I was inspired to write this post after a conversation I had with a friend last week.
Her daughter is leaving the nest by the first of next year and moving into an apartment.
Her main question? “Can you recommend a few kitchen items that you simply can’t do without and within a reasonable budget?”
The answer should come easy enough for a cooking/baking fanatic like myself, but truth be told, it took more time than I expected.
You see my friend didn’t just want a list of items I couldn’t do without (that’s easy)- she wanted items that were within a reasonable budget. (not so much)
I’ll tell you right now, I CANNOT do without my Kitchenaid Mixer but that baby isn’t cheap!
And a set of pots and pans, well for a GREAT set, that will put you back $200 or more as well!
But did her daughter NEED these things starting out?
I sure didn’t have them when I was twenty-two! Heck, I didn’t get that godsend of a mixer until WAY after that!
And if Rachel is as passionate about cooking as her mother mentioned, well, she can always save up for the spendy items!
For now, I’ve come up with not a few, but 10 items that will help this young foodie whip up delicious meals like a pro! All of my items are priced under $75-with several under $20!!!
(This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. All opinions are my own. Each product listed are those we use and recommend. If you click on a link and make a purchase we will receive a small commission at no additional charge to you. Thank you for supporting CD’s Country Living.)
Mixing bowls– I use to have cupboards and cupboards full of plastic mixing bowls. Every size imaginable. Some with covers and some without. Not anymore. No matter how much I washed them, some remained stained or held the scents (onions) from whatever I mixed in them. Now all I use are stainless steel. They are not only sturdy but they come in perfect sizes to mix up everything from pizza dough to a small salad.
Food Processor– Some folks might say this kitchen tool falls among the not needed items, but I totally disagree! I use mine for EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING. Chopping, dicing, slicing, blending! It truly makes meal prep so much easier and quicker! The food processor does all the work for you!
Slow Cooker– Not long ago there was a big fuss about pressure cookers. They were the ‘IN’ thing to buy for any foodie. I bought one. It terrifies me. It now sits in my cupboard. Such a waste of good $-but there you have it. Trends come and they go. Slow cookers have been around for AGES and for good reason! I can’t live without mine. And I have quite a few in all different sizes. We are inseparable. They have what I don’t have. Patience. Patience to cook food slowly as it was meant to be cooked. Locking in all that wonderful flavor just by a push of a button. I LOVE this model because it also has a thermometer. No more dried out roasts for me!
Cutlery Set– Have you ever tried to cut a squash with a paring knife? How about a loaf of bread with a butter knife? Doesn’t work so well, right? Investing in a good of knives is definitely a MUST! I’ve bought individual knives in the past but we received this set as a Christmas gift last year and I LOVE it! It not only comes with a great set of kitchen knives (bread knife, paring knife, etc), but also a sharpener, kitchen shears, and quality steak knives!
Hand Blender-this little kitchen tool could also be considered a ‘no need’, but it’s so inexpensive and so helpful, I just had to add it! If you’ve ever made squash soup, or dips, or smoothies, or anything else that requires blending, you’ll know how cumbersome and messy it can be to pour the contents in to a blender to make smooth, only to pour back into the original container to finish adding more ingredients or to continue cooking. Between this immersion blender and my food processor I really had no use for my spendy blender so I donated it to Goodwill.
Cookbook-Now you certainly don’t have to buy Ina’s cookbook (but seriously, why wouldn’t you?)-but A cookbook is a MUST for any foodie! I started collecting cookbooks years ago. Many of them I’ve purchased from local churches in our community but I have quite a few of some of my favorite famous cooks and bakers! I love testing all the different recipes I find in each cookbook and I learn new tips and tricks to be a better cook along the way!
Meat Thermometer-I know I talked about the importance of a thermometer on my slow cooker earlier. But that device is only for the slow cooker. Whether it’s grilling burgers or roasting chicken, or frying up a pork chop, I use my meat thermometer ALL the time! And if you’re cooking a turkey this year-well, you definitely don’t want to be without one! This one is super inexpensive but accurate and has lasted longer than the digital thermometer I had prior.
Cast Iron Pan-One of the most versatile kitchen tools in my arsenal and definitely one I could NOT do without! Yes, it does require a little extra TLC in regards to cleaning and keeping it well seasoned, but it is SO worth it! This skillet cooks everything evenly and to perfection and I use it to fry, saute and even bake, so as I said-versatile with a capital V! If you buy one I guarantee your other pans will just hang out in the cupboard!
Dutch Oven-Another very versatile kitchen tool and isn’t she pretty too? This dutch oven is cast iron too-with an enamel interior. This allows for amazingly super even heat and speeds up the cooking process immensely! I use mine for an array of delicious and convenient one-pot meals!
Baking/Roasting Sheets-If you bake a LOT as I do, then you know how important having a good set of baking sheets are. By ‘good’ I mean those that are sturdy and clean up easily (without rusting). I have two sets that I use quite often for cookies, scones, and even roasting veggies! Everything cooks evenly and clean up is a breeze!
As I said, coming up with just a ‘few’ or ten items that are both must haves and budget-friendly wasn’t easy!
I know I missed some, but it’s definitely a good starting point!
If you had a $100 to spend on kitchen tools what would be on your list?
Let me know in the comments or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Blessings and hugs,