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Hey, there!

Welcome to Road 142 where I, Cara Crowley, a stylist and content creator chat and share about fresh + easy ideas for everyday life while exploring the backroads and farms of my beloved Northern California. I’m so happy you’re here!

10 Kitchen Basics That Every Kitchen Should Have

10 Kitchen Basics That Every Kitchen Should Have


I’ve cooked for most of my life and mostly in very small spaces so I’ve learned to narrow down my favorite and most essential kitchen basics. I think if you’re a new cook or getting back into it after a hiatus, it can feel overwhelming with all of the tools and gadgets available to you. I find most of them unnecessary when just a few kitchen basics, you can cook up amazing things. I also always choose quality over quantity when I’m making purchases for the kitchen because I find that I’m more excited to cook when things look and feel nice in my kitchen.

  1. Quarter Sheet Pans - I love these little cookie sheets to organize ingredients on. I also love baking on them for smaller things like toast and single pieces of protein or small amounts of vegetables. They’re so much easier to clean up than half sheet pans aka cookie sheets.

  2. Spatulas and Cooking Spoons - I’m not a big fan of a ton of utensils that never get used in the kitchen so I tend to stick to two spatulas a fish spatula that I use for a lot of things other than fish, I like that it’s a bit more flexible than a regular spatula and because it’s slotted, I also use it for things like scooping vegetables out of hot water and if I need to strain something out of a jar. I also like small spatula, like this one, that helps me to be able to get into skillets easier and into corners of baking dishes. I also like one or two really good quality wooden spoons.

  3. Mason jars with reusable lids. I love to use wide mouth mason jars to keep leftovers. You can easily see into them and I find since they are are made of glass they are so much easier to clean up than plastic Tupperware.

  4. Cast iron skillets - In my kitchen, my cast iron skillet never gets put away, I just keep it out on the stovetop and it’s my daily work horse. I make everything and anything in it. If it’s well seasoned, things will never stick to it and I love how evenly it cooks food. The only thing I don’t cook in it is eggs but that’s just a personal preference.

  5. Enameled Cast Dutch Oven - There are great options for these at every price point. I do paratactically everything in mine like boiling water, sautéing and baking. I love the versatility of them and they are worth their investment. I also cook most crock pot recipes in my dutch oven and just bake on a very low temperature in my oven.

  6. Instant read thermometer - I was slow to get an instant read thermometer because I had a traditional meat thermometer and figured it was the same. Nope. Game changing to have an instant read.

  7. Good knives - I’m not a big fan of big knife blocks, I find a lot of them not necessary. In my opinion every kitchen really needs three good knives which I think are a 6" chef's knife, a serrated utility knife and a paring knife

  8. Cutting board with grips - A good cutting board is everything to me and I keep a large one on my counter all the time. I always feels like it’s so inviting to start prepping food on. One of my biggest pet peeves is a board that moves around so I attach little adhesive grippers to the bottom of mine. In a pinch you can also put a damp towel under your board and it will keep it from moving around.

  9. Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup - you can buy all the sizes but I think the quart one is the most versatile and you can eliminate the need for the smaller sizes with it. I use it as a measuring cup but I also heat water up in the microwave with it. I’ve even used it as a makeshift mixing bowl for small things like pancake batter. It will also last forever!

  10. Masking tape and Sharpies - I use masking tape in my kitchen almost every day to label leftovers with what they are and the date they were made. This helps me keep my fridge and freezer more organized and there’s no more guessing what something is or when it was put in the freezer or fridge.

EXTRA CREDIT: A professional blender of some sort or Cuisinart. I do so much food prep in my Cuisinart from grating cheese, shredding vegetables, pureeing soups, mixing baking recipes. While I do have a Vitamix as well, I would say that you only need either one or the other. I can do mostly everything in my Vitamix that I can in Cuisinart and both will last you a lifetime and are worth their investment.

My "No Recipe" Granola Recipe

My "No Recipe" Granola Recipe

How My Kitchen Became Paper Towel-Less

How My Kitchen Became Paper Towel-Less