16 Tried & True Kitchen Essentials

I transferred to West Chester University at the beginning of my sophomore year after spending a year at community college. Instead of moving into a dorm room, I elected to live in an on-campus apartment with three random girls. It definitely had it’s perks {my own bedroom}, but it also had a few downsides, including the need to buy grown-up things like kitchenware! 

I remember making a long list of all the essentials. I bought dozens of different gadgets, appliances I used maybe once, and cheap {chemical-filled} cleaning products that were stored next to our Vladimir vodka under the sink. 

Needless to say, I’ve tried out a BUNCH of different kitchen products over the years. Some were much better than others, and I’m here today to share with you my all-time favorites. Since I love to buy and try new things, I want to know about the items you love in your kitchen. Comment below or tweet me your essentials. 

Tried and true kitchen essentials via simply-nicole.com

My Kitchen Essentials


Coffee Maker: Before finally buying a coffee pot, Bryan and I always had a Keurig. There was nothing wrong with our Keurig, but over time I just wanted something more affordable {coffee pods can be expensive!}. My in-laws gave rave reviews on the Cuisinart Brew Central, which they had for years and years, so that’s what we ended up purchasing. I love that it’s programmable and keeps coffee hot for two hours. 

Blender: We received a Ninja blender as an engagement present many years ago and it still works just as well as the day we got it. Not much to say about it, other than it’s really high powered and it gets the job done. I love using it when I’m making a large batch of smoothies, because it crushes ice like a champ. If you’ve always wanted a VitaMix, but didn’t want to spend all that $$, the Ninja is a much cheaper alternative. 

Food Processor: Another Ninja product in my kitchen is the Express Chop food processor. It’s very similar to the SlapChop, but this one is electric. I never thought I’d use a food processor, but once I started experimenting with new recipes, I realized I grabbed it more often. It’s such a time saver, and prevents the tears that you get from chopping onions by hand. 

NutriBullet: Bryan bought me a NutriBullet for my birthday one year, and although it’s not your typical “gift” per say, I use it all the time. It’s great for scrambling eggs, making smoothies, blending up frozen mango {my fav!}, and for so many other things. If you don’t already have this appliance in your kitchen, I’d definitely recommend buying one. You can eat right out of the dishwasher-safe cups, so clean up is a breeze. 

Toaster: We’ve always been a toaster oven kind of household, but a couple of years ago I talked Bryan into getting a normal toaster. I did a LOT of research on toasters {probably more research than a sane person should do}, and found that the Cuisinart 4-Slice was one of the best.

Dishes & Silverware

Plates: Plates are pretty standard, because you need them in your kitchen for obvious reasons. I didn’t register for fine china for our wedding, so I wanted something that I could use day-to-day AND when we had company over. We eventually decided on the Wickford collection from Kate Spade. It reminded me of a set I saw from Tiffany’s, but for a fraction of the cost. 

Bowls: We have the bowls that match our Wickford plates above, but I also wanted deeper bowls for things like cereal. There are a ton of options out there, but I personally love the Cambria bowls from Pottery Barn the best. I have them in turquoise and green, and they work like a charm. 

Silverware: I must have picked up a dozen different brands of silverware before deciding on the Oneida “Couplet” collection. It’s a nice weight and is 18/10 stainless steel, so it doesn’t rust. I like that it has a slightly modern feel, but definitely won’t go out of style anytime soon. The matching hostess set is a must! 

Tried and true kitchen essentials via simply-nicole.com


Mixing bowls: I’m absolutely in love with the Williams Sonoma glass mixing bowls my friend Danica bought me for Christmas. I use them almost every single day. When they are in the dishwasher, I have a set from All Clad to use as a backup. The one I’m using in the photo above is from that set. They are nice because they have a lip to hold on to as you’re mixing, but they are certainly an investment. In all honesty, I actually prefer the Williams Sonoma set, which is much more affordable. 

Tongs: The majority of my kitchen gadgets are from the brand OXO {not sponsored!}. They make great quality products for a really affordable cost. These tongs are my favorite because they have a soft grip and a nylon head which makes it safe to use with nonstick pans. I’ve tried wooden options, but they don’t clean as easily and they wind up getting ruined in the dishwasher. 

Zester: A zester is an odd item to have in your kitchen, but when you need one, you need one. This one fits nicely in my hand, is perfect for zesting lemons and limes, and has a built in channel knife for garnishing. Not a shocker, but it’s from the OXO brand. 


Towels: I recently had an in-depth conversation with a co-worker about kitchen towels, and we both agreed that all towels are not made equally. I used the cheap ones from Target for years, but I had to replace them frequently because they would disintegrate in the washing machine. When Bryan and I moved in together years ago, I decided to invest in nice kitchen towels from Williams Sonoma. Now, that’s all I’ll ever buy. They hold up great in the washer, soak up liquid efficiently, and are a decent size. If you’re in the market for new towels, definitely give these a shot. 

Oven Mitts: Another Williams Sonoma find are these oven mitts! They are really durable, they come in a bunch of different colors, and they can be thrown in the washing machine when they get dirty. I’ve given them as housewarming gifts more times than I can count, and everyone always loves them. 

Cleaning Supplies

Countertop Cleaner: As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I used to clean the kitchen with products FILLED with nasty chemicals. We’re talking loads of bleach… in the kitchen… around food that you eat. So, when I started buying more natural products, one of the first things I got was the Basil countertop cleaner from Mrs. Meyers. It has such a pleasant smell. I love that it’s an eco-friendly cleaning product with at least 98% of the ingredients naturally derived. It’s full of essential oils and birch bark extract! 

Hand Soap: A natural hand soap is important to me and I’ve tested probably a dozen of them over the years. Some of them smell great, but don’t clean very well. Others clean well, but smell horrible. The Sweet Water scent from Method is great on both counts. I buy the 34oz. refill bag from Amazon or Target and refill my soap dispenser instead of buying the single use soap bottles. 

Soap dispenser: If you’re looking to be more eco-friendly in your home, I highly recommend switching to a reusable soap dispenser. Think of how many plastic bottles of soap you go through in a year. All that waste! I bought a glass “oil can” soap dispenser from Target about a year ago, and it looks great in our kitchen. I only have to refill it once every few weeks. 

// What kitchen essentials can’t you live without? Comment below or send me a tweet

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  1. May 22, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    I love this blog post and I love the photography. I think it is because I love baking so I loved reading about your kitchen bits!


    sophiaaxo.wordpress.com <3

    • May 22, 2017 / 1:30 pm

      Thanks for reading, Sophia!

  2. May 23, 2017 / 12:58 pm

    But you can’t make yogurt in a regular toaster!! For that, you _need_ a toaster oven — and one of the rare oven-thermometers that extends to a low enough range to assure proper incubation temperature for yogurt.

    Then again —- if you’re not lactose intolerant, you’re less likely to be concerned with making your own yogurt — as the store-bought yogurts may be sufficient for you in that case.

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