Cooking Basics

Essential Tools for a Healthy Kitchen



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I'm Kris, trained chef, culinary nutritionist and busy mom, here to help you take the stress out of healthy eating with flexible meal planning, simplified meal prep and easy budget-friendly meals.

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Hands down THE most frequent ‘chef question’ I get is, “What tools do I NEED in my kitchen??”

And to be honest, my answer is– not much.I’m a minimalist by nature. Extra ‘stuff’ makes me feel anxious and I can’t stand a cluttered workspace- especially in the kitchen. And I genuinely don’t think you need a ton of fancy tools to be a good cook. I DO however think having the RIGHT, carefully selected (and good quality) tools can help you to be a more efficient cook- and isn’t that what we all want as busy moms (or working people, in general?!). Make it healthy, make it delicious and make it happen fast. Lucky for you- that’s my cooking philosophy, in a nutshell!

So what are the tools that I rely on every single week for efficient cooking? This Healthy Mama Hacks podcast episode outlines my Top 15 favorites (and why) and I’ve outlined them below, for you, as well.

Give it a listen:

My top 15(ish) tools you need for an efficient kitchen:

1) Knives. I don’t think you need a full knife block by any means. If all you have is a good quality chef’s knife, paring knife, mid-sized knife for vegetables (a utility knife works well, too) and serrated knife, you’re golden. This is my favorite starter set (Global knives are my favorite because they’re lightweight, easy to keep sharp and last forever!). P.S. This is my favorite knife sharpener (it’s an investment, but well worth it to keep your knives in tip top shape!)

2) Cutting board. I prefer something sturdy and wooden (though I do keep plastic on hand for meat).

3) Pans: Like with knives, I don’t think your cupboards need to be brimming with pots and pans. My top-used and recommended pans are:

1. A large cast iron skillet

2. A medium nonstick (I like ceramic) sautee pan

3. A saucier or braiser

4. A small pot for sauces

5. A large pasta pot for soups and pasta

6. A dutch oven for soup, bread and

4) Strainers are a must- I like one large multi-purpose strainer (everything from rice to pasta to greens) and extra small (juicing citrus, straining sauces and the like)

5) A high-heat (important!!) silicone spatula. Make sure this is designed for high heat- it WILL melt if you’re not careful (and no one wants a plastic-infused soup ????)

6) A wooden spatula for when you need something sturdier

7) Microplane grater (microplane brand or oxo brand). If you follow along on Instagram, you know I wax poetic about this tool. It’s my favorite tool, hands DOWN for zesting citrus, mincing garlic and ginger, grating parmesan, even nutmeg. I use it EVERY single day.

8) Glass (or metal) mixing bowls. I like a variety of sizes for everything from holding scraps to mixing, of course, tossing vegetables for roasting, salads and more.

9) A great (sharp!) peeler. I’m particular about my peelers- and you should be, too. The Y-peeler is the only one I’ll ever use (for good reason!) and they’re the only tool I regularly replace (every 3-6 months). Luckily, they’re really inexpensive.

10) A Box Grater. I love grating veggies into everything from sauces to muffins to meatballs- and of course, cheese for macaroni and cheese (you can’t use the bagged stuff, you know!).

11) Baking sheets (also a non-essential but love: silpat mats– measure your pan before you buy, but these keep your pan totally non-stick and easy too clean without waste!). I like rimmed baking sheets so nothing falls off, and I use these for roasting and (on a rare occasion) baking cookies. Yes- they work for both!

12) Tongs I use tongs to toss and flip everything- I have two pairs because I use them so frequently. Tongs are a must!

13) A Food Processor I don’t think you need an overly expensive food processor (this one works great and is less than $80) but I do think it’s an essential for a healthy kitchen- you can make homemade dips and sauces, mayonnaise, energy balls and energy bars– and more (like secret ingredient brownies!)!

14) A Slow Cooker If you’re a busy human, you need a slow cooker. Hands down! It is the BEST for soups, stews and chilis that you can throw in in the morning and have dinner ready when you’re done with the day (second place is the Instant Pot, but the slow cooker is less expensive and just as valuable, in my opinion!).

15) A Blender (preferably a graduated high speed blender) Last but not least, your blender is not just for smoothies! I use it to blend up soups, sauces and salad dressings and I also use it EVERY day for smoothies. I don’t think you NEED a fancy blender, but I do think a high speed blender is worth saving for (p.s. Vitamix refurbishes old blenders for a fraction of the cost and has a 5-year warranty on them- totally the route to go if you’re not planning on opening a professional kitchen!)

Ok friends, that is my list! I’d love to hear from you- which items do you use on the regular and which are you adding to your kitchen tools shopping list? DM me over on Instagram and let me know!

Cook with me: Don’t forget to join me live on Instagram every Thursday at 2pm EST to cook one of my favorite family-friendly recipes!

Disclaimer: Some links included may be Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon affiliate, I receive a small commission from your purchase at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the Healthy Balanced Mama blog and podcast!

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