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Top Kitchen Must-Haves: The Basic Essentials for Cooking & Entertaining

Written by Danielle Travali.

A kitchen is not complete without proper cooking tools, appliances, utensils and gadgets.

As someone who cooks constantly, I've compiled a list of products I believe to be absolutely essential for cooking, serving and entertaining friends and family. Consider this a "LIFE List." The following products will make your life a whole lot easier:


 (FYI, we describe specific pots and pans you need in the article linked here):

  • Large sauce pot
  • Medium pot
  • Small pot
  • Dutch oven or large cast iron pot
  • Medium frying pan
  • Non-stick skillet


  • Stainless steel silverware: forks, teaspoons, tablespoons (larger than teaspoons), butter knives, steak knives
  • Set of professional knives (to properly chop and cut veggies)


  • 10-15 drinking glasses
  • 6-12 wine glasses
  • 6-10 coffee / tea mugs or teacups with servers


  • 12-15 large dinner plates
  • 10-12 salad bowls
  • Small serving bowls (for pasta, ice cream, soup, etc.)
  • 12-15 small dinner plates or salad plates
  • 4-5 large serving bowls (should be dishwasher and oven safe)

Small necessities:

  • Ice cube trays
  • Hand-held can opener
  • Corkscrew
  • Bottle opener
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Tea steeper
  • Meat thermometer
  • Turkey baster
  • Kitchen twine
  • Cheese cloth
  • Measuring cups
  • Measuring spoons
  • Wooden stirring spoons
  • Cotton dish towels
  • Cotton potholders 
  • 2 oven mitts (for removing hot dishes from the oven)
  • Spatula
  • Whisk
  • Cake server
  • Cookie sheets
  • Glass baking dishes
  • Cake pan - 9” square, and round
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Serving platter / tray
  • Colander

Cleaning supplies:

  • Dish soap
  • Cotton dishrags
  • Sanitizing spray
  • Sponges
  • Scouring pads
  • Garbage pail with tall kitchen garbage bags
  • Hand-held broom or electric sweeper
  • Floor mop

Food storage supplies:

  • Small sandwich bags
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Wax paper
  • Parchment paper
  • Larger freezer bags with zipper
  • Take-away containers for guest convenience and food storage

Small appliances:

  • Food processor
  • Blender
  • Microwave oven
  • Toaster / Toaster Oven

Remember that these are simply the basics you need to complete your kitchen. Don't go crazy when shopping for supplies, especially when you're shopping for appliances. You can often buy these one at a time and collect them as you need them. Also, don't let your shopping become a chore! Bring a friend when you visit the supermarket and the department store. Play around and see what you like in the store. Don't forget to compare prices online to receive the best deals! 

Above all, have fun and fill your kitchen with love.

Danielle Travali, MS
Danielle Travali, MS

Danielle Travali, also known to many as the Web and television personality "Holly Pinafore," is a journalist, entrepreneur, and food & wine enthusiast. She is a certified food coach, stress management coach and fitness trainer who studied mindful eating and food psychology. Danielle also holds a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac Un.. Read more

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