Healthy Cooking – Top Kitchen Essentials

Buying the right equipment makes it easier to cook healthfully.  You don’t have to spend a fortune on new equipment – I’ve gotten some of my favorite pots, pans, and even electronic equipment at garage sales and Goodwill.

I’ve underlined the basic essentials – the other equipment can be accumulated as you go along.

Plates and Bowls: Bigger is not better

which plate has more food

Studies show that the larger the portion, the more you eat, so it stands to reason that smaller dishes makes eating healthfully easier. Avoid buying plates that look like platters – research shows that smaller bowls, plates and cups help people manage their portions – a simple strategy, but it works!


Nonstick pans and pots: A smart strategy for weight management is to add less fat to your food. Invest in some good quality (heavy weight) non-stick – they’re great for sautéing, soups, stews and more. A favorite alternative to nonstick is anodized aluminum – conducts heat beautifully but behaves like nonstick…a bit pricy, though.

Don’t pre-heat a nonstick pot or pan without some broth or a little oil in it – read here for more about purchasing. Read more here about recommendations for cookware.

Saucepans – 1 quart and 4 quart

Stock pot – regular or nonstick

9” skillet – great for quick-sautéing onions and garlic, on the way to a tasty sauce.

Baking pans – for fresh bread and loaf cakes.

Pyrex (or glass) mixing bowls with lids – for microwaving, re-heating and cooking; can double as mixing bowls.

Baking sheets

cookwareShallow-sloped sauté pan, or wok – nonstick or anodized aluminum works great here too.

Pizza pan – nonstick is great – but be sure to not use a metal pizza cutter on nonstick.

Tea kettle

Mixing bowls with lids

Electronic Kitchen

Blender: great for smoothies, blending soup, and whipping up eggs.

Optional: Mini-blender (portable, for quick smoothies on-the-go); electric hand blender (great for soups and sauces).

Coffee pot – electric –or a non-electric French press uses boiling water poured over ground coffee.

Microwave oven – for quick-cooking vegetables and re-heating leftovers. A convenience, but not essential.

Slow cooker – can use as a rice cooker too.

Hot air popcorn maker – not essential but an inexpensive way to pop corn healthfully.

Food scale – if it’s in your budget, electronic scales are great especially if you’re a baker.

Standing mixer with attachments, including dough hook – again, not essential but convenient.


Utensils for nonstick or anodized aluminum cookware – plastic and/or wooden: read more here about how to safely use nonstick cookware.

Good chef’s knife – you can spend as little as $20 or as much as $200 – a good knife will save you a lot of time and make cooking more fun. Read more here.

Paring knife

Serrated knife

Kitchen shears

Skewers for kabobs

Garlic press

Lemon/lime press



Measuring cups and spoons

Plastic containers – Serving-size (small and medium) plastic containers with lids that go from freezer to microwave: great for storing made-ahead healthy soups and stews – your own healthy “fast food”.

Plastic storage bags – Gallon, quart, and sandwich-sized plastic re-sealable bags.

Marking pens and painter’s tape – write the date on the containers and plastic storage bags

Flexible cutting boards – These inexpensive plastic boards prevent cross-contamination: designate on especially for raw chicken – disinfect with hot water and soap, or in the dishwasher after use.

Ice cube trays (for frozen fruit treats).

Salad spinner – the insert can double as a colander.


Vegetable steamer – if you have a microwave, you can steam veggies quickly in glass bowls in the microwave.