Kitchen essentials

Don’t be bamboozled by the thousands of kitchen gadgets out there. Here’s the lowdown on what you genuinely need for a functioning kitchen.

From the simple gadget that can peel boiled eggs to the high-end and cult-like Thermomix, there’s a huge and overwhelming world of gadgets out there. The good news is, you really don’t need most of them to be a great cook. Instead, buy less but buy smart with our list of essential kitchen appliances that will see you cooking up a storm.

The quality essentials

1. A good quality knife (or three)

A good, sharp knife is easily the most important kitchen utensil, hands down. If your knife is blunt it will make chopping slow and you’ve got more chance of cutting yourself.

Learn to sharpen your own knives – many knife blocks have a sharpener included – or get them sharpened professionally. Store them in a knife block and not a kitchen drawer to keep them sharp and out of the way.

2. A non-stick frypan with lid

A frypan with a non-stick coating means you can cook with less oil, and the pan will be easier to clean. The coating on cheap pans degrades quickly, so this is an item to spend a bit more money on. Extend its life by using non-metal utensils and washing and drying the pan straight after use.

The budget essentials

For the rest of the essential items, buy to suit your budget. They’re quite cheap at the supermarket (or second-hand), or you can spend a bit more on fancy brands – it’s up to you!

1. Large pot (7–9L), medium saucepan (3–5L) and small saucepan (1L). Don’t buy a whole set – you probably won’t use them all. Second-hand shops are great for picking up odd pans in the right size.

2. Measuring cups and spoons are important when you’re following recipes.

3. Basic utensils: big spoon, egg flip and ladle. Choose a material suitable for your non-stick pan, such as wood or plastic.

4. Mixing bowl/salad bowl.

5. Baking tray/baking dish.

6. Chopping boards x 3. It’s important not to slice your vegetables on the same board as you cut your meat, so get a few chopping boards.

7. Grater.

8. Colander.

9. Can-opener.

The nice-to-haves

1. Crockpot

A crockpot or slow cooker is a kitchen appliance that can be a real time saver if you like soups, stews and casseroles. It’s only worth it if you use it, though! If you’re not sure, buy a cheap version, or shop second-hand. If you like it, you can always upgrade later.

2. Stick mixer

I love my stick mixer. I mostly use it to blend soups, but it has a little food processor attachment that’s great for making dips and falafel. It can also whip cream, make milkshakes and finely chop vegies. Shop around for these kinds of appliances online to get the most bang for your buck – prices are competitive.

The dont-bothers

Single-function tools or kitchen utensils – think apple corers, egg cookers, cheese slicers, rice cookers, popcorn machines… the list goes on. Obviously if you core a lot of apples, or pop a lot of corn, these will come in handy, but for the most part they take up room and gather dust. So, unless you really, really want one, save yourself the money and spend it on yummy ingredients instead.

Looking for recipe ideas? Try our four quick meals on the cheap, or throw a banquet on a budget.


Anne Finch

Anne Finch is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with a passion for food. She works at the Cancer Council WA on a range of programs like FOODcents to help people eat well and be healthy. Likes: Developing cheap, tasty, healthy recipes. Her current mission is inventing a veggie burger that doesn't fall apart! Dislikes: people giving out dodgy health and diet advice on the internet.


No comments found.

Comments are closed here.