As a busy mom of young kids, having the right kitchen tools and equipment to cook meals for your family is essential. This includes simple utensils like spatulas and whisks or more complex appliances like blenders and food processors.
But with so many kitchen gadgets, knowing which ones are useful or even necessary can be hard. Which ones are worthwhile? Which ones are just a gimmick?
I am really picky about what makes it into my kitchen because I don’t want my cabinets to get filled up with a bunch of useless items, but I also have tried a lot of different things because I like to know if they work or not!
My goal is to have everything in my kitchen serve a purpose and helps me finish the job as quickly as possible. So what tools and equipment do I recommend having in your kitchen? Well, let’s start with what I use to prepare my meals!
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There are a lot of gimmicky prep tools you can buy, like the ones sold in those really cringy infomercials. They end up costing a fortune and don’t ever get used. (Though not gonna lie, I’ve tried a few just for fun!)
Which ones do you actually need or will make your life easier? There are actually some neat tools that can legitimately speed up the time spent prepping your family meals. I’ve included some of my favorite ones in this list, along with those simple, everyday prep tools.
There are many types of graters, such as cheese graters, box graters, and zesters. But these can clutter up your cabinets. I like to have an all-in-one grater solution that I can use for all my prepping needs. This saves room in my cupboards but still helps me finish the job quickly.
You can also get rotary-style graters that make it even faster to prep your food. My parents have a super fancy one they got when I was in high school, and we love to use it! It’s best to be used when doing meal prep for the entire week or making something that requires more prep than normal.
A vegetable peeler is a must-have tool for any kitchen. It’s perfect for peeling carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables. Plus, I find using a peeler to be a much faster process than using a knife. Surely you have one of these!
Chopping vegetables can be time-consuming, especially if the recipe you’re making has a lot of vegetables. But vegetable choppers can cut the time to do this in half.
Vegetable choppers come with multiple blade styles, are easy to clean, and help prep your vegetables quickly.
A good set of knives in your kitchen is essential for everyday cooking. I recommend at least having a high-quality chef’s knife or kitchen knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife.
Food safety is massively important in any kitchen, so I like this colored knife set from Cuisinart. The colors make it easy to ensure I am not cross-contaminating anything while prepping our dinner. (Plus, I really just like colorful utensils).
A quality knife sharpener is another must-have item to keep your knife in the best condition. We recently sharpened our knives for the first time since getting married. The change was quite significant! I had no idea how dull our knives had truly become!
Cutting boards are invaluable for any kitchen. Not only do they keep your counters protected, but they also keep your knives in good condition. We prefer to use a wooden board, like these ones, for our cutting boards. )My personal board was made by my dad, it’s the best!).
You’ll also want a set of measuring tools is essential for precise cooking. This helps you ensure you have the correct ingredients for your recipes.
Ideally, you will want a set of measuring spoons and measuring cups for dry ingredients. Whereas for liquids, you’ll need a liquid measuring cup, which is larger in size. You can usually find these in sets like this one.
Our family loves to cook with garlic, so a garlic press is a must-have tool. It’s perfect for quickly and easily crushing or mincing garlic.
Salads are a quick and healthy side that can go with any meal. So, having a salad spinner can be a good idea. I found with a salad spinner the lettuce lasts longer after being cut than just in a bowl. Plus, it’s so easy to get the excess water off. Def a must have!
No kitchen is complete without mixing bowls. Not only are they used in food prep, but they can also be used to store leftovers in your fridge or even to serve food at the table.
You’ll likely need a few different sizes, so I recommend getting a set. Found a set with lids? Even better! You’ll love that feature!
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There are a lot of recipes I like to make that require whisking ingredients together. But honestly, I am kind of slow at this.
So, I like to use an electric whisk. This Mueller Ultra-Stick comes with a whisk attachment, a blender attachment, and a milk frother attachment. (Again, I am a huge fan of having tools in my kitchen that can do more than one thing!).
When I don’t use the electric whisk, I like silicone whisks as they are heat-resistant and won’t scratch non-stick surfaces. Also, they make really fun baby toys. In case you were wondering.
Having a standing mixer is a game-changer in the kitchen. Not only does it speed up the process of prep, but it also makes baking faster and easier too. Funny story: I did not own a KitchenAid until I got married, but my husband did! He was aware of what a useful tool this was (especially for making his favorite chocolate chip cookies!) so he had one.
I love our Kitchen-Aid Mixer. You can get so many attachments for it, too! You can see lots of options here, like an ice cream maker, pasta roller, meat grinder… etc. If you can think of it, they’ve probably already made it! And seriously, you can make the best chocolate chip cookies ever with one of these. Yes, it has to be a Kitchen-Aid Mixer, and yes, you need to use the recipe on the back of the Nestle Chocolate Chip bag. That’s just the way it is.
Many people think of blenders as the thing you make smoothies with, but if you buy the right blender, they can also be useful for making sauces, dips, soups, and more. Ninja has their famous Foodi Heat-IQ Blender, which you can use to blend smoothies, frozen drinks, soups, ice cream, sauce, and more.
I have a blender story, too… if you’re tired of stories you can skip it. However, I’m going to share it anyway, just for fun. When the twins were little I made them a blueberry smoothie in our new blender at the time. I had taken the lid off of it to pour… and I dropped the whole blender on the floor. The smoothie shot out of it and I think covered every square inch of our kitchen. I would not recommend dropping any blender. FYI.
A food processor is a great tool for quickly cutting vegetables, shredding cheese, mixing dough, and more. It can also make certain tasks, like chopping onions, much easier.
This Hamilton Beach food processor can hold up to 10 cups and does slicing, shredding, mincing, and more.
Ready for story time?! Again, skip if you want to. But a food processor is seriously the best way to make shortbread! I used to work in a Tea Room, and we made the best shortbread! All you need is the food processor, sugar, vanilla, butter, and flour. I think. I’d better look up the recipe before you go making it. It was so good! I can still remember the taste as it melted in my mouth. With a cup of Earl Gray tea in a porcelain teacup, with just a touch of cream and sugar. Sigh. Those were the days.
Having quality cookware is essential for any kitchen. Not only does it make cooking easier, but it also ensures that your food will cook evenly and properly.
Sheet pans are great for baking and roasting various dishes in the oven.
I like to have them in various sizes to choose one that best suits the recipe I am making. If you haven’t tried roasting veggies on a sheet pan coated with a little olive oil and then seasoning salt, you haven’t lived. Try it with frozen veggies, too! Just takes a minute longer. Okra is maybe my favorite vegetable this way, with Brussel sprouts being a close second… and broccoli and cauliflower are other favorites!
Frying pans are essential for sautéing, searing, and cooking various dishes.
Again, because I love easy clean-up, we use the non-stick frying pans the most. We’ve been looking into cleaner versions of frying pans, too. I’ll let you know what we come up with!
For many home-cooked meals, having a variety of pots in different sizes will be important. We use our pots for the side dishes mainly. Mostly shells & cheese. Kidding. Kinda.
Dutch Oven or Cast Iron Pot With Lid
While having a dutch oven isn’t a necessary kitchen tool, it can make cooking certain dishes much easier. It’s perfect for making soups, stews, and other slow-cooked dishes. Just pop the ingredients into the pot and let it cook for you!
And even though I am sure every mom dreams of having a Le Creuset dutch oven, they are extremely expensive. This Amazon dutch oven is a great alternative at an affordable price. And it has great reviews!
Basic Cooking Utensils
Spoons are essential in any kitchen, and we like to use a variety while cooking.
Silicone spoons are great for using in non-stick pans and mixing bowls because they won’t scratch the surface.
Whereas wooden spoons are great for stirring, mixing, and even serving.
If you didn’t know, you can get spoons in various styles, including a slotted spoon, pasta spoon, etc.
Spatulas are another essential kitchen utensil that every kitchen needs. We like to use silicone spatulas because they can be used in various ways without scratching or ruining the surface of your cookware.
Tongs are great for flipping and serving food. They also help to keep your hands away from hot surfaces while cooking. I often find deals for these and post them on my deal page! If you haven’t stopped by yet, you should! Find daily online deals here.
Small Kitchen Appliances
I LOVE small kitchen appliances. These all make it much easier to cook meals when I am in a rush or don’t want to turn on the oven.
Air fryers are great for cooking certain foods faster than you would in an oven, such as French fries, roasted potatoes, chicken wings, and more. You can achieve a nice crispy result in half the cooking time.
It can be nice just to put something into your slow cooker for those busy days when you just don’t have time to cook. This way, you can just set it and forget it. You can use a slow cooker to make a variety of soups, stews, and other similar dishes. Remember to grab liners, too! This makes cleanup a breeze!
While we don’t use our pressure cooker nearly as often as the two above appliances, we still use it occasionally. It is great for cooking quickly while still giving you great flavor. My absolute favorite thing to cook in our instant pot is shredded chicken! See my recipe here.
I also love using a toaster oven, especially on hot days when I don’t want to turn on the entire oven!
There are a few really good options you can buy, but I like our Breville toaster oven. It cooks everything evenly and is super easy to clean, which I love! This is the one we keep in our pantry for quick meals! It’s nice to not heat up the whole house, either.
Other Kitchen Tools You Need
In addition to the cooking tools and equipment listed above, there are some other miscellaneous items we could not live without in our kitchen!
Not everyone has a fridge that can make ice, so you might need to use ice trays instead. You might think that ice cube trays are boring, but NO!
Sure, you can get ones that make traditional cubes, but you can also get unique ones like the ones you use for water bottles or even fun-shaped ones that your kids will love. Trust me, the water bottle shaped ones make life a whole lot easier!
I often use aluminum foil when we cook to cover dishes in the oven or line our baking sheets. It’s also great for storing leftovers in the fridge.
Parchment paper is good for baking stuff in the oven to avoid sticking to the pan. I also use parchment paper between burger patties before I freeze them. Have you seen the parchment paper sheets? I often cheat and use them! Again, if you’re going to use these, make sure to join my daily online deal page here, to get the best price! I love posting deals on these!
If you’re anything like me, you must have a good morning cup of coffee. Who can blame you? Having a quality coffee maker will make sure that you start your day off right. I may be a bit spoiled in the coffee department since I have a nice KitchenAid drip coffee maker, which I love! I can set a timer for early morning brewing… then let it brew while I do other things, like getting my kids ready for the day. But recently we also got this Nespresso Coffee Maker! It is incredible. The espresso is soooo good, even better with frothed milk. And you can get decaf and half caff espresso pods, too! Wow… this is seriously living the dream!
It can never hurt to have a kettle in the house. Whether you use it to make tea regularly or just for boiling water occasionally, it’s an essential item you can’t go without. The twins love using ours for hot cocoa after playing in the snow!
Glass or Plastic Container
And last but definitely not least, I recommend having lots of glass or plastic containers that you can use to store leftovers in the fridge and freezer.
We prefer to use glass containers, but use whatever you have available. The glass do last forever! We are still using the same Pyrex we got for our wedding almost 10 years ago!
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As busy moms, we don’t always have the time to cook. But with these kitchen tools and equipment, cooking a good, home-cooked dinner for your family can be much simpler and more manageable.
There are certainly a lot of other tools that we haven’t included on this list. But as I said above, I like to keep only the essentials in my kitchen to avoid feeling too messy and cluttered.
I hope that this list has been helpful for you when choosing the tools and equipment you want for your kitchen!