If you or someone you know has either moved into their first apartment, or purchased their new house, here are some basic kitchen gear tools, pots, pans, plates, and more that you should have. At this stage in life, you obviously don’t want to spend more than you have to, and, given that kitchen space can be at a premium,here are the essentials of a well-designed kitchen.
Whether you’re dealing with fruit, vegetables, herbs, or meat, you’re going to need to chop, slice, or dice something at some point. The two most important knives in your arsenal are a good-quality chef’s knife to tackle the big stuff and a paring knife that can handle the little things. A good knife should feel comfortable and well balanced in your hand.
A wooden cutting board will be easy on your blades, keeping your knives in tip-top condition. Dedicated cutting boards (one each for meat, seafood, poultry, and produce) are ideal, but not necessarily practical when space and funds are tight. Just be sure to sanitize your board after working with raw meats or seafood, to avoid cross-contamination.
A well-stocked kitchen ought to include, at the very least, a vegetable peeler, hand-operated can opener, and a pair of tongs. Tool sets are a great way to ensure you have all the necessary pieces to make your prepwork easier.
You’d be surprised by how much mixing you might do, so look for durable bowls that can handle large and small volumes. A bonus: They double as serveware. And because these often come as nesting bowls, they won’t take up much space. If possible, find ones with lids, which make them perfect for keeping leftovers. Multitasking, after all, is crucial when space and budget are limited.
It’s tempting to measure liquid and dry ingredients with the same implements, but in fact, measuring cups for each are designed slightly differently to accommodate the innate qualities of wet and dry ingredients. Wet measures have a spout for easy pouring; if made of tempered glass, the vessel can hold hot liquids and be used in the microwave. A measuring cup with both metric and standard units is ideal.
Dry Measuring Cup
Designed to be filled to the top and leveled off, dry-ingredient measuring cups are handy not only when you bake but also when making oatmeal or cooking up rice or quinoa. Look for stainless steel, a material that’s stain and odor resistant.
Measuring spoons have their place in every kitchen. Look for a set that allows you to separate the spoons from the ring and that includes the handy half-tablespoon measurement.
In order to drain noodles, you’ll want a colander. Although colanders are available in both plastic and metal, we prefer the more durable metal ones. Other uses for a colander: draining cooked vegetables, rinsing salad greens, and making spaetzle. Look for ample perforation for maximum drainage.
A spatula is indispensable. How else could you scramble eggs, flip a burger, or successfully remove cookies from a baking sheet without crumbly disappointment? A slotted spatula allows you to leave excess liquid or oil behind.
A nonstick saucepan makes cleanup a breeze. As with any cookware, a comfortable handle is easier to grip and safer to use. A two quart pot is perfectly sized for cooking whether it’s pasta, soup, vegetables, or rice.
Nonstick Frying Pan
You could argue that frying pans are one of the most important tools in a kitchen. You can brown, fry, and sauté with one. Omelets, stir-fries, hamburgers, pancakes, and grilled cheese sandwiches are just some of the foods that can be cooked in a frying pan. The easiest to clean are those with nonstick surfaces, which can be pretty forgiving (especially helpful if you’re a beginner cook).
Baking dishes make pies and crisps, roast chickens, and all sorts of casseroles possible. They’re even useful for serving straight from the oven to the table. Although you can find baking dishes made of ceramic, stoneware, and metal, our preference is for glass, which tends to be relatively inexpensive and allows for easy monitoring of the cooking process. Baking dishes with lids are great for storing leftovers or transporting them to someone else.
Besides wiping stuff up, towels are great for drying delicate salad greens, covering rising bread, or keeping food wrapped and warm on the table. Plus, towels are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to display your kitchen personality.
Pot Holders and Oven Mitts
They say the mark of a true chef are burns on one’s hands and arms, but we’re all about safety. Not only will good-quality pot holders and mitts protect your digits and limbs, but they’re also impromptu trivets, shielding your counters and tabletop. Silicone pot holders offer high-heat protection, but you might find that heat-proof quilted pot holders are a little more flexible and easier to use.