If you’ve only ever used a cheap chef’s knife for your cooking needs, switching to a high quality knife will be a night and day difference. Seriously, when we upgraded to a high quality chef’s knife we couldn’t believe how much sharper, heavier, and easier it was to cut and chop with the quality knife.
And since you can use a chef’s knife for all of your cutting needs (and use it every time you cook), one high-quality purchase will serve you for years to come.
We’ve tested several different chef’s knives with different price points and designs, and though we used to recommend the German-made Wusthof chef’s knife, we now recommend the Global G2 8-Inch Chef’s Knife. It’s an absolute workhorse; it comes at a very reasonable price, is lighter and easier to handle and maintain than the Wusthof, and we’re sure it won’t disappoint you.
Chef’s Knife (Budget)
Coming in much cheaper than our recommended or premium options, the Victorinox 8 Inch Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife is a steal of a deal. With a five star Amazon rating over 4,500 reviews, it’s the only chef’s knife you should consider purchasing under $40. You simply can’t go wrong with this starter chef’s knife.
Purchasing a quality chef’s knife is a great first step. But, you’ll want to learn how to use it properly and how to take care of it so it lasts you a lifetime. For general knife education, check out:
- The 4 Knife Cuts Every Cook Should Know
- An Edge in the Kitchen: The Ultimate Guide to Kitchen Knives
For supplementary knives and knife tools, click the following to jump:
- Honing rod
- 2 stage knife sharpener
- Paring knife
- Bread knife
One of the most basic tools you need in your kitchen is a good cutting board. You’ll be using it every time you cook (just like your chef’s knife) so it’s important to choose one that’s durable and well designed.
The OXO good grips cutting board is dishwasher safe and is built from odor-resistant polypropylene – meaning it will last a long time. Pick this inexpensive cutting board up and you won’t regret it.
Cutting Board (Premium)
Now if you’re looking for the Ferrari of cutting boards, look no further than this Proteak edge grain cutting board. If you haven’t tried a cutting board like this before, it’ll be hard to understand just how different – and how much higher quality – it really is. But we can confirm that upgrading to a cutting board like this will bring you joy in the kitchen every time you use it.
You have to take better care of this cutting board than our plastic recommendation; by cleaning it immediately after use and avoiding the dishwasher. But this item is unique and will last you a long time, so if you’re ready for an upgrade from the usual plastic cutting boards most home cooks sport nowadays, this one gets our vote.
It’s not often that a piece of cookware brings you joy every time you use it. But that’s exactly what this can opener from Kuhn Rikon does! This is a 5-in-1 can opener that pulls tabs, crowns caps, unscrews tops, and opens jar lids and cans safely, easily, and cleanly.
We have one of these beauties in our kitchen (Mealime green, of course) and it is an absolute pleasure to use. We actually look forward to opening cans, believe it or not. Pick up this multi tool today and you won’t regret it (just read all the great reviews!).
Measuring cups are used for precisely measuring the volume of liquid or solid cooking ingredients. You may not think that measuring cups can be anything special. Any set will do, right? Well as it turns out, great design can extend all the way down to measuring cups. This stackable set of measuring cups from Kitchenmade has all sorts of smart features that eliminates the small frustrations that measuring cups often bring about.
With high quality one-piece stainless steel construction, a thin profile and pouring lip, nesting capabilities, and a 5 star rating over 1,000 reviews on Amazon, you can’t beat the quality of these measuring cups. Pick these up today and never replace your measuring cups again.
Measuring spoons are used to precisely measure smaller amounts of liquid or solid cooking ingredients than measuring cups. This set of 5 stainless steel measuring spoons from Prepworkscontains measurements of ¼ tsp all the way up to 1 tbsp. They’re magnetic and nested so you can put them away easily without losing any of them (which can often happen for the smaller spoons).
They’re also designed to be double sided to accommodate both liquids and solids and are dishwasher safe. After testing different measuring spoons, we settled on this set ourselves and use them in our kitchen every single day. Highly recommended!
For mixing together salad dressings, spice rubs, marinades, sauces, and even for storing leftovers, a set of high-quality mixing bowls is a must.
This 9-piece mixing bowl set from Luminarc can be used to do pretty much anything and won’t absorb stains and odours because it’s made of glass. Plus, these bowls stack easily for simple storage.
For draining pasta or washing vegetables and salad greens, a colander is an essential piece for your minimalist kitchen. This 5-quart stainless steel colander from OXO Good Grips is well designed and has ergonomic non-slip handles and “feet” so it doesn’t slip all over the place.
This is an item you’ll use forever and couldn’t break even if you tried, so pick up this 5 star reviewed colander and forget about buying another in your lifetime.
A vegetable peeler can really speed up your preparation time, whether you’re using it to peel potatoes, carrots, or any other vegetables.
We love this pirahna “Y-Peeler” from Kuhn Rikon because it’s so simple. No multi-tasking here, but this is a high quality peeler that will stand the test of time. It’s dishwasher safe and ergonomically designed, just like all of our other recommendations.
Although a potato masher is a great tool, it usually has a very inconvenient and bulky shape that makes closing your drawer difficult. We chose this flip potato masher from Prepara for a few important reasons.
First, it “flips”, which means that it’s not a bulky tool to store in a drawer, like most potato mashers are. Second, it’s of high quality stainless steel (with no BPA) and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. Third, it has only 5 star reviews on Amazon and is very highly recommended. You can’t go wrong with this quality potato masher.
A whisk is often one of the most used items in your kitchen, so it’s important to have one that’s ergonomically made. This 9-inch whisk from OXO Good Grips fits great in the hand and is perfect for whisking together salad dressings, sauces, eggs, desserts, and much more.
Plus, it’s dishwasher safe so you don’t have to worry about the handle melting or warping in the heat.
A salad spinner is your best friend when it comes to having a crisp salad. To prevent your greens from going soggy, you’ll need to dry them and “spinning” them is by far the easiest way to do it.
Made by OXO Good Grips, this salad spinner can be used by simply pressing the button on the top. It’s very easy and simple to operate, and even features a brake and locking mechanism for easy storage.
We especially love this salad spinner because the strainer basket can be used for draining pasta and the bowl for serving. It’s a great multi-purpose tool!
One thing we’re against here at Mealime is inefficiency. So what does this mean, exactly? It meals choosing multi-purpose tools and avoiding single-purpose tools whenever possible. Instead of purchasing different types of graters, a zester, and a chiffonade, why not choose one tool that can do it all?
This 7-in-1 box grater from Cuisipro can grate citrus, fine, coarse, ultra-coarse, parmesan, shave, slice and even has a ginger grater. It’s made of high-quality stainless steel and will last a lifetime.
For cutting up a whole chicken and other meats, to vegetables, to stripping herbs, to even cutting the stems off of flowers, these kitchen and herb shears from OXO Good Grips are fantastic.
They’re extremely sharp, heavy duty, and comfortable. The blades even separate for easy cleaning. With 200 reviews and a 5 star rating, these shears are a fantastic value and deserve a spot in your kitchen.
Sometimes it’s the seemingly insignificant tasks in the kitchen that provide way more hassle than they should. Juicing a lemon or lime is one of those tasks!
It’s difficult to do, your hands get juice on them, and the seeds often fall into your food. That’s all solved with this quality citrus juicer from Prepworks. This one includes printed measurements so you know exactly how much juice you’ve squeezed. It fits lemons, limes, and oranges, and makes squeezing juice a joy. Plus, it’s dirt cheap!
We still have this garlic press from Kuhn Rikon but use it less than we used to. If you don’t like playing with garlic and want the quickest solution, pick up this highly rated garlic press and you’ll be good to go. But if you don’t mind crushing and chopping your own garlic, you may want to pass on this item.
We’ve gone back and forth with garlic presses over the years and are currently on the “non-essential” train. Basically, a garlic press is nice to have and does make crushing garlic easier. But it’s really not that difficult to cut / press your own garlic with just your chef’s knife, and it’s oddly satisfying to do so as well.
A paring knife is a kitchen knife with a short blade that can be used for a multitude of tasks. You can peel and chop with it, and the small tip is great for fine work like coring strawberries (or similar).
Our recommendation is the Global GS-38 3 1/2 inch paring knife. It’s Japanese made, of the highest quality, has a 4.5 star review on Amazon, and will last a lifetime. This workhorse of a knife deserves a spot in your kitchen.
Paring Knife (Budget)
For a much cheaper alternative, the Victorinox 4 inch paring knife is a great buy.
Coming in at less than $10 yet still full of Swiss engineered quality, it’s a wonderful purchase on a budget.
A bread knife is a serrated knife that is typically used for (wait for it…) slicing bread. A high quality bread knife can also be used for slicing delicate items like cakes or pastry’s.
Our recommendation is the Global G9 8 3/4 inch bread knife. Like our other recommended knife picks, it’s of high quality Japanese construction and enjoys a strong rating on Amazon.
Bread Knife (Budget)
A cheaper, yet high quality alternative (that we use most frequently in our home), is the Victorinox 10.5 inch bread knife.
At under $35, this is a wonderful purchase that you won’t regret.
Honing / Sharpening Ceramic Rod
If you’re going to purchase a quality chef’s knife (which you should) you’ll want to take care of it so it lasts a lifetime. It doesn’t take many tools or much time to maintain a quality knife, and this 12-inch ceramic honing rod from Messermeister is one of those tools.
Contrary to popular belief, most honing rods don’t actually sharpen your blade. Rather, they realignyour knife’s edges quickly and efficiently. Because this honing rod is made of hard ceramic, however, it is capable of both sharpening and honing your knives. It works especially well with our recommended chef’s knife pick (the Global G2), because Global knives are made of harder steel than their German counterparts.
You can still purchase a sharpener (shown below), but this ceramic honing rod is all that we use to maintain our Global knives, and it works like a charm.
Our recommended sharpener is a fantastically well-rated sharpener from KitchenIQ that has a near 5 star rating over 3000+ reviews and costs only $6.
You really can’t go wrong with this sharpener, and we recommend you purchase it even if you hadn’t planned on purchasing a sharpener. It’s cheap and effective. What more could you want?
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Cookware & Bakeware
QUICK LINKS STAINLESS STEEL SKILLET SAUTÉ PAN SMALL SAUCEPAN MEDIUM SAUCEPANLARGE POT CAST IRON SKILLET GRILL PAN BAKING SHEET PAN MUFFIN PANCASSEROLE DISH BROILER PAN STOCKPOT
Stainless Steel Skillet
A stainless steel skillet will likely be the workhorse of your kitchen. You will be using this cookware for frying, searing, sautéing, and browning, among other functions. For this reason, it’s important to pick a high quality stainless steel skillet that you can use for a lifetime.
We like Cuisineart’s Multiclad Pro line for all of our cookware, and their skillet is no exception. It is made of high quality stainless steel and even has a “helper” handle that makes it easier to carry heavy loads without tipping. Plus, it comes at a fantastic price for the quality. Highly recommended.
Stainless Steel Skillet (Premium)
All Clad’s take on the stainless steel skillet is, as with all of their other products, high quality and a joy to use.
We’ve used our All Clad stainless steel skillet for years now and can tell that’s it’s going to continue being used for years to come. Highly, highly recommended.
A saute pan is different from a skillet in a couple of important ways. It has a wide flat bottom and vertical sides that generally go up much higher than a skillet’s flared sides do. This makes it easier to cook sauces and sear and braise meat than a skillet.
We recommend Cuisineart’s Multiclad Pro series sauté pan because of its superior value relative to our premium alternative. It won’t let you down and will last a lifetime of cooking.
Sauté Pan (Premium)
Our premium pick is All Clad’s 4-quart tri-ply bonded sauté pan. Just like the other All Clad picks in this article, we chose this pan because of its high quality construction, fantastic reviews, and made in USA quality guarantee. You can’t go wrong with All Clad.
For small portion cooking of soups, stews, pastas or sauces, a lightweight and easy to handle saucepan is necessary. Cuisineart’s Multiclad Pro 1 ½ quart saucepanis our recommended small saucepan pick for your minimalist kitchen.
There’s not much more to say about the Multiclad series after promoting them in our other recommended cookware. Suffice to say, this small saucepan is fantastic value and is a high quality item that will last you as long as your cooking career lasts (which we hope is a very long time!).
Small Saucepan (Premium)
Our premium small saucepan pick is All Clad’s 1 quart tri-ply bonded sauce pan. You’ll notice by now that we recommend All Clad products for most of our premium recommended picks. Their made in USA high-quality construction and beautiful design sets them apart from their competitors, but their prices are set to match their quality. Choose this small saucepan if you want the best quality cookware that money can buy.
Just like most of our recommended cookware options we suggest purchasing from the same line, this 4-quart Multiclad Pro series saucepan from Cuisineart is our recommended pick for your medium saucepan needs.
It’s made of solid stainless steel and aluminum and has been designed to pour easily (a big frustration saver!). It is dishwasher and oven safe and can even be put under the oven broiler.
Medium Saucepan (Premium)
Our premium medium saucepan pick is by All Clad. It is made in the USA from stainless steel and has nothing but glowing reviews from its 5 star rating on Amazon.
Our recommended pick will likely be enough for all of your cooking needs, but if you’re interested in upgrading to the best, we highly recommend this 4-quart medium saucepan from All Clad.
For cooking large dishes like soups, stews, pastas or sauces, you’ll need a large pot to handle the volume.
When it comes to stainless steel pots and pans in general, we’re big fans of Cuisineart’s Multiclad Pro series. They’re extremely durable and cook evenly, thanks to their solid stainless steel and aluminum construction. And because they’re made in China (rather than in the USA, like our premium brand recommendation), Cuisineart is able to keep costs down for a decidedly premium product.
This large pot is perfect for cooking pasta, large dishes, or even for making your own broth. It is dishwasher and oven safe (even on broil) and was designed with simple pouring in mind. Pick up this “steal of a deal” pot and relax knowing you purchased a high-quality item at a fantastic price.
Large Pot (Premium)
For a made in USA high-quality large pot that you simply can’t go wrong purchasing, look no further than All Clad.
This 6 quart tri-ply bonded pot will last a lifetime and you’ll never tire from using it – take it from us that all All Clad products are a joy to use in the kitchen.
Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets have been workhorses in kitchens all over the world for over 2,000 years. Modern cast iron skillets are made from heavy cast iron and pre-seasoned (so food doesn’t stick); with impressive heat retention abilities these skillets are favoured for use on both the stovetop and oven alike.
You’ll never need another cast iron skillet in your lifetime as these are insanely durable and can cook anything. The best part? Our recommended cast iron skillet is made of high-quality materials in the USA and is very reasonably priced! You can’t go wrong with Lodge’s 12 inch cast iron skillet.
Grill pans have gained popularity in recent years. And why not? They’re great for those without a barbecue (or who don’t want to grill outside in the winter) but who still want those nice grill marks on their food.
For summer dishes like burgers, roasted salmon, meatballs, and marinated vegetables, a grill pan is a must. It creates tantalizing grill lines in your food, just like a barbecue does. But it’s much easier than barbecuing because you don’t have to leave the comfort of your kitchen and it only requires a stovetop element – no propane, gas, charcoal, or intense cleaning necessary.
We used to recommend Lodge’s cast iron grill pan, but we found ourselves not using it because of its weight and how difficult it was to clean. We now recommend this non-stick 11-inch grill pan from Calphalon and we couldn’t be happier. It’s easy to use, affordable, and a snap to clean.
Baking Sheet Pan
A baking sheet pan (or sheet pan, baking tray, baking sheet) is a flat, rectangular metal pan that is used for roasting and baking food in the oven. From quickly roasting cauliflower, broccoli, or squash to whipping up a tasty treat if you’re inclined to bake, a high quality baking sheet pan is an essential item for a minimalist kitchen.
This 100% pure aluminum sheet pan from Nordic Ware is commercial quality and a large size – perfect for spacing out your food and getting that delicious browned effect. This sheet pan is easy to clean, lightweight, sturdy, won’t bend or buckle like cheap alternatives, and will last a lifetime.
We use two of these sheets in our kitchen while testing new recipes. After plenty of use, they still look great and perform perfectly.
A muffin pan is a baking pan with 6 or 12 built-in cups. Besides making muffins, they are great for individual quiches and on-the-go breakfast cups. We recommend the Oxo Good Grips Pro Muffin Pan because the Swiss-engineered, ceramic-reinforced, two-layer coating allows for easy food release. The heavy-gauge aluminized steel promotes even heat distribution.
A casserole dish is a large, deep dish with high edges that is used for baking or serving. For those lazy times you want to throw a one-dish meal into the oven (like lasagna or a casserole), a quality casserole dish is a must.
This casserole dish from HIC is made of fine white porcelain and is broiler, microwave, and dishwasher safe. That means that a lazy one-dish meal also is simple to clean. What could be better?
A broiler pan is a rectangular metal pan for use under the high-heat broiler in the oven. It is much thicker than a typical baking sheet pan so it doesn’t warp under the high heat, and contains grooves and a draining pan that sits below to catch any fat that drips through (so your oven doesn’t get stained).
Broiling is great when you want your food to get a nice brown crusty top. Our experience with this broiler pan from Range Kleen is that it is sturdy and easy to clean (you can even throw it in the dishwasher). It can handle broiler heat (500 degrees fahrenheit or more) without warping, feels very high quality, and is something you’ll never have to replace.
Plus, this pan is super inexpensive. Pick one up today and you’ll likely never use it enough that you’ll have to replace it.