I love food, and I love to cook. That is about the only “expertise” that I will claim in sharing this list. Over the past several years, as I have learned more about our food system’s impact on our environment and on our health, I have grown increasingly committed to using food as a means of taking better care of God’s creation—around us and our bodies. We have two little kids now, too, so that has only exacerbated my
So whether you are buying for someone who is an amateur chef or someone who just wants to get a healthy dinner on the table most nights of the week, this list should have something for you. These are my must-haves in the kitchen these days, grouped by price. I’m linking to the Amazon page just to simplify things, but please, if at all possible, go get these at a local store where you can ask the salesperson for their recommendations and wish them a Merry Christmas!
Stainless steal measuring cups or spoons: I tend to eyeball measurements in my cooking these days, but that only came after years of practice with the actual measuring spoons. And if you’re buying for a baker, they will definitely need a nice set of measuring spoons. (Make sure you get rectangular-shaped measuring spoons so they can easily fit in the spice jars.)
Oven gloves: I was notorious for burning myself until I started using these oven gloves. They aren’t the cutest things ever, but they are so much easier to maneuver than the old-school mitts.
Microplane: I use mine mostly for grating hard cheeses and zesting citrus. A little lemon zest can make a surprisingly big difference in many dishes, so I use my microplane all the time.
Nice wooden spoons: My husband, Grant, bought me some locally made wooden spoons for Christmas one year, and I love them. I use them every day for just about every type of cooking.
Wooden rolling pin: For that same Christmas, Grant gave me what this site calls an Oriental rolling pin. It is so much easier and more versatile to use than the traditional kind with the handles. I’ve heard great things about the French variety as well. I use mine for rolling out homemade pizza dough, tortillas, and sugar cookies.
Mesh strainer: I’m surprised how often I use our mesh strainer. I use it for the obvious things like straining pasta, but I find myself using it for all sorts of purposes in our “real food” kitchen—chicken stock, ricotta, pumpkin puree, and canning tomatoes, just to name a few.
Non-stick baking mat: As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a huge baker, but these things have me enjoying making cookies (which, on second thought, might be a bad thing). I also use them for all sorts of other things where I would normally use parchment paper, which I always felt badly about wasting.
Misto sprayer: My mom always had a version of one of these growing up, and I finally found it again a few years ago. Those Pam sprayers always made me nervous with all of the junk that was in them along with the oil. With these, I put my own oil in, and then I can spray surfaces lightly and evenly on my own. I actually have two – one I keep grapeseed oil in and the other I keep EVOO in.
Kitchen scale: I went several years into my “real food” journey before getting on the kitchen scale bandwagon, but this thing makes a world of difference for baking, where the volume measurements (cups, teaspoons, etc.) can vary wildly based on humidity, altitude, and a range of other things. It is indispensable for me for making bread. I’ve also found that it enables me to cut down on dishes because I can just add stuff to one bowl by resetting the scale after each ingredient. In this case, I actually own the one linked to. I would recommend that you look for one that has a large weight capacity (at least ten pounds) and easily switches between metric and English measurements.
Bodum French press or tea press: Depending on whether your recipient is a tea or coffee drinker, you can’t go wrong with Bodum. We actually have both of these and use them both nearly every day. When you throw out all of those sodas and other fake drinks, you don’t have a ton of choices (well, of the non-alcoholic variety anyway!), and you really can’t beat French press coffee or tea brewed from loose leaves. I would also recommend buying an electric kettle and some locally roasted coffee beans or locally grown loose leaf tea to go with your gift. The electric kettle might be my most used kitchen appliance.
Stainless steel mixing bowls: This whole “real food” adventure has led me to removing as much plastic as possible from our kitchen, so I pretty much use my stainless steel mixing bowls for everything instead.
Over $50 – Feeling Generous
Enameled cast-iron French oven: I would love a Le Creuset version in a pretty color (yellow!), but I’ve actually had the Kirkland version from Costco for several years now. I love it and, if forced to choose, would probably forgo all of my other cookware for it.
Food processor: Grant bought me this one a few years ago. According to Cook’s Illustrated (my go-to resource for kitchen appliance reviews), the newer Cuisinart beats out the KitchenAid, but I doubt you can go wrong either way. I use this thing nearly every day, too. I held off getting one for a long time because I figured I can do everything that it can do by hand, but it does make so many tasks so much easier. I use mine to shred cheese; to slice vegetables evenly; to shred cabbage, carrots, and apples for slaws or to easily sneak in other dishes; to make nut and sunflower butters; to make pizza dough; and all sorts of other things that I’m sure I’m forgetting.
Nice knives: I’m not going to even offer my two cents here because people get quite opinionated about their knives, but you can’t go wrong with buying the cook in your life a few very nice, high-quality knives. You don’t need a huge set. I started off with something similar to this and rarely use much else.
What are you must-haves for the kitchen?
P.S. I’ll back next week for some easy gift ideas for the treehugger in your life, so stay tuned!
*I’m firmly in the I-like-practical-gifts camp, but be sure and check with your gift recipient before buying her/him something that plugs in and risk a Father of the Bride-esque incident!
Originally posted at burnsidewriters.com.