, you can get a missionary discount–but you have to call them and ask, instead of ordering online. (Hello, yes, I’m–yes, I’m calling from overseas, so there’s a bit of a delay–yes, I’m still–there’s a bit of a–::click:: dial tone.)

2. Poultry Shears

At our house, we eat a lot of chicken. Like, a lot a lot. And many times, I’m putting it in a soup or butterflying it for the grill…which means taking the back out. The curved, serrated blade makes this a cinch, and the blades come apart for easy cleaning. Mine’s an Oxo brand, and it’s lasted well.

3. Roasting Pan

I’ve gone through several of these, so I’d advise you not to go cheap on this one. My current brand is a Kirkland Signature (oh, Costco, I miss you so much). It’s holding up well to weekly use making granola and roasting chickens (I wasn’t kidding before). Whichever one you get, I’d recommend nice big handles and a roasting rack included.

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4. Cast iron pizza pan

Ideally, I’d use cast iron everything, but man, those shipping costs! But the pizza pan is totally worth it. Let’s face it: most of us aren’t getting to go out to dinner much, so in my opinion, it makes sense to splurge a little on tools that can help us make amazing food at home. If you add a little cornmeal, it’ll give that crust such a nice crispness…takes me back to my college days in Chicago. Happy sigh.

5. Bread-Proofing Container

I stumbled upon this invention at Bob’s Red Mill near Portland. It’s got a tight-fitting lid to keep out critters, and it’s really easy to wash. We also use it to brine chickens; just make sure to use bleach in the wash water.

6. Immersion Blender

These were all the rage a few years ago, and not for no reason. They’re not a power hog like a Ninja or a Vitamix, they’re easy to clean (just stick it in the dish water and blend for a second before removing the top), and they’re good for soups, smoothies, salad dressings, and more. Mine’s a Cuisinart, and I do think it holds up a bit better than the cheaper versions, even if the “blending cup” failed long ago.

Honorable Mention: Donvier Ice Cream Maker

So…I can’t technically list it as an essential, and I know there’s hardcore missionary mamas out there who don’t have freezers (hang in there, ladies)…but for those who do, we love this thing. It requires no extra electricity, no special salt, and we even use dry milk with excellent results. (Let me know if you want recipes!) Plus, there’s nothing like a refreshing mango sorbet to end your day…so good.

If there’s a gadget you can’t live without on the mission field, let us know in the comment section!

You’ve got this, mamas.

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