While prepping for this article, we posted the following on social media: “What is something in your kitchen that you LOVE?”. We received an outpour of responses, all the way from the typical (a set of good knives), to the cute (my spouse), to the brutally honest (my wine and bottle opener). While we completely agree with all of those recommendations, we wanted to curate a list of very special kitchen utensils and equipment that we can’t live without in our kitchen that is more uncommon and you are likely missing in yours! After seeing some similar comments from others reinforcing our thoughts, we knew we had found a few key kitchen items that are a fantastic addition to your home. Hint, Hint: This is also great for wedding registry ideas or a kitchen items list for a new home or housewarming!
1. GelPro Elite Kitchen Mat
You thought we were going straight to the gadget drawer, huh? NOPE! The first on our list is also the most overlooked part of your kitchen! Let’s face it, 99% of the time that you are behind your kitchen counter you are on your feet, whether you are prepping, cooking or cleaning. About 10 years ago, Karen’s mom invested in a GelPro Mat and it was a lifesaver on tired feet and a big part of her plantar fasciitis relief! Now that “Couple in the Kitchen” are both officially in our 30s, we were well overdue for our own gel kitchen mats. We were THRILLED to learn that GelPro is actually based right in our backyard of Austin, Texas. We also loved to find that GelPro now has over a thousand colors, designs, and patterns. It was fun finding the perfect pattern for the house we bought earlier this year. We found the perfect Gel Pro Elite for our kitchen (if you’re curious, we went for the light grey Lattice design) and our feet couldn’t thank us more because it feels like you’re standing on a cloud; it is seriously a BIG game changer. Gavin loves it so much he wishes it could be our entire house flooring. Oh, and that Gel Pro Mat Karen’s mom bought ten years ago? She still uses the same GelPro Mat every… single… day.
2. Over-the-door Spice Rack
We don’t know about you, but as foodies we have a TON of spices, sauces, and oils. Even though we have a rotating countertop spice rack, the cabinet where all the “extras” hang out was a complete warzone. One of the very few times we (aka Karen) gets stressed in the kitchen is when she is searching for that one specialty spice we need and everything starts falling out of the cabinet. Literally one of the first kitchen accessories we bought for our new house was this pantry door storage contraption. It is a lifesaver when it comes to keeping spices and sauces organized. Even if you don’t have a full pantry built into your kitchen storage, take a look online for a smaller version of this organizer. It helps to store extra beverages, pasta, can goods, you name it!
3. Cast Iron Pan
Many people also commented on our social media inquiry with the practical response of “a good pan” and we completely agree. Most people, however, do not use cast iron. That is why we are recommending a cast iron skillet as a key kitchen essential that you might be missing. Cast iron cooking is fantastic because it is naturally non-stick, easy to clean, it is super durable, and cast iron is built to last a lifetime. Cast iron skillets can go from your range, into the oven, to the grill, to the campfire and it will always get you a great sear. Tip: Make sure to season your cast iron between uses (we’ve made this mistake in the past!). How to season a cast iron pan: heat it up, rub it with oil, and let it cool. It’s as easy as that.
4. Immersion Blender
This is a kitchen tool that we don’t use every day, but when we do, we always sing its praises. An immersion blender (also known as a hand held blender or a stick blender) is such a handy kitchen tool and it takes up minimal space in your cabinet. It saves the day (and a number of dirty dishes) when blending soups and is waaaaay more affordable than a Vitamix. An immersion blender is also a kitchen appliance that we usually take out whenever roasting meat in the oven or in a crockpot. Just braise your meat, remove it from the pan, and use the tool to blend all the juices, onions, and herbs together to make a flavorful, tasty sauce.
5. Mandolin Slicer
Another common comment we heard was that people loved their veggie spiralizer. We know that zoodles are really on trend right now, but many people forget that a mandolin is basically an old-school veggie noodle maker! Use a mandolin to make veggie noodles for lasagna or pappardelle, homemade chips, scalloped potatoes, and ratatouille. You can save a TON of money by making your own coleslaw or hash browns vs. buying it sliced and the mandolin slicer makes it SO easy to prep yourselves. While you are decluttering and tossing out that veggie noodle gadget (hey, it’s ok we bought a veggetti at one time too) you can also get rid of your cheese grater because the mandolin will conquer that task as well. Whipping up our recipes like our Caramel Apple Sundae or our Pepperoni Ratatouille Casserole will be a cinch with your new slicer.
Here’s the true foodie test: How many items on this list did you already have in your kitchen?! Comment below with your thoughts or additions!