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My favorite cookbooks are the ones where you can cuddle into bed and devour the introductory pages, where the author of the cookbook tells you what he or she considers the essentials for a well-stocked kitchen. You can see what tools Ina Garten thinks every good cook needs (a Kitchen-Aid stand mixer? Check.), what ingredients are always in Giada de Laurentiis’ pantry, etc. So let’s start there, at the beginning, with what tools you need in the cabinet to make magic happen in your kitchen.

The first rule is this: YOU get to decide what is essential for YOUR kitchen. If you are a meat and potatoes kind of gal, you’ll need different things than if you are a tarts and salads kind of guy. If you don’t like cheesecake, you don’t need to purchase a springform pan. And if you DO love cheesecake, you’re going to prioritize a springform pan over, say, a muffin tin or a Panini press. (And to be honest, muffin tins and Panini presses can be replaced by foil baking cups and a George Forman Grill or a heavy skillet, respectively.  They might not look exactly the same, but they will still taste great!)

In this kitchen, we love all the things. As a result, we have a lot of kitchen stuff. We have different-sized cake pans and meat roasting pans and we are prepared to make that cheesecake up there, a turkey for Thanksgiving, a tart for a baby shower or a from-scratch banana pudding for H’s birthday. (It’s his favorite.)

However, we spent the first three years of our marriage living in an apartment with the tiniest kitchen ever. We had nearly zero storage space in our kitchen, and had only three closets for both of us to store clothes, coats, fishing equipment, blankets, towels, camping gear, and Christmas decorations. So hear me when I say that it is totally fine to limit your kitchen equipment to just the basics for your lifestyle. If you wait to add new kitchen tools and cookware to your kitchen as you need them for special events, or new recipes you want to try, you may find that you don’t need half the stuff your mom or grandma relied on. And, you can do a lot with just a few key pieces.

This week’s posts will look like this:

Tuesday: Stove-top Essentials (Cookware)

Wednesday: Oven Essentials (Bakeware)

Thursday: Chopping, Stirring, and Mixing

But I’m also interested in what you consider essentials in your kitchen: Do you really use that personal-sized smoothie maker? What size casserole dishes fit your life? How do you store leftovers? I absolutely LOVE talking about this stuff and I’m always open to learning new tricks and tips. Join in this week and offer extra insights from your own kitchen.


This post is number 6 of my #write31days project 31 Days in the Pink-Briefcase Kitchen.  You can read yesterday’s post here, and follow along with the series each day in October.  An archive of posts is available here, or just click on that big button on the right sidebar. 

Week One: The Kitchen Toolkit
  • Jamie Wright Bagley

    My personal-sized smoothie maker was a rip-off. It’s already cracked. People keep telling me to get a Vitamix and I keep saying it’s cheaper to buy a new blender every year. But it IS every year, just about, and I’m starting to feel foolish. 😉

    I make my cheesecake in pie dishes. It doesn’t change the taste. Someday, when I do have room for kitchen storage, I might invest in a springform. I love hearing about what folks think the essentials are. I have learned to make do with much less than I’d like, because money. But at this point, kitchen frugality is kind of a fun challenge.

    This is a fabulous choice for the #31Days series.

    • I agree about the frugality challenge being so fun — when I can make something beautiful and delicious without paying for a special tool, I feel like I achieved some special cooking award. I think that must be how runners feel. #igetendorphinswithoutsweating

      • Jamie Wright Bagley

        Haha! Nice hashtag. #sotrue

  • Pingback: The Pink-Briefcase Stove-top Essentials | Pink-Briefcase()

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