With these three must-have tools, cooking becomes a lot easier. 

By Samantha Zabell
Updated June 20, 2018
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Lavender Le Creuset Dutch Oven
Credit: Nordstrom

Until recently, I was guilty of being the type of novice cook that bought a set of basic tools from Bed Bath and Beyond and assumed that was all I needed. A spatula, a wooden spoon, a whisk. What else do you need? (In case you can’t tell, all of those utensils can make eggs, which was really all I was making).

But I've started to flex my new #RSCookingSchool muscles—I cook pasta (it’s a meal now, not just noodles with marinara sauce). I cook meat. I scramble eggs, omelet them, fry them, even boil them!—I realized there are three key pieces of equipment that I was missing. And while I'll never give up the whisk, these are three new tools I can't live without.

1. Spider

I love making pasta, but was guilty of draining the noodles each time, which I soon learned was a recipe for failure. To preserve the pasta water, and easily transfer noodles to a skillet where I can finish them with vegetables or sausage or whatever I’m cooking, the spider is essential. There’s a lot more you can do with a spider, too. I can use it to pull vegetables out of boiling water (peas! broccoli! asparagus!) and if I ever get brave enough to make donuts, a spider's good for pulling things out of hot oil too.

To buy: Helen’s Asian Kitchen Stainless Steel Mesh Spider Food Dumpling Noodle Strainer, 7-Inch Strainer Basket, $13 on amazon.com

2. "Y" Peeler

I soon realized that when a tool makes cooking easier, you’re more excited to cook. That’s where this peeler came in—peeling vegetables or creating thin slices of cheese were suddenly so simple. Where before, peeling potatoes would be a chore (my old peeler was…well, old), this was smooth, fast, and rarely gets caught on the eyes of the spud. What else do I do with it? Like I said, cheese. Or create shaved vegetables. Or chocolate for the top of my pies (one day).

To buy:OXO Good Grips Y Peeler, $9 on amazon.com

3. A big pot.

Before you judge me for not having a big soup pot, I just want to remind you the rules of Real Simple Cooking School: it’s a constructive, teaching kitchen. That means that there’s no wrong way to learn. And if you are too afraid to attempt soup or chili, there’s no reason for you to have a big pot. But, with RSCS's simple 30-minute method, I felt empowered to purchase a big pot and add soup to my repertoire. Turns out, it’s also easier to make pasta in an appropriately-sized pot.

To buy: 9 quart Round Dutch Oven, $145 on lecreuset.com