Recipes are great. I literally don’t know what I would do without them. But my BIGGEST pet peeve when I started cooking was that it seemed I never had the right tools to complete a recipe from start to finish. Sure I had things that could physically do the job – but everything was more cumbersome, more of a mess and more of a reason to not want to cook. I quickly realized that I needed to stock the kitchen with some essentials, things I was seeing in a majority of recipes. My goal in sharing these with you is NOT to have you go out and spend a ton of $$$ tomorrow; however, I DO suggest seeing what things you would like to add to your kitchen arsenal and make a list. Then when you are at the store, find yourself with a few extra dollars OR (the best option) someone asks what you want for birthday/holiday THEN you get them! Building this collection has taken me 3 years (& a wedding – which if we are being serious is the best way to get all this stuff so engaged friends add this ALL to your registry), but I enjoy being in the kitchen SO much more now that I have the right tools.
I seriously used to have, and I have a friend who can attest to it (cough, cough, Bailey), knives that worked more like a saw. #1: VERY unsafe. #2: VERY aggravating every time you cut something (which is basically every. single. recipe. ever.) So let’s start there – KNIVES!
1.) Solid Knife Set – there are many different brands of fantastic knives. I am not getting sponsored by any of them (but hey, I’m open to it if Calphalon happens to read this) so I don’t care what kind you get. Just make sure that you either buy a set that comes with the basics (i.e. you don’t need 10 different kinds) OR purchase them a la carte (can be more budget friendly)
The set we have is Calphalon Classic SharpIN – I am so happy with these. Sometimes I cut cherry tomatoes JUST BECAUSE I CAN. It is so liberating. (The link I added does not have the steak knives – because those aren’t included in my essential list.)
2. & 3.) MULTIPLE Baking Sheets & Silicone Baking Mat(s) – Baking sheets are constantly dirty in our house. That’s because we use them all the time. Roasting vegetables? Grab a baking sheet! Baking special heart shaped cinnamon rolls? Get that B-sheet! Cooking so much cauliflower rice it won’t fit in the pan? BAKING SHEET! And especially when you are doing a big food prep – you will want all the baking sheets. It lets you lay out ingredients and cook a ton of veggies at once.
The silicone baking mat is a recent addition to my kitchen tool belt, but I am sharing it with you because I am obsessed with it and a little PO’d that I put off purchasing it for so long. (It’s $15…) I have always been a huge parchment paper fan (and still use it when I have multiple baking sheets in the oven) but this silicone mat is #1) stupid easy to clean, #2) way more environmentally friendly, #3) actually fits the size of the pan (please tell me I’m not the only one who cannot for the life of me tear a rectangular piece of parchment paper?)
4.) Butcher Block – there isn’t much I need to say about this item other than GET ONE. I have an entire cabinet full of flimsy plastic cutting boards, which I still use when necessary, but my goodness gracious having this huge, sturdy cutting board has made food prep so much easier. I can now actually chop everything I need for a recipe at one time! Should that be such a big deal to me? I don’t know, but it is.
*Disclaimer: ours was handmade as a wedding gift (super cool, I know) so I have linked to a similar one
5.) Cast Iron Skillet – I don’t really know why I waited for our wedding to ask for one of these. They aren’t overly expensive & they make things taste so much better. Plus being able to go from cooking something on the stove top & finishing it in the oven has been pretty amazing. (I just had deja vu when writing that – so I have a feeling that same sentiment is in an earlier post, but at least you know I mean it.)
My favorite things to make in the cast iron skillet: hashes (i.e. any kind of mixture of potatoes, onions & peppers), chicken breasts & shepherd’s pie.
Things I can’t wait to try in the cast iron skillet: chili with cornbread crust, cobbler, homemade meatballs & marinara, and every other recipe I can find.
6.) Food Processor – I love this thing. I don’t even care that it’s heavy and that I fear dropping it on the tile every time I put it away. It’s kind of crazy how much I love it, for the fact that I only use it for a few things: making cauliflower rice, shredding potatoes/apples, and I think once for making a nut flour. But I make cauliflower rice and shred potatoes A LOT, so this item (probably more than anything else on this list) has saved me a ton of time and a ton of headaches – because have you ever had cauliflower crumbles all over your floor due to using a cheese grater to shred it? I have & it is not pleasant.
Now, I must share something funny… you cannot make this stuff up. Thanks to writing this post and looking for the link for our food processor, I found out that blade I use (pictured) at least 2-3 times a week was recalled in December! Don’t fear though, I have already called Cuisinart and a new blade is on the way. The link above comes with the NEW blade – so do not panic.
7.) Spiralizer – I’m going to be honest, I don’t know that I should be including this in a “kitchen essentials” list. BUT hear me out. It’s so dang fun to use. I keep noodling new things and they are all delicious! Ever since we went paleo, it’s been rare that you would find pasta in our house. But now who the heck needs pasta when I can have sweet potato noodles, broccoli noodles, and the classic ZOOdles? We used to have one of those hand held zoodlers, but options were extremely limited because of the size and shape of it. This guy below is great – easy to use, easy to clean AND makes different shapes/sizes of noodles. A big hit at our house!
8.) Crock Pot (with a timer) – All I am going to say is that if you have a crock pot that DOESN’T have a timer, toss that baby to the curb RIGHT NOW. I will no longer let you suffer by eating over cooked meats because you weren’t home to turn the crock pot off after 6 hours. (Mom, this one’s mainly for you!)
There are fancier ones than what I shared in the link, but I love this one because it’s simple & it comes with a cute little crock pot… the PERFECT size for queso. 🙂
9.) Immersion Blender – When Ross and I started reading into Whole 30, we kept hearing about this magical tool called the Immersion Blender. I must admit, I was more of a regular blender kind of gal. Then we pulled the trigger and bought one and boy oh boy, have we gotten our moneys worth! I make soups ALL the time (my favorite being roasted butternut squash) and having this tool makes it a one pot recipe. I also use it to make Whole 30 mayo & dressings.
The whisk is great when I have a bowl full of eggs for a frittata. Whisks those things up in a few seconds flat! Also great for large batches of vinaigrettes or marinades. Such a handy thing.
10.) Automatic Wine Opener – To put it simply…after all that prepping and cooking you deserve a drink. CHEERS! (A big thanks to my bestie and her sweet momma for gifting this to me at my bridal shower, now I will never have to break a cork & try to fish it out with a steak knife again!!!!)
Sending Good Chives your way,