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Comprehensive List of Basic Kitchen Needs

wooden spoons and a whisk on top of a towel for a list of must have kitchen items

How do you know what to purchase for your kitchen when you are first starting out – what those must have kitchen items are? How do you know if a kitchen gadget is really worth buying and taking up space in your kitchen? Don’t worry, I’m going to make your life easier with this list of basic kitchen needs.

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The Kitchen Essentials List You Need to Have

When my husband I were first married we lived in a duplex with a small kitchen. I had no pantry to store excess tools and appliances.

As you move into bigger homes, you have a little more leeway with what you can have in your kitchen. Today, I want to give you a list of the most important items for your kitchen – the must have kitchen items list. Obviously, if you are someone who doesn’t cook you will be able to eliminate several of things things.

After being married over 12 years, these are the kitchen tools I use on a weekly (if not more frequently) basis. Everyone of them except for the first three items under the possible baking essentials list.

If you have a little extra room in your house, I highly recommend you check out the list of my Favorite Kitchen Tools and my Favorite Kitchen Appliances! Not everything on those lists I would consider essentials, but they are all things I love and use on a regular basis!

wooden spoons with black handles on a towel for a list of must have kitchen items

Basic Kitchen Needs List:

Cooking Kitchen Essentials

  • Vegetable Peeler – Don’t get the cheapest one out there. They hurt your hand and break much sooner.
  • Box Cheese Grater – I don’t buy grated cheese so I use this any time I need grated cheese. I also use it to grate carrots for egg rolls, fried rice, etc.
  • Soup Ladle – There not another great option for dishing up broth-y soups.
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Non Slotted Spoon
  • Can Opener – Buy a decent can opener. They cheap ones are a pain. I have this one. My sister has this one and says it is amazing.
  • Kitchen Shears or a Pizza Cutter –  I have a pizza wheel with a handle. I’ve had super cheap ones and the one we have now is middle of the road. It definitely cuts much easier. You can also just skip the pizza cutter and use the shears for pizza along with a myriad of other things.
  • Colander – I have a smaller mesh one and a larger pasta one
  • Cutting Boards – I recommend two large ones (one for veggies & bread and one for meat) and a small size one. I’m needing to replace my full sized cutting boards, so I don’t have specific recommendations for these. My mini sized one is from Pampered Chef, though, and I like it.
  • Food Storage Containers – I love my Pyrex set! The perk of having glass is that you can use them in the microwave and they can double as food prep dishes. I also have a set of decent plastic ones that I like. I’ve found that having some mini containers (4 and 8 ounces) has been really useful!
  • Good Knives. Start with just a couple decent knives. A bread knife, a paring knife, and one or 2 chef’s knives.
  • Good Pots and Pans. Start with an 8 and 10 inch skillet, 1 sauce pot, and a stockpot. You can add to your stash after you know what else you will use. I’d recommend stainless steel for your sauce pot and stockpot at least. Your skillets you’ll have to decide on stainless, non-stick, cast iron, ceramic etc.
  • Silicone Spatula You need this! Great for making cookies or things like scraping out pots and bowls or the last of the peanut butter. Mine is from Pampered Chef and it’s amazing.
  • Pancake Flipper Considering my kids are pancake fans, we use this multiple times a week.
  • Mini Serving Spatula These are the perfect size for brownies and bar desserts. I used mine tonight for lasagna too.
  • Blender – This may or may not be an essential. I mainly use mine for smoothies, oat flour, and salsa. (I’d suggest looking for a great deal on a Vitamix or Blendtec.)

Possible Kitchen Essentials:

  • Potato Masher – If you make mashed potatoes or a lot of your own refried beans, this becomes an essential! If not, try without one for a while. I have one of the ones with holes in the masher part but I could see how the ones with the wavy metal base would be easier to clean. Haven’t tried that kind though.
  • Pasta Fork – This is only an essential if you use spaghetti or fettuccine noodles. If you use elbow, penne etc you could just use the slotted or unslotted spoons.
  • Whisk If you aren’t sure if you’d use it, do without. You can purchase one later.
  • Ice Cream Scoop – This is an essential in our home. If you don’t eat ice cream frequently you can use a sturdy regular spoon. My favorite scoop came from Bed Bath and Beyond but they no longer sell it.
  • Microplane You can get by without this by using your knife for mincing garlic and the small side of your box cheese grater for zesting lemon peel, but I do find myself using the microplane frequently.

Baking Kitchen Essentials

  • Airbake Cookie Sheets – Love these! Perfect for cookies, rolls, breadsticks. Get the lighter colored ones.
  • Cooling Racks I think this one looks nice. If you are short on counter top space, check out the stackable ones.
  • Mini Muffin Tins – This is the pan I have. I prefer having 2 12 cup pans over 1 24. I recommend mini over regular sized ones because they make the perfect sized muffins for kids and when you bring muffins or cupcakes to a function a lot of the time people won’t finish an entire regular sized one and it always makes me a little sad when food I’ve made gets tossed. They are also great size for appetizers
  • 9×13 and a 8 or 9 Inch Square Pan – I use these all the time. I actually have 2 of each. Unless you know you’ll be using them a lots start with one of each. All of mine are glass (Pyrex) but you might consider getting one set in glass and one in metal. The metal ones are great for taking places – no worrying about breakage! I also recommend that you buy the ones that come with lids.
  • Measuring Spoons – If you are going to cook or bake at all you’ll want a set, maybe even two. Don’t buy a cheap set. I recommend metal over plastic and prefer a set that included 1/8 of a teaspoon.
  • Measuring Cups – The same as the spoons. These are essentials. If you are a baker, you might want two. Don’t buy a cheap set. I have had plastics ones, and they have accidentally been melted. I also have a cheap set of stainless steel ones and the handles are falling off less than a year later (they just happen to be the first set that currently appears on this link).
  • Liquid Measuring Cups – I have a set that comes with a 1, 2, and 4 cup. The ones that that are angled and you can read standing up make things a little easier but I haven’t seen them in glass. A basic set is fine, no need to spend extra on this.
  • Glass and Metal Mixing Bowls – Get a variety of sizes. Our largest one gets used for tossing big batches of popcorn with butter or making pancakes for a herd. The middle sized one is great for cookies and muffins. The small ones are good for whisking an egg or two. One of my metal bowls nestles perfectly into a saucepan for a double boiler.
  • Stand Mixer  – If you aren’t a baker, you can skip this one but I use my KitchenAid 1-3 times each week. It definitely makes kneading dough a lot easier. Don’t get anything small than the 5 quart one.

Possible Baking Essentials:

  • Pie Pan – You  may or may not want this depending on how many pies you want. It can also fill in for a cheesecake pan like in this recipe. Honestly, I use mine maybe once a year.
  • Jelly Roll Pan We use this for oven fries or roasting veggies. Mine is an old uncoated one. This gets used on a regular basis.
  • Pastry Brush – If you don’t do much baking, you won’t need this. Most often ours gets used for brushing the butter on top of breadsticks. I use one with natural bristles. If you get a cheap one, the bristles fall out way sooner so be sure to read reviews and don’t by the cheap ones. Some people love the silicone brushes.
  • Rolling Pin –  I have a traditional rolling pin and a pizza and pastry roller that I love! Do you make pizza, sugar roll out cookies, or tortillas? Then this will be a must. If not try without and on the rare occasion you need a rolling pin try using a bottle.
  • Bread Pan – This is an essential if you are going to make homemade bread. Otherwise you can just use the muffin tins for quick breads. If you really want bread pans for quick breads I love this size. Otherwise I use stainless steel bread pans for my yeast bread.
  • Wooden Spoon – this is another item you can do without, but I use mine frequently for stirring sourdough, making cookies, etc. One is plenty.

Other Kitchen Items:

  • Silverware – In my opinion there is no need to buy silverware that is $50 a setting. One the other had, don’t buy the the cheap stuff. It bends easily, tarnishes, and hurts your hand. We purchased a middle of the road set that we really liked from Bed Bath and Beyond. Using one of their 20% off coupons made it a great purchase. A service for 12 cost under $200.
  • Dinnerware – Fine china was something that I didn’t want. When you are in a small house you most likely won’t have space for storing plates that seldom get used. I love corelle. They are thin and won’t take up a lot of space in the cabinet.
  • Glasses – If you are limited on space, make sure your glasses will stack otherwise they will take up a lot of space. Ours came from Ikea and they work great. Next time we’ll most likely purchase something a tiny bit thinner.
  • Hot Pads and Trivets – One or two trivets would be plenty. Hot pads or kitchen towels could always fill in on the occasion you need more. You will want at least 2 hot pads.
  • Wash Clothes and Dish Towels – Enough to get you through to the next wash day. I dislike drying my dishes with the cheap microfiber towels. Look for something that will absorb the water easily.

Don’t forget to hop over to the Favorite Kitchen Tools List and my Favorite Appliances List for more fun kitchen tools! (You’ll also get to hear about my all time favorite appliance. You might be surprised. A total splurge item, but I love it. The kids do too. 😉 )

What items do you consider kitchen essentials?

wooden spoons and a whisk with words top kitchen essentials


Kitchen Essentials! The list of must haves for every kitchen. Great for making wedding registries or updating your own kitchen!

Originally published April 1, 2014. Updated list and graphics April 30, 2019.

My Favorite Books I Read in 2018

I am a huge fan of reading! It keeps your mind thinking and learning and allows you to see things from other’s perspectives.

I set a reading goal for myself last year and didn’t  come close to making it.

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But that’s okay . Because after several off years, reading again became a habit and I made it through many good books. So that is a success.

This next year I hope to read at least double and am currently making good progress.

As you are choosing books to read, I suggest selecting a variety of genres. I’m reintroducing children’s literature into my rotation and so enjoying it. It’s been so great to re-read some of my childhood favorites.

This list  does include a lot of non-fiction but I’m hoping that this year I can increase the number of biographies I read.

I’ve divided my reads in these categories:

Children’s Literature (GREAT read aloud options for your kids)
Other (Primarily: spiritual, self help, and parenting )

After the list, I’ll share a few of my favorites from the the past year. Most all of these books are worth reading, but I have a few that come to mind I enjoy talking about.

Children’s Literature

Sarah Plain and Tall
Caleb’s Story
More Perfect Than the Moon
The Hundred Dresses
All of a Kind Family
Understood Betsy
The War That Saved My Life
Bud, Not Buddy


What Did you Expect Paul David Tripp
The Meaning of Marriage Timothy Keller
When Sinners Say “I Do” Dave Harvey


Under Our Skin
Just Mercy
I’m Still Here
Foreign to Familiar


The Lady of Arlington

Other (Spiritual, Self Help, Parenting)

Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes
Your Best Year Ever
Book Girl
Hands Free Life
In Bloom
Seeing Yourself through God’s Eyes
Life Together
Nothing to Prove
Own Your Life
Raising World Changers in a Changing World
Just Open the Door
You Can Stay Home With Your Kids
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World
Sun Stand Still
Made to Crave

Let’s get to a few favorites. I loved, loved, loved Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus and Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. My eyes were completely opened to how I have been reading the Bible with my own limited Western view. There is so much there that we miss out on when doing that! I learned so many things and I want to learn more. I highly recommend every believer read these books.

I also very much enjoyed Lady of ArlingtonYes, it was the only biography I read, but it was so interesting. I knew nothing about Mary Lee and basically nothing about Robert E Lee so it was like meeting and getting to know someone for the first time. Mary was a pretty amazing woman.

Paul David Tripp’s What Did You Expect was excellent! So convicting. I have his book Parenting on my list for 2019.

Different was an encouraging read as you parent kids who have their differences.  It’s an especially important read for parents with kids who have a lot of different diagnoses – OCD, ADD, ADHD, etc. It’s written by Sally Clarkson and her son Nathan who grew up struggling with being different.

I also discovered that I have a soft spot for children’s novels and rereading them and adult classics I read as a child. They are such a good comfort read. They made me feel at home and happy. Most of my childhood/teen rereads were better than I remembered!

Just Mercy was a hard, good read about inequality and  unfairness in our justice system. It is one of those reads that makes you sad and angry.

If hospitality is something that you are wanting to pursue this year, Just Open the Door is a great book! Hospitality doesn’t have to be flashy and impressive, just open your door where you are at.

What were your favorite reads of 2018? For some other great books, check out this list of my favorite reads from a few years ago!

Printable Goals Planner To Get It Done

Are you making some goals? I want to help you out with this goals planner you can print off and use as you are planning.

samples pages of the goals planner

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Goals are a great thing. Or great as long as they are the right goals for you and you actually follow through and take the steps you need to get them accomplished.

As moms, our focus is going to be different than what they would have been as a college student or if we were single business women.

We want our goals to help and set us up for success, not be a source of conflict and frustration with us and our families. I find goals help motivate me and also cause to to slow down and evaluate my life and my family.

Printable Goals Planner

Let’s start with making your goals.

I’m sure you’ve seen the acronym SMART. When you come up with your goals, you need to make sure they are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound.

Let’s stop here for a minute. I just read a book by Michael Hyatt called Your Best Year Ever. He changes things up a little. His acronym is:


 In SMARTER the first “R” stands for risky. If you stick with super realistic goals, you’ll be setting the bar too low.  So be sure to realistically push yourself.

The “E” stands for exciting. Choose goals that inspire and excite you – it will help you stay motivated.

The final “R” stands for relevant. Please, make sure your goals are right for you and your season of life and what you are wanting/needing to accomplish.

As you fill out this first page, be sure to keep SMART/SMARTER goal making in mind.

Now, that you have your goals written down, use the next page to break them down into action steps. Give yourself a deadline as to when you want to accomplish your goal. You can even set a reward to help keep yourself motivated.

From here you will want to take your goals as a whole and break them down into quarterly steps. This way you will know what you are focusing on when instead of being overwhelmed by all the things.

Yes, certain more habit goals you will be doing throughout all 4 quarters but others will have steps you need to take.

After you have your quarterly goals figured out, each week as you plan the next 7 days figure out exactly what steps need to happen to get you to accomplish those quarterly goals.

I know some weeks won’t got as planned (all of us moms say “amen”), so break these items down into most important, would like to, and if I have time. Then when a kid gets sick, or you have an unexpected problem that pops up, you know what to focus on.

You probably know where this is headed, but lastly there are daily goals. Each day, looking at your weekly goals write down what needs to happen. Go beyond the goals here and also include household cleaning tasks, appointments, errands etc.

Taking a few seconds each day to think over what you are grateful for also helps keep life in perspective and can change your attitude.

Have you made goals this year? Do you struggle coming up with a good plan? Some of my goal categories this year are reading, fitness, Bible reading, health, business, and of course financial goals. Hopefully I can get them accomplished!

I have these goals planner printables available in my resource library for free to my subscribers! Sign up below!

picture of the goals planner and a sticky note that says set goals

Summer Bucket List for Kids

Summer Bucket list ideas for kids! Great ideas to make memories this summer.

Have you ever considered having a summer bucket list for kids?

School is almost done, it’s getting hotter (we were up to 90 degrees this week), schedules and expectations are changing. Maybe your kids aren’t yet old enough to be in school but you still want to make summer special. There might be a big vacation planned or maybe you are saving money this year and staying home.

One way to keep things fun is to have a Summer Bucket List. Have your kids help come up with fun summer activities and narrow it down to your top 10, 20, 30 or however many you think you have time for over the next few months. Write them down on a chart and tackle some each week checking them off as they are accomplished.

Having a Summer Bucket List for kids will make the summer of a staycation more exciting or help the weeks before and after a big vacation go by quickly. The kids will love having lots of little summer activities to look forward to.

I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and a 14 month old. The older two would love all these ideas (and even helped brainstorm) and the baby eagerly does whatever her big siblings do.

I have 31 free ideas and then a bonus 21 extra ideas that begin at just a couple dollars. If you keep scrolling to the end of the list, I have a printable list of all 52 ideas and a blank form you can use to make your own bucket list to check off this summer.

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Ideas for a Summer Bucket List for Kids:


  • Splash pad
  • Make popsicles
  • Fly a kite
  • Have a water fight
  • Read a chapter book aloud
  • Local beach at the lake
  • Story time at the library
  • Other library kids events
  • Star gazing
  • Park hop to all the good parks in your town
  • At home movie night
  • Camp in the living room
  • Swimming
  • Hike/nature walk
  • Picnic
  • Cookout in the park
  • Game night
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Relay races
  • Chalk mural on the driveway
  • Make a giant sheet fort
  • Free community events (parade, touch a truck, etc)
  • Family walks
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Bike ride
  • Feed the ducks
  • Fishing
  • Service project
  • Write cards/draw pictures and mail
  • Climb a tree (this is my 6 year old’s addition to the list)
  • Home Depot workshop

Almost Free

Paid Activities

  • Buy (and play) a new outdoor game
  • Buy (and play) a new board game
  • Go to a movie
  • Concert or show
  • Zoo
  • Children’s museum
  • Bowling
  • Ice cream shop
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Mini golf
  • Dollar store shopping spree
  • Local museum/historical site
  • Amusement park
  • Water park

Here is a printable list of all of the summer activities for kids!

Here is a blank form you can use to create your own summer bucket list for kids!

What are your favorite things to do during the summer?

Great Free summer bucket list for kids printable Continue reading

Painting Trim – Low Cost House Update

Painting trim. Doesn’t sound like fun, does it? It didn’t to me. Home improvement projects are one of those areas I have no skills in and my husband and I have to learn as we go. In fact, all things decor and home styling I know nothing about. It’s one of those areas I like to use much more talented friends’ and family members’ brains for.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.


So, as much as I disliked the idea of painting all the woodwork in our home, after consulting with much more talented people we decided to go for it. Besides, our house has limited natural light and the original wood trim made it feel darker than it was.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

One thing that made the decision a little easier is the fact that it’s just paint so it would be a budget friendly update. So many house updates seem to cost multiple thousands of dollars and since we just finished replacing all our windows, painting trim was a little easier on the savings account.

We are newbies when it comes to this process, but I wanted to share what we did and the products we used for painting trim to help you jump start your research.

Process for Painting Trim

Sand the woodwork.

I used a coarse sandpaper and went over all the baseboards, door frames, and windowsills.

Wipe down the baseboards.

I used a damp rag and wiped off all the wood.


My husband happens to love taping, so he taped all the walls. I can’t stand taping and would rather just paint carefully and wipe off the wall if needed. The problem with tape is that you’ll have more touch up work to do – removing tape almost always leaves some places messed up.

We also have carpet in our home so we bought a paint shield/trim guide to put under the baseboard. You can also use it in place of tape around the walls.


Two coats of Kilz primer. We followed the instructions on the can and let dry at least an hour between coats.


You’ll have to decide if you are going to use an oil based or latex paint. This article goes over some of the differences. We have friends who used oil based and love it and it’s actually more durable. We went with latex simply because the drying time is way less and the fumes aren’t as strong and know that we’ll periodically have to touch up the woodwork. So if you use latex, know that you will have to touch up periodically and also buy the highest grade you can.

Going from brown wood to white trim required good paint even after we primed. After returning one kind-of paint (cheaper) and consulting with an employee at Lowe’s, we purchased Valspar Signature.  Two coats were needed in most areas. The paint required a longer drying time of 6 hours. I used the paint shield/trim guide and put the metal edge under the baseboard as best I could to make sure to coat the wood well and keep the paint off of the carpet.

Touch Up.

This is the tedious part because you are so ready to be done. At least we were. And actually, we still have touch up work to do. But after all the painting is done and tape removed (if used) it’s time to go around and touch up the places paint peeled off or got on the wall.

Painting trim. With three young children and our regular jobs it was definitely a lot of work and took longer than we wanted. However, now that it’s done, I’m so glad we did it. I even wish we did it years ago. The walls colors pop (and even look completely different in some rooms) and our home is so much brighter.

Painting Trim - a low cost house update that makes a HUGE difference in your home's look.

You might have noticed from these pictures we also updated our doors. I’ll cover that in another post and share how my husband did that project.

Do you enjoy painting? Do you have any tips to share as we move on to our next house project (most likely the bathrooms)?

Painting Trim - A low cost house update

Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea

These Oatmeal Lavender Bath Teas are amazing! They help moisturize your skin and relax your muscles. Who knew bath time could get even better. :-)

Oatmeal, lavender, Epsom salts, and coconut oil. Yesterday I guest posted at The Humbled Homemaker on how to make an amazing DIY Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea using those ingredients.

“Most days, by the time bedtime has arrived I’m exhausted and more than ready for the day to be over. One of the best ways to end one of those days is to use these simple DIY Oatmeal Lavender Bath Teas. 

Being a mom is exhausting (even if your kids are perfect angels). Let’s be honest, life is exhausting kids or not. Trying to balance being the best mom and wife we can while living on a limited budget of money and time isn’t easy. . .

Projects that can be done quickly are a necessity – these tea bags will be done in minutes and you can easily adjust the amounts to make a larger (or smaller) batch. If you don’t have the time to round up the ingredients or put them together, check out my Etsy shop! They are available there (along with lip balms, room sprays, and earrings).”

Check out the whole post and how to put this bath tea together over at The Humbled Homemaker!

These Oatmeal Lavender Bath Teas are amazing! They help moisturize your skin and relax your muscles. Who knew bath time could get even better. :-)

Linking up to these fun parties!