If I’m being honest, I spent not only my college years but also the first few years post-college with pretty much three kitchen staples: one frying pan, a circle pizza sheet used for baking and a NutriBullet.
While those items served me well, eventually it was time to step up my kitchen game. Specifically, I got engaged and had to think about not only cooking for myself, but a future family someday. When building the registry I had a lot of input from my mom, but also only wanted to fill the kitchen up with items I felt confident I would actually use on a regular basis. After looking up a lot of recipes, seeking guidance from Williams Sonoma associates, and talking with friends who are better cooks than I, the following list of top four must-have kitchen tools was formed:
Yes, it is expensive. Yes, it is worth it. You can blend pretty much anything, from carrot to apples and everything in between. Beyond vegetables and fruits, you can blend whole nuts to make gluten-free flours or add peanuts to a smoothie without the extra sugar usually found in peanut butter. The Vitamix also includes a recipe book to clearly explain the wide variety of options available, making it even easier to use than it already is.
When I first heard of this, all I thought of was a Dutch baby pancake (also a great kitchen staple). But a Dutch oven is a pretty amazing kitchen tool. You can cook an unlimited amount of cold-weather favorites like stews, chilis and baked beans, but Dutch ovens are also known for being the perfect carriers for no-knead bread recipes. One of my absolute favorites, mostly because it is very easy, is this one from Girl Versus Dough. My mom’s go-to item to bring to family parties is bread, but it usually takes her a whole day to go through the whole process. The no-knead bread in the Dutch oven forms into a perfectly shaped, delicious loaf – especially when topped with butter and jam!
This one isn’t a surprise to anyone, but it still had to make the list. We make more cookies than we probably really should (especially when I’m on a ‘wedding diet’), but YOLO, so we make them anyway!
The mixer has been a huge game changer, basically cutting our prep time in half. If you have even the smallest sweet tooth, this machine will make you fall in love with baking by making the process amazingly painless.
There is an essentially limitless amount of recipes available to easily make in an Instant Pot – you can even make bone broth as guided by aSL writer, Cass. A recent favorite of ours is Orange Chicken by Sweet and Savory Meals. The total prep+cook time is 30 minutes, which is kind of insane and makes weeknights a hundred times easier when you come home from work and the last thing you want to do is spend a hungry hour prepping dinner. Another positive of the Instant Pot: you can prep everything in this same pot so it limits cleaning time too — hello more time to work out/veg out/hang out with your loved ones.
Whether you’re building your wedding registry or just looking to upgrade your adult kitchen, the above tools will change your meal prep game. What is your favorite kitchen essential?