9 Cooking Items I can't live without

9 Must Have Kitchen Cooking Items That Make Life Easier

In my earlier life, the 3 kitchen cooking items I – literally – couldn’t live without included a mess-tin, a hexamine cooker, and a foldable cutlery set…!

The closest I ever came to cooking was heating something horrid in said mess-tin, suspended over the burning hexamine, and stirred with the metal spoon. [Don’t ask about the washing up…]

Nowadays, I’m a little more refined [I think…?].

However, it does go to show that most of the items we have in our kitchens are actually fairly luxurious! And although I’m no shopper, I can spend quite a long time – and money – in kitchen gadget shops.

What stops me, aside from my budget, is kitchen space. It’s way too easy to clutter up my kitchen with gadgets I think will be useful but I don’t have the room for. [Electric juicer, bread-maker, and electric grill spring to mind...]

Like many other home economic decisions, stocking your kitchen is a trade-off between space, money, and need. I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can’t find the space for an item I think I need, I don’t buy it. But if there is something I do need, I save up for it and purchase it. However, I may have to eBay something else to make space!

So, without further ado, what follows is a list of 9 kitchen cooking items I can’t live without and that I will always make space for. They just make my family life so much easier. I hope they can yours too.

9 kitchen cooking items

Kitchen Scales

One of THE most essential kitchen cooking items in my home is a set of scales.

I’ve already written a post on the need for accuracy and consistency in cooking, and my enduring love for my cheap digital scales is an extension of this.

It’s true that my digital scales aren’t as pleasing to look at as those beautiful vintage mechanical scales in the picture above but they do have the advantage of being lightweight, a breeze to clean and easily hidden away. These are all virtues in my book!

I’ve recently found out that the need for weights and measures to be fixed and consistent was a principle in the Magna Carta of 1215. It also reappears after 1776 in the Constitution of the United States. Wow!

Although I think the references to weights and measures here are for trade and commerce reasons, it really highlights the general need for consistency to make life easier. And I like easy, especially when cooking!

I also lie to use recipes from around the world and I find that often they use different measuring systems from the UK. To help with this, I made up some cooking weights and measures conversion tables covering UK metric/imperial and US measures, which I’ve put into my free resource library (get the password for the library in the form at the bottom of this post).

Kitchen cooking items cast iron skillet

Cast-Iron Skillet

I actually have two of these beauties, one large and one small, but I only use the latter one on an almost daily basis. The larger one is far too heavy to manage with any finesse, unless you’ve biceps the size of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s. Which I don’t. [A good thing for me I think?]

It also takes far more seasoning than the smaller version as it seems to dry out more quickly.

But the small one…oh, the small one… is one of those kitchen cooking items of dreams. I cook almost anything in it; it makes the BEST crêpes. It cooks evenly, goes in the oven, under the grill, or on the stovetop. And it doesn’t need washing up, just a little hot water and a brush. Bonus!

Additionally, it doesn’t scratch like the non-stick versions, which I always seem to leave draining upside down on something metal after I’ve washed them absent-mindedly. Oh, the arguments that little act causes…

cast-iron casserole

Enamelled cast-iron casserole

Admittedly, this is another heavy beast but as you can cook in it and serve food directly from it, I am prepared to accept the gym workout. [In some ways, it makes me feel virtuous…]

The downside to one of these beautiful kitchen cooking items is the cost – you need a bank loan to buy one. However, they last and last and last… Like many things, you definitely get what you pay for. But, I have to admit to being gifted both mine. They’re known as ‘heirloom pieces‘ for a reason.

Just like the cast-iron skillet, this is one versatile piece of equipment. I use it for casseroles, soups, hotpots, stock…the list goes on.

Copper pans of various sizes

Pans. Kitchen cooking items you really need!

It goes without saying really that any home needs pans as part of the essential list of kitchen cooking items. I have a few of different sizes.

If I had the budget, I’d splurge on copper-bottomed saucepans. They definitely distribute heat more evenly. However, mine aren’t bad. They’re stainless steel and I’ve used them mercilessly over the last 16 years on gas and electric hobs alike. They also don’t seem to mind the dishwasher – another plus!

Kitchen knives


My husband is most particular about our knives. Or rather, he’s most particular about me using the knives…I am reminded on an almost daily basis about the huge difference a sharp knife makes to cutting.

He’s right of course but I find sharpening knives on a regular basis is yet another one of those things I have to do. So, it doesn’t get done as much as it should. And yes, sometimes I then slip and cut my nail because my knife is too blunt… Needless to say, it then gets sharpened.

I have two knives I use on a daily basis. A small knife for vegetables and a large one that I can use to do anything from carving meat to cutting through tough vegetables. Although, I do have others, I find I can do almost anything with these two.

Roasting Tin

I own a few roasting tins that I’ve collected over the years. But, my ultimate favourite is my smallish, rectangular one, (about 30 x 20cm). It fits beautifully in my little British oven and just about takes a chicken, a small tray-bake or enough sausages for us all for dinner.

I often find that if the roasting tin is too big, meat juices will spread further making for more burnt patches…eeewwww! Ergo, the smaller tin = less washing up. Win!

wooden chopping board or butchers block

Chopping Boards

A chopping board is one of those essential kitchen cooking items. Without one, you risk ruining your kitchen table or worktops.

I bought a decent set of multicoloured plastic ones a few years ago and which has served me well. I think maybe too well at times as I’m convinced that they may be a little too hard for my knives. Meaning, I need to sharpen those knives more. [Rats.]

They do though have the benefit of being light and easy to clean by sticking them in the dishwasher. and the distinct colours mean I can use one for raw meat, one for fish, one for cooked meats etc

However, if I could choose my chopping board again, I’d choose an End Grain wooden board, like a Butcher’s block. Apparently, the wood fibres absorb the impact of the knife, meaning your knives last longer between sharpening. But best of all, it means your knife blade is less likely to roll, which lowers your chances of cutting your fingers and/or nails with it.

I’d also stay away from bamboo. I know they’re sold as being eco-friendly but bamboo makes for a really hard chopping board. And that means blunt knives and maybe bleeding fingers. Bamboo also warps when wet and absorbs stains.

Food Processor/Blender

OK, OK, so maybe this isn’t exactly one of those absolutely essential kitchen cooking items, but I use mine almost every day.

The time saved by using to chop vegetables for soup, cheese for sauces or chocolate for baking, makes a processor an indispensable item for me. And it’s small enough to live in a cupboard which is another bonus.

Time and space are definitely at a premium in my kitchen. Anything that saves me either, or both, is pretty desirable!

Freestanding mixer

Free-Standing Mixer. The last on my kitchen cooking items list

Time-saving economy brings me on to the last item on my essential cooking items list, the free-standing mixer.

My husband bought me a very handsome Kitchen Aid a few years ago. As someone who loves to bake, the utter delight this generated was immeasurable! It’s often heard whizzing around, mixing batters, whisking cream, or kneading dough for bread and pizza bases.

In my view, the time and physical effort this shiny red machine saves me in the kitchen makes the investment worthwhile. And, I know my family’s taste buds agree too…

Admittedly, again it can’t be said that I need this in my kitchen, but it’s as close as it gets. And, I don’t have to put it away! It looks resplendent left out in the corner on my worktop.

So, those are the 9 essential kitchen cooking items on my list. Aside from some cutlery and a wooden spoon, I’m not sure there’s anything else I can think of that I really need.

Anything else is truly clutter! [I think an eBay session might be in order for that electric juicer at the back of my cupboard…]

If I was restocking my kitchen from scratch, these 9 items would be top of my list.

What are your essential kitchen cooking items? What makes them useful to you? And what do you have in your kitchen you never use…?! Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Get the password for the library, with the weights and measures conversion tables and other actionable ideas for a more organised and profitable life, by filling out this form:

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9 must have kitchen cooking items that make life easier overlays a cooker and worktop

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