We all have to start somewhere when it comes to home cooking. Kitchens take years to build (unless you’re cash money), and for all good reasons they should – you need time to learn how to use the equipment that you want to purchase. Don’t buy the expensive stainless-steel pots and pans until you learn not to boil over your food and burn the bottoms!
Each new cook needs a starter set of items to get them going in the kitchen.
In college, I had one 5 quart pot, a few microwaveable bowls, and basic eating utensils. I lived in the dorms and had a food plan that, for the most part, kept me fed. Cafeteria hours were terrible and the food was only about 50% better than what I could have purchased in high school, which isn’t really saying much.
That’s why I worked at a pizza restaurant for a few years.
It was at Maurizio’s Pizza that I learned to love pickles, green AND black olives, crumbly American sausage and the art of…. sauce. All of this likely leading to my infatuation with pizza in general.
Fast forward to apartment living and now I’m tasked with a working kitchen. It’s begging me to take advantage of it. But I had to purchase a few items to get me going with most beginning home cook recipes.
- Set of pots and pans – mine were (and still are) Paula Deen cookware, a dark reddish-purple color. Look for 3 pots (small, medium and large), one or two small to medium-sized skillets, a large 5 quart stock pot and a large skillet with raised edges.
- Hot pads
- Mixing bowls – small, medium and large
- Sheet pan
- 9×13 glass pan
- Broiling pan – we used this a lot when John and I first started cooking together. Others may omit this but it’s what we cooked meat on to keep our one small sheet pan nice.
- 2 cutting boards, one for meat and one for vegetables – yes, you do need one for each.
- Meat thermometer – EVERY home cook needs either a standard or electronic one.
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Variety set of wooden spoons – solid, slotted, and forked spoons will work for most any cooking technique
- Tongs – if you have non-scratch cookware, get a metal pair and a coated pair
- Knives set – steak knives, a paring knife and a large chef’s knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Can opener
- Beer and wine bottle opener
- Whisk – metal pair and a coated pair
- Pizza cutter
- Large soup spoon or ladle
- Electric hand mixer – mine is avocado-colored, a Sunbelt from the 70’s and I love it. Thanks, Mom.
- 9×9 glass pan – better for brownies and items that you want thicker.
- Cast-iron skillet – gives the best sear and flavor to food.
- 5 quart dutch oven
- Slow cooker
- Coffee pot – if you have a Starbucks habit, save the bucks with a regular coffee maker. Save money and get more variety with what you pick up at the grocery store.
- Muffin pan
- Loaf pan – breads AND meatloaves, people.
- Food processor – skip the blender if you can only get one item.
- Immersion blender – perfect for pureeing soups and fruits for jam
- An electronic scale – too often do I need to know the weight of an item, especially for canning recipes.
- Griddle – skip the panini press and use this with bacon, patty melts, sandwiches, and cuts of meat.
- Roasting pan – the sides are taller than a baking dish, better for turkeys.
- Mini cocottes – small dishes perfect for mini pot pies and desserts.
- Kitchen Aid Mixer with pasta and meat grinder attachments – specifically for that reason, because for me, it’s not about the baking.