Article By: Maria Tucker, MPH, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Maria Tucker is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator with over 20 years of experience assisting patients with diabetes, obesity, and nutrition-related conditions. Maria is also the Founder of MyBiyaya.com, a site dedicated to healthy recipes and kitchen shortcuts.
There are loads of tools, gadgets, and equipment you can buy to occupy a spot in your precious kitchen cabinets and counter spaces. Some are practical, some look good enough to display and still some others are hidden and brought out only when you are cooking for a large crowd. When choosing what tools to have in your kitchen, you must consider how much prepping and cooking you do, what your budget is and how much space you have in your kitchen to store tools in. Finding really good quality tools is necessary.
Regardless of what your answers may be to these questions, there are a few basic kitchen tools you must have to make cooking fun and enjoyable.
1) Good quality knives. You do not need a full set of knives like those in a butcher block with several sizes and types of knives to cook a great meal. The most important knives to have include an 8-inch chef’s knife, a boning knife, and a paring knife. A chef’s knife will do most of your chopping and slicing, while a boning knife makes easy work of deboning chicken, filleting salmon, or removing excess fat from pork chops. A paring knife makes easy work of peeling fruit and veggies and even slicing cheese. Knives that are made from one piece of steel all the way to the handle are sturdier and those with handles with a comfortable grip prevents accidents from the knife slipping out of your hand.
2) Knife sharpener. A dull knife is a danger to use in the kitchen. Knife sharpeners do not have to be expensive or fancy, they just must do their job well. The easiest one to use is one you can place on your counter and sharpen your knife manually. Most come with at least two different slots for sharpening different knives, such as Western and Asian knives.
3) Cutting boards. To prevent cross-contamination, it is important to have 2 sets of cutting boards – a plastic dishwasher-safe one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood and, for produce and cooked food, either plastic or wooden ones will work well. You would also want to find one with a non-slip bottom to prevent accidents from the cutting board moving around as you slice or chop food on it.
4) Digital thermometer. Cooking meat, poultry and fish to the right temperature and doneness requires an excellent quality thermometer. Digital thermometers are easy to read and clean. Some even have probes you can leave in the meat while baking with alerts you can set to let you know when the correct temperature has been reached.
5) Spatulas. Go for heat-resistant silicon spatulas in different widths that can withstand temperatures up to 400oF to prevent melting your spatula as you stir food in a hot skillet. These are great for non-stick pans as they will not scratch the surface of the pan. A slotted spatula is great for lifting food off liquid in the pan.
6) Measuring cups and spoons. Invest in a good set of measuring cups and spoons to measure dry ingredients and liquids accurately. Glass measuring cups make it easy to read the measurements and are a cinch to clean. Measuring cups for dry ingredients must have handles that are level with the cup for ease in leveling off when measuring flour or other ingredients. They must also have flat bottoms to prevent tipping over. As for measuring spoons, look for those with easy-to-read measurements on the handle. Nesting measuring spoons are great for easy storage.
These tools are just a part of the essential items you need to make quick work of meal prepping and cooking which makes eating healthy enjoyable and fun! Stay tuned for the next list of essential kitchen tools...