For a lot of us, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in our homes; it also has the potential to make our lives way easier or much, much harder. It's why there are certain things you should have in your kitchen by age 30, no excuses.
On a video on her YouTube channel, Martha Stewart stressed that the key to a happy, functional kitchen, is organization and maximizing your space, and that "the kitchen is one place in your home that truly needs to be organized, so that you can spend less time looking for things and more time enjoying the moment." This also means that you actually need to make sure you have the proper utensils handy whenever you need them.
When I first moved to my own apartment after college, my kitchen was full of a hodgepodge of stuff my roommates and I had "borrowed" from our parents' homes. We had three cutting boards but no can opener. Our silverware collection consisted of dozens of forks but only four spoons. Needless to say, it often made the kitchen a source of major frustration.
The flip side is, I saw a direct correlation between how much I used — and enjoyed using — the kitchen once I finally began supplying myself with the basics I needed. It's crazy how much more you like to cook if you have tools to make things easier.
If you're just branching out into your own living space, or are just hoping to start using your kitchen more, here are nine items that everyone should have in their kitchen.
1. Fire Extinguisher
Full Home Fire Extinguisher, $21.25, Globalindustrial.com
OK, hopefully you already have this one covered, but if you don't, stop everything you're doing and go out and get one right now. Seriously. A UK study on the effectiveness of fire extinguishers showed that an estimated 80 percent of home fires are extinguished with fire extinguishers, and the fire department is never needed.
2. Standing Mixer
Artisan Series 325-Watt Tilt-Back Head Stand Mixer, $349.99, Quill.com
A piece from Epicurious on the top 10 most important kitchen gadgets lists a standing mixer in its top five. I know they can seem kind of intimidating if you're used to the hand-held kind, but these are amazingly helpful, especially if you bake a lot. You probably don't even realize how annoying it is to hold your mixer until you don't have to do it anymore.
3. Smart Stick Blender
Smart Stick 2-Speed Hand Blender, $35.00, Quill.com
This is another item from the Epicurious top 10 list that might seem totally intimidating and even unnecessary if you've never used one. It basically allows you to mix and puree ingredients for things like soups while they're already on the stove, and without the mess and hassle of a traditional hand-held model. It also means you can even mix in super small bowls, like if you're blending a sauce. And while you might not technically call this a necessity, it definitely makes like way, way easier.
4. Toaster Oven
Applica™ Black&Decker® 1500 W 4 Slice Toaster Oven, $34.99, Quill.com
A toaster oven ranks high on the list of a HGTV must-have appliance roundup, and I personally find that they are may more useful than a regular toaster. Not only does it do the basics (i.e: toast stuff) but you can use it to make things like mini-pizzas and quesadillas, or even just for quickly re-heating leftovers that don't re-heat well in the microwave.
5. Food Processor
Conair® Cuisinart® Mini-Prep® 2-Speed 21 Ounce Food Processor, $36.99, Quill.com
The HGTV appliance roundup also highly recommended a food processor for the typical kitchen, as it "makes quick work of slicing, chopping, blending, pureeing and kneading." You'll find that a world of meals are suddenly possible when you have this item, since so many recipes assume that you have one.
6. An Oven-To-Table Dish
Set of 3 Potluck Baking Dishes, $29.95, Crateandbarrel.com
Cambria Bold, editor at The Kitchn, highly recommended an oven-to-table dish in a piece on things you should have in your kitchen by the age of 30. "While there will always be a place in our kitchen for a classic, basic aluminum baking pan, there is definitely reason to upgrade to a few beautiful stoneware or porcelain baking pans," she said. "It makes for such a nicer presentation at the table, which is something to appreciate when you're hosting a dinner party."
7. Good Knives
Fiesta 6 Piece Chef Knife Set, $36.98, Quill.com
On his website, chef and food writer Andrew Zimmern said that the three knives every cook should own are a traditional chef knife, a small thin blade, and serrated knife. Though sets can be convenient for a total kitchen beginner, he also doesn't necessarily recommend purchasing a knife set with a lot of different knives if you've been cooking for a little while. "The problem with sets [...] is that they often include knives you don’t need," he said. "I believe you need to look at how you use knives and what you use them for and let that inform your decisions. Get the right tools for the job."
8. Instant-Read Thermometer
CDN ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer, $15.95, Chefsresource.com
Instant-read meat thermometers are not only incredibly handy in making sure your steak is actually cooked through, but they are super inexpensive and found in just about every grocery store. This simple utensil seriously revolutionized certain recipes for me, since it meant I wasn't constantly peering into the oven and taking meat out to slice and test to see if it was actually done.
9. Plenty Of Towels
The Big One 6-pc. Kitchen Towel Set, $14.99, Kohls.com
This is a tip directly from the source — Martha Stewart's YouTube channel. Stewart advocates using reusable kitchen towels over disposable paper towels whenever possible, and even recommended keeping a kitchen drawer just for towels if you have the space to spare.
Your kitchen should never feel like a source of stress, and one of the best ways to make it feel functional is by simply supplying yourself with the right basic tools. You'll probably even find that once you have a few basic essentials, cooking may even become — gasp — enjoyable!
Image: Pexels (1); Courtesy Brands