Unlike wardrobe essentials that cannot possibly work for everyone on the planet, there are a few things that I think every kitchen needs. This list is zero waste-friendly and plastic-free.
Skip all the plastic crap that will break sooner than later and get good-quality, versatile pieces that will last a long time. Materials to look for: bamboo, wood and metals. If you think “good quality” and “long lasting” means shelling out tons of money, don’t worry. Most things on this list are really affordable. They’re even more affordable when you think about how they’ll last much longer than their plastic counterparts.
Whether you’re in college or just graduated and need to stock your first kitchen, or you’ve been in your kitchen for a while and looking to downsize your kitchen stuff and upgrade your tools, this list is for you.
I think this list would be particularly helpful for someone who is embarking on a Whole 30
and will be preparing most meals from scratch, or anyone who wants to reduce their landfill and food waste. Getting into the kitchen to make things from scratch is the best way to do that in my opinion 😉
A cast iron skillet.
A good-quality cast-iron skillet
* can be found at any kitchen
store or even discount stores like Home Goods. It’s not that hard to care for and with proper cleaning it will last a lifetime. The handle gets really hot so always use an oven mitt or you can get quilted or silicone handle covers.
A pair of kitchen shears.
Heavy duty kitchen shears
* (or check out this version of the same shears, shown above, which look amazing but are way more pricey)
/scissors can cut up pretty much anything. With care and regular sharpening (a few dollars at a kitchen
store, typically), they’ll last for many years. I use mine all the time for everything from butterflying … aka best word ever spatchcock
… a whole chicken to cutting up herbs and vegetables like kale or even broccoli/cauliflower florets.
A good quality chef’s knife.
You’ve heard this a zillion times from every Top Chef to women’s magazine. This can get expensive, but you should only need one good chef’s knife
*. You don’t need top of the line, but splurging on this item will only help you save time and feel more proficient in the kitchen
. Do some research, visit a kitchen store, and find something you think will work. You can definitely over-research and get overwhelmed so just try to get the best you can afford and call it a day. A very important note: dull knives can be very dangerous and result in more injuries, so sharpening regularly (do it yourself or pay a kitchen
store a few dollars) is worth it.
A wooden cutting board. No need to keep buying and throwing away plastic cutting boards – get a good quality, thick wooden cutting board. Unlike plastic, wood is naturally anti-microbial and can withstand years of use. Cut raw meat on it? No problem – wash with dish soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly with a cloth towel – and sometimes we lean it up against the wall to further dry – and you are good to go. Some people put heaps of salt on their wooden cutting boards on occasion like butchers back in the day to further draw out moisture. A wooden cutting board should not dull expensive knives (see #4, above) and can be re-surfaced and oiled to last a long time. How you sand/resurface will depend on the type of wood. Honestly, you may never have to.
Often overlooked as an “essential,” I find myself grabbing my grater
* almost daily. It can be used for a myriad of things from shredding cheese to zucchini. Shred carrots right into your ground beef for an extra dose of veggies. Even an onion can be grated into a hot skillet for a quick flavor boost.
in sizes you’ll actually use, in glass and stainless. Contrary to what kitchen stores and wedding registries will have you believe, you do not need to buy sets of mixing bowls. Thin stainless mixing bowls are really nice because they’re lightweight but still solid enough to take on any task. Mine are the “Vollrath” brand but there are tons of different ones out there. A restaurant supply store will have a bunch for $5-6 each. I reach for my medium-sized (3 quart) bowl the most often but I also have a 5 quart and 1 1/2 quart sizes which come in handy a lot, too. As for glass bowls, we have a set like this
* that we got for our wedding. I have to say that while it seems a little over the top and hardly minimal, there are days where almost every single bowl gets used during a cooking/baking/prep day. The littlest bowls are great for mis en place or setting out ingredients in preparation for cooking or baking. We also like them for giving my daughter a small portion of something.
After my move I’m considering doing an inventory-style post so you can see everything thats in my kitchen. What do you think?
*Hi friends, just a heads up that this post contains affiliate links and I might receive a small commission. Affiliate links are indicated with an asterisk.