Essential Cookware for a Back-to-School Kitchen


I consider myself a minimalist when it comes to kitchen gadgets. Give this girl a cutting board, and a sharp knife and I will figure out how to serve something to someone!!! However, I realize that there are essential kitchen pieces that a mom must have in order to make weeknight dinners happen fast without skimping on flavor. 

Since Back to School season is here, today I am going to focus on 3 Cookware Essentials that deliver on flavor, fast! However, before we even get to cooking vessels, I need a minute to talk about knives. 

Here is the single most common remark I get in my cooking classes: 

How in the world are your knives so sharp?!” or

No wonder I hate chopping vegetables, my knives are so dull.”

The other day, my Aunt Mory told me that she knicks herself every time she cooks in my kitchen because she forgets how sharp my knives are. Although they say that a super sharp knife is a safe knife because you don’t have to apply as much pressure. The point is (no pun intended) is that sharp knives make your life EASIER IN THE KITCHEN

Investing in a good knife changes your life. 

If you had to start with JUST ONE KNIFE, I recommend the Wusthof Hollow Edge Chef’s Knife. The hollow edges prevent starchy vegetables like potatoes from sticking to the blade. Its carbon stainless steel blade is weighty and sharp and makes slicing through tough vegetables feel like buttah! I’ve had mine now for over 10 years and with a little care (like never running it through the dishwasher and sharpening it every time I use it with a honing steel), it will continue to cut through all my produce and beef cuts for years to come. 

Now that we’ve addressed knives, let’s talk about 3 Cooking Essentials to make your kitchen back-to-school ready!




1. Sheet Pans and Sheet Pan Liners:

Sheet Pans are cheap and easy to maintain. I not only use them for cooking sheet pan meals but I use them to gather all of my ingredients when setting my “cooking station” up so I don’t have to go back and forth to the pantry and fridge. This is called mise en place and it saves time and stress. 

For ultra-easy cleanup, make sure you have these handy parchment paper liners. I’ve been using these pre-cut liners for years as I don’t have to mess around with eye-balling the right size or having it tear unevenly on the paper cutter that comes with the box. All I do at the end of cooking is peel it off the pan and throw it away. 



2. Large and In Charge Slow Cooker: 

Personally, I’ve always used a Dutch Oven for most of my slow-cooking until I realized that slow cookers are nocturnal! It’s so nice to have lunch or dinner waiting for you before you even roll out of bed in the morning. This Pulled BBQ Chicken Recipe would be great to have ready in the morning so you can pack up for your kids’ lunch.  

However, if you are still using your grandma’s Slow Cooker from 1989, I suggest you consider upgrading. Older crock-pots can be less efficient over newer models and can pose more of a threat in regards to lead-leaching. I’m loving my Crock-Pot 7-Quart Portable Progammable Slow Cooker with Locking Lid. I’ll be talking more about why I love this model over the coming weeks but mostly because it’s programmable, big and it’s portable!

There are some moms who steer clear of slow cookers due to the potential for leaching lead. The lead is usually in the form of silica which is found in the ceramic coating. I've read that the possibility for leaching lead is in trace amounts but I understand that for some mamas, trace amounts equals "no, thank you".  So there is also the Greenlife Cook Duo Healthy Ceramic Slow Cooker. I have this one, too and I LOVE that I can put the insert on the stovetop to brown and sauté and then slip it back into the slow cooker vessel. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with any either of these choices. 



3. Every Mama Needs an Oven-Proof Skillet with Lid!

I have a couple of skillets that I use for eggs, one that I use for searing and then I have my Big-Mama Skillet. This is the one I use for all of my Skillet Dinners because it is easy to clean, oven-proof and it comes with a lid. I love my All-Clad Skillet. It was an anniversary gift from my husband ten years ago, (ahem…some women get diamond earrings but I get All-Clad) and it is still like-new. The copper core makes it heat up almost instantly and it cooks super evenly. Trust me, it is worth every penny because it will last you a lifetime. And in case you’re wondering, I don’t make any money off this–it really is my personal favorite. The 12” is perfect because it comfortably fits most skillet dinner recipes while allowing you to stir without the food spilling over the sides. 

What are some Essential Tools and Equipment that you can’t live without?