What are the items you reach for time and time again in your kitchen? We all have our own "must haves." Here are mine.
A good sharp knife. A cheap orange handled one from the grocery store is my favorite. It feels good in my hand, is large enough for most of my chopping needs and I keep it good and sharp. This particular knife also has a plastic sheath, which makes it nice for camping. I don't have to worry about anyone sticking their hand in the utensil box and getting cut.
A wooden cutting board. Glass cutting boards dull knives quickly and I'm just not crazy about plastic. Wooden cutting boards should not be soaked in water. Also every few years, you should really sand them down and give them a good rub with mineral oil. But they will last forever. The one above was a wedding gift 20 years ago.A cheese grater. I really prefer a rotary type grater, but a box grater works well for cheddar and mozzarella. Shredding my own cheese is much more preferable to buying pre-shedded, even though it is a lot of work.
A couple nice mixing bowls. I like the Pyrex kind and have two sets, but some prefer the stainless steel. Plastic is okay too. Just remember that eggs and cream don't beat into meringue and whipped cream well in plastic bowls. They retain too much fat and other food residue.
Whisks. I actually have three - big, medium and small sized - and use them constantly. A little one is great for beating a couple eggs or making an emulsion. A medium one works well for my white sauce and a large one comes in great when I'm making a pan full of gravy.
Silicone spatulas and spoonulas. A couple years ago, my now 7 year old chewed the end off my plastic spatula. The only thing I could find to replace it with was a silicone one and I LOVE it. The spoonula is great for stirring things around in a nonstick frying pan and the spatula works wonders to get the last bit of batter of the sides of the bowl.
Measuring spoons and cups. I don't measure everything and then I don't measure it exactly all the time. But when I do, it's nice to have reliable tools to do the job. The cups on the top are dry measures. The glass cup on the bottom is a 2 cup liquid measure.
Potato Masher. Mine does double and triple duty. It makes guacamole, mashes beans for bean burritos, smashes potatoes for Crash Hot Potatoes, and of course, mashes potatoes better than any hand mixer ever hoped.