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The following items are links to things that I personally can’t do without in the kitchen! These all have my full recommendation, endorsement and support and I hope you will give them a try! They are set up by category for easy scrolling!
***Just a personal note. I am SUPER opinionated about kitchen tools. I absolutely believe in having the best quality tools you can afford. Cooking is a job and it isn’t one to be done with cheap crappy tools. That said, I’ve cooked with some of the most expensive cookware in the world and I’ve cooked with things I have purchased second hand and from discount stores. Price doesn’t determine quality. Don’t ever go throw your money away on something just to have the “big” name when there is something as good that you can actually afford. That’s all, I’ll get off of my soapbox now. Enjoy!***
Farberware Cookware Set
Honestly, I’ve been using my Farberware Classic Set for 30 years and it is still timelessly beautiful and cooking as solidly as ever. If I were buying the same thing today, I would buy this set and simply donate the nonstick frying pans and those silly plastic utensils to the local mission. Then, I would buy the stainless steel Farberware pan that is pictured below and some Lodge Cast Iron. That is all you really need for a complete set of cookware in your kitchen. You can’t go wrong with this $300 set of cookware that is on sale for $82 (at least at the time I placed this photo – price may fluctuate). (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Now, you might be wondering why I suggest that you toss the nonstick cookware. It’s because no matter WHAT you do, the nonstick coating isn’t going to stick to the pan either after a few uses. Where do you think the nonstick stuff is going? I’m guessing it is going in your food. That’s why I recommend to just toss it or donate it. Then get a GOOD stainless steel pan like this one. It’s perfect for tomato sauces and larger items(Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
In my opinion a simple cookware set like what is pictured above combined with a couple of good quality cast iron pans and a dutch oven and there isn’t much that you won’t be able to do in your kitchen! Cast iron is a better non-stick surface than any ol “nonstick cookware” ever thought to be. You’ll want to take care of it and season it properly. I’ll show you how to do that HERE. It isn’t hard.
There’s nothing more beautiful than simplicity and this Lodge skillet and Dutch Oven is it!(Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Additional Cook Top
Sometimes you need an extra cooking eye in the kitchen! When I was a kid, most home had an electric skillet, but an extra cooktop makes more sense because you can use it for all kinds of things. I really love this Evergreen Home Cooktop. Just fyi, they sent me one for free to try and I love it. It is super nice quality and cooks evenly! There is ONE caveat and that is that you must use induction cookware or cast iron.
I bought a few pieces of induction cookware at Marshall’s for a GREAT price and that makes having this extra eye in the kitchen the perfect solution.
Quality Cooking Utensils
Once you have your cookware in order, you’ll need a few decent items to cook with. You’ll need….
I’m just using this picture as a demo. Some of my favorite wooden spoons come from the dollar store and I recommend that you start their looking for some. They come about 3-5 to a bag and therefore, if you break one or lose one, you won’t be crying in your milk over it. That said, I DO love my one squared off and straight edged wooden spatula and I do recommend you find one of those. I saw some at WalMart the other week, but here is one for you to see. (It’s the one in the middle).(Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
First of all, the name, no one wants a spider in their kitchen! lol. Nawww…. I use this very one ALL THE TIME. I use it to strain things quickly, I use it when I’m taking the peels off of tomatoes and peaches, I use it when I’m boiling eggs. I use it ALL THE TIME. Buy one locally or get one here, just get one. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
There are TWO kinds of spatulas. One is for scraping stuff out of jars and bowls and the other is for skillfully being able to scrape things out of a pan. For a good rubber spatula, I have this one.. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Then, there’s being able to flip things in your pan. Now you’ll know why I said to throw those silly plastic ones away. You can’t skillfully flip anything with one of those clubs. I have a “problem” about these antique metal spatulas (so I’ve been told), but they are the best. If you can’t find one at an antique store, then by all means use a fish spatula that is thin and flexible. Just figure out how to skillfully flip the stuff in your pan!
I also hate to admit it, but I have these tiny baby spatulas and use them even more than my big ones! You’ve seen them in my videos. I lOVE them! I found mine at Big Lots a few years ago, but I do love them. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
This is a Fish Spatula, just get a very flexible one. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
A good cutting board is ESSENTIAL! Let’s talk for a moment. I know that those plastic cutting boards are all the rage for making sure that no microbes get into your food. No one every says, “But hey, do you want some antimicrobial plastic in your food?” Because, guess what, when you cut on a cutting board, tiny bits of the cutting board ARE GOING to end up in your food. Take a good look at your plastic cutting board and tell me what you see? Do you see an unmarred surface? If you do, you haven’t used it much.
I always opt for a wooden or bamboo cutting board because frankly, if I have to eat one, I would rather eat the wood.
My favorite cutting board is a bamboo one that is this size. I’ve had mine for 20 years and I don’t see it listed anywhere for sale, so it must be a real relic! Anyway, after 20 years it is still in perfect condition (except where I have sat some hot pots on it and burned it slightly). I use it every day and love it! Mostly I enjoy that it is so lightweight and easy to move around the kitchen with. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Let me just say that you will hear chefs say that a dull knife in the kitchen is dangerous. I never really believed this until I started using really GOOD knives. Let me tell you why this is true. A good knife makes cutting everything a dream. A dull knife makes cutting anything a chore. When you feel chained to the kitchen performing CHORES that you don’t enjoy, it will make you GROUCHY.
Anyone coming into the kitchen asking, “When is supper going to be ready”. “Are we having THAT again?” is immediately IN DANGER if you are grouchy.
So see? Dull knives are dangerous!
I have an 8″ chef’s knife like this and a smaller pairing knife . I use the chef’s knife for everything and occasionally use the smaller knife when the big one is dirty. I know that isn’t how you are supposed to use them, but that is what I do. Now you know.
Yes, they are pricey, but a sharp knife is one of the first things I would get for my kitchen. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
If it is just out of your reach to buy an excellent knife, then get a very good one. I also have this one that I inherited when Mr. Loaves and Dishes and I married (second marriage for both of us). It is pretty good and is a good option price is a real deal breaker. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
A decent sheet pan is essential for cooking all kinds of things. You can find excellent quality pans like this at Sam’s club (that is where I get mine), you want one that has a good weight in your hand so that it is heavy enough not to curl in the oven. You’ll want a light colored one like shown here, because that makes your baked goods turn out golden colored. Purchase the ones that are a “half sheet pan” size. Don’t bother with other sizes. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
If you hang around here any time at all, you’ll see some canning going on. I LOVE canning and putting food away for later. You’ll need a few special tools, but not many. These are what I recommend.
The Ball Book
I rely on this Ball Canning Book as my NUMBER ONE kitchen library resource. The binding is broken on mine. Many of the pages are wrinkly from being splashed. Most of the pages have my own personal scribbled notes. The strawberry jam pages of my book look very similar to the whole book of Matthew in my Bible. You can certainly tell which parts are my favorite. lol. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Canning doesn’t really REQUIRE special tools, but you’ll be so glad that you have these when you start canning. So worth the few dollars for the set. Mine live in a shoe box in the bottom cabinets in my kitchen(Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Water Bath Canner
Some canning will require a water bath. You can do water bath canning in the pressure canner, but seriously, I like to have one of each. If you only have room for one, then go with the pressure canner and simply use the base of it for water bath canning. I use this coated pot for many other things too though. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
This All American Canner is simply THE BEST. You will know when you hold it in your hands what kind of quality that it is made with. It feels sturdy and IS sturdy, no doubt about it. I recommend this particular size because it is right for canning both quarts and pints or smaller. I’ve had mine for years and I expect to pass it down to my children when I grow too old to operate it any longer. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
If my house were on fire and I had time to grab a few things out of my kitchen, these cookbooks are what I would grab. Seriously. I would.
This Cooks Illustrated Cookbook explains it all and is such a wonderful resource for basic cooking. I use it all of the time. Cooks Illustrated is the AUTHORITY on all things cooking, in case you didn’t know. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Pies are a favorite around here and I often reference this pie book. My poor copy has a broken spine and is pathetic from years of abuse, but its my go to favorite. Besides, the photos are BEAUTIFUL and done by the very best food photographer in the world, in my humble opinion. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
My latest favorite food book is The Flavor Bible. If you enjoy creating recipes and like knowing what flavors go with what flavors then this is the book for you. I use mine ALL THE TIME. It stays on my desk here right next to my computer and my camera, if that says anything. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Everyone has their own favorite ingredients, but seriously, if you hang around this site for any length of time at all, you’ll notice that I use broth concentrate a lot. This is the kind I recommend. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
When I’m cooking up biscuits or anything else that requires flour, White Lilly is my down home southern country favorite. I won’t make biscuits with anything else. (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
Wickle Pickles are simply the best. Get the wicked ones if you want a real treat! (Click the photo to go to Amazon to compare prices)
This mustard that is made right here in Asheville in my go to mustard for any dish! The flavor is intense and you can’t find it just anywhere, I buy mine in a six pack directly from the maker. It makes a terrific gift too!