Josie Ortega takes stock of the functional and beautiful cooking tools and items that help us love being in the kitchen and researches the kitchen basics everyone should have.
*This article contains affiliate links. It doesn't cost you anything, but if you click on the link and buy something, we'll earn a small commission to help our writing team create more great articles.*
Well, my friends, my perennial dreaded chore continues to be meal planning. I hate thinking about grocery lists. (I really don’t mind cooking . . . and I love eating!) Let’s face it. Providing meals in one way or another will continue to be necessary, in the relentless nature of being human. Oh, the humanity.
I want to be well equipped on this lifelong cooking journey. Therefore, today, let’s think about what it takes to set ourselves up with great kitchen basics. (Then we’ll be ready for meal planning. Later.)
First things first. How are we living today, and what do we need the kitchen to do for us? What’s the situation? How much space do we have? Thinking this through will help us decide what our needs actually are during this very stage of life, right now. Then, we can think more aspirationally about what we’d like to have happening in our kitchens, and whether financial and physical space will allow it.
What investment pieces should we consider? (Or sell?!) What do we use every day? This will be different for each family. In this podcast, food blogger Bri McKoy recommends considering investing in, among other things:
With each of these, we’ve got to do our research along with an honest evaluation. My husband and I received a stand mixer as a wedding gift that’s attractive enough to live on the counter if we had the room. But I don’t bake all the time, and it’s so dadgum heavy to haul out, that we really don’t make the most of it. If you have counter space (Cherish it! For my sake!), you might utilize the mixer all the time, and find pasta attachments and many other wonderful uses.
I am very tempted by the Vitamix. Our blender is terrible; I hardly use it, but my mother-in-law does. In Latin America, from what I can tell, blenders are one of the key tools that always live on the counter. For the sake of culture and of future salsas for my family, it’s an investment we may need to make.
While considering my own kitchen tools, I did an informal—yet scientific—survey of friends’ kitchen favorites. One key idea that emerged was finding that winning combination of useful and beautiful.
Here are some suggestions to consider:
Next to those mentioned, there are some basic kitchen items you definitely will need when – say – you’re moving to your first apartment but most people forget about when start equipping a kitchen:
Having a variety of bowls, that I enjoy the look of, within reach during cooking is one of the simple pleasures that makes life worth living. Another friend is on a mission to replace all her kid dishes and sippy cups with more attractive, yet sturdy, melamine plates. I also love these kid-friendly bamboo salad bowls that remind me vaguely of the 1970s.
We use canning jars for drinking glasses, as well as for storage. It works with our vibe.
So much of life happens in the kitchen, so we shouldn’t neglect the non-cooking items that make a room inviting and liveable, as well as functional.
Alright, let’s make it work people. We’re getting the kids involved and having enjoyable family mealtimes; we’re sorting our kitchen equipment. (I think the meal planning will flow, don’t you?) I’d say we’re right on track! Signing off like Julia Child, who famously enrolled in culinary school at age 37: Bon appétit!