When I was just starting out cooking in my own kitchen I used to often get frustrated, and it’s because I didn’t know the importance of good kitchen tools! What are the essential tools for your real food kitchen? Just like a surgeon needs the proper tools to do their job well so do chefs I like to imagine I’m a chef while I’m cooking, it makes the job feel more luxurious. Haha!
Knives are not all created equal. A good knife will typically be made in either Japan or Germany and will have a steel blade. This blade can be sharpened periodically to maintain its sharpness. The sharper the knife the more accurate you’ll be with the least amount of accidental cuts to your hands.
You’ll want to look for a knife that has the metal part (the tang) go all the way back into the handle. This way the blade will remain sturdy and won’t break off. It’s also important to make sure that you have the right sized knife for your hand. This will be slightly different for every person since we’re not all the same size.
My first high-quality knife was given to me by a family member as a wedding present and I’ve never looked back. I’ve since bought 3 more!
Using a wooden cutting board made from a variety of hardwood, not softwood is the best option. They are the most gentle on your knife’s blade and will last a lifetime if they’re cared for properly. When cleaning a wooden cutting board do not submerge it in water, this will make the wood swell and break more quickly over time.
Instead, surface clean where you’ve used it with soap and water then give it a scrub with coarse salt and rinse. Periodic oiling with butcher block oil will help your wooden cutting board last. If you get really deep cutting groves forming on your cutting board you can gently sand it down and re-oil it. But usually, this isn’t needed.
High Powered Blender
With all the plant-based recipes we make in our house we definitely need a good high-powered blender. We make everything from soaked nut milks to smoothies in ours. There are many different brands of high-powered blenders to suit every budget.
Wooden spoons are by far my favourite stirring tool. They are pretty to look at in your cutlery caddy on your countertop and they come in a variety of sizes and shapes for different purposes. I have a soft spot for wooden spoons and spatulas because they’re all so pretty!
Cast Iron Pan
No kitchen is complete without a couple of high-quality cast iron pans. I use mine almost daily! I usually use a large sized pan for family sized meals for our family of 5. A smaller pan is also handy for things like egg sandwiches or smaller things for the kids.
Make sure you properly season your pan before each use or you’ll have issues with food sticking to it. Clean-up is very easy; you can just wipe out your pan and then rinse with water or use a bit of salt to scrub off stuck on food. Make sure you oil your pan after each use!
Glass Measuring Cup
A 2 Cup glass measuring cup is very versatile. You can use it in baking or cooking and we’ve even used it as an impromptu gravy boat! They can be filled with cold or hot liquid and can be microwaved or put into the fridge. Though I don’t recommend using a microwave regularly, I use mine to heat up coconut oil when I’m making deodorant.
Pyrex brand measuring cups have been around for decades and can be found inexpensively second hand or bought new for a very reasonable cost.
Enamelled Cast Iron Dutch Oven
There are many different brands and types of enameled cast iron Dutch ovens on the market to match your price point. You can cook everything from a whole chicken to stew, to pot pie. They hold heat evenly so that your items are cooked to perfection!
Stainless Steel Baking Sheet
A large stainless steel baking sheet with be incredibly versatile in your every day cooking. We use ours directly to make homemade baked fries, for fish, or to put on the rack below a messy on-the-rack pizza or pie to save from cleaning the oven as much.
I like to use parchment paper on mine to make clean-up a breeze and save my pans a bit from stuck on food.
Fine Mesh Sieve
A fine mesh sieve is an essential tool for your real food kitchen! I use mine for everything from straining nut milks, to rinsing rice or beans, to straining sprouts. I like using the fine mesh variety because they don’t allow large chunks to pass through and be wasted or contaminate your dish!
Look for a sieve made from stainless steel with a nice and sturdy handle long handle and a shorter hand grip on the opposite side for heavier items when you’ll need two hands.
This last one isn’t totally essential but it is very helpful, especially when you’re trying to eat real foods all the time. Having an Instant Pot is a huge time saver in a real food kitchen! There are many different versions of Instant Pots but I recommend you get one that has the yogurt function on it. That way you can make your own yogurt at home from any milk or milk substitute you desire.
I love the Instant Pot for cooking dried beans in a hurry which is both a budget saver and a time saver. You can also cook a whole chicken from frozen in the Instant Pot which means you can go from no dinner to a full-on chicken dinner in an hour with very little effort.
You can also cook things like chili and other soups and stews in no time at all!
I use glass canning style jars for SO MANY THINGS in my kitchen! I store left-overs, sprout greens, store nutmilks, ferment foods, storing dry goods like beans and rice, and I use them for canning too! My kids even use them as sippy cups using these tops and a screw band, and I’ve even taken coffee to go this way before.
What kitchen tools do you use on a regular basis that you can’t live without? Do you like to have lots of gadgets to help you cook or just the essentials?
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