Cooking Essentials

You know what I love about cooking? I love that after a day when nothing is sure and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. You can come home and absolutely know that if you add egg yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick. That’s such a comfort.
— Julie & Julia

I love cooking.

I'm not sure how, or when, I came to love cooking, but I do. I come from a family of great cooks. I learned a lot from my mom and grandma, but I was also heavily influenced by my aunt Maria, while living with her in Chicago. One of the things I admire most about Maria is her ability to look at the ingredients on hand and pull together a meal from seemingly nothing. But this post isn't about Maria. It's about my must-haves in the kitchen.

This is not a list of of the essential utensils, cookware and equipment you should stock your kitchen with. You can find that elsewhere.  These are the things that make my life of meal prepping easier and more enjoyable.

How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

I was first introduced to Mark Bittman by my aunt Maria, when she sent me an article from the (sadly, now defunct) column, The Minimalist. This list of quick and easy recipes was my go-to during college. I made #54 a LOT—with hot dog. Years later, this same aunt sent me How to Cook Everything. This book is everything. I can't tell you how many times I've looked up how to make the perfect soft boiled egg. I also own How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and VB6, which was a huge contributor to my decision to cut down on meat and dairy.

Vegetable Chopper

This thing is a LIFESAVER. I not only meal prep every Sunday, I meal prep veggie-based meals every Sunday. I chop a LOT of vegetables. This thing has saved me hours and probably prevented some blisters. I can't recommend it enough.


Music is a necessity when meal prepping. It took years of snarky remarks from friends but I finally broke down and signed up for Spotify Premium so I can listen to my music without commercials. So worth it.


I know, I know, there are so many jokes about "Pinterest Fails" and for good reason. But I've found some wonderful recipes! Plus, it's great for when I'm trying a new diet (Whole30, Veganism) and don't want to drop serious cash on new cookbooks. Those things are not cheap! (Side Note: I LOVE cookbooks—especially old ones—and have quite a collection. It's the first section I gravitate towards in thrift stores.)

Rice Cooker

I'm the worst at cooking rice. It literally never comes out right. That all changed when I got my rice cooker. This was a graduation gift from my sister's friend De, who gave it to me for cooking in the dorm. You can cook so much more than rice in this thing. It even has a steamer tray for vegetables and fish (I've never tried fish). I have a whole cookbook dedicated to the rice cooker, but to be honest, I mainly use it for rice. You simply add your desired amount of rice, the accompanying amount of liquid, and flip a switch. Easy. Peasy.

The Kitchn

This is the website I turn to the most. It's a great place for meal prep inspiration, cookware recommendations, and cooking tips (like how to properly thaw frozen chicken).


While not strictly essential, it's quite nice to sip on a glass of wine while cooking. Treat yo self!

What are your must-haves in the kitchen?

Dani AdamsComment