Updated for 2012!
Besides your basic appliances – refrigerator, stove, microwave – there are a few items which should be in every kitchen. Whether you are a gourmet cook or a from-the-box cook, you will need the right tools and equipment to perform basic food preparation and serving tasks.
About a year and a half ago my cousin became a Pampered Chef consultant and in order to help her out I had done a show and quickly fell in love with so many Pampered Chef products. So a lot of my recommendations are going to be either Pampered Chef things I already have or things I wish I had because really they have so many must have things.
Here is a Top Ten List of Things Every Kitchen Needs:
1. Stand Mixer. I have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer and as a mom who LOVES to bake this is a must have in my kitchen. Aside from baking I also use mine for making mashed potatoes. I can throw the potatoes in and let it do its work while I do other things. I find it makes mashed potatoes creamier than hand mixers do.
And with the Kitchen Aid you can get so many attachments to add to it. Things like a pasta maker or a sausage maker. You can also make homemade ice cream with it. So it really can be the workhorse of any kitchen, even if you aren’t much of a baker.
2. Stoneware. Pampered Chef is known for their stones. I started out with a rectangle pizza stone and eventually added the large bar pan. And most recently I got the Deep Covered Baker. I usually only use the pizza stone for pizza and maybe cookies. The large bar pan I use to make bacon in the oven (which is a great way to cook bacon), oven fried chicken, pizza, cookies, and any other meat I have to cook in the oven. If you are able to get just one stone, then I definitely recommend the large bar pan (or small depending on your family size). But really host a party and get yourself the Deep Covered Baker too.
3. Knife set. A good knife set is a must have for any kitchen. Or at least a utility knife, a carving knife, and a trimmer if you can’t afford a whole set.
One summer while I was in college I sold Cutco knives. Being a college student I thought I had no need for knives so I ended up selling my mom my demo set. That was 15 years ago and now when I go over my mom’s house and I see that set of knives that I let slip through my fingers I long for it back. If only I knew then what I know now.
Here’s another wish list item of mine from Pampered Chef, the Executive set from Pampered Chef.
My cousin (aka my Pampered Chef rep) has a sister in law who is a professional chef. She used my cousin’s stainless fry pan from Pampered Chef and was very impressed with it. So impressed that the next time she needs to replace a pot or pan she’ll be purchasing a stainless from my cousin. If you can’t get a whole set again I would recommend at least getting a 3 qt saucepan, 12″ fry pan, and a stock pot or Dutch Oven.
5. Crockpot. This is great to have for those nights when you know you are going to be short on time. Put everything in the crockpot in the morning before you leave for the day and come home to a house filled with the beautiful aroma of whatever you made.
6. Spoons and Spatulas. You need to have big spoons and spatulas. Not metal as these ruin pots and pans. I prefer plastic and my husband likes wooden spoons. So we actually have a mixture of both of those kinds.
7. Colander. Colanders can be used for more than just draining pasta. It’s also great for cleaning fruits and vegetables or straining things. I have 3 different sized colanders to meet all the differing needs. I prefer mesh metal because I find them easier to clean than the plastic ones. Plastic are fine too though and they are inexpensive. You can usually pick one up at the dollar store.
8. Can Opener. I hate opening cans! Must be because I’m left handed. I prefer electric can openers because usually manual can openers are made for right handed people. And I know all of you righties are thinking what’s the difference. There’s a huge difference. Try opening a can with your left hand sometime. I literally have to completely change my train of thought to use most manual can openers. Yes, they do make lefty manual can openers, but they are hard to come by.
I still don’t care much for my electric can opener, but if I want to open cans then I need it. Sometimes I have a hard time getting it to catch the can though. Still, it is an important tool to have in the kitchen until they start putting pull tabs on all cans. A lefty can dream, can’t she?
9. Food Processor. It doesn’t have to be a large food processor. I have small ones that are easy to store and get out when needed. It’s an invaluable tool for chopping and mincing things. Erin from Small Town Mom Living in a BIG City uses both, but for most jobs she likes her Black and Decker one touch chopper. I have one of these too, but I find the manual one to work better. Erin says she can control the fineness better on her electric chopper than her manual one though.
10. Cutting Board. To save your counters and your table you have got to have a cutting board. I recommend plastic cutting boards over wooden or glass ones. Wooden ones can trap bacteria. Glass cutting boards will dull knives faster. If you have a dishwasher the plastic cutting boards can be cleaned in there to get rid of any bacteria that might have been left behind. You can also easily bleach them without ruining them to kill any germs. So plastic is the way to go for cutting boards. It’s what’s recommended for commercial use. If it’s good enough for a restaurant, then it’s good enough for me!
Is there something not mentioned here that you find to be invaluable in your kitchen? That you could not do without? Leave a comment and share your most needed kitchen item!