Quality, quality, quality
I was raised in a thrifty household. My mom taught me to shop by sales, not brand, and to scrape every dish clean with a spatula so each tiny spec of food could be saved. When I went to Thailand a few years ago, I was called a “cheap lady” in a culture where bargaining is the norm! (I took it as a compliment.) I love Black Friday shopping, and I could spend probably hours on Pinterest in #upcycle tags.
All of this is to say: I don’t spend money, at retail prices, for many things. But for the things you use every day, or that are versatile, fundamental kitchen workhorses, it’s worth it to get the right tools. And keep them for years! See the full list for sale on Amazon.
Sturdy handles. Dual units for easy measurement in English or metric. And the writing is engraved, so unlike plastic it won’t rub off, leaving you wondering whether you’re holding the 1/3 cup or the 1/2 cup. The measuring spoons come in an oblong shape, so they actually fit into most small spice canisters! This set is one I’m SO glad I have on hand.
These are must-haves – the beauty in their design is that they are coated with silicone the whole way around, so there are no crevices for food to stick, make them easy to clean, and temperate to hold. And, they won’t melt at high temps! You’re not serving plastic for dinner, are you? I have them in grey, but also love the bright blue and red pops of color they could offer! Get them here.
Stackable glass bowls
Glass bowls are pretty to serve in, but the added lid (with sizing info imprinted!) makes it easy to keep leftovers. They can safely reheat in the microwave, and stack to store. Sooo many bowl sets can’t say the same! Get them here.
A great knife
An 8-inch chef’s knife is the most versatile blade in the kitchen, and in my opinion the only one you need to spend some real money on. Chopping is more fun, much easier, and goes faster with less slipping when you have a great knife. I use a Shun, but go to a store when you can try a bunch to see what your hand likes best (Williams Sonoma has a great selection and trial station!). Buy here.
A universal lid
Of all the pots and pans in my cupboard, this is probably the piece that gets used the most. Its step-wise gradient means it fits many circumferences, perfect to cover boiling water or pop on an over-easy egg pan. The plastic knob on top means you can usually lift without a hot pad, while metal handles get too hot. See how I keep my pots & pans organized, and get one now!
A dutch oven
Again, a versatility master – these can go from stove to oven, covered or uncovered, which makes them useful in sauteeing, baking, stewing, and roasting. Enameled cast iron is extremely durable, holds heat well, and doesn’t need to be seasoned as with regular cast iron. I like the oblong shape because it allows for tenderloins, oddly shaped roasts, and chicken, and 7 quarts is large enough for most households without being totally unwieldy. Buy yours here.
If you need to scrape and stir, you can’t beat a wooden spoon. The best one in this bunch is the one with the straight, flat end – perfect for getting up bits for a pan sauce, when a silicone spatula just isn’t firm enough. The holes in their handles mean you can get S-hooks to hang as an alternative storage method, and the single-piece carving means they won’t snap or melt. Get them here.
A good cutting board
Here, “good” means – no slip feet, a groove to collect juices, and anti-microbial. It’s beautiful enough to double as a cheese plate or serving tray, and to leave out on the counter for easier prep. Get it here.
I’ve been served and I HAVE accidentally served under-cooked chicken. The only way to really tell is to temp in the thickest part of the meat and make sure it’s in the right zone. This thermometer has a digital, easy to read screen, pokes into the meat with a very thin probe, and is magnetic so you can stick it right on the fridge. The probe folds in so it’s compact and in no danger of poking when not in use! Buy it here.
Cast iron skillet
Not only can you increase the iron in your food by cooking in cast iron, but they are virtually indestructible. Their thick body holds heat well and evenly, and they’re oven safe for making everything from cornbread to frittatas. Best of all, they’re not expensive! Get yours here.