We can probably all agree that every kitchen has things it needs. Certain pots and/or pans, utensils, dishes, things like this make your kitchen functional. As a busy mom of three (plus one fur baby), my cooking has evolved over the years. I love to cook but these days my meals have to be ready when I walk in the door from the afternoon run around or need to be made in 15 minutes or so.

Did you fill your kitchen with your wedding registry and stop there? I encourage you to take stock of your kitchen and think about whether it’s still working for you. Is there a gadget that would save you a lot of time cutting? Maybe you need this food chopper or slicer. Maybe you haven’t replaced your cutting boards in 20 years. Ever thought about all the bacteria trapped in those little slits? Probably time to get a new set like these. Perhaps you love your non-stick skillet but could really use a larger size for your growing family. Or you’re like me and you use that skillet multiple times a day and having a second one just like it would be a dream come true.

The following list is, in my mind, what makes my kitchen function for our family on a daily basis. Take inventory of your own and see what might make your load lighter and cooking easy and fun again.

  • Stand Mixer – If you do any amount of cooking, this will be well worth the money.
  • Mixing Bowls – have a variety of sizes, and maybe even two sets for busy times of the year.
  • Non-stick Skillet – at least two sizes, one medium and one large.
  • Wooden Spoons – need a wide variety of types and sizes. These are great for baking, but also to use on your non-stick cookware. Just keep the temperature low or they’ll burn.
  • Plastic Spoons – make sure they’re rated for high-temp cooking so you can use them when you’re browning meat, making fudge, and so much more.
  • Whisks – two varieties, one plastic for use in your non-stick cookware and one metal for use in mixing bowls.
  • Spatulas – I have so many, and they all serve a purpose. Tiny ones scoop out cans and bottles, larger ones scrape sides of mixing bowls, some fold in berries to muffin batter. Have at least five in my opinion. Once they start to tear or look nasty, time to replace. Spend a little more money and they’ll last a lot longer.
  • Instant Pot or Crock Pot – The Instant Pot is a newer addition to our family and it has been a game changer. I use it several times a week and haven’t touched my Crock Pot since. I’m not quite ready to get rid of it yet, but if you haven’t gotten on the Instant Pot bandwagon, now is probably the time. It’s a kitchen appliance here to stay. Not sure which size is right for you? This is the one I have and it works well for a family of five.
  • At least three sizes of pots – sauce pan, medium size, and then large. I prefer the stainless cookware and have had these Calphalon pots since our wedding day. They haven’t stained, heat evenly, and I’d highly recommend them.
  • Measuring cups (both liquid and solid) and teaspoons – you need two sets of these. End of story.
  • Various cutting knives, a food chopper (or two), and cutting mats – see above for a couple I recommend.

The other essential ingredient to a working kitchen is a great supply of cookbooks (pun intended). In a day when you can Google anything and find out how to cook it, why, you ask, is it still important to have cookbooks? As I once  had someone tell me, the cookbooks have been trial tested in a test kitchen, they’ve gone through the editing process, and they’re more stable and reliable than any online recipe.

That being said, I have plenty of online recipes in my arsenal. But my kitchen couldn’t live without these as my reference materials. They have so much more in them than just recipes. If you got one for your wedding and never cracked it open, you should flip through it. There’s a lot to learn in there.

  • Joy of Cooking 
  • Better Homes & Gardens Cook Book
  • Any cookbook for your specific dietary restriction, if you have one
  • A kid focused cookbook if you want your kids to help in the kitchen. These books usually have great pictures that make kids want to make stuff. Cooking is a wonderful way for your kids to learn math, try new foods, and bond with you. We have this one and use it all the time.

See something missing on this list? Connect with me on Facebook or Twitter and let me know your favorite kitchen essential.

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