This is a listing of the kitchen tools I love and use on a regular basis. I link to Amazon purely so you can see where to get it and which models I use, if you so desire. I’m not an Amazon affiliate (not possible in Missouri) and I don’t receive any compensation if you choose to buy anything.
I will leave you with one caveat: Most of these aren’t essential. Helpful, yes. But not essential. Stand mixers and crockpots are fun to use and surely save lots of time, but they aren’t necessary. Although I have a stand mixer, I often still make things by hand just to keep myself from being too dependent on the machine. There is power in being able to tell when dough is ready based solely on feel and touch — power that you lose when you rely on a machine to mix for you.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer — No explanation really needed here. These things are everything they claim to be. I love mine. They’re pricey though, so don’t sabotage your budget to run out and buy one. You can get by with a hand mixer or a wooden spoon and some good arm muscles. If you’re looking for a splurge though, it’s definitely well worth it.
Hamilton Beach Crock Pot — I have a love hate relationship with crockpots. I don’t often cook meals in them, because I think they tend to overcook things. However, if you want to cook a beef or pork roast, they are certainly the way to go. I cook dried beans in mine a lot too. This one is programmable, which is nice. You can tell it what setting to use and for how long. This was a (greatly appreciated) hand me down, so I don’t have the meat thermometer part, but I can see how that would be helpful.
Hamilton Beach Food Processor — I only just purchased this and at the time of writing have only used it once to make hummus. It was a dream though! I especially love the side scraper thing. I really thought I didn’t need a food processor — I had a good blender and the food shredder attachment for the KitchenAid mixer, why do I need another appliance? Boy, was I wrong. The food shredder attachment is a beast and such a pain to get out just to shred a few vegetables. The blender is great and usually does the trick, but it seems most things get stuck down in the bottom where the jar narrows and it’s hard to empty.
Ninja Blender — We have this one simply because we got it at a crazy good sale a couple years ago. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but had I had my pick of the litter I might have chose differently. Blenders are pretty low on my kitchen essential list though. If you had to pick, I’d go food processor first, unless you’re an avid smoothie maker.
Beyond these small appliances, I also find the following items helpful:
Set of glass mixing bowls — 3-4 different sizes. One really big one.
Food scale — grams and ounces.
Food thermometer — absolute must if you cook meat.
Stainless steel cookware — if you learn to use them properly, they work just as good as non stick.
Wood and plastic cutting boards — wood for vegetables, plastic for meat.
Knives — whatever and however many you feel comfortable with.
Large metal spoons/spatulas
Baking sheet with edges
Pizza pan — has small holes throughout. Great for when you want something crispy and it won’t drip. (Like frozen tater tots 😉 )
9×13 & 8×8 (or 9×9) baking pan
Fine mesh strainer
Liquid measuring cup
Corkscrew — no explanation needed.
Reusable storage containers
This list is by no means exhaustive, just what I think some bare necessities are. Be sure to add and take away from the list based on what your own needs are. Also, thrift stores are an excellent resource to get you started. Besides the appliances, most all of these can be found in excellent condition at a thrift store.