We all have our favorite kitchen items that we couldn’t live without. Most of the items on my list are ones I have used forever…or at least since I got married. That means that these products have served me well for many years since many were gifts I received at my wedding shower (cough, cough) years ago. Of course, the links here are to the newer products in the line since mine are ancient. But the fact that I’ve used mine for so many years means that they’re reliable. And since I’m a frugal girl at heart, I don’t want to have to replace items that I don’t have to.
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These items are essential in every kitchen!
There are some items that you just must have if you’re going to do any cooking or baking in your kitchen (and if you’re not doing any cooking or baking, why have a kitchen at all?).
- You need a good set of pots and pans. We’ve used our set of stainless steel cookware forever. Actually, Jungle Jim had the set we use before we got married and it’s still as good as the day he got it. There are lots of sets out there but with a good stainless steel set you can’t go wrong.
- You’ll also need a basic set of metal bake ware. The bare minimum you need is at least one 9×13 pan, a cookie sheet, a loaf pan, and a muffin tin. Personally, I’d suggest you have two of each, but if money or space is tight you can get buy with just one of each. We prefer to use aluminum bake ware. It’s a personal preference because we’re always cognizant that the coatings on some pans may potentially contain chemicals we don’t want to ingest.
- A knife sharpening tool. Dull knives are more likely to cause you to have an accident because you’re going to struggle when using it. While it may sound counter-intuitive, a good sharp knife cuts more smoothly which means less sawing and tugging – which means less likelihood that you’ll slip and cut yourself. Jungle Jim swears by a diamond coated sharpener and we keep one very similar to this on the kitchen island at all times.
Good knives are a kitchen must have
Either of the two knife sets above will give you good service for years.
- The knife set from Cuisinart is a little less expensive and I like that it has stainless steel handles. This makes it feel really good in your hand and my favorite chef knife is all steel – and I love the way it feels.
- This set of knives from J. A. Henckels is a little more expensive than the other set. However, my Aunt Linda (who was a SERIOUS cook!) swore by this brand. We’ve got several of their knives we inherited from my mother and they are definitely good! The price difference between the two sets isn’t enormous and either set will last for ages.
Small appliances are must have items in any kitchen
First off, an electric mixer is a must have for every kitchen because there are so many foods that need mixing – you’ll truly use this appliance for everything from cakes to mashed potatoes. And while a hand mixer does the job for lots of smaller recipes, if you’ve only got room for one mixer then I recommend the kind like this that is a standing mixer. The stand keeps you from getting so tired holding the hand mixer for extended periods for recipes that require longer mixing time.
I’ve used my Sunbeam mixture for ages. It was a wedding gift from my grandmother and let’s just say that it’s still going strong (cough,cough) many years later.
I know there are more expensive mixers on the market. And if you’re a professional baker then the price difference might be worth it since they generally have more attachments. But for most of us, I don’t recommend paying a lot more money simply for the current “it” brand. Personally, I prefer to keep my money in my pocket and I am more into value and reliability than I am into brand labels. And I’ve never had money to waste so affordability it crucial.
The next item that every kitchen needs is a blender. I use my blender for everything from chopping nuts to mixing frozen strawberry daiquiris.
There are immersion mixers that are hand held that you can actually hold and put down in a pot of pan. And these are nice when you’re trying to blend a soup base or something similar. But if you’ve only got room (or budget) for one blender, go with a standing one like the model above – it’s more versatile and you’ll use it in more situations than the immersion blender.
I’ve noticed lately that blenders have gotten expensive. Do some comparison shopping here. A decent blender shouldn’t cost a fortune.
I’d highly recommend that any kitchen have one or the other of the two following items. I don’t think it’s necessary to have both, and while I’ll admit that I’m a long time fan of slow cookers, I can see where the instant pot may be the choice for lots of people because of their versatility. I think this one comes down to personal preference and how you tend to cook…are you a planner who likes to have dinner ready when you GET home, or do you often find yourself needing dinner in a hurry and you prefer cooking it at the time. Neither is better, they’re just for different styles.
- Slow Cooker – The big one that I currently use is made by Rival. I’ve had it forever and I like that it can be programmed to high or low and for a set cooking length. This particular link is to the same style but made by Crock Pot. I’ve got a a smaller slow cooker made by Crock Pot so I can vouch for their reliability. I almost hate to admit it, but my kitchen currently is home to four separate crock pots of various sizes. I love being able to put a roast in one while carrots cook in another. At holiday time, they all get pulled out and used!
- Instant Pot – I don’t currently have an instant pot but I am curious about them. I like the fact that they perform a variety of functions so their a multi-use item (and I tend to be a girl who prefers multi-use over single-use because it’s less items to spend money on and to store). This one looks large enough to satisfy most cooks and has a huge number of great reviews. And it’s affordable which is always a factor for me.
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Glass baking dishes are extremely versatile
- Glass 9×13 Baking pan – I pull these 9 x 13 pans out to use at least once a week. I like the small built-in handle on the ends and they fit perfectly in my carrying case. I recently bought one of these for our daughter when she moved into her first apartment and she was thrilled to get one of her own (which I didn’t really expect since she hasn’t been that interested in cooking before).
- Glass Loaf Pans – I know that lots of people bake their breads in metal loaf pans but I prefer using glass baking dishes for breads. It just seems to me that the breads bake more evenly and the bottoms don’t get overdone and crispy while the middle is left too doughy. This one comes with a lid which I really like. The ones I’ve got don’t have lids but if I was just starting out, this is what I’d get. Just think of the aluminum foil I could save!
- 9×13 Carrying Case – This carry case for your 9×13 glass baking dish is perfect when you need to take a casserole, lasagna, or cake to a function at work or church. It’s insulated so your food stays hot or cold. It zips and has handles that secure.
must have items for pizza lovers
- Pizza pans – We love pizza at our house! And Jungle Jim makes the best homemade pizza dough and sauce (have I mentioned that homemade pizza is SO much cheaper as well?). When our daughter was younger she would have friends come over to spend the night they would always request his pizza for supper. A couple of years ago one of her old friends came to spend a weekend with us in our new town. When we asked what she wanted us to serve while her friend was here she smiled sheepishly and replied, “She’s already asked if we can have Dad’s pizza.” Yep, the man can cook.
- Pizza roller – When we moved a few years ago, somehow we lost the pizza cutter that Jungle Jim had when he married me. To say he was unhappy was an understatement! He used this particular roller every time he’d make pizza, pie crust, or any type of bread. It was a calamity of epic proportions and I figured I’d never find another one. However, I finally did find one recently and things are happy in my kitchen again. The thing he loves about this roller is the different sized rollers on each end – built-in versatility. You cannot imagine the relief and happiness when I found this replacement (imagine the heavens opening up and sunshine flooding down – it was that big of a deal!).
Related Post: How To Organize Your Kitchen Pantry In Five Steps
Measuring tools are essential must haves in any kitchen
- Pyrex measuring cups are another item that I simply must have in my kitchen. They’re virtually indestructible and I like that you can get very accurate with your liquid ingredients. This set of 4 different sizes nestles together for more compact storage.
- And of course, you’ve got to have a set of measuring spoons. This particular set contains both measuring spoons and measuring cups for your dry ingredients (yes, you need both kinds). Since they’re metal and not plastic they’re going to last forever
The right storage containers are a kitchen essential
The final item every kitchen needs is a set (or two) or airtight canisters. These canisters from The Container Store are the ones I use. I have a couple in the large size to hold sugar and flour. I use the smaller size to hold tea bags, oatmeal, cornmeal, etc. It’s easy to tell at a glance what needs to go on the shopping list since you can see how much is in the container without having to open it.
Related Post: Yes, You CAN Save Money At The Grocery Store!
If you need to replace broken dishes
Replacements.com – If you aren’t familiar with this website then it’s worth your time to check it out. If you’ve broken any of your china pattern and need a replacement, this is the place to look. They have a huge variety of patterns of china, crystal, and silver. If your pattern has been discontinued, they probably still have items because they also buy pieces from individuals. This is a great option if you need to get rid of pieces for any reason. You do have to contact their customer service department for what they’re currently buying as it depends on their inventory. But I’ve sold a large amount of crystal pieces to them and been paid promptly. Do be aware that you are responsible for paying for shipping and handling though which can get a little pricey with heavy items.
save money and know what’s for dinner each night
Now that you’re all settled into your new kitchen, I encourage you to begin meal planning if you’re not already. This is a great way to save money and know what you’re cooking for dinner each night.
However, I know that sitting down each week (or month) to plan menus is not everyone’s cup of tea.
If that’s you then there are subscription services that do the work for you. You sign up, pick the kind of menu plans you want to receive, and they you’re sent the plan, recipes, and grocery lists. So for a small fee you get the benefits of meal planning without the work.
If you’re not sure if this is something that’s for you or not, you can try it out for free at Meal Planning Central. You get one week for free and you don’t have to enter any payment information to sign up. But if you DO like it, then you’re looking at $9 a month to save you the work…but you’re getting the benefits.
Might be worth a look!