25 Basic Kitchen Tools You Need to Cook Real Food

Reader Contribution by Rosemary Hansen
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A Checklist for Camping, Tiny House Dwellers, or Beginner Cooks

We moved across provinces recently, from the big city to our homestead in rural British Columbia. In order for us to realize our dream of starting a homestead, we had to cut costs everywhere. That meant camping out while we were moving to our farm! So, I have had to pare down my kitchen essentials to almost nothing. Really down to basics. I had to ask myself, what can I survive on? 

I thought others might be interested to know what basic kitchen tools you need to cook meals from scratch (as I do for every meal…even when we’re camping!). If you are just learning how to cook healthy food and you don’t know what kitchen tools you’ll need, this is the list for you. Also, if you are planning on living in a tiny house, my checklist will help you to avoid buying extra tools that you won’t use very often.

1. Small pot or saucepan – surprisingly you can do a lot with a small pot. You can boil eggs, make applesauce, boil potatoes, make rice, and steam small amounts of greens/broccoli/cauliflower in the small pot. All large meat + veggie dishes can be cooked in the slow cooker.

2. Small frying pan or skillet – this is essential for cooking eggs, pancakes, making quesadillas, frying farm greens, stir fry, etc.

3. Box grater.

4. Kitchen shears

5. Chef’s knife (8-9 inch blade)

6. Paring knife (small – 3 to 4 inch blade)

7. Silicone spatula

8. Small metal spatula

9. Oven mitts

10. Soup ladle + an oversized spoon

11. Can opener

12. Percolator for coffee (also serves as a teapot)

13. Big cutting board

14. Some glass Tupperware for storing food + any good recycled food containers. I re-use big empty yogurt containers to mix up pancake batter, muffin batter, for soaking beans, tossing salads, or to hold veggies I’ve chopped up so they don’t clutter the cutting board.

15. A Slowcooker/Crockpot 6Qt size

16. A 1 cup measuring cup – you can make any recipe with a 1 cup measuring cup as long as it has other measurements below the 1 cup line.

17. 1 tbsp measuring spoon + 1 tsp measuring spoon – I find that all other measurements can be estimated with these two tools in a pinch.

18. A small funnel – for making salad dressing. I use an old olive oil bottle to shake it up.

19. If you bake bread, you need a Dutch Oven for an awesome crust + a serrated bread knife + a dough scraper.

20. If you bake muffins, you need a muffin cups pan. But I make sweet bread with the muffin recipe and then I don’t need to get fussy with filling muffin cups, buying muffin paper cups or greasing each cup individually. Instead I use a standard bread pan (pyrex), or a cast-iron bread pan for a camp stove.

21. A small pair of locking tongs, silicone handles

22. A Digital thermometer for taking meat temps

23. A small wire mesh colander/strainer with a stand or one that rests on top of sink

24. A large mixing bowl

25. If you make pies or crackers, you’ll need a rolling pin (I’ve got my grandmothers!)

Optional: A small food processor (I use a baby-food grinder) – allows you to make small batches of hummus, salsa, tomato sauce, raw brownies, etc.

Rosemary’s Tips

Does your recipe call for a whisk? Use a fork in a pinch.
Need a garlic press? Just smash the clove with the side of your chef’s knife, then chop fine.
Need to peel fruit or a vegetable? Use your paring knife and go slow. But if you’re not practiced, get a Y-shaped peeler, it’s not worth cutting yourself.
Need a timer? Get a stopwatch! I love mine and use it all throughout the day. I never have to go searching for my timer, it’s always on my wrist.

What are your favorite kitchen essentials? Can’t live without your blender? A dear friend of mine uses her immersion blender almost every day. Some folks can’t survive without their instant pot or juicer. I agree that all of those appliances are super handy, but in an off-grid situation (or when you’re camping), my list of essentials will help you cook healthy meals without having to pack your whole kitchen.

Rosemary Hansenis an Author, Homesteading Mama, and a Chef. She has spent the last 10 years “homesteading” in the city. She and her family have just started their off-grid homestead in rural British Columbia, Canada. Her books,Grow a Salad In Your City Apartment and Rosemary’s Natural Cosmetic Guide are a great way to ease into a healthy, pure lifestyle. You can connect with Rosemary at her website:www.RosemaryPureLiving.com or on her YouTube channel.


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