Why did not I buy this before?!?
The lockdown lead to a lot of impulsive buying this year. If you weren’t a front-line essential worker or infected, you may have suffered a different malaise. Being stuck in our homes, feeling incredibly isolated and anxious. Social life reduced to Zoom calls and our trips and social events cancelled. I began compensating by purchasing everything under the moon to fill the void. Most of it was junk, but I found that a handful of items provided great value and keeping me afloat during these tumultuous times.
- Green Mountain Smoker
Easily the best purchase of my life so far, and completely influenced by missing my favorite BBQ spots this year. The pellet smokers run on electricity and make smoking so easy. After watching YouTube videos and reading books, I was making quality BBQ in no time. Having WiFi and temperature setting capability, it was not only fun but also relatively hands-free. I could do work in the yard and other errands while beautifully smoked pork butts and brisket were cooking to perfection. The initial investment of $600 and cost of meat can get expensive but I’ve been eating like a king all summer.
2. Higher Dose Infrared Sauna Blanket
I am obsessed with sauna but it’s usually only accessible at an external facility. I looked into buying a conventional sauna for the home but the investment is through the roof. Quality saunas cost thousands, have electric requirements usually requiring an electrician, and there’s the space issue. How many of us have room for a giant 6' x 6' box in their residence? I was looking at about $8,000 for the sauna dream to come through which I cannot afford.
Luckily the Higher Dose Infrared Sauna Blanket was released this year and all my dreams were answered. It looks like a giant purple burrito you crawl into with 9 different levels of heat. I get such a good sweat in there, and I don’t need to go to a special place in the house, I can watch Netflix with my wife while I get baked. I use mine several times a week and it only costed $400 with my promo code. I can roll it up and put it away when I am not using it and it’s super easy to clean. It’s also low-EMF, unlike most other infrared saunas which provide the same heat but also harmful “dirty electricity.” It warms up super fast too compared to other saunas which take 30 minutes to get to temp. I smile each day that I was able to incorporate sauna into my life without going broke. SAUNA LIFE!
3. Gorilla Workout Mat
Quarantine led to an indoor exercise revolution. A lot of my workouts and yoga were moved to inside but with one problem. You need a good surface to work out on, but most indoor surfaces are not the same as the gym and are uncomfortable. Most exercise mats tend to shift around and are poor quality, but the Gorilla workout mats are astounding. Amazingly durable and easy to get a workout on. They are a bit high-end at $150, but they replicate commercial gym-level quality. I bought a cheaper one initially, but learned that some things are worth spending extra on. I can see myself using this for a decade before having to replace it.
4. Cast Iron Skillet
Ignore the jokes and stereotypes, these are the real deal. I use this 12" skillet for about 90% of my cooking , replacing the need for all my other pans. Everyone says you need to treat the cast-iron well or it will get ruined. False. It’s incredibly resilient, I treat mine terribly and it holds up. I also bought a piece of chain-mail which for $10, does an amazing job in cleaning it. I like how the iron cooks food better too when compared to other metals.
5. Dry-Aging Bags
Dry-aged beef is a delicacy previously reserved for expensive steakhouses. Until now. I purchased some of these dry-aging bags and stored a giant T-Bone for 40 days. We ate some of the most delicious steaks I have ever had for days. I’m not sure I can go back to a steakhouse and spend $50–60 for a dry-aged steak again after seeing how easy it is to do at home. I can’t wait to try an entire Filet Mignon next!
Again, workouts have changed this year and the kettlebell is the fast track to minimalist efficacy. I got my 35 pound one on Amazon, and there’s much you can do with it for a complete workout. I also bring it in my car on trips to get it lifts in on-the-go. Even when gyms do reopen, I can’t say I feel the need to go as often with the quality workout I get with this one piece of equipment. If quarantine has taught me anything, you can do so much with less when you need to.
7. Heated Foot Spa
I put some hot water, soda, apple cider vinegar, epsom salt, and essential oil in one of these while I am working and find it therapeutic. It only costed $25 and I’ve gotten so much out of it. I never was one for pedicures or going to the spa before but I like how it feels, especially after a long run.
8. Large Cutting Board
After ordering Grubhub during lockdown so much, we quickly got sick of it and wanted more home-cooked meals. Quarantine has had us cooking up a storm over here but we just had these tiny cheap cutting boards before. I invested in a much larger and higher quality one and it’s really enhanced my cooking experience. The bamboo ones are durable, thick, but cheaper than springing for a more expensive John Boos wooden one.
9. Al Pastor Skewer
This at first glance, my seem like just another unnecessary cooking tool taking up your drawer space, but it surprised me. I love tacos al pastor and using this simple skewer made it so easy. You slice pork thin, marinate in pineapple juice and cover it with spices, cooking it for a a few hours, and the finished product was identical to what you get in your favorite tacos. It also unscrews so you can store it easily. You can also make gyros or other spit-fire meats on there, for $20 it was money well spent.
10. Food and Beer Delivery Services
During quarantine, I signed up for ButcherBox and Tavour. ButcherBox is a monthly meat delivery service, offering the finest grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and heritage pork. It saves so much time going to the store and I’m eating more healthy.
Tavour is a crate-based beer delivery service which gets me craft beer from around the U.S. to my doorstep. One of things I miss most this year is traveling to breweries, but this softened the blow for me. It’s a little pricey, but mostly everything I’ve received has been super delicious and I can’t see myself cancelling anytime soon, even after traveling resumes. It also saves time and minimizes exposure to illness by not having to leave the home.
11. Habit Life Journal
I am in love with these 66 day journals. It’s been hard to stay regimented without the need to leave the home. These journals offer a way to reflect on what’s going on with me and to grow each day by 1%. They offer ones for mediation, exercise, and gratitude that you complete each morning and night which have been an effective way to stay in a positive state of mind. They also include links to podcasts, important lessons, and affirmations to guide each day and provide a format that’s fun to complete as opposed to just a blank notepad. I never saw myself journaling before but I can see it a practice to continue long after this year.
Despite also buying a lot of junk this year, I am happy that I got some things that made my day a little brighter and may become life-long habits. In the end, I know it’s just stuff, family and health are more important, but being able to cook better, live better, and grow has been a solid consolation to losing my previous life.
If you want to see some of the junk I bought, check out my twin post, “11 of my Worst Pandemic Purchases” for some comedic relief.