Here you will see me using practical kitchen gear. I can’t afford to have top of the line cooking appliances, Le Creuset everything, and a dream Williams-Sonoma kitchen. However, there are a few kitchen essentials worth splurging on.
I don’t have a beautiful, bright kitchen. I have to cook my food between 1pm – 5pm for optimal lighting. Otherwise, I’m left to the mercy of the under the cabinet “daylight” LED lights or the daunting fluorescent lights.
But remember, I am you. I am writing this for you. Life is not what the internet makes it out to be. I literally have one set of each size dinner plate and one bowl that I use to take my pictures in. The rest is Nana’s hand me down corningware. If you are one of the lucky ones to have a beautiful, dream kitchen with everything you could imagine, then can I please be a guest chef?! If you don’t have your dream kitchen, or even enough counter space that is okay too. It’s all about being practical and grateful for what is in front of you.
With all of that being said, I must say there are some items you want to invest in. This is only because it will make your life tremendously easier and make cooking more enjoyable. If you have tools and utensils that actually do what you are asking them, that’s one less spoon you have to use for the day. (If you haven’t heard of the spoon theory, look it up). Again, our goal is to work smarter, not harder.
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A Good Knife
Y’all I got my Cuisinart knife from Amazon. I’m not saying you need a full $250 knife block set like I used to have before Ida stole it. You really just need one good knife. If you are new to this, get a few bandaids too because you WILL cut yourself as you are learning.
Hey Emily, you are me. I have arthritis in my hands or carpal tunnel, making it incredibly difficult to hold and chop anything. No prob y’all, when there is a will there’s a way. Skip the knife, get a great food processor. Now this is significantly more expensive than one knife, but will make chopping a breeze! The deconstruction and cleaning is not difficult either. With most, you can put all the pieces in the dishwasher.
I did have one of those slap and chop things because I hated cutting onions, but that was way worse. They are horrible to clean and leave you more frustrated than if you just cut the onions yourself!
I will say with a good knife comes multiple cutting boards, you know, to avoid cross contamination. Please get the easy to clean ones. The butcher block boards look so nice and luxe, but who can actually clean that without ruining it? Not me, so someone please share how to take care of it.
I don’t think I have said this enough, but this will be your best friend! Literally make anything in 20 minutes or less. It’s perfect for when you don’t feel like cooking, but also don’t have anything to eat. My husband works in finance and is obsessed with saving money and setting goals. We will go to the lengths of Narnia in the deep freezer before spending money on some kind of take out. The air fryer is perfect for those days. Another pro is that these go on sale all of the time! Check out Amazon and Target. I got mine from BBB because I had a gift card and you know, the never ending 20% off.
Cast Iron Anything
I had 2 amazing enameled, cast iron dutch ovens my best friend’s mom gave me as a wedding present. I used those pots for literally EVERYTHING. I miss them dearly. You could make an amazing steak, a roast, pulled pork, soup, go from the stove top to the oven. Literally anything. That is another staple that will make your food amazing because it simply exists. This essential comes with a warning: most of these pots/pans are VERY heavy making cleaning and lifting difficult. If you don’t have another member of your household that will be willing to help you move these heavy pots around on the days you don’t feel like you can lift a finger, then maybe just invest in a smaller quart size first. They are worth it and come in a variety of sizes, colors, and price points. I even saw one at TJ Maxx the other day! The pots are so aesthetically pleasing, you can keep them on your stove top. They will make your food look like its tastes good!
I feel like this needs no explanation. You can go on Pinterest and find a million things to freeze and cook in the crockpot. I do find a lot of those recipes to be processed items and especially heavy in sodium and dairy. My goal is to work on some healthier set it and forget it recipes. Another caveat about crockpots is that cleaning can be cumbersome with how heavy the pot itself is. I simply cannot handle those shower cap looking liners for crock pots. To me its worth the exhaustion of cleaning out the pot, because I didn’t necessarily have to cook the meal.
This just makes me feel better as a whole. Something about leftovers sitting in plastic, stained container makes me want to blaargh. Your glass containers won’t stain, usually have color coded lids, and you can actually see what is inside. All too often leftovers get stuck in the back of the fridge in a dark container never to be seen again.
Those are my top five essentials. Also, just having a few nice items makes you feel more motivated to use them. You don’t have to rid your whole kitchen, just reset on a few items that will make your life easier. If you really like to bake there are a few other essentials that are worth investing in, but chemistry was never my strong subjective and to me baking = chemistry.
Hope this helps! Let me know what works best for you and your top kitchen essentials.