It’s finally April. April brings warmer weather, budding flowers, longer days, the nearing of summer, and the beginning of wedding season. All the things that put my head in the clouds. Our anniversary is in April, which brings me back to our oh-so-dreamy wedding day and the not-so-dreamy wedding planning. So many phone calls. Endless details. And perpetual decision making. I’m lucky my husband is an Excel nerd and organized to the max because I’m not sure how our wedding would have come together otherwise.
Our wedding registry was one of those tasks that I was beyond excited about, yet found entirely daunting. How incredible that people would choose to shower us with gifts! I was thrilled to be dreaming up ideas of how we would begin creating our home together. But when I began the process, I suddenly became very uncertain about what we would really need and use–especially in the kitchen.
Whether you’re building your wedding registry or simply trying to build up your kitchen–it can be challenging to determine which items are necessary and which aren’t. Do I need an 18-piece cutlery set? And what about differing wine glasses for each type of wine? Also, is wedding china still a thing? No, no, and not really–unless you’re planning on having the Queen over, which we are not.
It turns out that the most important things to have on your wedding registry are simply the essentials. There are many helpful kitchen tools and great kitchen gadgets (which we’ll talk about in a future post), but the basics are most helpful. They’re the things you’ll be cooking with day-in and day-out now and ten years from now. We opted for quality items that would last for years–making an investment in our kitchen, knowing that we won’t have to replace everything in a handful of years.
With that in mind, I’ve curated this list of kitchen essentials for you–based off of my experience post-wedding registry and as someone who cooks regularly. These are the things that work for us and that we are so grateful to have in our kitchen. My hope is that this will help save you time and save you from some of the mistakes we made on our wedding registry. So, whether you’re putting together your wedding registry, trying to build up your kitchen, or looking to replace old cookware, let this list be your guide for all of your kitchen must-haves.
As a home cook, you only need three knives. A paring knife, a bread knife, and an 8″ chef’s knife. These three knives will take care of most anything you can think to chop up. Start by mastering these three and then feel free to add on if you feel that you should. Also, please note that if you do a lot of deboning, a boning knife would be useful as well.
Mixing bowls are one of those straightforward items–you just need them. Whether you’re whisking up pancake batter, combining fresh veggies for a big salad, or making meatballs, you need bowls to do that in. I love having a variety of sizes that easily stack in the cabinet. The stainless steel set is definitely my favorite, but I love the ceramic bistro bowls as well because they double as serving bowls.
We registered for three full sets of flatware. Three! And I’m so glad we did. You see, over the years, flatware has this tendency–similar to pens–of simply disappearing. Longer lifespan, yes. But somehow, the number slowly starts to dwindle. Which is why it’s so helpful to be well-stocked, particularly when they’ve discontinued the product you originally purchased and you don’t want to end up with a drawer of mismatched pieces. Not to mention, we always have enough flatware to go around–no matter how many guests we have over, plus some to spare. As part of your flatware collection, it is super helpful to have great steak knives! Be sure to include those, as they are often sold separately.
Fairly simple here. Make sure to get a couple of sets of drinking glasses. Perfect for everyday use as well as entertaining. It’s also a good idea to register for some acrylic tumblers so that you can use them outdoors–or give them to someone who is not so good with the breakables.
If you’re following a recipe at any point in time, you will likely need some measuring cups and spoons. For dry measuring, I recommend stainless steel measures–they are fairly resilient and easy to clean while looking brand new. Anthropologie has some adorable measuring cups, but they are super fragile (we had to exchange a set that broke during shipping). So, from a cute standpoint? Worth it. From a durability standpoint? My husband won’t use them for fear of breaking them. Take your pick! As for liquid measuring cups, there are a ton of great options out there! We stick with glass and with these awesome stacking angled cups that allow you to measure from above.
From time to time you’ll need serving platters, particularly for entertaining. Pick a few, perhaps a serving bowl and a couple of platters of slightly different sizes. But I wouldn’t go overboard with the platters–their funky sizes and shapes can make them tough to store, especially if you are newly married and don’t have tons of space in the kitchen.
I’ve had to dispose of a number of cheap colanders over the years–but then we got these ones. These beautiful stainless-steel colanders. They look good as new and come in a variety of sizes which I have found to be very helpful. As for the strainers, I find that I use these as often as I use the colanders. They are perfect for rinsing quinoa and beans, as well as sifting flour.
When I registered for glass tupperware, my husband thought I was crazy. To be honest, I was concerned, too. But we absolutely love these storage bowls. They fit perfectly inside of lunch boxes, aren’t too delicate, and can be microwaved because they aren’t plastic. We use these more than any tupperware we own. I would also recommend getting some additional glass storage containers in a variety of sizes for large leftovers or small snacks.
Whether you’re a wine drinker or not, owning a few wine glasses usually comes in handy when entertaining. I’ve learned a couple of things along the way in this area… While having wine at a friend’s house or if we are having wine at home, stemless wine glasses are used 95% of the time. We have gorgeous, gorgeous wine glasses, but they are rarely used because they are either 1) too much work to clean or 2) people are afraid of breaking them.
If you do opt for some wine glasses with stems, be sure to have a storage plan. We have a wine rack where our wine glasses are hung upside down, but because they are handcrafted, the bottoms are not all the same size–causing three of the glasses to not fit in any wine rack known to mankind. Meh.
Loooove. We love our spice rack. It keeps some clutter out of the cabinet, makes spices easy to find, and is a short reach away while cooking. Do yourself a favor a get a killer countertop spice rack.
Let’s be honest. I wish I only used beautiful wood cutting boards. But if we’re talking about convenience… I really like using plastic cutting boards. There is no upkeep involved. I do have a wood cutting board and I love it, but not enough to use it every time and carefully wash it and make sure I condition it regularly. So, if we’re gonna be real–I totally just recommend a few plastic cutting boards in a variety of sizes. And maybe a wood one if you’re committed.
Dinnerware. The things you eat off of and out of every single day. I recommend registering for multiple sets of dinner plates, salad plates, and bowls to last a long time. We kept the style simple with the dinnerware above so that it wouldn’t get dated too quickly–we typically choose patterned accent pieces like side plates. And, again, I can’t say it enough–it is so great to have more than enough place settings when entertaining.
Flour, sugar, rice, brown sugar, pasta, pretzels, nuts, quinoa, couscous… I could go on, but I won’t. These are all things we store in airtight containers. They keep cabinets neater, help food from going stale, keep bugs out, and are great spots to store foods you buy in the bulk section of the grocery store.
Forget your pizza wheel, just forget it. I used to dread slicing pizza. Seriously. I was so bad at it. Even with great pizza wheels, it never worked with as much ease as I hoped for. Then we stumbled upon this guy. It makes cutting pizza beyond easy. Game changer.
Yes, cooking utensils is one category. Oftentimes, many of these items are bundled into one set. There is a lot here but the tips are simple. 1) Register for durable utensils. Utensils that can handle the heat, are of good quality to handle your food, and are made for the medium you’re using them in–they’ll last you a long time. 2) Wooden spoons are a must for me–I use them most often, whether I’m sautéing or making a stew. 3) Get a couple of different types of whisks. A smaller (French) whisk is good for blending sauces while a larger (balloon) whisk is good for beating air into light ingredients.
1. All-Clad Stainless-Steel Professional Spoon, Williams Sonoma // 2. Olivewood Spoons, Williams Sonoma // 3. All-Clad Cook Serve Stainless Steel Ladle, Williams Sonoma // 4. French Whisks, Williams Sonoma // 5. Pasta Fork, Williams Sonoma // 6. All-Clad Cook Serve Stainless-Steel Slotted Spoon, Williams Sonoma // 7. OXO Nonstick Tongs, Williams Sonoma // 8. OXO Good Grips Stainless-Steel Grilling Tongs and Turner Set, Amazon.com // 9. Silicone Spatula with Stainless-Steel Handle, Williams Sonoma // 10. All-Clad Stainless-Steel Professional Balloon Whisk, Williams Sonoma // 11. Classic Spatula, Williams Sonoma
We have too many once-good-now-not-good-at-all travel mugs in our cabinet. This caused us to do some research. Now we have travel mugs that keep drinks hot for hours and that stay in tact–including the Yeti mug. The Zojirushi mug listed here has been reviewed as the best travel mug. Get after it.
Freshly ground salt and pepper are important in seasoning food. Do yourself a favor and get a well-rated set that will last you.
Stainless steel and I are buds. We have a good thing going. Really well-made (and well cared for) stainless steel pots and pans can last you a lifetime. They are worth the investment. And don’t let fear of cooking with and cleaning them stop you–just check out this post: How to Use and Clean Stainless-Steel Cookware.
There are a few basic types of pans that are good to get started with–saucepans are one of them. Saucepans are used for making sauces, cooking grains, steaming and boiling vegetables, and poaching eggs and chicken. You’ll want a 2 to 3 quart saucepan with a lid.
Whether you’re sautéing veggies or searing meat (not to mention a plethora of other cooking methods), you’ll be in need of a 10″ frying pan or a 10 – 14″ sauté pan with a lid. These pans are so versatile and are, without a doubt, the pans I use most often. It will also be helpful to make sure you have a nonstick skillet for dishes like eggs and pancakes. We use these Calphalon Elite Nonstick Fry Pans and they are fabulous. And if you’re really looking to round out your skillet collection, a cast iron skillet can be great–just be sure you properly clean it.
The final piece for your pots and pans collection is a stockpot. We love our Calphalon multipot. The size is perfect for making soup and pasta. Not to mention the pasta insert–making draining a breeze. And! A steamer that sits on top. Too perfect.
While a Dutch oven doesn’t technically fall under the “stockpot category,” it is still a large pot. It is incredibly versatile and can be used for making chili to making soup to cooking roasts in the oven. This is certainly an investment, though. We love our Le Creuset Dutch Oven–I am so glad to have it, but I will say that I don’t use it nearly as often as the rest of my cookware which is why I’m not giving it it’s very own “essentials” spot.
In this day and age we are still opening cans. That means you need a can opener. I’ve had electric can openers and regular old can openers. Honestly, I just like the simple, hand-held ones. This one is particularly nice because a magnet pulls the top up for you–no cuts!
I am obsessed with our meat thermometer. Before cooking with a meat thermometer, I never had a good idea of when meat was finished. And it wasn’t uncommon that I would have to put the meat back on after cutting it open and letting all the juices out just to see that it was undercooked. Or that I would overcook the meat and it ended up being dried out. After using this amazing tool that husband just happened to have, our meat is perfectly cooked every. single. time.
Baking sheets are certainly a must-have. From roasting vegetables to baking cookies. Heck, I disregarded my pizza stone this week and used my baking sheets instead for homemade pizza. Be sure to register for quality baking sheets that will bake your food evenly and won’t warp in the oven.
There you have it, friends. 24 kitchen essentials for your wedding registry. Even if you’re not currently putting together a wedding registry and are simply looking to add on to your cooking tools or replace old ones, these items will not disappoint!
Did I miss anything that you count as an essential in your kitchen? I’d love to hear–feel free to comment below!
And lastly, don’t you worry if you think I missed the coffee maker, the toaster oven, or the Kitchen Aid. In posts to come, we’ll talk must-have kitchen gadgets, baking essentials, and kitchen not-so-essentials-but-items-that-are-totally-helpful. Happy kitchen essentials shopping, all!