Inside: In every homemaker’s kitchen lies a bevy of kitchen gadgets; however, some never get used. Stop wasting money on kitchen items you won’t use. Find out which essential kitchen items every homemaker needs to have in their kitchen.
Just about every kitchen has a drawer full of kitchen gadgets, gizmos, and what-nots. When was the last time you looked in your drawer wondering when and if you’ll ever use half the stuff that’s in there?
You’re not alone. Most of us buy kitchen gadgets thinking at the time, it’s either pretty nifty or you’ll may use it eventually. For most of us, it just lies dormant in the drawer like a bear waiting for spring to approach.
The good news is, it’s time to take stock of what you own. This may hurt a little bit, but it’s time to throw out the kitchen gadgets, gizmos, and what-nots you’ve been hoarding and replace them with kitchen essentials you’re actually going to use.
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Kitchen essential items every kitchen needs
If cost plays a huge factor when it comes to trying to figure out which essential kitchen item you need, the three brands which are very cost-effective, durable, and work great are, Tasty, KitchenAid, and Oxo brands.
Kitchen utensil set
Having the right kitchen utensils is so important, especially when you’re in the midst of cooking. The easiest way for homemakers to start their kitchen utensil collection is by purchasing a set of utensils. There are many different utensils sets out there, stainless, silicone, plastic, etc.. and it can honestly be overwhelming, especially when each one has its own merits and faults.
Most utensil sets offer a variety of different utensils, such as slotted spoons, pasta servers, spatula, and ladles. While that’s great and every cook should have at least one utensil of each type, not every cook is going to need everything that’s included in a set.
As a homemaker, you’ll soon come to realize you’re going to need more than one type of a particular utensil. In fact, you may find you need more spatulas than you do slotted spoons. Buying one kitchen utensil set is ideal, but you should also supplement your utensils with other ones you find yourself reaching for more often.
A kitchen utensil set is great if you’re new to setting up a kitchen, or just new to cooking. It allows you to figure out which utensils you’ll frequently use, without breaking the bank.
KitchenAid and OXO make some of the best kitchen utensils. If your existing utensils need a facelift, the KitchenAid utensils listed below are amazing quality, and ones you’ll be using for years to come.
- KitchenAid Basting Spoon, 13.5 inches, Aqua
- KitchenAid Classic Slotted Turner, One Size, Aqua
- KitchenAid Slotted spoon, 13.5 inches, Aqua
- KitchenAid Gourmet Utility Whisk, 10.5-Inch, Matte Aqua Sky
Measuring cups and spoons
Measuring cups and spoons are one of those kitchen essentials you’re going to need a lot of.
When it comes to measuring cups and spoons, you’re going to need ones that measure out the liquid and dry goods.
Liquid measuring cups
Although you can pretty much get away with just one liquid measuring cup, you’ll find while in the midst of cooking you’re either going to have to put the measurable liquid in another cup if there’s another liquid ingredient requiring measurement.
This is where you may require several liquid measuring cups. The majority of cups on the market today offer the basic 1 and 2-cup measurement; however, it will be beneficial if you can find a set or even an individual cup that offers a smaller or larger measurement level.
Pampered Chef offers a set that consists of 4 different cups measuring ¼ cup, 1 cup, 2 cups, and 4 cups. This is an ideal set to own, however, what happened to the 3 cup measurement?
You can also find liquid measuring cups in any big box store or your local grocery store. Pyrex and Anchor Hocking are highly recommended and are two of the most popular and beloved glass liquid measuring cups on the market today.
Measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients
Measuring spoons are extremely versatile and so reasonably priced, that you’ll want to have several sets on hand. Measuring spoons are perfect for both wet and dry ingredients that require small quantities.
If you only have one set of measuring spoons, and your recipe calls for 1 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp garlic salt, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 1 tsp soy sauce, and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes, you’ll have to clean your measuring spoon off after each ingredient, especially going between wet and dry ingredients.
Doesn’t that seem like an awful lot of added work?
The good news is, that measuring cups and measuring spoon sets are so inexpensive.
You can find plastic and stainless steel measuring cups at big box stores, online through Amazon, or even at your grocery store. One of the best sets with a nice assortment of measurements is the measuring cup and spoon set from Tasty. This set typically sells for under $6 at Walmart.
In the midst of cooking, you’ll be happy you have several sets of measuring cups and spoons readily on hand.
Deciding on a good set of cookware shouldn’t be confusing; yet, for most, it’s a struggle to find a great set at a reasonable price.
Like every other kitchen essential, cookware is subjective to your wants and needs. You should never purchase a specific cookware set because your favorite chef or food TV personality has their name on it. You should look for a set that won’t require you to take out a second mortgage on your home, but one that suits your needs.
When it comes to picking out a cookware set you need to take into consideration the size of your household, and the type of meals you would typically cook. If you never plan on making soups, chili, or pasta, you may not need to own a stockpot. Perhaps a 4-quart saucepan will be sufficient for your needs.
Now, there’s no telling if you’re going to need a stockpot sometime down the road, but if that’s the case you can either purchase one from open stock or one from another company.
There is no rule stating all of your cookware needs to match.
There are a few essential cookware items you’ll want to consider adding to your kitchen.
Skillets come in a variety of materials, such as but not limited to stainless steel, non-stick, cast iron, enamel-coated cast iron, carbon steel, and aluminum. Skillets tend to come sized as 8-inch, 10-inch, and 12-inch.
If you’re not sure what type you would like, it’s always recommended to get at least one non-stick pan, especially if you’re planning on cooking eggs.
There is a ton of controversy regarding non-stick skillets and the ill effects they can have on you if the Teflon gets scratched. Some theorize you can get cancer from ingesting the polytetrafluoroethylene, aka Teflon, due to it being toxic, and there are some theories, a scratched non-stick skillet will have no ill effects on your health.
If you’d like to learn more about non-stick coating, you may be interested in reading the FDA Coating Compliance Information by the Cookware Manufacturers Association.
Regardless of which side you’re on, you’ll want to pay close attention to the surface of the skillet. If and when you see any deterioration, cuts, and or abrasions in the skillet’s non-stick surface, you should replace it, as a precaution.
Like skillets, saucepans come in a variety of materials, and different sizes. The most common sizes are 1–1.5 quart, 2–2.5 quart, 3 quarts, and 4 quarts.
It’s best to own a minimum of 2 saucepans, but your best bet would be to purchase a 2 quart and a 4-quart saucepan.
The smaller saucepans are perfect for single servings of soup, and oatmeal; whereas the larger size saucepans are a little more versatile and are large enough to cook most all items.
When you purchase saucepans, you’ll want to make sure they come with tight-fitting lids. Some saucepans come without lids, so you’ll want to verify what you’re getting before making a purchase.
One note of caution when it comes to buying cookware sets. The packaging may state it’s a set of 9, but when you open the box you realize there are only 5 pans. Unfortunately, manufacturers count the covers as part of the set, and they’ll typically have a saucepan and skillet that have the same circumference. They do this to save themselves money during production because they only give you one cover for two pans.
If you decide you want to purchase cookware that will last a lifetime, you may want to consider investing in All-Clad. Yes, they’re expensive, but they won’t warp and they make even a beginner cook feel like a chef.
Now, if you’re looking for a non-stick skillet, you may find it to be more beneficial to choose a brand that’s not that expensive, just in case it scratches and you feel the need to replace it. It doesn’t hurt as much replacing a $40 skillet as it would a $200 skillet.
Cutting boards come in various materials, such as but not limited to wood, hard durable plastic, and bamboo. There are cheap alternatives to cutting boards, such as the flexible cutting boards you can typically find at the dollar store. While these are great in a pinch, they typically won’t last very long and tend to curl up and move while you’re using them.
Cutting boards are a personal choice. Some people desire to own a wood cutting board just for sheer beauty, while others look for a more functional one.
Regardless of which one you choose, it’s in your best interest to own a minimum of 2 different cutting boards. One for raw meat and the other for ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
All cutting boards will tend to acquire small cuts, chops, and nicks on the surface of the board. These imperfections are the perfect spot for bacteria to set up their temporary home.
There are a few things you’ll need to consider when choosing between a wood or hard durable plastic cutting board.
- Is it easy to maintain? Does it need to be oiled or conditioned?
- How much does it cost?
- Is it easy to clean, or is it dishwasher safe?
- How big is it?
Depending on the size of your kitchen and your storage space, you may want to invest in having a large and small cutting board for your raw meat, and a large and small cutting board for your ready-to-eat foods.
Tasty makes an amazing cutting board set that is ideal for cutting fruits and vegetables. It’s relatively inexpensive and holds up well and is very sturdy. What’s great about this particular cutting board is, that it’s multi-functional. Once you’re done cutting your fruits and vegetables, you can just slide them into the colored removable trays and set them aside for when you need them.
Colander & Strainer
A colander and strainer are essential kitchen items and one every homemaker needs. Colanders tend to be used mostly to drain water from pasta, but there are so many other wonderful uses for them.
Colanders are a homemaker’s best friend when you’re in a hurry to defrost some cooked frozen shrimp, langostino, or frozen berries. Just place your frozen food in the colander, place it under cool water and let the water drain out from the holes.
Colanders come in different materials, such as metal, plastic, and enamel. Although plastic colanders are more inexpensive, they can melt if they’re placed too close to a flame, or even if you pour in a stockpot full of boiling water and potatoes. The holes in plastic colanders are sometimes larger, which will allow some types of foods; such as pasta, to escape from the confines of the colander.
When choosing a colander, you’ll want to make sure the holes are of adequate size and the majority of holes are towards the bottom for easier drainage. You’ll also want to make sure the colander you select has either a base or feet that allows it to stand around an inch or so from the bottom of your sink.
The differences between a colander and a strainer
A strainer typically comes with a handle to hold, is comprised of fine mesh and it’s perfect for rinsing off small items, such as berries, and grapes, or draining small-grained foods, such as rinsing the starch off of rice. A colander is larger, has bigger holes, and is attached to either a base or foot.
For the times when a colander is too large for the job, a strainer will come in handy. Both colanders and strainers come in a variety of sizes, and it’s often helpful to have a few of each on hand in your kitchen.
If space is an issue, you may want to consider purchasing a collapsible silicone colander that has extendable arms. Since silicone is heat-safe, you won’t have to worry about the boiling water melting it.
If you decide to get only one colander and one strainer, get a colander that’s big enough to accommodate a 5lb bag of potatoes, and a strainer that’s no smaller than 5-inches wide.
Mixing Bowl Set
Types of mixing bowls
Mixing bowls come in a plethora of different materials. The best mixing bowls would be made from stainless steel, glass, or plastic.
Stainless steel mixing bowls can vary from being ultra-expensive to very inexpensive. The best thing about stainless steel mixing bowls is, that they won’t ever shatter. They may dent, but they won’t break.
Ceramic mixing bowls are heavy, chip easily, and come in a huge variety of colors. Ceramic mixing bowls tend to be used as serving bowls.
Glass mixing bowls are very heavy, very breakable, and made from heat-resistant tempered glass. Glass mixing bowls can act as microwave-safe bowls and serving bowls. The sizing of glass mixing bowls is somewhat limited, and they tend to be a tad more expensive than stainless steel bowls.
You can purchase glass mixing bowls with sealable lids, which makes them ideal as a serving vessel or one to store a large number of leftovers.
Pyrex and Anchor Hocking make excellent glass mixing bowls, which are relatively affordable at your local big box or grocery store.
Plastic mixing bowls not only are very inexpensive, but they’re available in a myriad of fun colors and patterns.
One of the main concerns about using plastic mixing bowls is, that plastic tends to trap scents and is prone to stains. If you’re using a plastic mixing bowl to mix up some onions and garlic, you wouldn’t want to use the same bowl to mix up a quick batch of chocolate chip cookies.
Regardless of how much you wash the mixing bowl, the possibility of the scent of the garlic and onion impregnated the bowl.
Mixing bowl sets typically contain anywhere between three-to-six bowls, and some sets may include more. When you’re shopping for a mixing bowl set don’t just buy the set that has the most bowls. If the set includes sizes you’re never going to use, you’re just going to add clutter to your kitchen.
Most homemakers will only need somewhere in the ballpark of three-to-five mixing bowls, some other homemakers (cough, cough….raises hand here), may have more than 12. Hey, this is a judgment-free zone.
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing knives. The number one question you need to ask yourself is, “do I want chef quality”, or “do I want an everyday knife set”?
For most homemakers finding a functional knife set of good quality isn’t that difficult to find. Although, like everything else, opinions will vary.
When you’re looking for an everyday knife set, quality should win out over price.
The second question you should ask yourself is, “Do I need a full knife set with a block or just a few knives”?
Knife sets are great; however, you may find yourself never reaching for a carving, bread, boning knife, or meat cleaver. You may find yourself constantly grabbing a Santoku, utility, or paring knife instead.
If you only use a few knives, it would be beneficial for you to purchase some open stock knives.
When purchasing knives, you’ll want to see how the knife feels in your hands before buying them. If you have small hands, one with a larger handle may be cumbersome and that can cause a minor injury, or worse yet, you can lose a finger.
If you want to learn more about knife safety, you’ll want to read How to play safe in the kitchen (6 kitchen safety tips no one mentions).
The word “quality” was mentioned above; however, just because a knife is reasonably priced, it doesn’t mean it lacks quality.
A great example of this would be the 15-piece knife set from Tasty. These amazing knives sell for under $40 at Walmart.
I own and love these knives, but to be perfectly honest, aside from the steak knives, I’ve only used the Santoku, utility, paring, and slicer knives. For the life of me, I don’t have a clue what I’m supposed to do with the bird’s beak knife. To me, it looks like something you should use to clean the dirt out from under your nails.
Although this knife set is dirt cheap, it’s amazing quality.
When it comes to deciding on what knife set or knives to choose, you’ll always want to do some research regarding the shape, length, sharpening frequency, and the type of blade you’re considering.
Other essential kitchen items
While this list is not inclusive of all the essential kitchen items, these are the bare minimum essential items every kitchen should have.