Basic Essentials In The Kitchen

Here’s my list of Basic Essentials In The Kitchen. With this handy guide, setting up your cooking space couldn’t be easier. Use this as a checklist for an existing kitchen or to figure out everything you need for your first kitchen.


As of this writing, my boys are both in college, so I plan to use this Basic Essentials in the Kitchen list in a couple of years, when they finish college and move into their own places. Goodbye meal plans, hello cooking dinner every night of the week. Here’s everything you will need to do just that! The items featured here also make great wedding gifts, housewarming gifts, and holiday gifts too!


I start with knives because a good, sharp knife is your best friend in the kitchen. If you eat real food, you chop loads of veggies. These are the only two knives you’ll need.

Chef’s Knife

This chef’s knife is the perfect weight and feels great in my hand. I’ve had it for decades and its performance is unrivaled. A high quality knife gets the job done quickly and safely. Using a cheap, dull knife, is dangerous, leading to accidents. So investing in a good knife is top priority when it comes to equipping your kitchen and this one is a must-have.

Utility Knife

The only other knife you need is the 4.5-inch serrated utility knife!

With Multiple Sclerosis my hands don’t work as well as they used to. My last TV appearance was in 2013, live on Fox News. My hands are part of the reason it’s been so long. I love this knife because it feels great in my hands, giving me more confidence, skill, and dexterity.

Cutting Board

A good chopping board is the perfect partner for the above knives. Bamboo = great because it’s not plastic. I discuss the downside of plastic in my post called 10 Reasons Glass is Better than Plastic. Bamboo is not only durable and easy to clean, it’s a renewable resource since it grows like a weed. Enough said. Grab yourself this cutting board.


The following are the basic kitchen essentials when it comes to cookware like pots and pans. I’ve personally owned all of these items for decades and use them daily.

All-Clad 4 Quart Pot

The 4-quart pot is great for my soups, stew, and sauce recipes. The handles are nice and compact and don’t get in the way of other items on the stove.

This pot is also perfect with a steamer basket insert for steaming vegetables like green beans, broccoli, or brussel sprouts, and All-Clad is amazing when it comes to construction, performance, and durability.

All-Clad 2 Quart Saucepan

I’ve owned two of these 2-quart saucepans since 1995, when we were married. They’re in constant use, incredibly durable, and perfect for everything from Cranberry Sauce, to homemade Ginger Licorice Tea.

This is a 2 quart saucepan which is the equivalent of two one-quart mason jars, or eight cups of liquid.

All-Clad ½ Quart Saucepan

I’ve had this little All-Clad “butter warmer” forever and I love it.

Use the 1/2-quart saucepan to melt chocolate, heat coconut milk, and more. It’s fantastic for making little sauces and reductions as well. It’s really cute and has to be one of my favorite things in my kitchen.

Cast Iron Skillets

I honestly don’t know what I would do without these cast iron skillets!

They’re well priced for an incredible value and fantastic for making everything from Pancakes to Stir Fries. I have one of each:


One of the most important items in my kitchen is the baking sheet. If you’re looking for more than the bare basics, you’ll need cupcake tins, mini-cupcake tins, pie pans, and loaf pans.

Baking Sheets

I love the smell that wafts through our home when cookies are in the oven. I love this 12.25 x 8.75″ baking sheet band have three of them because there’s always another batch to test for you! The smaller 16.75 x 12″ baking sheet is perfect for setting up candy in the freezer.

I also use baking sheets to roast things like nuts and vegetables. These are a must have!


My favorite kitchen tools below will make your life easier and make cooking faster and safer!

Stainless Steel Spatula

Oh spatulas, how I love thee! You flip Pancakes, Latkes, and Keto Crepes. Without you I would not be able to perfect so many of the amazing recipes in my first book, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.

I love this good sturdy spatula because it feels heavy and solid in my hand which makes it so easy to use.

Wooden Spoon

A good wooden spoon is a must in my kitchen for making scrambled eggs, stirring up a pot of Cranberry Sauce, and making Keto Huevos Rancheros Skillet Casserole. This one is big enough to stir up a huge pot of homemade jam too, which makes it the perfect multi-tasker.

9″ Tongs

These tongs are an essential tool in my kitchen. Whether pulling freshly steamed artichokes or broccoli out of my Instant Pot, or grabbing Latkes that we’re frying up for Hanukkah, tongs are a must-have if you like to cook.

You can also use them to cook steak on the stove top in one of the incredible cast-iron skillets above. Grab yourself some tongs and get cooking!

Silicone Spoonula

Oh beloved spoonula! You are a multipurpose tool when it come to scraping the batter from my food processor during my baking endeavors.

A spoonula is a baking spatula with rounded edges and another must-have.

Mixing Bowls

Mixing Bowls

You can use mixing bowls for blending batters in baking recipes, but that’s what a food processor is for in my kitchen. I use them for washing, prepping, and staging veggies in a variety of recipes. When the boys were toddlers I kept them on the bottom shelf of this kitchen utility island and they were often used as toys while I prepped meals.

Mixing bowls are for far more than mixing!

Measuring Cups & Spoons

To get good results in the kitchen you need to follow my recipes.

To follow my recipes you need a good set of measuring cups and measuring spoons.

I’ve had this set of measuring cups and spoons for a very long time. It’s well priced and very durable so I highly recommend it!


I use my spiffy kettle to boil water for Weightless Cranberry Tea which I drink as a urinary tract tonic. MS, may bring the rarely discussed, though common condition of chronic UTI. This tea is a little known cure containing an herbal antibiotic, plus cranberry, and soothing fennel. I use Throat Coat, my other favorite, when I have a tickle in my throat. It’s also calming to the digestive system given the main ingredient of licorice.


Although I adore my white kitchen (check out the photo of our cabinets below) I like a good splash of color here and there to liven things up. These pot holders protect my hands when handling hot kitchen equipment.

I’ve had them for years and they’re the best pair I’ve found.


I avoid plastic in my kitchen whenever possible and have for decades, since I ran an environmental consulting company in the early 1990s. Here are some fabulous options for food storage containers for you!

Pyrex Food Storage Containers

These are the perfect food storage containers because they double as baking dishes. I love that they go oven to table to fridge. What’s better than that?

This four piece set will serve you well!

Glass Mason Jars

10 Reasons Glass is Better Than PlasticThe possibilities for one-quart mason jars are endless. When not toting around my copper water bottle, I’m drinking water or herbal tea from a mason jar. They’re perfect for food storage too. I have a cabinet for mason jars adjacent to the pantry. Grab yourself some 32 ounce jars, the smaller, 16 ounce jars are every bit as good!

When you’re not using them for drinks or leftovers, they’re the perfect container for flowers freshly picked from your garden.


These are the basic essentials that I have in my own kitchen. I’ll be buying these basics in 2021 and 2022 for my boys when they graduate from college and I set up their kitchens. I’ll be purchasing some other essentials for them too. Stay tuned for my round up of basic kitchen appliances!

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know what must-have kitchen item you can’t live without!

Thank you for your marvelous work.


20 responses to “Basic Essentials In The Kitchen”

  1. Hi Elena,

    Do you have a loaf pan you recommend? I saw you suggested the magic pan in one of your recipes. I was under the impression, that aluminum cook ware should be avoided. Can you advise?

    • Nadia, although I’m all about reducing clutter in the kitchen, I do have a couple of different size loaf pans that I love. If you go through my bread recipes you’ll find a couple of options, here’s a recipe with one of my favorites:


  2. Thank you for this list! I was wondering what you use to freeze food in since glass can break and plastic is…plastic. Silicone molds are all the rage for freezing food or liquid and then popping out to put in a ziploc or different container, but I’m not sure about silicone either. Any thoughts?

  3. Hi Elana
    I love your recipes . I have been on an anti inflammatory diet for a year .My naturopathic Dr.
    recommended I try this routine . I have an autoimmune disease ,oral Lichen Planus which I
    have struggled with for more than 20 years.I was told most autoimmune diseases are related to an inflammatory gut.
    I am happy to tell you I have noticed great improvements..
    I do not miss all the grains .white potatoes and processed foods l love your breakfast Paleo bread and many other recipes of yours.
    Thank you Elana


    • Doris, thanks for your wonderfully thoughtful comment! I’m so glad we’re on this healing path together :-)

  4. I totally agree with your essential list. I smile every time I use my stainless mixing bowls. I got my set in the 60’s (was a kid back then), with S & H green stamps. I think the Instant Pot is also a great essential nowadays.

  5. Thank you for your marvelous work As a Celiac, have followed you a long time
    because of your wonderful GF. recipes. Over(I’m 87 yrs old) the years I have accumulated a number of large “Meat Forks”They are used for whipping eggs, stirring cooking food, spearing one end of food to hold it in place while I cut the other end and many more
    Ever thanks Joan

  6. I know folks love using their cast iron skillets, but however do you manage the weight? Once the arthritis intensified, I ceased all usage of heavy cookware. I DO know the importance of sliding rather than lifting, but there are times when I simply need to lift a skillet or pot. It’s just too challenging. Fortunately, my son doesn’t have the same concerns, and enjoys using his cast iron.

    • Pamela, thanks for your comment! I just took one of our larger cast iron skillets upstairs to weigh it on the scale in our bathroom. It’s around 6 pounds and yes, far heavier than the stainless skillets in our kitchen. I do a lot of arm work at the gym and like to do household chores as well to build strength, so the cast iron is perfect for me, but, I don’t have arthritis. LMK if you have any other questions :-)

  7. Elana, so happy for you to be reunited with your boys this week!
    Totally unrelated, but just wanted to say again this year that your paleo pumpkin pie and crust recipes are fabulous (and so easy peasy for a one-handed cook)!!! What is better than an perfectly measured press in dough?! The only things that I added (to the pie spice blend) were a smidgeon each of cardamom and allspice because I love how they smell. This pie was perfect last year and again this year, and that’s very important to me because it’s really the only holiday dessert that I care about. So thank you, again for developing and sharing it!
    I broke (badly) my left wrist 13 days ago and had major surgery to repair it a few days later. But these recipes are so easy that this week I was able to make the crust and filling with just my right hand!

  8. Thanks Elena, very interesting. I have some questions about skillets : how do you clean your cast iron skillets? Do you use just water? Do you find that some food sticks when you are using a skillet?

    • John, thanks for your question! I use a tad of soap and a scrubbing pad if food is stuck on the surface, but I’m very gentle when getting it off in order to preserve the lovely enamel that builds up with use. I then dry the skillet on the stove, spread a bit of olive oil around it and let it cool, then put away :-)

  9. Perfect! I just set up my kitchen in my motor home and am pleased to have covered all the items on your list. Thank you!

  10. Elana,
    I enjoy your posts and recommendations. In a world of excess “stuff” I’m looking to simplify. I will do some cleaning out and look into many of these products. Luckily I have about half already.
    Thank you for your recipes as well. They are simple with not a crazy amount of ingredients. It is very generous of you to post them. I have all three of your cookbooks and I hope you might be working on a keto one. I’d snap it up! Any chance? Wishing you good health in 2020 and beyond.

    • Donna, what a lovely comment, thank you! Yes, I’m working on a cookbook right now and it will surely be low-carb. Crossing fingers that 2020 will be a good year health-wise and that I’ll be able to take on more work! So glad to hear you are enjoying my cookbooks :-)

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