Kitchen Basics

I love some of my gadgets as well as the next person but I have built up my supply of kitchen items slowly over many years. A minimal list is dependent on what type of cooking you want to do, of course. If you make a lot of stir fry, then a wok (non electric) is nice but if you just make a stir fry now and then you can just use a large deep skillet.

The links below go to Amazon so you can see what I mean. (Ad full disclosure, if you buy the item after following the link I’ll make a small referral fee.)

  • a cutting board
  • a colander
  • a set of saucepans and a frying pan
  • a whisk
  • flat spatula (for flipping things over) (if you use non-stick cookware get a plastic one)
  • rubber spatula (for scraping and scrambling eggs)
  • one decent large knife
  • one decent smaller knife (paring knife)
  • a vegetable peeler
  • a few wooden spoons
  • one 9×9 baking dish
  • one 9×13 baking dish
  • round baking pans for cakes
  • a loaf pan (for bread and meatloaf)

Nice to have:

  • a salad spinner
  • a serrated knife if you’re going to bake bread

Cutting Boards

You can read conflicting studies about which is healthier: wood or plastic cutting boards. I like the feel of wood better and believe the plastic ones can dull your knives faster. However, the plastic ones are awfully nice for throwing in the dishwasher so I have each. I use one specific board for cutting meat so I don’t transfer germs. I have a big wooden cutting board that I use for rolling out pie crusts, calzones, and cookies but a smaller one works great for making sandwiches, slicing cheese, and the like.

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Get a set of measuring cups and spoons that feel good in your hand. You should have one set of measuring cups for dry ingredients and one set for liquid ingredients. The dry set you’ll use to scoop up dry ingredients, then use a flat knife to scrape off the extra. These generally come in metal or plastic. I prefer the metal. The liquid ones you’ll want in a few sizes, at least the 1 cup and 2 cup to get started. I also have a 1 quart size but could live without it if I had to. You can get glass or plastic. Again, I prefer glass.


  • glass measuring cups for liquids
  • metal measuring cups for dry ingredients (1 cup, 1/2 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/4 cup)
  • measuring spoons (Tablespoon, teaspoon, half teaspoon, quarter teaspoon)



I have a few different colanders. The largest one is great for draining pasta, artichokes, and other large quantities. I have two smaller ones, both handed down from my mom. One is great for rinsing berries, grapes, and other smaller things. The other has a finer screen-like mesh. I use it for straining broth by placing it over a large bowl or jar and then pouring the broth through it. But you can get by with one.

Baking Dishes

You can spend a lot of money on pretty baking dishes. And they’re fun, if you’ve got the extra money. If you’re on a lean budget, you need at least a couple of dishes with lids that can go in the microwave and oven. I like the white Corningware dishes. They look pretty and go with anything and have lasted me for years.