10 Kitchen Tools and Shortcuts I Can’t Live Without

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Welcome to Homemaking Organized where I talk about keeping the home life organized.

It's amazing how much time home life can take but  I love to cook. I have since I was a little girl. I made my first cakes about age 9 with an Easy Bake Oven I received for my birthday one year. I quickly graduated to the big oven though and started cranking out the extended family birthday cakes when I was in college. I even started filling requests for my friend's families.

Now I'm no chef or expert by any means (but I would love to be) so my cooking is limited to family and friends.

Like many of us I'm attempting to make do in, what I feel, is a small kitchen so through the years I've compiled some tools and tips to help my time in the kitchen be fruitful and fun. And now I'm going to share thy list with you. Some things you may already have on hand and some ideas you may already use.


1.) Start With a Clean Slate

If you start cooking in a messy kitchen be rest assured that cooking will not be as pleasant. Cleared off countertops, empty sink. These little things can make a difference when you start preparing your dish.

2.) Prep

I learned this from the chef too. Have all of your ingredients and tools ready to go. Bringing you meal together will go in a flash. Combine you salts and pepper in a small bowl ready to sprinkle your meat. Measure out your flowers, liquids, and spices etc. Have your chopping board, and a bowl at the ready. Place pans on the stove and blenders on the counter. And last but not least fill your sink with hot soapy water so you can clean as you go.

3.) A Good Sharp Knife

When we were married 13+ years ago a family friend, who was a chef at the time (retired) blessed us with two primo knives from J.A. Henckels.

4.) Dough Scraper

I don't know how I did without this little baby for so long. If you do any sort of baking you will want something like this.  A silicone dough scraper helps you clean up sticky flour messes quickly.




5.) Pyrex Measuring Cups

We received this wonderful set of Pyrex Measuring cups as a wedding present eons (okay 16 years) ago. I use them daily. To mix and melt (oven). 3 sizes means that when I'm making big mixes I have a large enough measuring cup.

6.) Immersion Blender

I purchased this set after watching Leslie Sansone of Walk Away The Pounds fame make a quick smoothie with one. Truthfully I don't make smoothies with my Immersion Hand Blender but instead use it to puree soups, make quick breadcrumbs,

 7.) Mandoline

I wanted one of these after I saw the chefs using them on all these cooking shows. It was hard to decide on one but then I went with the best reviews. A Mandoline is very sharp so I purchased some kitchen safety gloves to go with it. I must use this thing every day. It easy to clean and it makes quick work of my veggies.

8.)  Conversions Cheat Sheet

I picked this up at a Dollar Store years ago and weather and beaten still refer to it quite a lot. I can transpose (is that the right word) a recipe on the fly with this and increase or decrease the number of servings. This works well if I want to double a recipe or cook a small recipe for a big group of people.



9.) Shredder

I don't even know when or where we got this shredder but this stand up version works much better than our previous flat version. I can shred cheese, onions, apples, cabbage. I can get some lemon zest and make little slim shavings of carrots or more. Having on that stands on end like this is easier on the hands and easier to use. Besides all the shreddings collect in the center of the shredded making it easier to collect them all in the little measuring cup attachment or any other dish I desire.

10.) Good Set of Cookbooks

Where would I be without good cookbooks? Do you use a cookbook? I do. I have several that I turn to time and again for trusted advice depending upon my cooking needs. Some I've received as gifts and some I'm purchased myself. Lately I've been purchasing some for my Kindle. But here's my lengthy cookbook list.

  1. The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (my main go t0)
  2. The Freezer Cooking Manual from 30 Day Gourmet (Kindle)
  3. Saving Dinner:: Menu Planning at it's best. Season recipes that are tasty and actually reduced our grocery bill.
  4. Foods of the World Series: Out of print books on the ways of cooking all over the world. These just make good reading.
  5. Make-A-Mix Cookbook For those bulk cooking times.
  6. More Make Your Own Groceries


So what kitchen tools can't you do without? Or better yet what home tools can't you do without? Leave me a comment and let me know.

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    1. I know how you feel. Our kitchen is tiny. I don’t use my bread machine as much any more but occasionally I get on a dough making craze. Thank you for reminding me I wanted to make cinnamon rolls.

  1. My mandolin scares me so it sits in the cupboard taking up space. I have to agree with the measuring cups, I love to bake and I actually own two or three sets of measuring cups for both wet and dry ingredients, I wash as I go like you suggested but having more than one set means i dont have to stop part way through a recipe to wash something! Great tips, I would love to find one of those conversion charts. American cookbooks and Canadian ones often have different ways to measure, like saying so many ounces of something like cream cheese but in town it is listed in grams or kg

    1. My mandoline scares my husband too. I admit I’ve cut myself a few times. One time I was in pain for a week. I wear gloves now. I bought some on Amazon. Kinda feels funny to cook with gloves on though.
      I agree a conversion chart is a handy tool.

  2. Great list of tools! I just recently purchased a dough scraper and love it. America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook is one of my favorites as well!

  3. Thank you for sharing your essential cooking tools. I agree that it is important to clean as you go. I know I can feel overwhelmed in a messy kitchen.

  4. Thank you for the reminder– I think I need a mandolin and a dough scraper not attached to my mixer.

    I love what you’ve done with this list–it’s great to see all of the responses and show how functional lists posts can be.

  5. I love my immersion blender. We couldn’t afford the baby bullet or anything similar to make baby food (I hate the processed stuff) so we bought an immersion blender for $15. I just section out a portion of what we’re having and blend it for our infant. So easy, painless, and quick. It also saves us a ton of money! Thank you for your list, I’ve always wanted a mandolin! I think that will be the next item to purchase. 🙂

  6. My Dad has a kitchen gadget for everything. Without a doubt my favourite and most used kitchen tool is my garlic press. I splurged on one from Williams Sonoma and I’m glad I went for a more expensive version. Pyrex jugs are another biggie in my kitchen. ONe item I’d love is a hand- held juicer for lemons, etc to make extracting fresh juice for cooking easier.

  7. I love the Pyrex mixing cups as well. Never used a dough scraper; will have to check that out.
    One of my favorite tools is my food processor; I first bought it to make pesto.
    REcently I bought a Kitchen Aid mixer after wanting one for 20 years. Love it so much and glad I finally got one.

    1. My food processor just died 🙁 I’m debating whether or not to get a new one. I truthfully didn’t use it that much but just when was going to use it kaput!

  8. My favorite is my Pampered Chef Mix n’ Scraper. This list is perfect for those right out of college, or a new homeowner, new wife. Even, a fun idea for a shower gift, to make a list and give top ten products and uses. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Love the shortcut tips! I pretty much have everything you listed for the kitchen tools, but I really need to invest in some sharp knifes. Just haven’t had the money {or motivation} to spurge just yet.

  10. I can tell you’re really passionate about cooking. I love “numbered” posts like these that give how-to tips and that are really specific. Do you watch “The Taste?” You should try out for it!!!

    1. I’m learning. I’ve seen ads for The Taste but haven’t watched it yet. I really don’t like the drama portion of cooking shows. It’s why I prefer the UK Masterchef as opposed to the US version. Less drama. But I will take a looksee since you recommend it. Thank you 🙂

  11. Hi There! These are SUCH great tips! I love the tip about the conversion cheat sheets. I’m always getting stumped when I’m cooking because sometimes you have to break things down that may not be representative on one of your measuring cups. These are all SO great! Thank you!

  12. I think you may have just changed my life ;)! Holy heck, I have never heard of a dough scraper, but that sound genius, and I am going to go look for one THIS WEEKEND.

    I can relate to you a lot. I love cooking and baking. I never owned an easy bake oven, I started with boxed mixes my mother had purchased for muffins, cookies, or pancakes from Trader Joe’s. My mother would buy them and never use them, because she really hates cooking and baking. So one day I decided to make some. It wasn’t long before I was dusting off her bread maker, making meals in the crockpot, and making meals on the stove, too. I honestly couldn’t tell where I get my love of cooking and baking from, since it’s the opposite of my mother, and no one else in my family likes it either. I think I set a good example, though, I have 4 younger siblings and two of them at least can make decent meals or baked goods for themselves!

    Good cutting boards, cooking and baking utensils (such as whisks), and good quality measuring cups are all essentials for me. I have both Pyrex glass measuring cups for liquids, and metal measuring cups for flour and other dry ingredients. My KitchenAid mixer (which was a Christmas present from my darling husband!) is my latest essential. I consider good quality food processors and blenders essentials as well, but with a very limited income, we haven’t been able to afford either yet.

    1. Way to go Laila. Sounds like you have it all in hand. We’re still looking for a good cutting board. We like the one Gordon Ramsey uses in his 100 Meals to Stake Your Life on series but we don’t know where to get one (or how much it will cost). Well you got the KitchenAid and that’s a big one. The rest will come in time. Happy cooking and let me know what you dish up. I’m always looking for great recipes.

  13. So glad to know I’m not the only one that can’t cook in a messy kitchen and that includes the sink. My hubs always laughs when I clean up prior to making a mess. Anyway, I also love to use my scrapper to move prepped ingredients to the pan or scraps to the sink disposal.

    Sarah’s Fare recently posted → Eggs in a Nest

  14. Great list! Two other items I love: glass storage bowls – perfect for storing leftovers and I have a handheld cheese shredder – keep parmesan in it and we use it daily!

    1. You know my husband bought some nice ones but we can’t put them in the oven. Then shortly after the company came out with some that can go from freezer to oven. I want to give the ones we have and get those. I do like how they organize the fridge beautifully but they need to do more than that.
      That’s a nifty idea about the shredder! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes to all those items! You know tongs were up there on my list but didn’t make it to the top 10 because I just discovered their versatility (while watching America’s Test Kitchen). I have to spend more time on Pinterest looking for recipes. Thanks for the reminder.

  15. Excellent post! All great pointers! I especially love the first thing you listed – a clean kitchen or work area. I can’t think straight in a messy kitchen (so it seems) – so the first thing I always do before I start cooking is make sure everything is straightened up and in order. It’s the best way to be able to focus on the new task at hand. 😀

    1. Thanks Marcia. You won’t believe how long it took me to ‘get’ this. It does make a difference. Having all your ingredients out and ready to go helps so much.

  16. I can’t live without my KitchenAid Stand Mixer. However, I need to invest a high quality knife set, because my Paula Deen knife set just isn’t “cutting” it.

    1. Oh HilLesha how could I forget? My KSM has been with me for 24 years. I bought it for my 20th birthday as a present to myself. It has traveled many miles and cooked many cakes, cookies, and loaves of bread. LOL! At your Paula Deen knife set comment. 🙂

  17. You are a woman after my own heart. Assembling all the necessary tools and ingredients will make the task a lot easier and less tiring! I don’t know how anyone can get by without a small food chopper in their kitchen. That is my personal favorite tool. A good sharp knife is always handy also.

  18. My big three inch deep, 12 inch round skillet. I can cook just about anything in this sucker. I loved it so much that I bought a second one. I highly recommend a deep skillet.

  19. I constantly use my mandoline. Also my julep strainer. If you don’t have one, you ought to consider seeing if you can get one. Definitely an essential for me.

  20. I can’t say enough good things about a sharp knife. My husband was the one who made me see the light there, and WOW has my ability to slice and dice improved! I definitely need to get one of those conversion charts, so I won’t be typing a conversion chart search into Google while my hands are covered in flour or batter!

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