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Kitchen Essentials

December 5, 2014 by Sophia Baker-French, Registered Dietitian

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Kitchen Essentials

Every kitchen needs a few essential tools to help prepare for successful cooking and baking.If you’re beginning to build your kitchen tool kit, don’t feel like you need to get everything at once. Many items can be found at thrift shops and won’t cost too much. For example, my best glass mixing bowl came from The Salvation Army. If you have the funds, I suggest investing in a good (doesn’t need to be top of the line) chef’s knife and paring knife. Knives do the most work in the kitchen and it’s important to have a knife that will keep a sharp edge. A sharp knife is a safe knife.

Maintain your cooking tools by cleaning them right after use so they can last a long time. A good knife can last a lifetime – my parents have had the same cooking knives for 32 years.

A well-stocked kitchen can help you relax and have fun when cooking or baking. Learning some kitchen skills and preparing your work area can help as well. Here are tips if you are new to cooking or baking:

  • Read the whole recipe before getting started to be sure you have all the ingredients and tools. Gather all of your cooking or baking tools and recipe ingredients before you begin.
  • Consider taking a cooking class. Check with your local community center.
  • Join a community kitchen in your area to share cooking and learning with others.

Use this as a guide to stock up your kitchen with everything you need to make cooking and baking easy and fun.

Essential Kitchen Tools Design and material suggestions Notes
Food prep equipment
Chef’s knife, 8-10 inches (20-25 cm)

High carbon stainless steel

  • Look for a knife with steel running through the handle for a stronger blade.
  • A good chef’s knife will feel comfortable in your hand and the weight will be balanced between the blade and the handle.
  • A mid-range chef’s knife will cost $35-$50.
Paring knife, about 4 inches (10 cm)

High carbon stainless steel

  • Look for a knife with steel running through the handle for a stronger blade.
  • A mid-range paring knife will cost $15- $25.
Cutting board x 2

1 x wood or plastic

1 x plastic

  • It’s a good idea to have one plastic cutting board reserved for only cutting raw meats.
  • I also have a cutting board reserved for fresh fruit to avoid cross-contamination with strong flavours, like onions and garlic.
Can opener   It should have a sharp edge.
Peeler   Check that it’s sharp.
Grater Metal Check that it’s sharp.
Measuring cups Metal or plastic At a minimum, the following cup sizes: ¼ cup, 1/3 cup, ½ cup, and 1 cup
Measuring spoons Metal or plastic At a minimum, the following sizes: ¼  teaspoon, 1/3  teaspoon, ½ teaspoon, and 1 teaspoon, and 1 tablespoon
Mixing bowl s x2, medium or large Glass, ceramic or stainless steel A bowl big enough for combining and mixing ingredients for your recipes.
Stove top cooking equipment
Frying pan (skillet), 10-12 inch (25 x 30 cm) Stainless steel or cast iron
  • Stainless steel is durable, easy to clean and versatile.
  • Cast iron is durable, versatile and can add dietary iron. Cast iron requires special care and is heavy.
  • Non-stick pans are prone to scratching and may not be the best choice if you only have one frying pan.
Thick bottomed sauce pan, with lid, small to medium Stainless steel
  • Stainless steel is durable, versatile and easy to clean.
Thick bottomed soup pot with lid, large Stainless steel or enamelled cast iron
  • Stainless steel is durable, versatile and easy to clean.
  • Enamelled cast iron is versatile and oven safe. It is heavy and can be expensive.
Mixing spoon, large Wood, metal or silicone  
Spatula, stove top safe Metal or silicone  
Whisk Metal  
Tongs Metal  
Strainer Metal The strainer needs to stand up to hot liquids and ingredients.
Oven cooking equipment
Baking pan Glass or metal A range of sizes will work. If you usually cook for one, try a 9 x 9 inch (23 x 23 cm) or if you cook for two of more, try a 9 x 13 inch (23 x 33 cm).
Cookie sheet with sides, 10 x 15 x 1 inches (25 x 38 x 2.5 cm) Metal A range of sizes will work. The sides should be at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) high.
Oven mitts Cotton or silicone  
Other useful tools
Thermometer Digital instant-read Thermometers help you know when your food is fully cooked and safe to eat.
Reusable storage containers Glass and plastic Purchase a variety of sizes for packed lunches, freezing and refrigerating left overs.

Recommended resources:

Shopping Sense: Planning


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