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I am often asked what my favorite kitchen tools are. What are the things that I really couldn’t live without? This is a really fun question because it makes me look at all the stuff I use and think about what I truly love and need, and what could go and I wouldn’t miss.
When it comes to cooking real food, I like to keep things simple. Simple ingredients and simple kitchen tools. I’m not a huge gadget person and I actually have purged my kitchen a few times over the last couple years and gotten rid of pretty much every gadget I owned.
But, there are several things I have that I simply love and don’t want to be without. Today, I want to share with you my 11 Must Have Kitchen Tools For Every Real Food Kitchen. Recently, I went through my kitchen and made note of the things that I use every day (and sometimes multiple times per day) and put together this list.
Also, on thing that I want to mention is that you do not always have to spend a fortune to have good kitchen tools. Yes, there are some amazing, high-end brands out there that are totally worth the investment, but if you have a tight budget or are just getting started with real food, I think it’s great to get some lower cost tools until you figure out what you really like and need. A lot of the items I discuss below are very affordable, save for some of the cookware which is going to be more expensive (but worth it).
I would LOVE to hear from you and know what items you must have in your kitchen. Maybe there’s something really awesome that I am missing out on. 🙂
11 Must Have Kitchen Tools For Every Real Food Kitchen
Here are the things that I use in my kitchen pretty much every day. What would you add to this list? Is there something that you just can’t live without? I’d love to know! Leave a comment below!
The Instant Pot
I seriously don’t know what I would do without it. It is by far my most used appliance and saves me so much time and money. I use my IP so often that I have sometimes wished I had a second one!
If you’re not familiar with the Instant Pot, I wrote a comprehensive review that you can read here. In a nutshell, it’s a multifunctional pressure cooker that replaces a lot of your most common kitchen appliances like a traditional pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, etc.
Making one pot meals has never been easier because it also has a saute and steam feature so you never have to dirty other pots and pans to finish getting dinner on the table. Win-win in my book! 🙂
Find the Instant Pot on Amazon here
You can also find a collection of 100+ Instant Pot Recipes here . Also, you may be interested in checking out my new Instant Pot Cookbook for the Autoimmune Protocol (and get a “chocolate” cake recipe) here.
Pure Komachi HD Carbon Stainless Steel Knives
I ADORE this knife set. I have a more expensive set of Cuisinart knives that I received as a gift and I rarely use them. These Komachi knives are by far my favorite. The things I love about them are:
- They are super lightweight and easy to use.
- They keep a sharp edge for a LONG time and then when I do need to sharpen them, they are super easy to sharpen.
- They come with handy covers so they are much easier to store.
- They are super affordable.
Find Pure Komachi HD Carbon Stainless Steel Knives on Amazon here
Bamboo and/or Teak Wood Cutting Board(s)
My bamboo cutting board has been with me for years and years now and it is still in great shape. I have a couple of other wood cutting boards, but I find myself using this one the most. I’m not sure what it is that I love so much about it…it just feels right to me. 🙂
The one I got was very inexpensive and it has been super durable. I have had it for at least 7 or 8 years, though I didn’t start using wooden cutting boards until a few years back. I was always scared of wood from a sanitary standpoint, but once I did research turns out wood is super sanitary and I fell in love. I wrote all about my fears and research here.
They don’t make my exact same one anymore (I have the Best Cucina brand below, but mine is rectangle, without the rounded sides), but there are a few great options on Amazon for organic bamboo cutting boards in all sizes.
My second favorite cutting board is my teak cutting board from Proteak. Teak cutting boards are extremely durable, but they tend to be a little more spendy for a really good quality one. Proteak’s products are higher end products, but they are beautiful and truly a work of art.
Wooden cutting boards are super easy to take care of when you use coconut oil to condition it. I wrote a post all about it here.
- Find the Freshware Bamboo 3 Piece Cutting Boards on Amazon here ($14)
- Find the Neet Organic Bamboo Cutting Board Set on Amazon here ($20)
- Find the Best Cucina Bamboo Cutting Board on Amazon here ($20)
- Find Proteak Square Cutting Board with Grips on Amazon here ($59)
- Find Proteak Rectangle Cutting Board with Juice Canal on Amazon here ($96)
Ball Mason Jars — All Sizes
Ahhh, my Ball Mason jars. I love, love, love my jars. I use every single size jar they have and I use them regularly. We don’t have normal drinking glasses, we use Mason jars. I don’t use plastic containers for for storage, I use Mason jars. I even use Mason jars for vases, storing pens/pencils, and more.
I professed my love of Mason jars in my recent Mason Jar Greek Salad recipe post here. There is a size for every need (and they have really cool colors too, like green, purple, and blue)
- Gallon (perfect for large batches of iced tea and for storing dry foods in your pantry or basement)
- Half-Gallon (perfect for smaller batches of iced tea, soups, stews, broths, dry goods, etc.)
- Quart (great for iced tea, soups, broth, dry goods, or even as a drinking glass, which is what my hubs uses them for!)
- Pint and a Half (great for drinks on the go – it fits into my cup holder in the car even!)
- Pint (perfect for regular drinking glasses)
- Half Pint (great for small drinking glasses)
- 4 ounce (great for dipping sauces or salad dressing on the go)
And I have some of each size and color and use them all regularly!
Find Mason jars galore on Amazon here.
Electric Glass Kettle
This baby gets used all the time. I never knew I’d love an electric kettle as much as I would until about 10 years ago when I purchased my first one. It was a stainless steel one and when it broke, I got another stainless steel one and then replaced it with a glass kettle when it gave up the ghost.
My electric kettle heats water faster (and with less electricity) than my stove (I’ve tested it). So I use it daily for heating up water for a variety of applications. I have the Elite Platinum electric glass kettle in red (though it used to be a different brand name).
The prices can range from about $20 to well over $100. Both of the brands I’ve purchased have been under $35 and have been very durable. The first two lasted about 5 years each with daily use. I’m on my third kettle and it’s the glass one that I love.
- Find the Elite Platinum Cordless Glass Kettle on Amazon here ($27)
- Find the Hamilton Beach Electric Glass Kettle on Amazon here ($27)
- Find the Oster Illuminating Glass Kettle on Amazon here ($47)
- Find the OXO On Cordless Glass Electric Kettle on Amazon here ($90)
A food scale is soemthing that you might not think you need. I know I didn’t. But then I got one and now I use it for everything.
Because I buy a lot of my food in bulk, I can easily weigh it out when I am portioning it up. I also buy all of my herbs in bulk, as well as some supplements, and it makes it easier to get weight measurements over unit measurements.
Then there’s baking. When you’re baking, weighing your ingredients is much more accurate than measuring them out. Oh, and I also use it for weighing packages when I have to mail something. 🙂
There are a bunch of different brands of kitchen scales and the prices can range from $10 to $100. I have a $15 and a $35 kitchen scale and they both work great (I like to cross check them to see if they are remaining accurate). It kind of depends on how much you want to spend. In all honestly, a $10 to $20 one should be just fine.
- Find the Etekcity Digital Multifunction Food Kitchen Scale on Amazon here ($15)
- Find the Kitchen Gurus Glass Top Digital Food Scale on Amazon here ($35)
Glass Storage Containers
When it comes to food storage, I really don’t use any plastic in my house, with the exception of plastic food storage bags. What can’t be stored in my plethora of Mason jars get stored in my glass storage containers. Lunches, dinners, and leftovers also get stored in these so hubby can easily grab a small container and head to work.
I have four different brands that I have collected over the years:
- Find Pyrex Glass Storage Containers on Amazon here.
- Find Oxo Good Grips Glass Storage Containers on Amazon here.
- Find Glasslock Storage Containers on Amazon here.
- Find Anchor Hocking Glass Storage Containers here.
Cast Iron Frying Pans
I love my cast iron. Some of it I’ve purchased on my own, some has been heirloom hand-me-downs, and some of it was gifted to me. I love each piece of my cast iron dearly and know that because it is so durable (and I take good care of it), it will continue to be passed down to my kids and then maybe even their kids. How awesome is that?!
Many people are uncertain how to use and care for cast iron, but it’s really easy. I have a post here about all the reasons you should start cooking with cast iron. And then as a follow-up to that post, I wrote this tutorial on how easy it is to take care of your cast iron once you have it.
Lodge brand cast iron is one of my favorites and is what most of my cast iron is (though some of my pieces are so old that it’s hard to see what brand is stamped on the bottom). There are a variety of sizes ranging everywhere from 6 inches to 17 inches.
You can sometimes find cast iron at thrift stores and garage sales, but if you are ready to get started and don’t want to spend time searching for pans, then Amazon has great prices and a variety of sizes of Lodge cast iron (and other brands).
Recently, I was gifted a new Anolon Vesta enameled cast iron pan from my friends at Kitchen Daily (part of AOL’s ad network). It was a brand I had never heard of, but when I saw it, I got super excited!
They sent me the pan to test out in my kitchen as part of a Lifestyle Collective Food Awards they were running this Fall. They sent bloggers around the country a variety of kitchen goodies to try out and then we got to cast our votes on which products we loved (and which we didn’t).
It was a lot of fun to be part of the review panel and I have fallen in love with this pan. It’s beautiful, super durable, easy to care for, and perfect for cooking big batches of stir-fry, chicken fingers, or even chicken curry. The one I received is a super bright cobalt blue and it is simply stunning hanging in my kitchen.
- Find Lodge Cast Iron Frying Pans on Amazon here
- Find Anolon Vesta Enameled Cast Iron Pans on Amazon here
Jokari Hands-Free Baggy Holder
How many times have you been working in the kitchen and wishing you had an extra set of hands (or two)? I’m raising my hand here, especially when I am doing a lot of batch cooking and need to portion things up in individual servings.
While I do use glass for a lot of my food storage, freezer space is at a premium in my house, so I often portion things in zip-top baggies and the freeze flat. This saves space and also makes reheating most things a lot easier.
But, it can be SUPER annoying when you are trying to hold a baggie open with one hand and then spoon or pour something like soup, stew, taco meat, etc. in with the other hand. These baggie holders are a game-changer and I seriously need like 50 of them. 🙂
Find Jokari Hands-Free Baggy Holders on Amazon here
Hand / Stick / Immersion Blender
This is another one of those tools that I was like, “hmm, do I REALLY need one?” I didn’t think I did until a friend gave me one for my birthday one year. And it’s been true love ever since.
I use this baby all the time. It’s great for pureeing soups and sauces. I use it for making homemade mayo (YUM!). I whiz up fast and easy salad dressings with it. I even use it for frothing and foaming up my herbal coffee. My hubby even uses it when he is making a quick protein shake and doesn’t want to drag out the blender. It gets a lot of use in my house.
There are number of different brands on Amazon with a variety of pricing. I have the Cuisinart Smart Stick in blue (they have lots of pretty colors), but I’m going to link to a few other reputable brands as well.
- Find the Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender on Amazon here ($34)
- Find the KitchenAid Hand Blender on Amazon here ($59)
- Find the Hamilton Beach Hand Blender on Amazon here ($21)
- Find the Bella Hand Blender on Amazon here ($17)
Le Creuset Casserole Dish
OK, this is not a necessity in a real food kitchen, but I just HAD to add it to my list. Le Creuset is like the primo kitchen ware line. The show stopper. The piece that makes you feel like you are channeling your inner Ina Garten or Giada de Laurentiis (my two favorite Food Network ladies).
Every time I would go to my favorite store, Sur la Table, I would drool over all the beautiful Le Creuset pieces. But, in my frugality, they were all a bit of a splurge and unnecessary expense for me. But I always, always, always wanted at least one piece. 🙂
So, I have never owned any of their products (except for a couple small ramekins)…until recently. Then, Kitchen Daily (the folks I mentioned above) gifted me one as part of the Lifestyle Collective Food Awards review panel I participated in!!
I had NO clue that this was going to be one of the products I received, so when I opened the box and saw what it was I about jumped out of my shoes! It was a dream come true. Like, so much so that I left it out on my counter for weeks just so I could look at it.
Silly, I know. 🙂
The piece I got was their 4 quart Covered Oval Casserole Dish in Cherry Red (red it also one of my favorite colors — so it was fate!). This piece is perfect for making any sort of casserole, but I am loving it for making stuffed cabbage rolls. I have been on a major cabbage roll kick this Fall and just can’t seem to get enough of them. And I can’t wait to have a family get-together so I can make something to bring in this dish. Ahhh. So pretty! 🙂
- Find the Le Creuset 4 quart Covered Oval Casserole Dish on Amazon here
- Find Le Creuset (all kitchenware) on Amazon here
So, that’s my top 11 things that I love, love, love and don’t think I could live without in my real food kitchen. Of course, I could live without them, if I had to, but I try not to think about that. 😉
I’d love to hear from you now. What things do you use all the time in your kitchen? What are your go-to items that you simply can’t live without? Leave a comment below!
Hmmmmmm, so on one of those visits to your parents, how about bringing that lovely casserole dish full of cabbage rolls?
Hi Mama! I can do that! Let’s plan it for next time I come up! 🙂 Love you!
Just out of curiosity, I’m thinking on doing freezer meals but I not sure what to use to store them. Glass can go in the freezer? I not sure about the safety of plastic bags for my food.
Hi Paula! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, glass can be frozen! I regularly use those glass containers above in the freezer and have never had an issue. They are great when you are preparing meals to go. I like to batch cook for my husband’s work lunches and I will often portion his full meal into a glass container so he can just grab and go. As far as plastic and food, that’s a personal decision. Since I never heat anything in plastic, or put hot food in plastic, then I am fine with storing my batch cooking in bags in the freezer. It does help save room when freezer space is at a premium. 🙂