-- Knife and cutting board. (okay, duh, but be sure those knives are sharp!)
-- Good pans, including cast iron skillet. (optional on the cast iron, but I use mine every day. It's my go-to pan.)
-- Salad spinner. While you can make do without, I use mine a lot because we love salads. Ours is one that you can also store the dried lettuce in the fridge to keep it fresh, so that's why it's an "essential" for me. We prep the lettuce as soon as we get it and eat on the salad all week long, or as long as it'll last.
-- Food processor. This one is a pricey investment, but I use it ALL the time. I use the shredder attachment to shred carrots, beets, zucchini and more. I make a carrot or carrot-beet salad of raw shredded carrots with either plain yogurt or mayo with a little cinnamon and raisins. It's a great salad if you're out of lettuce!
-- Crock pot or Instant Pot. These are great for when you need to throw something together in the morning and have dinner ready when you walk in the door. Soups are great this way, or a beef or pork roast. Here's a good Cuban-style marinade for steaks or to cook roasts. (When you cook a roast, it's good to have an acid in there to help break down the meat).
These are probably my top five. Some other suggestions include:
A sharp peeler is a good tool, and some people tell me a peeler-spiralizer is great, but I don't have that yet. I think there are other kinds of spiralizers, too.
An immersion blender is something I use a lot too, for making creamy soups or morning smoothies with veggies thrown in.
I use my dutch oven (a heavey ceramic coated pan) a lot for roasts, like roasting a whole chicken, or slow cooks in the oven, but you can also just use a baking dish or even a cookie sheet with a good lip.
If you want to get fancy and go to the next level of food preservation, you could look into a dehydrator and fermenting crocks. And some people tell me they love their mandoline, microplane grater and Julienne peeler, but so far, I've been able to live without those.
So tell me: what are your kitchen essentials? Did I miss anything? If you've been in the CSA awhile, and have some cooking tips for new members, please share, and I'll pass it along! Do you meal plan? Food prep the day you get your veggies? How do you make the CSA work for you?