I started this site to become a better cook and eat healthier at home. Part of that is learning about new ways to cook and trying out some new recipes instead of just sticking to the same thing every day. A big step in my journey was investing in cooking equipment that helped make cooking more enjoyable and convenient.
I’m going to go through the basic kitchen setup that will help you if you’re on the same journey. You don’t need everything but if you’ve got certain bad habits like overcooking meat, there are actually a lot of simple accessories that will save you from ruining your dinner and hopefully keep you eating a healthier diet overall, instead of fast food as a last resort.
So here’s the list of my favorite tools that have helped me the most. I’m excluding the utensils everyone needs so as long as you’ve got those you’ll be able to improve your cooking ability in no time with these tricks and a bit of experience.
- Instant Read Food Thermometer (check on Amazon)
- A Digital Scale (check on Amazon)
- Kitchen Timer (check on Amazon)
- Powerful Blender (check on Amazon)
- Zester & Juicer (check on Amazon)
- Salad Spinner (check on Amazon)
- Knives & Cutting Boards (check on Amazon)
Yes, this is my one non-negotiable if you want to be a serious cook. All of my recipes instantly turned out much better once I started using this digital meat thermometer. Once you start learning the temperatures you like your food at you’ll never go back.
These are super simple once you get the hang of it, especially with the charts that come included in most versions.
- Clean the thermometer to prevent cross-contamination with any undercooked foods. This is just precautionary, we just don’t want it covered in raw meat and then put it in something else.
- Check the calibration with room temperature. You should see something close to what your thermostat is set to, if not you’ll have to recalibrate per the instructions.
- Place sensor in the item you’re cooking, you can use this for anything, but let’s say you want a perfectly juicy ribeye, then I’d suggest aiming for 125 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from heat to rest. The handy chart is perfect, but you can adjust with experience depending on your taste, altitude, etc.
- Stop cooking food at the desired temperature. Remember meat will continue to go up in temperature, (be more done) even after you take it off!
- Clean the thermometer, remember your food safety!
A kitchen scale will help you with precise baking recipes and make sure to stay on track with your portion control. My choice is the Oxo 5 lb version but there is also the Oxo 11 lb version if you’re cooking for a larger crowd.
The most important thing to remember is to zero out the scale if you’re using a container. That means calibrating the scale to read “0.0” before putting anything inside the container.
When the recipe calls for mL or a volume measurement, just remember that most liquids are about 1 g/1 mL which is convenient because they’re almost exactly the same. This won’t work if you’re measuring something dense, like honey, or if you’re measuring a lot, but otherwise, you’ll be good to go!
Yes, I know you can just use your phone, but if you’re the type to get distracted sometimes having a timer with nice big numbers right on the counter next to what you’re cooking is what you need.
Hint: leave it by whatever you’re cooking so you can’t press “snooze” and leave it in too long.
This is definitely for the committed out there, but trust me once you learn the possibilities that having a blender with adequate power to do heavier jobs than the cheap blenders you used in college you’ll thank me.
Having a zester nearby is like having a secret trick up your sleeve when you’re making salads, or trying to add a bit more flavor to any recipe. I use the Microplane Zester but you can also get the Microplane Set which is handy if you’re going to be grating a lot.
A good juicer will separate the seeds from the juice and help you add fruity flavors to salads, marinades, and anything else you can dream up!
The best way I’ve tried is to use a vegetable peeler and then scrape off the white pith that is attached to citrus fruits and then chop the skin as finely as you can. It’s not very fun though so I’m still glad I got the Microplane Zester.
I have the Oxo Stainless Steel Salad Spinner and use it all the time since I’ve been trying to cut down on carbs. I use it to replace lunch with chopped-up versions of sandwiches that taste great at lunch and dinner.
A salad spinner will help you mix your salads and dry your fresh crips vegetables so they taste their best. Combine with the testing trick above for limitless combinations of healthy salads you can use for lunch and dinner!
Make sure you have one for vegetables, one for fish, one for raw meat and poultry, and one for bread. You don’t want to cross-contaminate your foods with the uncooked residue leftover from another meal.
Cutting should be stored where they can be easily reached next to your primary work area. There are several display-worthy sets but you can also get everyday plastic cutting boards as your workhorse version.
You’ll also need a few knives to use, but you don’t need to spend thousands to get a good knife set. For a complete knife set for an everyday cook you really only need three;
- Chef’s Knife
- Paring Knife
- Serrated Bread Knife
I use this set from Cusinart, I’m not a knife connoisseur by any means but they have been plenty capable for all of my recipes and they’re still sharp!
Creating your dream home kitchen to cook healthier foods doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. You can get started and progress as you go. Don’t get worried that it’s not professional grade, if you’re cooking for yourself and staying away from unhealthy fast food it’ll be worth it in the long run. At least that’s why I’m making the investment. Let me know if you think there’s anything that needs to be added to the list!