This is just my personal list, I’m sure you have other items that you just can’t live, or cook, without…
- A fairly well-stocked spice rack. While I primarily use fewer than 10, some recipes call for some crazy spices, so it’s unavoidable, unless you are okay with substituting (I’m not that bold). Cost Plus sells a wide selection of both common and hard-to-find spices, and you can refill your empty jars with those packets.
- A good kitchen knife. I’ve got a whole drawer full of knives, but I use only one on a daily basis, which is a 6″ hollow edge Santoku knife (with the ridges on the blade that keep the ingredients from sticking to the knife as you’re quickly chopping).
- A large, sturdy cutting board. I also have a small one that I use just as frequently, but if it’s either/or, you need the large one. Those flimsy sheets aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
- Kitchen shears. I use mine all the time, for everything from trimming fresh rosemary leaves from the branch, to hammering through the safety seals on vitamin bottles. The shears that can be completely separated for washing are fantastic.
- An assortment of mixing bowls. Aluminum ones are great because they’re lightweight and easy to wash. I wish I still had mine (left them behind who knows where), I have glass ones instead, and they’re a bit too heavy and cumbersome for frequent retrieval and replacement in the cabinet.
- A cast iron skillet. For cooking bacon, eggs, bacon, chicken fried steak, bacon, sausage gravy, bacon, fried zucchini, bacon, etc. With proper care that includes curing and seasoning, it will last several lifetimes.
- Cookware with a thick bottom surface that won’t warp over high temperatures, scorch, or permanently pop out of shape. I love my All-Clad LTD series cookware, it doesn’t discolor or fade because I never put it in the dishwasher, and the stainless steel cooking surfaces still shine like the day I bought them. I also have a few other inexpensive large pots that I bought at Target that work very well, along with two gargantuan aluminum stock pots (purchased for next to nothing at a resale shop) that I use for cooking lobster, large quantities of corn on the cob, and a winter’s worth of split pea soup or enough spaghetti sauce to feed a small army.
- Several wire whisks. The small ones are great for blending marinades, and the larger ones are good for mixing everything else.
- A good quality, sturdy rubber spatula. Mine gets used nearly every day, and it’s great for scraping bowls, getting all the blended ingredients from around the blade of a food processor, general stirring and mixing, and getting all the mayonnaise off the inside of the jar for that delicious potato salad!