In college, I cooked homemade meals at least three times a week, and I'm not talking about boiling water for pasta or making PB&J sandwiches. Taco night with my roommates, Italian Sunday dinners, and even Friendsgiving (yes, I actually made a turkey) were staples throughout the school year. Cooking at home was something I really enjoyed and did well . . . until graduation. I moved to New York City and started working like an adult, and as cliché as it sounds, life got in the way of my passion for pots and pans. I replaced my oven and stovetop experimentation with takeout and dining out.
But when I started easing back into this pastime a couple months ago, I realized that cooking good meals in a small space wasn't as easy as I'd remembered. Thankfully, I discovered Brava ($1,095), a countertop oven that uses visible and infrared light to cook food faster and doesn't require 100 different baking sheets or timers going off at random intervals to do so. Basically, it's like an Easy-Bake Oven for adults, but a million times better (and has healthier options). It's a must-have kitchen accessory for anyone who has a small apartment (read: little storage space), has limited time to cook, and loves homemade meals.
Although this countertop oven doesn't come cheap, it can help save hundreds of dollars over the course of a few months. I swapped expensive restaurant checks for grocery receipts, meanwhile making me more aware of the ingredients in my food. My diet is more varied, too (I've discovered new recipes and meals, rather than opting to eat the same to-go orders again and again).
The beauty of the Brava is simplification. First, you select a dish from the digital screen on top of the device. The options span from childhood favorites like chicken tenders to fancy meals like filet mignon and baby broccoli. Next, you prepare your meal (i.e. season it to your liking), put your ingredients on a designated tray, put that tray in the machine, and press a button. You can watch your meal cook by peeping at the camera on the same digital dashboard. The Brava is super efficient, too. A dish like salmon with sautéed asparagus and tomatoes that might take you 60 minutes traditionally will instead take you 12 minutes at most. And many foods (sides and the main protein) can be cooked on the same tray, all at once.
And while it's a great investment for yourself, it can also make the perfect gift. Right now for Mother's Day, with every Brava purchase from now until May 7, the company is giving away a set of six La Boite spices (over $100 value + free two-day shipping).
Although the food-themed get-togethers of my past were fun, I don't think I could host a dinner party ever again without the help of my countertop oven. Keep reading to learn more about why it's one of the best kitchen appliances you can buy.