Essential equipment for kitchen
Learn what you need to set up an efficient kitchen for cooking. When you have the basic equipment on hand, you’re much more likely to cook at home, enjoy preparing your own food, and save money.

By: Body - Performance Nutrition - 11/15/2018

When your kitchen contains the necessary tools for cooking, it's easier, faster, and less frustrating to get meals on the table and enjoy cooking.  And by eating at home you'll save time and money, and you can prepare healthier meals.

One big mistake in preparing meals at home is trying to make do with inadequate cooking equipment.  There are many ways to pick up basic kitchen tools inexpensively:  try yard sales, thrift stores, family donations, or even castoffs when neighbors move.  Consider borrowing an item from a friend first, to see if you like it before you buy.

For roughly $200–300 you can purchase ALL the basics.  This might seem like a lot of money, but the average American spends over $1,200 each year on fast food!  Consider eating out less often, and use the money you saved to stock your kitchen.  Your pieces don't need to be lavish or color-coordinated, only functional.  Keep in mind each cook and kitchen are different, so make decisions based on your habits, needs, and space.

Items For Food Preparation

  • Plastic cutting boards (2).  To prevent cross contamination, use one for bread, fruits, and vegetables and the second for meats, poultry, and seafood.  Choose boards that can be cleaned easily

  • Colander.  For draining pasta or rinsing vegetables.

  • Mixing bowls.  Three sizes should be plenty.

  • Measuring cups and spoons.  One 4-cup liquid measure (glass) and one set each of measuring spoons and measuring cups for dry ingredients.

  • Fruit and vegetable peeler.  Healthy meals include many fruits and veggies; this item will make peeling them quick and easy

  • Box grater. It's fast and easy to grate carrots or cabbage for a salad, or cheese for your favorite dish, with a box grater. It also can be used to grate chocolate and spices (such as nutmeg).


  • Sharp knives.  Most professional cooks agree that you need only 3 basic knives:  A chef's knife (the workhorse used for slicing and dicing fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish; 8–14 inches in length), a utility knife (for small tasks; usually 6–8 inches in length; may or may not have a serrated blade), and a serrated slicing knife (for cutting bread and tomatoes).  Don't go overboard on price, but do choose good quality.

  • Handling.  Handle it before buying to make sure it feels balanced in your hand and has a comfortable grip.  Keep knives sharp and store them safely. Also invest in a knife sharpener.

  • Kitchen scissors.  These have numerous uses, including cutting poultry into pieces and cutting fresh spices, pizza, tortillas, etc.  Look for a pair that can be taken apart for cleaning.

Kitchen Tools

  • Utensils.  Choose a wooden or metal spoon for stirring—whichever you like best.  Choose a metal spatula for flipping eggs and pancakes, as well as a rubber spatula for scraping bowls.  Pick up a wire whisk for beating eggs, mixing dry ingredients together, or making gravies.  Tongs are useful for serving salads, turning foods in a pan, and grilling.

  • Can opener.  Many cans now have pull tabs, but occasionally you'll need this tool.

  • Cooking thermometer.  This is necessary to ensure your food has reached the proper temperature.  An instant-read thermometer is easy to use, but don't leave it in the oven.

Cooking And Baking

  • Cooking pans.  Basic pans include sauce, sauté, and stock pots, plus one universal lid and a hot pad.  Pans don't need to match.  Flimsy cookware can warp and develop hot spots, so get the best you can afford; otherwise your food might burn.

  • Baking sheets.  A 17 x 14 inch aluminum sheet is best for cookies, breads, and pizza.  Also have a cooling rack; it's a safe and quick way to cool your food. 

  • Baking dishes.  Basics include a 9 x 13 and 9 x 9 inch baking dishes, as well as a bread pan, which also can be used to bake a meatloaf.  Also get 1- and 3-quart microwave-safe casseroles with lids.


  • Electric or hand blender.  These tools make smoothies, soups, and sauces a snap to prepare.

  • Crockpot.  This item can save you a bundle of time, as well as money.  Choose a size to fit your family.

  • Toaster or toaster oven.  A basic toaster oven can be inexpensive and is always useful for making a fast meal.

Miscellaneous item to consider.  A salad spinner dries greens super fast and can save you money over pre-cleaned, bagged veggies.

Food Preparation

  • Measuring cup for liquids

  • Measuring cups for dry ingredients

  • Measuring spoons

  • Spatula, rubber

  • Mixing bowls (several sizes)

  • Box grater

  •  Colander

  • Peeler

  • Plastic cutting boards (2)


  • Chef's knife

  • Paring or utility knife

  • Serrated slicing  knife

  • Knife sharpener

  • Kitchen scissors

Kitchen Tools

  • Wooden and/or metal stirring spoons

  • Tongs

  • Whisk

  • Spatula, metal

  • Can opener

  • Food thermometer (instant-read)


Cooking And Baking Pans

  • Frying pan

  • Stock pot

  • Saucepan

  • Sauté pan

  • Hot pads (2)

Baking Items

  • Baking dish, 9 x 13

  • Baking dish, 9 x 9

  • Casserole with lid (1- or 3-quart)

  • Loaf pan

  • Pie pan

  • Pizza pan

  • Baking sheet, 17 x 14

  • Wire cooling rack

Small Appliances

  • Crockpot

  • Electric or hand blender

  • Toaster or toaster oven

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