Cooking from scratch is not only better for you, but also cheaper. The easiest way to ensure you can create delicious and healthy meals from scratch in your kitchen is to have these essential items on hand.
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I have been a homemaker for about 10 years now and I can tell you that one of the ways I have saved so much money for our family is by cooking from scratch. It has been a long process, but I believe the items that I have narrowed down are the reason why I can cook so many things from scratch in my kitchen.
Kitchen appliances can be super pricey. I have tried to link everything I truly believe are worth the investment or how to find certain items cheaper.
Essential Kitchen Items
1. Cutting Boards
Cutting boards are an essential for cooking from scratch not only because of how you’re able to prep all of your fresh fruits and vegetables, but also because charcuterie boards are very popular right now.
I personally have 4 different sized cutting boards in my kitchen. This makes meal prepping very easy for me especially since I have a small kitchen.
Having at least one good knife in your kitchen will make a huge difference. Between prepping fruits and vegetables, cutting meats, making sandwiches, cutting sweet treats, etc. knives are pretty essential.
I have a magnetic knife block I hung on my wall to help keep my knives sharp and to also keep them out of reach of little hands. I probably have about 10 knives but I could realistically only have 1 good one that could do everything and I’d be all set.
3. Garlic Press
This one really surprised me at how much it made my life easier. Seriously. I used to be the type to think, “You don’t need a garlic press, just give it a good chop and save your money!” I fully redact my statement and it’s worth the investment.
Garlic presses are nice because most of my recipes call for garlic….a lot of garlic. I used to spend so much time peeling and chopping garlic and most of the time my “minced garlic” was more like “hunked garlic.” I love garlic but my family did not like biting into a garlic hunk. Haha!
The garlic press made the whole garlic process easier and everything is minced perfectly every single time. Get the garlic press. Trust me!
4. Dough Whisk
Having whisks in your kitchen are awesome for eggs, whipped cream, etc., but a dough whisk is a game changer. They’re awesome for cooking from scratch bread, tortillas, sourdough cinnamon rolls, etc. It has quickly become one of my favorites because it has made me use my mixer less. Let me tell you, my kitchenaid is pretty heavy and while I love it, it’s a pain to get out every time I need to make something. The dough whisk is a lot more convenient and cheaper to have too!
5. Pastry Cutter
I saw that! You crinkled your nose and said, “Pastry cutter?” YES A PASTRY CUTTER! You don’t just need these for making delicious homemade biscuits and pie crust, but for other things too. I have used mine for making mashed potatoes when my potato masher “grew legs and walked off” and for making macerated fruits. I love how it chops them up but leaves them pretty chunky all at the same time. Strawberries are my favorite to use it with.
6. Large Bowl
A lot of the items in my kitchen I’m super attached to, but my bowl…MY bowl is my favorite. I thrifted it a couple of years back and I use it for just about everything. I look for an excuse to use it because I love it so much. It’s big enough to hold everything I need it to when I’m making something from scratch, but not too big to keep in my cabinet. It’s perfect! Plus, my bowl is pretty enough to sit on the counter if need be.
7. Measuring Tools
This is a pretty basic thing that most people keep in their kitchen, but keeping a variety is extra helpful.
I have 3 different sizes of liquid measuring cups: 1 cup, 4 cups and 8 cups. This is awesome for when you’re making multiple recipes at once and you don’t have to wash that same jar over and over again. I actually just made a recipe last night that I used all 3 at once: one for measuring melted butter, one for measuring milk and the other for making cheesecake batter in so I could pour it easier. 10/10 recommend.
I also keep a couple sets of metal measuring cups on hand. I prefer the metal ones with the sizes engraved in the handle rather than painted on because I use them so much they end up wiping off.
Tablespoon and teaspoon measures are also an essential item and I keep a couple of sets of these on hand too. These also have a knack for growing legs and walking off. It couldn’t be from kids or anything…anyways…
8. Baking Sheets
A good quality baking sheet is something I’ve become rather picky about. For so many years I would throw money away by buying cheap, non-stick cookie sheets at the store only to replace them a year later. I found these stainless steel baking sheets that come with wire racks and they are AWESOME. They’re easier to clean, great for cooking bacon in the oven, nontoxic and multipurpose because of the wire racks. I love using them as cooling racks for cookies! They also store really easily which is important if you have a tiny kitchen like I do. I have 2 large sets and 2 small sets of these sheet pans.
9. Baking Dishes
Baking dishes are one thing I don’t think you could ever have to many of. Ok that’s not true, but I won’t judge you if you have a copious amount of them.
In my kitchen, I have:
- (2) 9×13 glass dishes (1 with a lid)
- 8×12 (I think) baking dish
- 9×13 cake pan
- (2) muffin pans
- (3) bread pan (1 metal, 1 glass, 1 ceramic)
- 8×8 baking dish
- (2) pie dishes
Don’t ask me if I really need 3 bread pans because yes, yes I do! I may have to play jenga to get them out, but I need all of this. Haha!
Having a good stand mixer in the kitchen has probably saved me in more ways than one or maybe I’m just a lazy, from scratch “cooker” (that’s what my son, Everytt, calls a chef). I love making homemade doughs, but more often than not, I don’t have time to stand there and knead my dough for 10+ minutes, especially when making sourdough cinnamon rolls. It’s such a timesaver to throw the ingredients in the bowl and walk away. Plus, if you have a kitchenaid mixer like I do, you can buy attachments for it and make even more things from scratch.
11. Instant Pot
Raise your hand if you’re not surprised by this at all. *me raising both hands*
Oh the love that I have for my instant pot is unreal. Seriously this thing has changed my life. It has saved me more times than not, especially when I forget to pull meat out of the freezer to thaw. Friendly reminder, go put your meat that you need in your fridge!
I use it for cooking whole, frozen chickens, rice, bone broth, homemade yogurt, dry beans, etc. It’s hard for me to live without. Trust me, I learned the hard way when one of my kids pulled it off my counter and broke it. First of all and most importantly, he was not hurt at all. Secondly, it was empty and not plugged in. When I replaced it, I upgraded in size. #LargeFamilyProbs
12. Immersion blender, Blender, Food Processor
Do you really need all of these items individually? No.
Does having all of them make life easier? Yes.
My immersion blender was the last one I added to my kitchen and I can now say it’s another something I can’t live without. It’s an essential in making homemade mayo, helps when I’m making homemade tomato sauce from the garden and great for butternut squash soup. Mine came with a whisk attachment so I can also use mine as a hand mixer.
Our blender gets a workout. We probably have smoothies 5 days a week, for a while it was every day. When this blender quits working, I’m probably going to upgrade to a high powered blender.
The food processor is definitely not a necessity, but definitely makes food prep a lot quicker. My favorite ways I use mine is shredding cheese, making sauerkraut, chopping nuts, making pie crust, etc.
These tools have become very essential in my kitchen.
13. Wooden Spoons
A wooden spoon is something I use for just about every dish I make. It’s especially my favorite when I’m sautéing something on the stove. They’re just so versatile!
Plus, they look so cute sitting in a crock on the counter. I also love that once they break, I can put them in our compost bin. Win, win!
14. Cast Iron Skillets
From the moment I first started using cast iron, I fell in love with it. I literally use it for cooking meals, making homemade pizza, baking, etc. The list goes on and on. At this point I only use cast iron products.
They’re easy clean up, durable and multipurpose. If you’re in the market for new skillets, I highly recommend them. My husband found me a huge skillet we call “Bertha”. One of the best finds for a large family. You may even be able to find some at a thrift store. They have become more popular in the last couple of years but majority of my collection of cast has come from the thrift store.
15. Dutch Oven
The final essential item on this list is a dutch oven. I am a proud owner of 3 of these, 1 being a cast-iron dutch oven with a handle. I bought my first when it was on sale and used a coupon and literally a week later I found a brand new one at a thrift store for $15! I brought it home and looked it up and it retailed for almost $200! *insert jaw dropping emoji here*
If y’all don’t thrift, you need to start!
I use my dutch ovens for making soups, baking bread, roasting, popcorn, making giant batches of baked mac ‘n’ cheese. They’re just awesome!
Almost every single item that I have listed for cooking from scratch is a dual purpose item. When you’re stocking your kitchen with essentials, make sure you’re investing in things that don’t just have one purpose. Get your money’s worth out of the things you buy and make sure they’re good quality items before investing.
I have found that every single one of these items are 100% essential in my kitchen for helping me make recipes from scratch.
What’s an item in your kitchen you can’t live without? Comment down below!