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I cook the vast majority of our families meals from scratch. Some of it is for cost savings, but really, it’s because of food restrictions that one of my sons has. For him, we stay away from food dyes, artificial flavors and most preservatives. So he can have bread, but only if it’s free of those things. In so many cases, it’s just become easier for me to buy ingredients and assemble them into meals. We do buy some processed foods for convenience, but the majority of our meals and snacks come from me cooking them.
And yet, I like to think that I have a pretty minimialistic attitude towards the things in my kitchen. But that isn’t quite true. The number of serving spoons will tell you that. But I am pretty minimal, overall.
Here are my kitchen favorites that help me make homecooked meals without losing my mind and without overtaking my kitchen storage!
I got my KitchenAid Mixer as a wedding present 8 years ago and it’s still going strong. But, before I was married, I lived with a roommate who also had a stand mixer, but it wasn’t a fancy schmancy KitchenAid. And you know what? It worked great! It couldn’t handle the capacity that my KitchenAid does, but it did perfectly for what I needed it for. So if a full-blown KitchenAid isn’t in your budget, try something much simpler like this:
Pots and Pans
I actually only have 2 pots and 1 non-stick skillet that I cook with regularly. I do have a couple of really big pots for making sweet corn or HUGE batches of soups, but that’s not an everyday thing. My pots aren’t anything special – one was even my husband’s before we were married. I got my non-stick skillet just a few months ago from Target, my last one having been used too much in the 7 years that I had it. (But, considering I use it almost every day, I thought that was pretty good).
I have 2 sizes of bowls that I generally use for saving leftovers, soups or chopped up veggies. They use the same lid type and they go in the dishwasher, freezer and microwave just fine. I have lots of them and I love them. They’re cheap enough that if the boys take one into the backyard, it’s okay. If I’m making a meal for someone, they don’t need to worry about returning it. I have the 32 ounce ones and the 16 ounce ones.
I’ve become a Pyrex-loyalist over the years. I have a few of the same style of 9×13 pans and 8×8 pans. I used to just have a mish mash of different brands and sizes – some with lids and some without. Then a few years ago, I got fed up and decided to standardize. I went with Pyrex. I put it on my Christmas list and soon I had all that I needed. Now no wondering if this one needs the blue lid or the red lid. It just fits! They all stack nicely together and I eliminate frustration. The pictures below will take you to the Amazon link with the product, which is very useful if you’re getting them as a gift. But, for those in the Omaha area, I got most of mine at Nebraska Crossing at the Corningware, Correlle & More store.
Half Sheet Pans
I can’t remember when I got my first one – it was several years ago when I started baking treat for larger groups of people. These are just so great for making sheet pan dinners, larger batches of cookies or brownies. My only tip: get one with a lid! The lid is usually extra, but it is just so nice to bake a pan of cookie bars and then take the whole container with you. The lid makes that possible. So worth it! This isn’t the exact one that I have (it’s no longer available), but it’s the same dimensions and it has a lid.
A couple of houses ago, our oven died, so we went shopping for a new one. I was introduced to the idea of a double oven and now I’ll never go back. Never I say! It isn’t a wall oven, but rather a normal sized oven that just has 2 cooking areas. So I can bake more cookies at one time. I can heat the top to 450 degrees and the bottom to 350. It really makes things so much easier for cooking. Love it! Ours is an older version of this one:
What makes it easier to cook for your family?
Jayme is a wife to 1 and a mother to four little boys. She tries to coupon, builds a smart stockpile, and always meal plans. While she likes to cook, she’s in the stage of life where simple is usually better – she never knows how many hands she’ll have free at dinner time! You can find her at No Regrets Living.