Essentials Every Kitchen Needs

When we got married, Rick had a lot of the kitchen basics covered, or so I thought.  When my mom offered to buy us cook ware or dishes I declined.  I’m the practical type.  I figured his dishes and pots and pans were working and that was good enough for me.  I didn’t realize the value of good quality kitchen items and that this was the one big opportunity to get these big-ticket items given to us!  Instead, I registered for pillowcases and a shower curtain.  A SHOWER CURTAIN!?

Fast forward eight and a half years.  Rick’s pathetic cheap-o non-stick pans are long gone.  I’ve inherited my grandpa’s awesome cast iron, and I’m slowly building up my collection of stainless steel to replace the mid-range non-stick stuff I bought, oh, seven years back.  And Rick and I know what we’ll buy our kids when they leave the house or get married, even if they think whatever they have is “just fine.”  There are just some things that every kitchen should have.

Here are my top five items that are truly essential to a kitchen:

1.  A sharp knife.  Ideally, you need a good chef’s knife and a sharp paring knife at minimum. More is better.  If you could only have one, though I’d go with the chef’s knife.  At least that way you can chop an onion, which is the base for nearly everything else you’d need a knife for.

2.  Cast iron skillet.  It can brown up meat perfectly, bake corn bread or cobbler, fry an egg or make a frittata.  It’s not hard to clean at all (despite the rumors you’ve heard).  I honestly can’t think of a pan I use more unless it’s my dutch oven.

3.  A sizable dutch oven or a heavy, oven-proof stock pot with a lid.  Soups and stews, braising, roasting, chili or mac and cheese.  This is a kitchen work horse.  My dutch oven is enamel-coated cast iron and can roast a chicken just as beautifully as it fries one on the stove top.  It makes one-pot meals far tastier than any crock pot.  Soups it can do in its sleep.  In a pinch, your stock pot can do most of these things too.  I never look at wedding registries any more.  This and a dutch oven one-pot meal cookbook is my go-to gift.

4.  A wooden spoon.  Ok, I know this seems simple, but try managing a meal without one.  I’ve been in kitchens with no good cooking utensils and found myself wishing desperately for a plain ole wooden spoon.  They don’t scratch any surfaces, are strong and sturdy and generally can’t be beat by anything plastic or metal.

5.  A stainless steel saucepan.  With a lid.  Besides the obvious (sauce), you can boil noodles, steam veggies, make popcorn or no-bake cookies in it.  And it’s easy to clean.

I almost added a garlic press to the list.  I can’t believe how much we use ours, though a good chef’s knife can do a comparable job.

What about you?  Can you not live without your funnel or food processor?  A good baking sheet or pizza stone?  What are your kitchen essentials?

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Categories: Food, Top 5 | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Essentials Every Kitchen Needs

  1. I would add a stick blender or a food processor…I use one or the other on a daily basis. The food processor does the same job but can be used for homemade laundry powder as well…but does smaller batches of sauces and stuff.

  2. I could live without my KitchenAid mixer, but we sure wouldn’t be eating much homemade bread. Or whipped cream. And my teakettle would be sorely missed.

  3. Love the cast iron skillet. It is used 2 or 3 times a day. I have a small olive oil bottle/drizzler next to my skillet. Use it for a quick drizzle all the time. Good for cooking and good for salads. Even use it with herbs to top bread. Better for you than butter and never needs softening!

  4. My only change is that I upgraded the wooden spoons to bamboo. All the same benefits and you can throw them in the dishwasher! I can’t tell you how long wooden spoons used to languish at the bottom of the sink…

    • Good point! I actually have one bamboo spoon and I love it. I usually reach for it first, now that I think about it. I didn’t realize it could go in the dishwasher… bonus!

  5. Is there a particular brand of dutch oven that you (or anyone else) would recommend? I’m looking for one now and want to get a good one.

    • John, I have a Le Cruset, but I think Lodge is just as good, and it’s made in America and less expensive. I have also given the Paula Deen brand one that you can get at Target as a gift. It’s around $60 and beautiful!

      Also, when you are shopping for one, keep in mind the temperature rating of the handle on the lid. Some have plastic-type handles that aren’t rated for very high temps.

      I am actually looking at getting a second one – a seasoned one (instead of enamel coated) with a well in the lid for coals on a campfire, mostly because I can’t get enough dutch oven cooking!

  6. Cynthia in Denver

    A very large mixing bowl!!! The 5 qt mixing bowl is the one wedding gift that always get used!

  7. Flower Gifts

    I would agree with all that are in the list and also I would add a lrage mixing bowl. I have never seen bamboo spoons…I must keep my eyes peeled fot one of those!

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