If it’s your first time moving into your own space the thought of getting everything you need for your kitchen can be pretty daunting. It’s really easy to go down the aisles of Target and fill you cart with tons of junk you aren’t really going to use. For most of us, the space in our kitchen cabinets comes at a premium, so don’t clutter it with useless gadgets and space taking appliances. Even if you have an established kitchen, it’s a good idea to take stock of what you have, what you use regularly, and more importantly what you don’t.
Working in professional kitchens will teach you very quickly to only keep the bare essentials. The last thing you want to be doing during a busy service is fumbling through your tools looking for the right spoon or spatula. In fact most professionals can go into dinner service with just a few spoons. Less is most definitely more!
Below I’m listing my favorite kitchen must haves and a few things to clear out the clutter!
- Knife sharpener: Whatever kind you like. A sharpening stone is the best option but to be honest, I ‘aint got time for that, and I was never really that great at it. I run my knife through a cheap table top sharpener and it works wonders. It was also less that $15!
- One Good quality, sharp AF, chefs knife: Skip the large knife sets or block o’ knives on the kitchen counter.
- One cheap pairing knife: Don’t spend more than $10. Replace it as needed.
- Microplane: I use it for everything, zesting citrus, grating garlic or cheese.
- A cast iron pan: Mine lives on top of my stove. I use it daily!
- Parchment paper sheets + industrial plastic wrap: After using parchment and plastic wrap in a professional kitchens I cannot deal with the grocery store equivalent. Do yourself a favor and pick up plastic and parchment at your local restaurant supply store. Bonus: it will probably last you a few years!
- Mandolin: I use mine all. the. damn. time!
- 2 Cutting boards: Yes, you really need two. No, you don’t need a whole stack of beat up old cutting boards. One should be for raw meat, and fish. Choose plastic for this or any other non-porous material that won’t trap bacteria. The second is for everything else. I have a pretty wooden one that lives on my counter top, choose any kind you like.
- Kitchen Towels: I keep a few pretty ones out for display and the rest are plain white square towels. You can get them at any kitchen supply store, and they’re super cheap! Use them for grabbing hot trays out of the oven or cleaning up spills. They really come in really handy and you don’t have to be too concerned about dirtying them, just bleach the hell out of them, or toss ’em when they get too gross.
- A well stocked pantry: More to come on this later.
Non-Essentials – Things to purge!
- Gimmicky Gadgets! I took a stroll through William Sonoma not too long ago and was LOL’ing over all the useless gadgets they sell! Kale strippers, garlic peelers, banana slicers, these things are the reason your kitchen drawer gets stuck when you try to open/close it. Skip ‘em! I’m happy to provide a tutorial on de-stemming kale for anyone that needs it.
- Old, scratched, damaged, non stick pans. This is something I see often in clients homes. Not only does a non stick pan completely lose its functionality when it becomes scratched, it can actually leach toxins into your food. Hell no. Get rid of it ASAP.
- A Knife Block. Don’t spring for the over-priced set with fifteen knives you’re never going to use. Stick to a chef’s knife, a pairing knife and a bread knife. Thats really all you need.
- Unused appliances: Not using that bread maker anymore? Donate it. Still have a George Foreman Grill? Donate it. Remember when at-home panini presses were a thing? Thats what your cast iron pan is for! Donate, donate, donate!
Let me know in the comments below what your kitchen essentials are!