13 Essential Kitchen Items

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You stock your kitchen with yummy ingredients and recipes. But are your kitchen utensils and appliances up to speed? Here I cover kitchen items that are essential for helping prepare easy and fast meals and beverages.

appliances, are these essential kitchen items
What’s essential for you?

You’ll agree that having the right foods and ingredients is important for scrumptious eats and so too is having the right gear in the kitchen to make these.

What Kitchen tools are essential

No doubt, the right cookware is essential — see my article on cookware choices. But, you need certain utensils and appliances to make life easier, food preparation simpler, and your meal-time satisfying.

Cooking appliances for convenience

If you are like me who has a full and active day, an essential item for you is an appliance that offers the convenience of quick and easy servings of your favorite food and beverage. Examples:

The air fryer offers crispy golden foods without the need for oil and fat. Also, an air fryer can replace the need for other appliances in your kitchen.

The method of a slow cooking and pressure cooking tenderizes and helps lock in the flavor of home cooked meals. An Instant Pot is much like a pressure cooker but may offer you the choice of different cooking modes.

Hot beverage makers

Appliances essential for hot beverage making:

  • Coffee makers
  • Kettles

Juicer / Juice extractor

If you, or someone in your family, like to start the day with a morning detox juice or a power-up smoothie, a juicer is essential.

Having a juicer, or juice extractor, in your home kitchen has benefits.

For one, you control the ingredients in your morning juice or smoothie, meaning you enjoy an energerizing drink without added sugar or preservatives and you can custom the flavoring as you desire.

Another reason to rank a juicer as a kitchen essential is that you can easily transform a large quantity of fruit and vegetable pieces into nutritious drinks for the kids or yourself.

juices and smoothies need a kitchen appliance that's essential
Juices and smoothies make nutritious meals to go

Add protein mix for a balanced meal or simply enjoy a number of delicious juices or smoothies made of various fruits or veggies, giving you goodness in a glass.

A mix like this serves as a meal on the go or as a refreshing, revitalizing drink.

So, a valued item in the health-conscious kitchen is a juicer. Why? Because a juicer makes a nutritious meal you can take on the go. It is an attractive and efficient way to ‘eat your greens’ or take in nutrition.

As long as the juicer is cleaned carefully and on a regular basis, this piece of equipment is an excellent option for any health conscious kitchen.

You have a few options in fitting out your kitchen for juice or smoothie making. You could opt for a juice extractor, a good quality blender, a bullet type juicer, or a combination of these. Or you can choose an all-in-one economical buy, like this one at Amazon.

At our place, we have a juice extractor for juicing hard vegetables such as carrots and beets, and a blender for making smoothies and juices from soft fruit and vegetables, yoghurt, etc. Both appliances have quality fittings of stainless steel and decent wattages.

Juice extractor is an essential in my kitchen
My Panasonic juice extractor has been the best investment ever. It has lasted us over a decade and is still running strong.

Panasonic juice extractors are Japanese made. I’ve had mine for over a decade and it is still going strong. Though more expensive than others on the market, it’s been a great investment because I have not had to replace it. You’ll find the latest Panasonic model at Amazon – See details.

Set of cutting Boards

A good set of cutting boards is essential. While it may seem easy to stick to one cutting board for all foods that need to be prepped, it’s not the best for health reasons.

I use separate boards for raw meat, vegetables, cheese, etc. to avoid cross-contamination, to prevent the spread of germs and contaminating flavors.

Also, large-sized cutting boards, I find, are best for slicing and cutting because they allow me room to maneuver the cutting implements without chance of injury.

large wooden cutting board where a home cook cuts up vegetables
Large cutting boards are best

I recommend bamboo boards or wooden boards, rather than plastic ones, since weathered plastic cutting boards with deep cuts are areas bacteria can grow and pose risk of food poisoning.1 The best ones to have for ceramic knives are wooden and bamboo types of the right hardness.

Bamboo cutting boards are less porous and resist scarring.1 Timber boards are similar if maintained by sealing with a light coating of grapeseed oil on occasion. I actually use both, maintaining my wooden boards with an occasional oiling.

Cooking utensils

Ladles, spatulas, and similar cooking utensils that are durable and stain and odor resistant minimize the transfer of unwanted flavors and other contaminants during cooking.

Maintaining the integrity of cookware surfaces to avoid exposure of your food to aluminum base materials is also important.

Bamboo is a good choice of material in cooking utensils for these reasons. Silicone offers another option.

Bamboo utensils, similar to silicone, can be used on non-stick cooking surfaces without worry of scratching or marking the area in contact with the food.

Since they have a smooth finish, bamboo and silicone utensils are easy to clean and evade the build-up of grime and bacteria that cause potential health concerns.

Sharp knives

A set of sharp knives will serve you well when it comes to slicing and chopping foods. Having the right knife for the job will make meal preparation enjoyable.

The slicing of vegetables is clean and easy with a sharp knife – precision slicing is best with a ceramic knife – see my guide to buying ceramic knives.

Baking

  • Electric mixer
  • Baking mat
  • Bakeware
  • Glass or ceramic mixing bowls

If you like to roast vegetables, there’s no need to use oils or fats or line your bakeware with foil. You can turn any pan into a nonstick surface with a silicone baking mat. For bakeware, see my article on the brands and types of best ceramic bakeware to get.

The mat is made of fiberglass coated in silicone. Your food only comes in contact with the silicone, a safe cookware material. Check it out at Amazon – See details.

Silicone appears to be safe. It is an inert material – nothing used in its manufacture will leach into foods.

Andrew Weil, M.D.2

The bonus is the easy cleanup and it is reusable.

Well-stocked spice rack

A well-stocked spice rack is key to great tasting food and added nutrition.

Using the right spices makes it easy for cooks to season their food without relying on table salt, which some people need to avoid for health reasons.

While on the subject of spices, let’s look at cooking oils.

Good Cooking Oils

It is also important to select cooking oils that meet your cooking style.

By choosing the right oil, you retain the goodness of the cooked food. This means you avoid the by-products (free fatty acids, secondary products of oxidation, polar compounds) that form when heating passes the smoke point and which taint the flavor and wholeness of your food.

Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 331 degrees Fahrenheit, which means it’s a low to medium heat cooking oil.

It is a popular choice for salad dressings.

But, if you are wanting an oil for searing or other high-heat cooking, look for ones with high smoke points. My article on cooking oils lists the smoke points in degrees Fahrenheit and Celsius for popular cooking oils.

Oils, such as bran, avocado, and coconut, have high smoke points. Knowing which oil to use for which type of cooking is key.

Kitchen scales

It’s a good idea to use a kitchen food scale to measure out amounts required in recipes. You’re likely to get the best taste results that way.

Kitchen scales are essential if you are counting calories or limiting certain foods in your diet (e.g. fat, sugar).

Today’s digital kitchen scales are slimline, can distinguish the smallest discrepancy in weight, and cover all basic measuring units.

Nicewell Food Scale, 22lb Digital Kitchen Scale Weight Grams and oz for Cooking Baking, 1g/0.1oz Precise Graduation, Stainless Steel and Tempered Glass
Digital kitchen scales
available online at Amazon

Measuring cups, spoons, and jugs

A set of measuring cups and spoons is essential in any kitchen. I find my Pyrex jug is one item I use frequently.

From spoonfuls to cupfuls, these provide a fast and easy way to measure out the required amount of powders and liquids.

Like kitchen scales, a set of measuring tools is essential for sticking to the recipe or watching your dietary needs. The different sizes will help keep you on track with amounts of seasoning, sauces, and other ingredients.

Non-abrasive scourers and cleaners

Savvy home chefs who want to keep their kitchens free of harsh substances might consider cleaners based on vinegar or baking soda. These are just as powerful and won’t leave behind harsh residues.

In addition to gentle cleaners that can be easily used on the counter, the stove, and in the microwave, it’s a good idea to have non-abrasive scourers on hand for cleaning up.

These scourers will easily clean equipment, pots, and pans but won’t scratch or damage the surface.

The problem with traditional scourers is that they can easily scratch the surface of whatever they are cleaning. While this may not seem to be a big deal, these grooves and scratches can easily become places for bacteria and other germs to hide.

When the grooves get deeper and harder to clean, then it is very common for home cooks to accidentally spread germs without meaning to.

This is especially so with cutting boards, which is why having designated boards for specific uses is so very important.

Timer

A timer to ensure you adhere to recipe cooking times is essential for retaining the nutritional value of food.

While the overcooking of foods such as vegetables destroys valuable nutrients, undercooking also raises concerns for the health conscious. Chicken for example is one type of food that requires thorough cooking.

Most modern appliances come with a timer.

Meat thermometer

You’ll want thorough cooking of meats to avoid illnesses associated with improperly cooked food.

For safety in cooking meats, consider a meat thermometer to monitor meat temperatures. You’d want this when using a grill.

Bottom line

A kitchen is key to making delicious foods and a hub for eating at home.

If your home kitchen is fitted out with essentials for easy meal preparation, your family knows they’re getting wholeness and nourishment when they eat. And, you can rest confidently knowing you provide this.

The tools on this kitchen essentials list are specifically chosen to help families make the most of every meal and to ensure that every bite works to nourish the body.

References

  1. USDA. Cutting Boards and Food Safety. Accessed 27 November 2019.
  2. Weil, Andrew. 2007. Cooking With Silicone? Accessed 27 November 2019.