Kitchen Basics

We all have to start somewhere!

Here's a list of basic kitchen equipment, which follows my basic mantra that less is more. I've also included links to articles with tips on grocery shopping, broiling, pressure cooking, and more!

Basic Kitchen Equipment
  • Cookware A quality set of cookware will save your life—and your dinner. Almost ten years ago, I invested in a set of All Clad MC2 (their least expensive line), and I've never looked back. Yes, they're more expensive, but they last forever! I also try to avoid non-stick pans due to potential health risks, but this is still out for debate. You should decide for yourself. Want to learn more about non-stick? Here's a great New York Times article.
  • Stock Pot In addition to this basic set of higher quality cookware, I would purchase a cheaper stock pot (for making stocks, etc.).
  • Cast Iron Skillet These run the gambit from super cheap to very expensive (hello Le Creuset). However, I use a $20 cast iron skillet that I adore.
  • Braiser Pan with Lid I love the All Clad Braiser Pan with Lid. Not only is great for braising in the oven, but it's also great on the stove top. I make everything in it from risotto to steamed mussels (the domed lid is perfect). This is more of an investment piece, but I swear by it. I also have a Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Pot for braising, but there's no need for both.
  • Knife You really only need one good, high quality knife. And ideally a sharpener. Yes, it costs a little more, but it will save you time, money, and trips to the emergency room. If you buy a decent Santoku Knife, you won't need any other knives, except possibly a serrated bread knife. Wusthof makes good knives that won't break the bank. I also love their sharpener. For anyone interested, I use this Shun Santoku knife almost exclusively.
  • Wood Cutting Board This one is for vegetables, etc. Never use soap with wood or put it in the dishwasher.
  • Plastic Cutting Board This one is for fish and meat, and can go in the dishwasher. 
  • Blender It's cheaper than a food processor, and works well for all sorts of soups, sauces, etc. I also prefer this to an immersion blender for pureeing soups. Since most of my soups are vegan, a blender will emulsify them better for that creamy taste without the cream.
  • Mini Food Prep I use this smaller food processor (the Cuisinart version retails for around $30) for making sauces, pestos, hummus, etc.
  • Microplane This is for grating and zesting. It's amazing!

Essential Pantry Supplies
  • Spices Crushed Red Pepper, Ground Cumin, Curry Powder, Chili Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Bay Leaves, Cinnamon, Cloves, Nutmeg, Cloves, Allspice, Ground Ginger, Ground Cardamom, Ground Coriander.
  • Vanilla Extract
  • Kosher Salt
  • Black Peppercorns  
  • Canned Whole Tomatoes (no salt added)  
  • Tomato Paste
  • Whole Grain Pasta I usually keep a variety of shapes. There's tons of variety. Schar makes great gluten-free pasta.  
  • Dried Beans I always have Lentils (cook up fast with no soaking required), White Beans, and Garbanzo Beans, but any kind you like are fine
  • Grains I always keep Brown Rice (usually long grain), Quinoa, Barley, and Grits in my cupboard. 
  • Baking Powder
  • Baking Soda
  • Flour I also keep a variety—whole wheat pastry flour, whole grain spelt flour, cornmeal, etc. For gluten-free, there are tons of options now.
  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Lemons or Limes 
  • Fresh Ginger (keeps for a long time in fridge)
  • Parmesan Reggiano (also keeps for a long time in fridge)
  • Mustard I like both Dijon and Whole Grain
  • Miso Paste
  • Eggs For eating, cooking, and baking. 
  • Butter and/or Substitute I always keep both butter—for splurging in risotto or baking—and Earth Balance, a vegan substitute in my fridge.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil I always have a cheaper "cooking olive oil" and more expensive "drizzling/salad dressing" olive oil on hand.
  • Grapeseed Oil This is what I use for higher heat cooking (it has a high flashpoint), and no GMO-issues like Canola, etc.
  • Walnut Oil It's not essential, but has unparalleled flavor. Keeps in the fridge after opened and great for drizzling on soups, pasta, etc.
  • Non-stick Cooking Spray Because I avoid non-stick pans, I use this for cooking eggs and greasing muffin tins, etc.
  • Vinegars Invest in a high-quality balsamic vinegar (it lasts forever), white wine or champagne vinegar, apple cider vinegar, and rice wine vinegar.
  • Canned Salmon It's healthier and contains less mercury than tuna, cheap, and a great source of protein. Throw it into salads or make salmon salad sandwiches.
  • Low Sodium Vegetable & Chicken Stock Either keep homemade in your freezer (it keeps for up to six months), or store bought in your pantry.
  • Almond Milk I use this instead of milk (it's my preferred dairy substitute). Keeps for a long time in a pantry, and great on cereal, in coffee, and for baking.
  • Nuts I always keep raw walnuts, almonds, pepitos (pumpkin seeds), sesame seeds, and pine nuts in my fridge. Great for garnishes, salads, snacking, recipes, etc.
  • Sesame Tahini I use this for making hummus, salad dressing, sauces, etc.
  • Raw Frozen Shrimp Great in a pinch, and cook up fast!
  • Frozen Chicken Breasts Same as above.
  • Variety of Frozen Vegetables Frozen veggies have the name amount of nutrition as the fresh stuff. Great for throwing into dishes and soups. I usually keep a mixture of Spinach, Peas, Corn, Edamame, and Lime Beans.
  • Carrots and Celery I always have them in my fridge. They keep for a long time, and are used along with onions and garlic as the base for many soups and other recipes.
  • Maple Syrup I keep this in my fridge, and it's my go to sweetener for oatmeal, soups, etc. I love the flavor.
  • Organic Cane Sugar & Brown Sugar I'm not a fan of sugar substitutes. Instead, I use it only rarely, and when I do, I go for the real stuff.
  • Raw Honey Never goes bad, great flavor.
  • Low Sodium Tamari It's gluten-free and lower in sodium, but still packs great flavor. I use this instead of soy sauce.

Other Cooking/Shopping Tips