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Zero Waste Kitchen Essentials List

Zero Waste Kitchen

Last Updated on July 10, 2023

This zero waste kitchen essentials list will get you started to a more sustainable lifestyle, since kitchens are a huge source of waste in any home.

A sustainable kitchen doesn’t mean you have to go buy a bunch of high-technology, expensive equipment. Instead, an eco friendly kitchen is about paring down to the essentials and only having what you need to get by (while also being creative about food waste!). These zero waste kitchen products will cover all of your needs, reduce waste, and improve your health by being free of plastic and harmful chemicals.

A woman in a blue dress slicing a red bell pepper  with overlay text reading "zero waste kitchen essentials"

a sustainable kitchen

The bare necessities, the simple bare necessities… forget about your worries and your strife…

Some things stick with you throughout life. I remember when I was little watching “The Jungle Book” on the floor in front of our very 80’s armoire/entertainment center. That catchy song still gets stuck in my head, and it has never rung truer. 

The more we reduce, the less we have. And the less we have, the less we have to worry about cleaning and repairing our belongings.

Living with less is so freeing. Having a sustainable kitchen has proven to be no different.

I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job minimizing my kitchen — which is an area that just seems to accumulate junk. I’ve really done my best to streamline everything. 

Here’s my ultimate kitchen essentials list, including everything hiding in my cabinets and drawers! 

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kitchen essentials list

pots and pans:

I don’t have a huge collection of pots and pans. I often see a lot of sets that come with 8 pots and pans — and that seems to be a little excessive.

For a clutter free, zero waste kitchen, I’ve reduced my pots and pans to just 6, which covers everything I make on a regular basis:

  1. 10″ Cast iron skillet
  2. 15″ Cast iron skillet
  3. 12″ Non-stick ceramic skillet
  4. 8″ Sauce pan
  5. 5 qt dutch oven
  6. Waffle iron pan

All of my pots and pans can go from stovetop to oven which is perfect for a more minimal kitchen.

But one of my favorite zero waste kitchen products is my cast iron waffle maker! I got this pan for Justin for Christmas because he LOVES waffles.

A photo of an orange Le Creuset Dutch oven - a staple for a sutainable kitchen

small appliances:

This is a list of all my small appliances, and I’ve tried to arrange them by most used to least used.

  1. High-powered blender
  2. Toaster oven
  3. Soda stream
  4. Mixer
  5. Food processor
  6. Crockpot

I use my blender almost every day to make soups, sauces, smoothies, and homemade nut milk. It’s probably my most used kitchen item other than a spoon and spatula. Because of its versatility, a high-quality blender may be my top suggestion for any kitchen essentials list.

After that, it has to be my toaster oven.

I bake almost everything in my toaster oven because my current oven doesn’t heat below 450° — so the only thing it’s good for is making pizza.

A kitchen countertop featuring items from this kitchen essentials list.

Last year, I got a soda stream for my birthday and I use it almost every day.

Now, the two appliances I have that don’t get enough love are my Kitchen Aid mixer and food processor.

One of the things I love about my mixer is that it’s refurbished. Kitchen Aid has a great section on their website where you can get amazing secondhand appliances.

I definitely use both of them (especially when meal prepping) but I only use them a few times a month.

A glass water bottle filled with water as part of an eco friendly kitchen.

I keep my food processor around because it’s a chopping machine. The grating attachment also makes it super convenient to grate onions, carrots, and beets.

It’s also a lot easier to use a food processor to make homemade hummus and homemade peanut butter.

I use my crockpot about once a week, and I mostly use it for making beans.

Place dry beans in your crockpot and cover them with water. Place your crockpot on low for 8 hours, and the beans will be done!

A photo of a blender filled with fruit - a staple of zero waste kitchen products.

food storage:

I have a great blog post on how to store your food without using plastic. A sustainable kitchen goes hand in hand with reducing single use plastic baggies and cheap Tupperware. So, I’ll link to a few of my favorites here too.

I will caveat this by saying that I really like my metal tiffins for transporting food for parties, picnics, or lunch to work.

However, I don’t really like using them for food storage in my pantry or in my fridge because you can’t see through them — which tends to lead to food waste.

Stasher bags on a counter as part of this kitchen essentials list.


I’m not going to go too much into my utensils as these are all pretty straightforward. I try not to accumulate too many because I have very limited drawer space.

I will say, my rubber spatula is one of my all-time favorite utensils. It’s perfect for making sure I don’t waste a single bit of smoothie left in the blender or hummus in my food processor.

Top view of various wooden and metal kitchen utensils, spoons, and spatulas as part of a plastic free, sustainable kitchen.


Then there are a few honorary mentions that I wanted to include that help me maintain a zero waste kitchen.

Well, that’s a sneak peek at what I’m hiding in my kitchen cabinets and drawers!


why do some of these zero waste kitchen products include plastic?

You’ll notice that many of my small appliances have plastic to some degree. The base of my blender, the body of my Soda Stream, the body of my food processor, etc.

That’s ok! It’s just a reality of today’s world that you’re not able to completely avoid plastic. The most important part of an eco friendly kitchen is to reduce single-use items and ensure the plastic products in your home are high-quality, long-lasting, and reusable over and over.

what are your best tips for an eco friendly kitchen?

Obviously, investing in or paring down to basic zero waste kitchen products is a phenomenal start.

But aside from reducing the products to a must-have basis, your habits are everything when it comes to living zero waste. Composting food scraps so nothing goes to waste reduces overall waste — and fuels a garden, which reduces food purchases.

Put a lid on your pots when boiling water to limit water loss. Wash your dishes instead of using single-use plates and cutlery. If single-use products are unavailable, reuse them whenever you can to extend their life.

Going zero waste is a journey, and progress is more important than perfection, so every small step counts.

What are some of your favorite kitchen tools? 

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  1. Nice list! I know there are a lot of articles about simplifying kitchen tools which suggest a food processor is something frivolous, but it really makes so many tasks so, so much easier (and makes some things possible at all!–like making tahini for hummus, that just doesn’t work in a blender).

    1. I was very close to giving away my food processor. My mother threatened me if I did. She told me just to hold on to it a little longer. And she was right. I’ve been grating stuff ever since. It’s been a life saver.

  2. Our cookware is starting to see better days so I’ve been thinking about purchasing a Dutch oven. We have a ceramic stove top so cast iron isn’t an option there, but it’s perfect for using on the grill! I think you covered just about everything…except a coffeemaker! My Chemex and CoffeeSock filter are essentials!

  3. I recently gave my food processor to my neighbor and I have been regretting it. I never used it and was trying to downsize… But I think it may have been a bad idea

    1. People often say you’ll lose three things you love during minimizing. You didn’t know you loved them or needed them until they’re gone. I’ve lost several pieces of clothing and an extra set of mixing bowls. Just know you’re on the right track. 🙂

  4. Hi Kathryn, thank you for this list! I HAVE to ask, where did you find that dress? It is absolutely beautiful!


  5. Hey there, I love your blog and this post. I’m trying to create less waste in my life so thank you for being a valuable resource. However, when you use the phrase "indian style" in reference to how you were sitting watching the Jungle Book, I feel disappointed and uncomfortable. You are obviously a caring person and I’m sure it was not intended, but that phrase seems pretty culturally insensitive in this day and age. I might suggest simply saying "cross-legged" next time to avoid further marginalization of our Native American brothers and sisters.

    1. I believe Indian style actually stemmed from a yoga position from people from India, not Native Americans.