I've been so excited to share this with you. Last year I took 12 days on my IG stories & chose one kitchen item per day that I can't live without to highlight & share how I use it. I received great feedback.
This year, after doing a great deal of surveying & listening, it came up that it would be helpful for someone who isn't super comfortable in the kitchen to have a list of basic kitchen items. So I tweaked the list a bit, & here you have my Simply Balanced Kitchen Guide!
I like to keep things simple so I don't have a ton of fancy gadgets, but I promise that with these 12 items you can make pretty much anything! I can honestly say that I use them all regularly and they make life in the kitchen a little more manageable & enjoyable!
1. Dutch Oven - This might be my absolute favorite. I use this for sauces, chili, searing food, mashed cauliflower, one pot meals, you name it. I love that it can go both on the stove & in the oven!
2. Baking Sheets (& parchment paper) - There aren't many nights that I don't use a baking sheet for at least something. Roasting veggies is my favorite way to enjoy them but I also love using it to cook my salmon. And I obviously bake often, too, so my baking sheets barely get put away before I'm using them again! I never use a baking sheet without parchment paper because I hate when things stick to a pan! This will assure much easier cleaning!
3. Cast Iron Pan & All Clad Stainless Steel Pan - By far my top 2 favorite pans to cook in. I try to avoid cooking in non-stick pans, although there are more safe options out there now. Whenever I need to saute something I opt for one of these. I love using my All Clad for blanching/steaming veggies like string beans a little first before cooking. And I love using the cast iron for frittatas that I start on the stove then transfer to the oven. You can even do a cookie cake in a cast iron pan or use it to fry food since it holds heat well & evenly!
*If you are interested in learning to care for & treat your cast iron pan for safety & longevity, I can give some tips.
4. Kitchen Aide Mixer- This item really needs no description. The amount of time & elbow grease it saves when making cookies, dough, batter is worth the price. Plus they come in all fun colors & even look pretty sitting out on the counter (if that doesn't totally drive you crazy). Linking the one I have which is definitely pricey, but they do sometimes go on sale or you can find a similar one!
5. Griddle - I probably use my griddle at least every other day between making an absurd amount of pancakes, grilled cheeses or eggs for my girls. Some can be built into/fit into the stove & others can be placed right on top of the burners. They sometimes come double sided which is super convenient.
6. Hand Blender - Easy button. When I'm too lazy to transfer to or dirty the blender, I use my hand mixer. I love it for mashing cauliflower, potatoes, bolognese, & these days especially for hot chocolate to give it that extra little froth!
7. Pyrex or Corning Ware Dishes with lids - On any given day if you open my refrigerator you will find any number of these inside. I love the Corning Ware because you can cook in them & then also store in them using the rubber lids. And the clear Pyrex are my absolute favorite for storing leftovers in as I have slowly transitioned away from plastic. They also stack neatly which makes for convenient storage & organization.
8. Crock Pot - Again, no description needed, but I will tell you that it took me YEARS to use mine because I was so afraid to leave it while I wasn't home (even though that's what it's designed for). You know I'm all about getting the tedious part of cooking out of the way early on so I love a crock pot meal that can be set up ahead of time, cook all day & be ready & delicious by dinner!
9. Baking Dishes - I often use these when I cook meat in the oven. I sometimes still like to line it with parchment paper to make for easier cleaning. My favorite use for these, though, are for some of my one dish meals like hummus chicken or balsamic chicken (both recipes included in the 10 Day JumpStart).
10. Food Processor - I find that I use this mostly for my snacks. Many of the snacks I make have a base of nut butter or dates or nuts & you can basically just throw everything in the food processor & the hard part is done for you. It works a little differently than a blender as it can produce different consistencies in food. (On sale now!)
11. NutriBullet/Blender - Most days I have a smoothie as one of my meals or a snack because it's such a great way to add in nutrients. I like that it comes with different sized cups & lids & handles so you can drink right from the cup. I also use my Bullet every few days for blender pancakes! These are a healthy alternative to regular pancakes that I add lots of undetectable veggies & nutrients in. (Recipe also found in the 10 Day JumpStart)
12. Percolator - I blame my parents for my snobbery when it comes to coffee (& wine). We never owned a Mr. Coffee or drip coffee machine growing up, instead our coffee was always perked on the stove. And some might say that drinking the Pisano's coffee could put hair on your chest. But because of that, I love a strong, deep cup of coffee & it needs to be piping hot which is another "perk" of a percolator since it needs the water to continually boil to make the coffee. If I don't enjoy my first cup of coffee, it's safe to say the rest of my day might be slightly affected.
Rubber Spatulas, small & large - I use these allll the time whenever I need to get that last bit of batter or peanut butter or eggs out of a bowl or pan. They are also super easy to clean.
Small Spatula (for flipping)- I have about 3-4 different sized spatulas but I love my smaller one, especially for pancakes. If the spatula is too big, it is too cumbersome.
Mason Jars - Need I say more? I store anything & everything I can in these, seeds, grains, flour, sugar, oatmeal, chia pudding, coconut milk, trail mix, utensils, art supplies, you name it! Plus they look cute sitting in your glass cabinet or even on your counter (again, if that's your thing).
Tongs - Where my short girls at?? At a whopping 5'3" getting to some of the high cabinets can be prove difficult. I do have a kitchen stool nearby at all times, but a good pair of tongs can come in handy for grabbing hard to reach things as well as for flipping meat, grilling, etc.
Fine Mesh Strainer - I would always recommend rinsing your grains & beans before cooking or eating. I make quinoa a lot & many strainers have holes that are too large so the quinoa passes right through. The fine mesh strainer is used all the time in my kitchen for rinsing quinoa, rice, beans, so many things!
Meat/Potato masher - My husband bought me this gadget maybe 2 years ago as an extra little stocking stuffer & I can't believe I didn't have one sooner! I make a lot of meat sauces, chili, crumbled sausage dishes, etc. & this is so handy for breaking down the meat into small little pieces. It can also be used to mash potatoes, cauliflower, whatever you need.
On my Wish List
Almond Cow - So tempted by this, but wondering if it's worth the investment. I haven't fully transitioned to making my own mylks but have been wanting to for some time now. I've heard great things about this so it might be a late addition to my Christmas list.
Large Blender like a Ninja or Vitamix - Yes, I love my NutriBullet but sometimes I need something bigger. Ever since my blender broke my Bullet has replaced it, but I do miss being able to pour right out of a blender or adding ingredients right to the top.
Roasting Pan (can you believe I don't have this??) - NEED. A roast chicken is one of my favorite meals & I'm always cramming it into a baking dish or my larger dutch oven. I just need a true roaster! (Also, would you believe I've never cooked a turkey?? Not sure why it intimidates me, but I think if I had a roaster it would give me a little more confidence!)
Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot (do I want this??) - Still on the fence with this one. Do I need it? I finally started enjoying my crock pot, & while I know it needs to be set up well in advance where a pressure cooker does not, like I said, I like to keep my gadgets simple (& my pantry & cabinets are already filled to the max!) I'd love to hear if you have one, how often you use it & if you can't live without it
Ok, now who is going to send this list to my husband??? JK...I'm putting most of these on hold while we are transitioning to buying a new home. So I guess they'll have to wait for my housewarming!
You may have noticed that I don't have or didn't ask for an air fryer. I know they have been all the rage lately. I used to have the setting on my toaster oven & did like it for some things (like fries mostly) but I actually prefer roasting & if I need something a little crispy, I use the convection or broil setting in my oven & it does a similar job. (Sorry to the manufacturers, not trying to bring down sales, I'm just all about less is more & getting multiple uses out of the same gadget).
So there you have it. A little sneak peak into my kitchen. I received most of these from my wedding registry & luckily had my sister who knew quality cookware brands & believe it or not, 11 years later, most of these items have held up!
While I really do try to support small businesses, you will notice most of these items, will bring you to an Amazon link. I did this for your convenience. If you have a friend who sells Pampered Chef, they may carry some of the smaller gadgets. You may also be able to find some of these items at Bed Bath & Beyond & use a coupon. Many of the things from my wedding registry were from Crate & Barrel so you can check for any sales as well.
I hope you find this helpful. I realize that getting new things for your kitchen & cooking might not be glamorous or exciting, but they do make it easier to get healthy, home-cooked meals on the table. And to me, investing in your health is the best investment you can make!
Happy shopping & happy cooking!
And for your viewing pleasure, here are some of the things from my guides in action!
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