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TODAY's Natalie Morales shares her top cooking tips and favorite kitchen tools

Natalie Morales shares her best kitchen tips, tricks and techniques and her favorite kitchen gadgets to make amazing meals at home.
/ Source: TODAY

Natalie's back in Studio 1A this morning cooking up some delicious dishes for her TODAY family!

In her first cookbook, "At Home with Natalie: Simple Recipes for Healthy Living from My Family's Kitchen to Yours," Natalie shares some of her all-time favorite recipes that she loves to prepare. She is also revealing even more of her culinary knowledge by dishing out her top kitchen tips and sharing her favorite culinary tools to help take home cooking to the next level.

Get great hardware.

A great butcher's block, I think, is essential — plus it looks good in your kitchen. A high-quality cutting board will last a lifetime, but it is an investment. If you're looking for something more affordable, bamboo cutting boards are excellent options.

John Boos Maple Wood Edge Grain Reversible Cutting Board, $80, Amazon

John Boos Cutting Board

Extra Large Cutting Board, $18, Amazon

Organic Bamboo Cutting Board

Flexible Plastic Cutting Board Mats, $5 for a set of 3, Amazon

Plastic Cutting Sheets

I like to use plastic cutting sheets on top of my butcher block. This is just to protect the cutting board, but it also makes cleanup easy because you to throw them right in the dishwasher. They also help reduce cross-contamination for food safety reasons.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet, $42, Amazon

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

A great cast iron skillet is a must for any home kitchen. It cooks evenly, makes foods incredible crispy and is easy to maintain. You can make everything from biscuits, to stews, to great sauces in your cast-iron skillet. The more you use it, the more seasoned it is, the better the flavors in your food.

Instantpot DUO60 6-quart 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, $99, Amazon


This magical machine has about seven different functions in one pot, which is fantastic. It steams, it sautés, it braises, and even pressure cooks. Remember that old pressure cooker that maybe your mom had? The thing with the spinny needle on the top? The one you thought was gonna explode in your kitchen? Well, you don't have to worry about that with this guy.

Save and repurpose leftovers.

Storing leftovers in airtight containers is a must for keeping them fresh. Chop up some veggies, sauté them in with your leftovers and you've got a whole new meal. I like to eat them after the second or third day. This gives the flavors time to meld and mingle, making them taste even better.

Rubbermaid Brilliance Food Storage Container, $16 for a 10-Piece Set, Amazon

Rubbermaid Storage Containers

Use technology to your advantage.

Technology is your friend in the kitchen. I love to use a timer when I've got a lot of things going at the same time. So either I can set my watch or one of my devices, but if you're juggling several dishes at once this timer will make sure everything finishes right on time.

OXO Good Grips Triple Timer, $19, Amazon

OXO Good Grips Triple Timer

Be a weekend warrior.

I try to plan my meals so that during the week when life gets very busy with work and kids I have healthy meals planned and prepped for my family. Prepping ahead helps us eat healthier, make the most of our groceries and save precious time during the week. The weekend is when I typically have the most time to myself. I love going to the farmers market to get my inspiration from what's fresh and in season. One of the things I love to do is make a big batch of red sauce or a pesto sauce on the weekend that I can turn into a delicious dinner during the week.

Freshware 3-Compartment Meal Prep Containers, $15 for a set of 15, Amazon

Meal Prep Storage Containers

Pick your core cutting tools.

You don't need a whole array of fancy knives. I find if you just have two really great knives — a paring knife and a chef's knife — you have everything you need to make amazing meals.

Global 2-Piece Knife Set G-5846, $99, Amazon

Global 2-Piece Knife Set

It's also always good to have a pair of cutting shears as well. They're just great for all kinds of kitchen tasks like trimming produce or cutting the fat off of poultry or the beef. Whichever pair you pick, make sure they come apart for easy cleaning.

OXO Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen & Herbs Scissors, Shears, $18, Amazon

OXO Good Grips Kitchen Shears