I’ve known my roommate Larissa since college and have lived with her for a couple years, though it feels longer, possibly due to the amount of time we’ve spent indoors together this year. Larissa has many great qualities. Off the top of my head, and in no particular order: She is always down to spent an extravagant amount of money on or travel far out of our way for a good meal; she scours Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for deals on very good, free furniture; she can find out anything about literally anyone with a simple Google Search and access to popular social media platforms in 10 minutes or less.
But on top of all of those things, she works for a major home gadget company. Obviously, I reap the benefits of this. As she tests new products in our kitchen and gets sent new stuff, I get to try them too. But no item she’s had shipped to our apartment—no matter how fancy, how well-designed, or how ergonomically friendly—has made this year better for me personally than the big bowls in our kitchen.
I did some research before I started writing this because there’s no way I could be the first person on the internet to advise that you should buy a big bowl as a laudatory piece of dining-ware. But despite all odds it…it kind of seems like I am? Don’t get me wrong, other people have written about food in big bowls before. Quartz explained why food tastes better out of a big bowl. (“They don’t just feel good in the hand, bowls are also beautiful.”) It makes your food taste better, according to Shape. Lifehacker comes close to what I’m talking about, urging you to eat a salad out of a big bowl, and they’re not wrong.
But big bowls are for more than just salads. There is also a practical element to eating out of a big bowl, if this is important to you. (It is important to me.) If you eat out of a big mixing bowl, you no longer have to put your food into a smaller bowl to consume it, lessening the number of bowls you’d eventually have to wash.
Perhaps you are wondering, “How big is she talking? All I own are cereal bowls.” My friend, you need to size up. I have purchased a number of big bowls of varying sizes. I have a series of glass Anchor mixing bowls, and the largest one is decently sized for your big bowl food needs. Plus you can just stick it in the dishwasher post-meal.
Last year, when I was freelancing and had resigned myself to being home all the time for lunch when I’d otherwise be like, in line at Hale & Hearty or picking up a salad at Chopt, I bought one of these 20 oz. bowls from Whisk during its Williamsburg location’s going-out-of-business sale. It’s not as good for mixing or holding a tremendous volume of foods, but it’s pretty, so that counts for something. I ate a lot of salads out of this thing before discovering you could buy an even bigger bowl and treat it as your own personal salad/noodle/stir-fry/brownie batter trough.
Neither the glass mixing bowls or the pretty Whisk bowl are the heavy hitters, the mainstays in my big bowl repertoire. What you really want is the ultimate Big Bowl — something with tall walls to keep the large amount of rice or vegetables or big leafy crunchy salad or Hamburger Helper contained. Ideally you will have also completed some sort of mixing task in this bowl to arrive at your final dish, making it truly multifunctional, and more than just a serving and dining vessel. The big bowls I recommend for you are the OXO three-piece stainless steel mixing bowl set (use the other two for smaller cooking tasks; the biggest bowl of the three is the one you’ll want to use for eating purposes) or, if you want the biggest bowl imaginable, this five-quart plastic bad boy, also from OXO.
On any given day around noon, when my body decides that it’s lunchtime, I will go into the kitchen and open the fridge and assess the food situation. Do I have leftovers I need to use? Is there any vegetable or grain I can plop into a wok or a cast-iron skillet or the microwave and make taste better than they otherwise would in raw form? Should I unfreeze some braised chickpeas or heat up some noodles? Is it really more of a salad vibe?
Within 20 minutes some form of lunch has come together in the bowl, perhaps tossed in a homemade vinaigrette—I recommend an emulsion of dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper— or a store-bought salad dressing or maybe just some hummus or tzatziki leftover from a takeout dinner. Put whatever you have in the big bowl. Give it a mix. There’s your slop for the day. Enjoy!
You can throw a bunch of leftovers together and eat them out of a big bowl between meetings during the week for lunch. You can use a big bowl to toss chicken thighs in a marinade before you cook them. You can mix cookie batter in a big bowl. You can pop popcorn on the stovetop and put it in a big bowl. You can make ramen and eat it out of the big bowl, ensuring no mess. You can slow roast a pork shoulder all day and then put it in a big bowl, using two forks to shred the meat. The big bowl possibilities are endless.
The foods we have been bought for years in tiny plastic containers or biodegradable paper shrouding that we paid $14 for the indignity of eating hunched over our desks would all be better consumed in a much larger vessel. We’ve been depriving ourselves of this opportunity because I guess it isn’t “polite” to bring a 3-gallon plastic mixing bowl to your office and wash it in the communal sink in the kitchen. But now that we live in a lawless, entropic society, there are no rules for how to eat. This is not a time for your best flatware and china. It’s time to eat all of your food in big mixing bowls.