Anyone who uses the kitchen, from the professional chef to the home cook, needs to have the proper tools to make the task not only easier, but possible. These are some of the tools that I think every kitchen should have to be properly stocked:
Strainers are great to have around for a variety of reasons. They allow you to drain canned goods or pasta after it has been thoroughly cooked. They are also great for removing unwanted particles from soups or sauces. I like to have a variety of sizes and materials for different uses.
Ramekins are small ceramic serving bowls. These are great for getting yourself organized and separate your mise en place when working in the kitchen. When a ramekin is too small, or in case you don’t have any, use everyday bowls.
When prepping your food you need something to cut on. Once again variety is key. Having a cutting board for specific tasks helps to minimize contamination as well as having different sizes for bigger or smaller tasks.
Time and temperature are your best guidelines to determine if your food is cooked. A timer will help remind you to check on your food and a thermometer will give you a precise reading of where your food is at. There are even digital probe thermometers that will double as a kitchen timer.
Most cooking, if I am being honest, is done by feel. However, for recipes that require precision, such as baking, it is necessary to have the proper instruments.
I am talking about things such as spoons, spatulas, whisks and the like. My utensil container at home has everything from wooden spatulas that I use on my nonstick cookware to metal slotted spoons. I also have a couple of rubber spatulas that are great for mixing and scrapping the sides of bowls.
I see tongs as an extension of my hands. They allow me to manipulate and grab food without fear of being burned. They are indispensable for grilling or searing meat.
Sheet Pans/Baking Sheets
These are a great way to take advantage of your oven. There is no better, easier, and faster way to finish off an item then by roasting it in the oven. Sheet pans have great versatility as well. You can just as easily use them for roasting potatoes, a pork loin, fish or baking cookies. Make sure you get some with a lip on all sides so you can catch any juices.
Mixing bowls are going to be larger than everyday use bowls. The best kinds are made out of nonreactive metal or glass and come in various sizes. They are great for putting together salads, dips or just about anything. They also come in handy when getting your mise en place together.
Lastly, but most importantly, you absolutely cannot have a functioning kitchen without a good set of knives. Knife sets can get pretty elaborate with lots of specialized knives but at your most basic all you really need is a good chef knife for general cutting purposes and a paring knife for smaller and more delicate tasks.
Everyone’s kitchen is different and ultimately everyone will have different needs. These are just some of the tools that I think any properly equipped kitchen needs.