Basic and Essential Kitchen Tools For the New Homemaker

Did you know that June is the most popular month for weddings?

I didn’t know this 8 years ago when I married my wonderful husband, Sergi, but it just so happens that I was a June bride. It was a happy day that I will cherish forever, the day I married my best friend.

After a romantic honeymoon, I moved to Florida to join my new husband. Setting up housekeeping was so exciting. I was absolutely thrilled to be a wife and a homemaker. I was always such a homebody and loved to putter away in the kitchen ever since I was a little girl, so to have a home of my own was very satisfying.

I absolutely LOVE being a wife and a homemaker.

I absolutely LOVE being a wife and a homemaker.

Starting out with absolutely nothing and having to acquire everything is a little bit daunting but also really fun. Of course, when it’s your very first kitchen, you can’t be exactly sure of what kind of cookware, bakeware, kitchen tools and appliances you will need and actually use. Over the years, I’ve been able to really see which of my kitchen equipment I absolutely love, what I use all the time and what has turned out to be a nuisance. It’s such a shame when you have to replace something that you bought because it just doesn’t fit your needs or doesn’t work as well as you expected it too. Now, I am do a lot of research before I make a purchase. You can be sure that the things I recommend for you are things that I have personally use and love, did extensive research on or have heard many great reviews from people who I trust. I get SO MANY questions from many of you asking me what kind of kitchen tools, pots, pans, appliances I recommend, so I decided to write this post, hoping that it will be helpful to some of you, especially the new homemakers.

There are so many other great kitchen tools, appliances, cookware and bakeware that I have acquired in the past 8 years and of course, I will share it with you in the future. You know how much I love order and organization, so I am creating a separate post with more details and products of Cookware (pots and pans), Baking Tools, Kitchen Tools, Small Kitchen Appliances, Grilling Tools, Cookbooks and More. If you have any specific requests or questions, I am more than happy to help out in any way that I can.

Click on the Title or Picture of any of the items and it will bring you to the Amazon page with more details about each item. 

Cookware:

Most people will buy a set of cookware when they first start to outfit a kitchen of their own. It has been my experience that you usually end up with several useless pieces that you never end up using. It’s my opinion that you’ll get more of your money’s worth if you simply assemble your own set of cookware and buy exactly what you need. One of the best advantages about buying good quality equipment is that it’s a worthy investment and will serve you for many, many years.

10 inch skillet (either stainless steel or cast iron)

Having a good quality stainless steel skillet or a cast iron skillet is crucial. You will be able to create a really nice crust and great browning on your food with either of these skillets and also make great sauces to accompany your food. Both of these skillets are really great quality and if you take good care of them, you can most likely pass them on to your grandchildren. I wrote in more detail about skillets in another post, so you can read all about it there. The cast iron skillet is significantly cheaper, so if you’re deciding between the two, that’s the one that I would go for.

Cast Iron Skillet

10 inch nonstick skillet 

A nonstick skillet is also something you should have in the kitchen. You can’t beat a nonstick skillet for cooking delicate things, like seafood, eggs, stir fries or even starchy things, like potatoes. A cast iron skillet or a stainless steel skillet just won’t do the job right. Your food will be stuck to the bottom of the skillet with no hope for release. With a good nonstick skillet, you food will easily slide out of the skillet and be perfectly seared but not torn apart.

Nonstick Skillet

Small Saucepan (2.5 quarts)

A small saucepan can perform many jobs, such as making a sauce, cooking or reheating a small amount of food or liquid. This is another piece of equipment that I use almost on a daily basis: heating up some milk, melting butter, cooking a small portion of rice, etc.

Small Saucepan

Medium sized pot (dutch oven)

A medium sized pot can be used to make soups, braises, roasts, broth, pasta, rice, etc. The stainless steel pot is less expensive, but if you buy the Le Creuset dutch oven, it is also something that you can pass on to your grandchildren. The quality is phenomenal. You can get a great sear on meat, cook soups, stew, broths without the food scorching on the bottom and the enamel coating helps to protect the pot which promotes easy cleaning. You can even use the dutch oven to bake bread, or other braises, roasts, etc, since it’s oven safe. I have both and I use them all the time too, but I do cook a lot.

Stainless Steel Soup Pot

OR

Stockpot (12 quarts)

I make a lot of chicken broth, so the stockpot is something I definitely make good use of. If you only make broth on rare occasions, a dutch oven will do the job and you don’t need to buy a stockpot. A stockpot is also great for things like cooking corn on the cob, a large portion of Kompot, and also cooking pasta.

Stock Pot

Bakeware:

Large Rimmed Baking Sheet (half sheet size)

How many different ways do I use the rimmed baking sheet? Impossible to count. I love to roast vegetables on it, bake cookies, cake rolls, sheet cakes, use it to roast chicken, turkey, roast beef and much, much more. It’s important to buy a good quality baking sheet, so it’s sturdy and doesn’t buckle in the oven and cooks the food evenly.

Baking Sheet

9 inch Round Cake Pan

I would recommend buying 2 cake pans, since you can bake both cake layers at the same time and the second part of the batter will not deflate as you’re waiting for the first layer to bake. A flimsy cake pan will not cook your cake layers evenly, your cake layers may crack and be burned on the outside before cooking through in the center.

Round Cake Pan

9×13 inch casserole dish

Casseroles, coffeecakes, zapekanka, lasagna, cobblers – there are so many dishes to make in this simple baking dish. I really like the glass baking dishes, since they so the job really well, and are really inexpensive. The only downside to the glass dish is that it’s not safe to use under the broiler. The manufacturer warns against sudden temperature changes, and there have been many cases where the glass would shatter into a million pieces, which is so dangerous. For most recipes, you won’t have to worry about this, but the porcelain baking dish is broiler safe, so that is a great option for casseroles where you want to crisp up the top at the very end of cooking.

OR

Cooling Racks

I use cooling racks most often when I’m roasting something in the oven and want to elevate the food off of the baking sheet, so that the heat from the oven will be able to circulate all the way around the food, creating crispness all the way around, such as the Crunchy Baked Chicken. It’s great to use for Roast Chicken, Beef, Pork and Turkey. Any time you want to make anything that is breaded and you don’t want it to get soggy on the bottom, the wire rack would be the solution. Of course, cooling racks are also great for their most obvious use – cooling things, such as cookies, cakes, etc.

Cooling Rack

Muffin Pan

A muffin pan is what you will need to make muffins, cupcakes, tarts, baked donuts, and much more. It is a great option for a simple dessert that doesn’t take too much work. You can also use it to make savory things, like baking hash brown potatoes with eggs, or a Cheesy Egg Puffs.

Muffin Pan

Kitchen Tools:

Pepper Mill

If you start using freshly ground black pepper in your food, you will never go back to the preground black pepper. The flavor can’t even compare. I really like this pepper mill because it’s the right size, not too big and not too small, it looks very sleek and elegant and you can adjust how coarse or fine you want the pepper to be.

Pepper Mill

Wooden Spoon

A good wooden spoon is like an extension of my hand. I reach for it all the time to stir something in the skillet, in the pot or mixing food in a bowl.

Wooden Spoon

Whisk

I also can’t imagine my kitchen without a whisk. Whisking eggs, heavy cream, combining liquid ingredients, making pan sauces, and even making pancake batter, this is another simple but great tool to have on hand.

Whisk

Spatula

I love how thin this spatula is. I use it to flip smaller things and delicate things, like fish or eggs. It also won’t ruin your nonstick finishes, since it’s plastic.

Thin, Flexible Turner

This silicone spatula is heat resistant, so I use it often for stirring things in a skillet, like scrambled eggs, sautéing vegetables, making an omelet, but it’s the best for mixing batters and incorporating ingredients together. You can also use it to scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl when you’re mixing something in a standing mixer or a food processor. I love that it’s odor resistant, so if I’m stirring something with garlic, it won’t transfer the taste to the muffins that I’m making right after that.
Silicone Spatula

This can be used for pancakes, of course, but it’s also great for scooping up larger amounts of food, such as when I’m roasting potatoes in the oven, I can use this to take the potatoes off of the baking sheet.

Turner

Vegetable Peeler

This tool makes easy work of peeling potatoes, carrots, celery root and much more. I use mine practically every day. It helps to make sure that you’re peeling a really thin layer off of the vegetable, not half of the potato, or example. This is my favorite peeler. It fits perfectly in my hand and stays sharp for years. It also swivels, which gives you flexibility as you peel. 

Vegetable Peeler

Colander/Fine Mesh Strainer

You can use a fine mesh strainer in place of a colander most of the time, as long as the amount of food isn’t too much. Since I’m usually cooking for just my husband and myself, this works out great for us. A fine mesh sieve is perfect for straining broths, straining sauces, and having very smooth jams, custards and gravy.

Fine Mesh Strainer

Ladle

We eat soup at least once a week in our home, so a ladle is very important for pouring yourself a bowl of soup. I like that the handle is long and doesn’t get hot either.

Ladle

Cutting Board

I love wooden cutting boards but they are more expensive and need a bit more care. This plastic cutting board is just the right size, you can simply wash it in the dishwasher and they come in many colors, so you can buy several and designate one just for meat and another for vegetables and fruit, etc.

Cutting Board

Mixing Bowls

When I first got married, I bought a set of stainless steel bowls and I’m still using them today. They are sturdy and durable, which is great because they get used so often. I also bought a set of really good quality plastic bowls, and even though they were great for a while and I loved them, I’ve had to get rid of them over the years, because they just don’t last if you cook as much as I do.

The glass bowls are also very durable, you can use them in the microwave and even serve food in them. This set also comes with many smaller bowls, which I use all the time to prep ingredients for cooking.

Stainless Steel Bowls

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Measuring cups and spoons are very important in the kitchen, especially in baking. I really like the glass Pyrex measuring cup for liquid ingredients. I’ve had it for almost 8 years and it is still in great shape. The stainless steel measuring cups for dry ingredients and the stainless steel measuring spoons I’ve had for just as long and am very happy with them. I did have a set of plastic measuring cups that I’ve had to throw out over the years, since they broke, melted when in contact with something hot or cracked. I wrote a lot more details about Measuring Ingredients Correctly, so you can read more about it there.

Thermometer

I could go on and on about how important an instant read thermometer is in the kitchen. If you want juicy, moist meat that is tender on the inside and not rubbery and dry, please invest in a thermometer. It’s under $20, so I don’t think it will break the bank to get it, and it will make a huge difference in quality of your food. I wrote more about the Instant Read Thermometer in another post, so check it out. 

Thermometer

Box Grater

Grating carrots, cheese, potatoes, and much more is so easy with this box grater. I prefer to use a box grater, because it’s very stable since it rests on all four sides. I really like the size of the grates too, and it also stays very sharp. I’ve had mine for almost 8 years and it’s still going strong.

Box Grater

Knives:

The most important tool in the kitchen is a good knife. Whenever I cook in another kitchen, I always take one of my knives with me. It’s much easier to cut yourself with a dull knife than a sharp knife.

Of course, I really like all my knives, but I think the most important ones are the chef knife, a bread knife and a paring knife.

Knives

  • Chef’s Knife

    A chef’s knife, you can use for almost anything, from cutting up a chicken, to chopping, dicing and mincing.

  • Paring Knife

A paring knife is perfect to use when you want to do some finer work, such as cutting out eyes and dark spots out of potatoes, hulling strawberries and any other jobs that require more precision.

  • Bread Knife

A bread knife is serrated and is really great for cutting things that have a hard crust and a soft interior, such as bread or tomatoes.

Small Appliances:

Hand Mixer

A hand mixer is awesome. You can do almost anything with a hand mixer that a standing mixer will do, for a fraction of the cost. I used a hand mixer for my first 5 years of marriage, and let me tell you, it is a workhorse. You can do almost any cake and cookie batters with  it, whip up whipped cream, and even make really fluffy mashed potatoes.

Hand Held Mixer

Food Processor/Blender

My husband got me this lovely combo on one of my birthdays and I use both all the time. The food processor is a phenomenal tool to have, for chopping ingredients, making pie dough, pizza dough, salsas, etc. The blender is used to liquify ingredients, such as pureeing soup, making smoothies, and even crepe batter. Ideally, it would be nice to invest in a really great quality blender and food processor separately, but it’s much cheaper to buy the set, until you are ready to upgrade, which is exactly what I did.

Blender Food Processor

Electric Water Kettle

An electric water kettle boils water so quickly and is essential if you’re a tea drinker. Even if you don’t drink tea, it’s very convenient whenever you need boiled water for a recipe. We also use ours non stop right now, so we can have sterilized water for baby formula.

Water Kettle

Favorite Cookbook:

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Cookbook

I own a lot of cookbooks and I love buying new ones. I’m always looking for new recipes, ingredient combinations and beautiful pictures of food. However, if I had to narrow it down to just one, I would pick this one. It has many basic recipes that are from a trusted source and always turn out perfectly. It also has many cooking tips and equipment reviews. It’s a wonderful book to have as a resource as well. I love to have a few of these books on hand to give as gifts, especially at bridal showers.

Disclosure: There are affiliate links in this post. This simply means sometimes I recommend a product or service and if you choose to purchase that product or service from my recommendation, I will get a small referral commission. Of course, this is at no extra cost to you but it does help to pay a tiny bit for the work I put in to creating recipes and sharing tips with you. I really appreciate your support. Thank you. The main intent of this post is to simply share my experience with you, so if you happen to find a great deal on a product I recommend at a garage sale, anywhere else online, or at a store, by all means, take advantage of it:). I won’t be mad, I promise. 

 

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Comments

  1. Irene m. says

    Hello olga and thank you for sharing with us. I wad just wondering what brand is your knifes or what would you recommend?

    • says

      Irene, Click on the link or the picture of all the items that I posted and it will send you to the page will all the information of each product.

  2. Oksana says

    Thank you for writing this. I’ve been married just about a year longer than you, and I wish I had this type of information in advance. It took me up until last year to realize that there were many tools in my kitchen that have been taking up space that I didn’t love, or just never used, but I was afraid to throw or give away. But since I was tired of having a large kitchen, but always too much clutter, and no space for things, I decided to get serious. I read a book suggested by Focus on the Family “The get yourself organized project: 21 steps to less mess and stress” by Kathi Lipp, and that got me inspired (very easy and fun reading).
    Now the items you mentioned in this post are mostly what I have (just maybe some different brands), and I don’t need all the extra tools that only do one thing, like peel an apple, or a pan that never gets used because it came in a set. I gave those up to thrift stores. Now it is even easier to cook/bake because I only have what works and doesn’t make me stressed out.
    Olga, I am looking to buy a new blender/food processor combo. I was looking at something like the Ninja Kitchen System. But I’m looking at a picture of yours and you have one by Cuisinart. Which do you think may be a better buy? How many cups does your food processor hold? We are family of 5, and definitely need a bigger food processor.
    Thanks.

    • says

      I would have to say the same thing, Oksana. I wish I had all the research and experience back when I first started buying all this stuff.
      I actually have a separate food processor now, it’s a KitchenAid 12-Cup Food Processor, but unfortunately it has been discontinued and they now have the 13 cup one. I absolutely love it. Maybe you can still find it online. I’ve read a lot of reviews and it seems like the Cuisinart Custom 14-Cup Food Processor is a great one also.

  3. Tanya says

    Thank you so very much for this post!!! I was going to massage you asking for post like this!!! Love it!!! For next post if possible we would like to know what you like to keep at home like spices what you use for what kind of potatoes I usually buy cheeper and stuff like that!!! We would really appreciate it!!! You are awesome! God bless!!!

  4. Julia says

    Hi Olga!
    Thanks for writing this blog! It comes in very handy! Its so true that there’s only certain tools you need in your kitchen to keep it “running” :) I try to keep my tools to a minimum so the kitchen isn’t over packed! Keeps the kitchen clean, organized, and you don’t have to dig around for what you need! because all that you have is all that you need! There are a few things I still need to get for my kitchen, and I found your information helpful, so I will be getting those items shortly!
    I enjoy reading your blog and recipes! Lots of great tips and hints! makes cooking and baking so easy and a lot of fun! Very much appreciated!! :-)
    Thanks again, and may God bless you!!

    • says

      You’re welcome, Julia! I’m so glad you found this helpful.
      I am a minimalist like you and also avoid tools that only perform one task:). It helps to keep the clutter down too.

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