Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

Whether you’re new to cooking or you’ve been experimenting in the kitchen for some time, there are a few kitchen essentials you should have that will help set you up for success in the kitchen.

Cooking is such an important skill to develop, and that starts with having the right tools and equipment that will make it easier for you to try new recipes, develop basic cooking skills, and be more comfortable overall.

I’ve kept this list simple by focusing on everything you need for cooking on a day-to-day basis, and each recommendation is based on products I own and use in my kitchen!

Tools for Food Prep

Most important on this list is a good, sharp knife. There are really only three knives you need for your home. Here are a couple of our favorite options that don’t break the bank. 


One of the key things every kitchen needs is a chef’s knife. It’s so versatile and getting comfortable with this type of knife will make it so much easier for you to prepare your vegetables, fruits, and meats. As you develop your cooking skills, this will be the knife you use daily. 

I cannot recommend the knives from the Japanese small business, Nakano, enough. Their knives are forged in Seki Japan which has a long tradition of Japanese knife making. 

The quality is so impressive and they’re popular among world-renowned chefs, but their knives are still accessible for us home cooks. You can purchase a chef knife, as well as other knives and sets, from Nakano using the code NUTRITIONSTRIPPED for 10% off.

Other knives to consider:

  • A Bread Knife isn’t just for bread. We use ours for easily slicing through ripe tomatoes and other fruits. 
  • A Paring Knife is that handy little tool for when a chef’s knife is just too big. Perfect for peeling and cutting small vegetables and fruits.

Taking care of your knives and making sure they are sharp is essential and a Honing Steel is just what you need.  You’ll be surprised by how much of a difference it makes when it comes to keeping your knives sharp.

Cutting Board

  • If the most important tool in your kitchen is your knife, then you better believe you need a Cutting Board. We love these particular boards because they are dishwasher safe and won’t slide around when you’re chopping and dicing!

Mixing Bowls

  • Metal Mixing Bowls may not be the most glamorous of kitchen tools, but they stack together perfectly to help keep your kitchen organized and are perfect for tossing a big salad or serving up popcorn.

Silicone Spatula

  • Stirring, mixing, scraping, and flipping, these Silicone Spatulas are heat resistant and easy to clean. What’s not to like?

Wire Whisk

  • Whether you’re mixing up batter for your favorite pancakes, or making the perfect healthy salad dressing, a good Wire Whisk is a perfect tool to get the job done.

Vegetable Peeler

  • I’ve peeled a lot of fruits and veggies in my day and tried A LOT of peelers. These Kuhn Rikon peelers are the best, hands down. 

Mortar and Pestle

  • Mortar and Pestles have been around for thousands of years, and for good reason. Use it to grind spices and nuts. Make herb puree and pesto. We love our mortar and pestle.

Measuring Cups

  • Whether baking or batch-cooking Measuring Cups are just what you need to make sure whatever you are making comes out balanced and delicious.

Fine Mesh Strainer

  • Straining stock, rinsing veggies or rice, or draining pasta. A Fine Mesh Strainer is just the tool for the job.

High Powered Blender

  • The list of uses for this kitchen essential goes on and on. Long story short, we love our Vitamix blender. We use ours at least once a day. We even take it with us when we travel. It is by far our most used kitchen item in our home, besides a chef’s knife.

Essentials for Cooking

Cooking is fun, and when you have everything you need and know where to find it, you can enjoy it even more. Here is our list of utility tools essentials to help you stock your kitchen like a pro.

Dutch Oven

  • If I had to pick three kitchen items, a Dutch oven would be on that list. Like a good knife or a blender, I use our Dutch Oven every week. It’s the perfect tool for batch cooking, baking bread simmering soups, and sauces. It’s a little pricey, but if you take care of it, your dutch oven will last generations.


  • There are a TON of options when it comes to skillets and cookware and it can get confusing. We love cooking with Stainless Steel Cookware for its versatility and longevity. You can pop them in the oven and dishwasher and like many of the other items on this list, if you take care of them they will last a lifetime. 

Water Filter

  • We use a lot of water in recipes while cooking, have you ever thought about the water quality when adding water to recipes here or there? Just as drinking clean filtered water is important, so is cooking with it! We love the reverse osmosis AquaTru model after researching the pros and cons of the 6 most popular water filters on the market and highly recommend this for staying hydrated and using while cooking.

Rimmed Baking Sheet

  • We’re big fans of sheet pan meals, and a Rimmed Baking Sheet is perfect for the job. These baking sheets have high edges so you can load them up with veggies, proteins, or cookies. Whatever your heart desires!

Wooden Spoon

  • A good Wooden Spoon will last you years if you take good care of it. It’s the perfect tool for tossing salads, stirring soups or sauteing veggies.

The Best Spatula Ever

  • It took me a long time to find the Perfect Spatula and now that I have, I’ll never let it go. It’s the perfect shape to slide under whatever you’re trying to flip, toss, or transfer. It’s sturdy, slotted, and the absolute best.

Must-Have Food Storage Containers

We’re big advocates of batch cooking here at Nutrition Stripped. A large amount of the recipes we create are made specifically with batch cooking in mind. After spending time making meals for the week, make sure you are storing them safely and efficiently with these storage essentials.

Glass Containers

  • You put so much love into cooking, so keep it around longer. These Glass Containers have been a part of our food storage routine for a long as we can remember. They come in all sizes are perfect for keeping your food secure and organized.

Dry Storage Glass Jars

  • An organized pantry makes everything better. These Glass Jars are perfect to store nuts, seeds, flour, coffee, or pasta.

Reusable Stasher Bags

  • It’s no secret that cutting back on single-use plastics is very important. That’s why we love these Stasher Bags! They are washable and reusable, and perfect for storing veggies, snacks, and numerous other items.

Bonus: Essentials for Clean Up

If we’re meal prepping and cooking in the kitchen, that also means that we’re cleaning up! Here are some of the go-to cleaning supplies and items we love.

Do You Want To Start Experiencing More Balance With Your Eating Habits Today?

Discover the simple yet effective tools you can start using at your next meal to experience more balance with your food choices today, plus the steps to maintain balanced eating habits for life.

Be sure to download our free balanced eating guide that brings you through the Foundational Five so you understand not only what components you need, but also why they’re important for your health and why this way of eating is helpful for creating balanced eating habits. 

Download The Free Guide Now