At the Strategist, we write about hundreds of products every week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favourites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trawling the vast online-shopping universe this past week — including a space-saving balcony cooler, a vintage-looking plant mister, and some heavily reduced workout leggings.
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A foolproof Persian rice cooker
This rice cooker from Pars is unlike most: It is designed to make tahdig, the crispy layer of rice at the bottom of many Persian rice dishes. Vox writer Arya Roshanian tested it out after noticing one in both his mum and grandmother’s kitchens. “I’m an avid home cook, but rice was always tough for me, and that’s part of why for a while I avoided cooking a lot of Persian food,” says Roshanian. “It’s user-friendly, something that my 85-year-old grandma who only speaks Farsi and isn’t that good at technology can figure out. The first time I used it, I was thinking I would need to try a few times in order to get it right, but it came out pretty perfectly — and then each subsequent time too.” The Pars can cook five cups of rice at one time and has a nonstick inner, making removing the rice (and keeping the cooker clean) a doddle.
Some heavily reduced, highly praised workout leggings
It was no surprise that we kept hearing about Nike when we asked fitness experts about their favourite workout leggings. But it was a pleasant surprise to find the exact leggings that three of our experts loved heavily reduced at Sports Direct. The Nike One Luxe tights, favourite of training coach Rowen Aida, have a stretchy fit that lends itself to both high- and low-intensity workouts. Aida always wears hers when teaching spin classes but says “their fitting makes me feel so good, I wear them outside of class, too.” The black shade — Aida’s favourite — is currently reduced by 50 percent in the Sports Direct sale, while the navy option is going for £20 – a saving of 70 percent. We’ve no idea how long this deal will last, so if you fancy a pair, don’t dillydally.
A striking ceramic grill
Grilling season is upon us, so we’ve compiled a list of the very best barbecues for your next garden party. If you’ve coveted a Big Green Egg grill for some time but can’t justify the eye-watering price tag, we’ve got you covered with this solid dupe. It was brought to our attention by James Cochran, head chef and owner of 12:51. “It’s very portable, measuring just 32 centimetres in diameter,” he says, “so it’s great to take to the beach, park, or woods” — and it’ll do just fine in a smaller garden or on a camping trip, he says. “You can tuck it away no problem once you’ve used it.” Available in a range of vibrant shades, the kamado-style barbecue is suitable for searing, grilling, smoking, and roasting. And as it’s ceramic, it’s resistant to rusting; a great sign for summers to come.
A two-in-one cooler
If you’ve not quite got the room outdoors for a barbecue, we’ve compiled a list of cheap but expensive-looking patio décor accents to maximise your patio space. This rattan cooler is a particularly handy, space-saving option: As well as keeping your drinks chilled, it can double up as a handsome side table (or even a seat, if you perch a cushion on top).
An antique-looking plant mister
Plastic plant misters may get the job done, but glass misters such as this one are “much better for the environment” says Jennifer Panxhi, owner of Jens Plants & Florists in Spitalfields. “Just make sure to focus on the leaves rather than the plant itself. I use this on ferns — they love to be misted — as well as certain kinds of bonsai.” The vintage glass chamber of this mister is accompanied by a metallic pump, and according to Panxi, its bottle-green shading looks charming nestled among clusters of house plants.
And a remarkably convincing fiddle-leaf fig
Though if you’re someone that tends to neglect their plants, maybe some artificial greenery is a better investment. We’ve compiled a list of 16 options here, including a faux fiddle-leaf fig. With convincingly waxy leaves and strikingly green verdure, it looks the part of this house-tour mainstay. It’s also made of safe, nontoxic materials, which means it’s pet and child friendly. To keep it looking fresh, simply wipe it down with a dry cloth.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.