There are a lot of gimmicky things in the culinary world. Things that take up space and
clutter your kitchen for only occasional use. I for one do not like a cluttered kitchen. But I do like to save myself time in the kitchen and make life easier which is what the gimmicky things promised to do in the first place. Here are some of the kitchen must haves that I have found to be worth the space for cooking with food storage (you can hear about it on our podcast). These are things I use almost daily that make cooking and preserving food so much easier. If you want to start improving what is in your kitchen start with these things.
Next Level Must Haves
I use these every day. I have a set of plastic bowls with a handle on one side and a pour spout on the other. I have 2, 6 and 8 quart sizes that nest together. If you only want one get the 6 quart. But get some good mixing bowls. They are a kitchen essential.
I use our 6 quart enabled dutch oven also pretty much every day. It is great for any stove stop cooking such as soups or curries, but it also is in regular use for making sourdough bread. Any oven safe pot will work for that so whatever your preference have a 6 quart pot with a lid that can go in the oven.
I don't always need a large stock pot, but when I do there is no substitute. If you are a college student or just starting out it may not be as much of a priority, but if you are wanting to get into canning or have a family get yourself a 12 quart pot.
I'm talking serious blending power, like a Vitamix or Blendtec. I've used both and personally prefer the Blendtec but either is a great option. They are pricey but their blending capacity is unparalleled. We use ours for smoothies, batters, sauces, and soups all the time. You can even use them for nut butters (though a food processor is definitely better for that). I love having a good blender and know you will too.
This is the best budget friendly wheat grinder we've seen. The design is easy to store a way, but still easy to pull out in one piece when you are ready to grind wheat. Pulling out just the flower is so simple and doesn't require you to pull out the entire machine. We've found it to be very mess free and are so happy with our purchase.
A few good knives will make all the difference in your kitchen. It can be hard to find a set that meets your needs or even know what knives you might like so here are what we use most often: Small santoku, 8 inch chef knife, paring knife, bread knife, and kitchen shears. Mercer and Wusthof are our favorite brands. Buy them one at a time or in a set on sale.
I was a doubter. How hard is it to wash a cookie sheet? Why do I need to buy an extra mat for my cookie sheets? I was wrong. They are amazing. I should get more. They make clean up so much easier. They help things not stick in amazing ways. Get some.
An oldie but goodie. There is a reason they've been around forever. We have a classic 12 inch skillet and a 10 inch with deep sides. I honestly am happy with that and don't feel I need any more though I still am eyeing a 12 inch griddle just for fun. They are heavy duty and can withstand many different types of cooking like a fire or camp stove or oven. Bonus for being prepared for anything.
I did not see the point for years and finally I got one for about $20 off Amazon. It makes baking so much easier. It makes the bread turn out so much more consistently. It opened up a whole new world of international recipes. It saves so much mess with measuring when I'm not suing measuring cups. Do yourself a favor and try a digital scale.
Another kitchen gadget that I thought was gimmicky. I got one as a gift (the Lux version) and liked it so much I got a Duo (second hand of course because who wants to pay over $100?) I love that I can make yogurt in it so easily. If you have chickens you need an Instant Pot for hard boiled eggs that will actually peel. It is the only way I've had success cooking with dried beans. Brown rice is so much easier to cook in an Instant Pot and turns out perfect. Making vegetable broth and bone broth is as easy as pushing a button and walking away (I recommend a basket insert for this). I could go on about how convent they are but I think you get the picture.
If you do any fermenting at all just get a Berkey. City water will kill the good bacteria and
using bottled water all the time is such a hassle. Also, if city water kills the good bacteria in fermenting it probably isn't great for us either (just saying, though I'm not a complete tap water snob). The Berkey filter is the world standard for water filters. You could literally put pond water through it so it doubles as an emergency preparedness item. They are an upfront investment but when you price it out by filtering capacity they are actually the best deal.
I know the Mason jar trend is so 2013 but they really are so nice to have around. I use them to store smaller quantities of bulk items on an open shelf. We use them for fermenting. We use them to store honey. We use them to vacuum seal herbs and nuts/seeds. We use them for yogurt. We use them for all the things. You probably will find that you do too.
If you are going to be using mason jars you have got to get plastic, one piece lids to go with them. Having the canning lids in two pieces gets so annoying. We found the plain, white, plastic lids to work best.
To go with your Mason jars you'll want a double walled funnel. It holds the jar on the lid so it doesn't wobble around and it has the measurements for airspace on the side. We use it for filling our jars, for canning and even for putting freeze dried food in mylar bags. Surprisingly handy little gizmo.
If you don't have power or internet you want to be able to access your recipes. If you are planning your food storage you want to remember what you were shopping for (see our article on planning food storage). I use Pinterest and the internet all the time to try new recipes, but our tried and true recipes always go in the binder.
Whether you are a seasoned home cook or just starting out we hope this article gave you some inside into what is actually worth getting to make your life simpler in the kitchen. Go ahead and send that popper chopper to Goodwill and get ourselves something nice.