Our Most Used Kitchen Items

kitchen essentials

Now that I’m in my mid-30s I’ve replaced most of the kitchen items I bought or received when I was fresh out of college.  The things we use in the kitchen now have all passed the test for functionality and in some cases, aesthetics too.  We roast veggies a few nights a week and this baking sheet is my favorite.  The XL size is great when you’re roasting a whole bunch of veggies, and the jelly roll-sized sheet is great for a smaller batch of veggies or cookies.  Silpat mats (silicone non-stick mats for baking) are great for baking and your cookies just slide right off.  I don’t have the Amazon version but they seem to get fantastic reviews are are significantly cheaper and come as a set of 2.  Want a good cup of coffee at home?  A Nespresso is the way to go and you end up saving money in the long run because it’s just as good (or even better) than a cup of coffee from a café.  We bought ours nearly 2 years ago when it was on super sale and I use it 4 or 5 times a week for an afternoon pick-me-up or when I get a chance to work on my computer while the big kids are at school.  My trick to getting a larger sized latte than what it would create on its own is to brew a large shot of coffee, then lift the lever, then run the latte button (to froth the milk) but press the button again after it finishes frothing the milk to end the cycle.  If you just do the latte cycle on it’s own the amount of coffee that is dispensed ends up being a little smaller than I’d like, so this is my work around to getting the perfect-sized cup.

favorite kitchen items

The Our Place Always Pan (I’m holding it in the first photo) was a Black Friday purchase and we use it once or twice a day.  It’s impossible to get anything to stick on it and cleaning is a breeze.  It cooks so evenly and I love that it has a lid and a built in spoon rest (also comes with a steamer basket but I don’t use that as often).  It’s beautiful too!  We have the blue salt color.  It’s probably weird to have a favorite set of tongs, but hear me out.  These tongs know when they’re upright so they lock closed (so that they are easier to store and they won’t pop open in your utensil holder or drawer, and then when you turn them downwards (how they’ll be oriented when you use them) they unlock and open right up.  They’re genius!

For straining spaghetti and washing big batches of fruits or veggies we love having a mesh colander that expands to sit across the sink.  It makes it so easy and your food never ends up sitting in water in the bottom of the sink.  A pasta spoon makes scooping spaghetti and pasta a breeze.  For mixing bowls, I’ve had a set of 3 nesting bowls with non-slip bottoms for over a decade and they make a huge difference!  Mine are Martha Stewart but I love the look of these white stainless steel mixing bowls on Amazon that get amazing reviews.  This set of 5 bowls on Amazon gets great reviews and is very affordable too.

We use a microplane for grating parmesan cheese and for zesting lemons and limes.  Easier to clean than a traditional cheese grater and takes up less space too.  We use it every time we eat pasta!  When it comes to making guacamole or any time I need lime juice or lemon juice I always use a citrus press juicer.  The one we have is smaller and only made for limes (lemons are a tad big so I have to cut them in quarters) but I’d love one that works on both sizes, like this one.

When we moved last year I tossed all of our plastic food storage containers and upgraded to glass.  It’s healthier especially if you microwave food in them, and we have been so happy with this OXO set of glass food storage containers.  We also have some of the IKEA ones but the OXO ones feel much nicer and the glass chips easily on the IKEA ones.  Just an FYI if you were debating between the two.

We have a nice Wüsthof 7-piece knife set and it is amazing.  Good knives really do make a difference when it comes to food prep, especially having a nice big chef’s knife!  The set we have comes with a sharpener too.  As far as cutting boards go, I like having a large and small plastic cutting board and a large and small wooden cutting board.  Meat tends to be cut on the plastic cutting board (one with a groove around the perimeter is idea to catch juices) and I use the wooden boards more for veggies or fruits.  Great for cheeseboard too.  We have these J.A. Henckels stainless steel steak knives and they have served us well for 8 or so years.

For daily use items, we have stainless steel faux bamboo flatware from World Market from a number of years ago and I absolutely love them.  The sizes are perfect and they photograph nicely too for the occasional food pic.  They’re no longer available at World Market but this set of faux bamboo flatware on Amazon looks exactly the same!  For dishes, we have a set of dinner plates and cereal bowls with the Blue Willow pattern that I found at a thrift store years ago.  (Similar set here.)  We’ve mixed the set with plain white dishes from Williams-Sonoma (dinner and salad sized + soup bowls too), and the latte bowls from Anthropologie.  We love our seagrass wrapped drinking glasses from Anthropologie and use them daily.  (Also available at Serena and Lily and a similar version is also at Hobby Lobby, though they don’t have the same coaster effect since the woven part doesn’t cover the bottom.)

Some more of our favorite kitchen items are below (just click the images), or similar options if our exact things aren’t available anymore.  Happy cooking!

Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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