The must-have items for each kitchen will vary a little based on the cooking you do. For example, now, we do more smoothies, vegetable based dishes and not much baking. When my kids were younger, I did more baking and preserving so used different items. Preserving jars, a huge saucepan, muffin and cake trays were all necessary.
When we set up home here in Noosa, I looked at how we ate, what we did, if we would entertain much and what we would need. It was so different to how I had set up house before. Previously, I was given numerous items from people and set up based on what had been in my kitchen growing up.
As an adult, I cook differently to my childhood so I need different items. Below are the main items I have needed in my kitchen.
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I have a Nutribullet which we even took to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands. We love it as we do smoothies most mornings.
For my home base kitchen, I prefer a larger blender and food processor because I am cooking more and want to blend soups, make nut butter, rice crumbs, almond flour etc.
Some love a Thermomix to do all of that. The Bellini and copycat options I tested previously all work just as well and are much more affordable.
2. High Quality Knives
Chopping with cheap or blunt knives is both dangerous and slow. Good quality kitchen knives, when taken care of, are worth it. Slicing, chopping, dicing, all of it is easier, quicker and safer with good knives.
For years, I used a set I was given as a bonus with a cooking set I purchased. They were ok but limited. Realistically, with most of my cooking I use a paring knife and a large knife. I have a set of Stanley Rogers knives I won but also recommend you checking out cooking/homeware stores for good knives.
3. Chopping Boards
Two chopping boards, one for meat and one for fruits and vegetables. Clean them thoroughly after use and take care of them so they last. I have used slabs of granite in one of my homes when it was a rental with laminate benches or glass usually. The granite doesn’t scratch, was easy to clean but can be expensive if you can’t get it for free.
Wooden chopping boards are gorgeous and I like them for my fruits and vegetables. With meat, I want to know it is thoroughly cleaned so went for stone or glass.
4. Cookware and Bakeware
A skillet or frying pan, small pot and large pot are my 3 essentials for cookware. Mixing bowls, brownie or slice pan, cookie sheet, muffin pan and a cake tin are the main things I start with. I use cake tins and brownie pans for pies, quiches, crumble, anything instead of having a different pan for each dish.
Right now, we have 2 pizza trays, 2 loaf tins, a cake tin and 2 lasagne style tins. We have 2 as half the family is gluten and dairy free, the other half is not. Occasionally, it works out cheaper for us to cook a version which isn’t gluten free for one of my daughters and my partner, while my other daughter and I have the more expensive gluten and dairy free option.
Spatulas, one for mixing, one for flipping. Measuring cups, measuring spoons, whisk, tongs, colander, grater, rolling pin, pot holders, tea towels, peelers, garlic crusher, can opener, mortar and pestle etc. All these items add up but they are essential.
In my experience, some can be bought cheap and they don’t matter. However, a garlic crusher and can opener need a little more spent on them to ensure they are quality and do what they are supposed to do.
Storing items in containers in the pantry prevents all sorts of bugs and keeps it more organised. The same for storing leftovers in the fridge or items in the freezer.
My preferences have been Pyrex or Tupperware. Glass is preferred because of the BPA and other issues with plastic. Alternatively, many people use plastic takeaway containers or plastic Ziploc bags to store food in the freezer.
When it comes to cooking there are so many things which can help. A good mixer, loaf pan, pie pans and air fryer are popular with many. Preserving food needs a dehydrator, canning equipment and bottles. A chest freezer saved me heaps but I often stored it in the garage and haven’t been able to get one where I currently live.
Work out what you want to do in your kitchen and plan your frugal essentials around that.