Moving to a new home? Creating a wedding registry? Trying to improve your cooking or improve the tools in your kitchen? Whether you’re a a daily cooker or not, there are some kitchen items that surely make your life easier. I’ve compiled a list of kitchen essentials with the best items to have in your kitchen. The great thing is you don’t have to be a chef to use any of these products!
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At first I was skeptical to do this, but I wish I would have done it years ago- buy a butter dish, and put butter out, so it can soften! Butter can actually sit out for up to 2 weeks, as long as the room temperature doesn’t go above 70 degrees. I can’t tell you how often I use butter in cooking, and having it already softened makes life so much easier!
Also, did you know butter has a shelf life of 6-9 months?! Butter is one of my top purchases from Costco, for this exact reason!
Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Alright. I know these are expensive, but they are worth it. They last a lifetime, and they are the ultimate lazy-cooker tool. Seriously- You have a recipe that calls for mixing? Use this, instead of mixing by hand, freeing your hands to do something else!
I’m not much of a canned food person, I would much rather use fresh ingredients. However, I do like easy recipes, and I do make a TON of pasta. My favorite thing it to make pasta sauce from ‘scratch’, which calls for chicken broth, canned tomatoes, etc. A can opener is good to just have, especially if it has a bottle opener on it, too!
Once you go mesh, you’ll never go back. You can literally drain anything in a mesh colander. It’s amazing. I’ve used it when making quinoa, and it doesn’t fall through. Seriously, AMAZING. My favorite is the one pictured above, because you can place extend the sides, holding up the colander!
I know you are probably thinking- why would I have to have a vegetable peeler? While using a knife is convenient, vegetable peelers can be a lot faster. Plus, you can use them for more than just peeling potatoes for mashed potatoes. For example, you can use it to create veggie noodles, slice butter, and shave chocolate. Genius, right?
If a recipe ever calls for garlic, it should say that the recommendation is the minimum needed, because you can rarely have too much garlic. This tool is awesome to have, so you can add as much fresh garlic to your food, labor free!
Every household needs a sharp knife, and particularly a Chef’s knife. You can slice, chop and dice. It’s a multi-purpose knife made for all sorts of tasks!
I’ve totally been guilty of buying sub-par knives. Once they become dull, they are either shoved to the back of a drawer, or tossed. I didn’t realize that in the end, that wastes more money. Instead, purchase a good knife (or knife set), and get a knife sharpener. This keeps you from replacing knives every time you cut through tough food.
Did you know you can get a spice rack that comes with spices? AND, you can have them replaced FOR FREE when you run out?! Not only does this keep you more organized, but it’s so much cheaper to buy a rack than to buy individual spices from the store!
Stainless steel skillet
Did you know stainless steel pans conduct heat better? They also cook evenly, are easier to clean, and hold heat longer. Oh yeah- and you can put the WHOLE pan in the oven!
Cast Iron Skillet
Like a good steak, with a great sear? Having a cast iron skillet can give you that! Unfortunately cast iron skillets require very specific care, but they give the best flavor, especially for meats. Totally worth it!
A 9×13 casserole dish is ideal, because it’s large enough to fit a good amount of food. However, if you tend to cook only for yourself or for two people, you can always start off with a smaller dish. A casserole dish is a must-have nonetheless, because it’s a great multi-purpose cooking tool.
We love to grill in our household, but my husband and I greatly differ on the amount of done-ness our food should be. He likes his steaks medium-rare, and I like mine medium-well. Having a food thermometer has instantly settled any arguments regarding whether or not our food is done. Not only this, but I’ve used it to make cinnamon rolls, since yeast is so temperamental!
When I was pregnant with the twins, I was under the impression that I was going to make all of their baby food. But, some-odd months later, and I didn’t have the energy for it. If you are pregnant, and you want to do that, then a good blender is such a great idea! Otherwise, we’ve used our blender to make shakes, including milkshakes! We’ve even made sauces. You can find so many different uses for a blender.
Preserve your countertops, plates and other kitchen items by using a cutting board! Personally, I prefer wood cutting boards, because they are tougher. However, plastic cutting boards are easier to clean. Whatever you decide, I highly recommend getting a cutting board with great grip- nothing is more annoying (and scary) when your cutting board slides around while trying to chop food!
Measuring cups & spoons
Did you know that you are supposed to use a certain measuring cups for liquids and other measuring cups for dry goods? I won’t lie… I JUST learned about this when I started my cooking ‘journey’. A measuring cup that’s glass (or a measuring glass) is used for liquids:
Measuring cups that are plastic or metal are for things like flour, salt, sugar, etc.
I recommend having both on hand, because you never know when you’ll need either (or both)!
Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)
There’s a ton of different types of Crock Pots, and it doesn’t really matter which one you get, as long as it suits your needs. We have a standard 6 quart Crock Pot with 4 different time settings, and it does the job for us. There are Crock Pots that you can manually select the amount of cooking time (For example, 3.5 hours), there are ones that have WiFi, and all different colors. Just consider what you’ll be using yours for the most, and shop accordingly. When you get yours, check out this post on slow cooker do’s and don’ts!
Like most people, I had a Crock Pot before I had an Instant Pot. I never thought I would use an Instant Pot, because I had my Crock Pot. Instant Pots are game-changers, though! Yes, they can do the same job as a slow cooker, but they can do so much more! But, don’t get rid of your Crock Pot, and instead use them side-by-side (one for the main dish and one for the side!).
For those of you who cook frequently, what is your must-have kitchen item?