Setting up your first kitchen? What kind of cooking equipment do you need? We’ve got answers!
For whatever reason, you’re going out on your own, setting up your first household. There’s a lot to be done and this can be an exciting adventure. You’ll also soon realize this can be a costly adventure, while nonetheless exciting and fun. One of the most important rooms in your new household is doubtless the kitchen. In this article, we focus on what it takes to set up your kitchen and what type of cooking equipment you’ll be needing.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to buy a complete, matched set of pots and pans and every gadget under the sun in order to produce any number of great meals. If you have an unlimited budget, that’s one thing. Most of us do not enjoy this luxurious prospect. The good news is that even on a strict budget, you can get all of the cooking equipment you need, so long as you correctly assess your cooking habits and skills. For example, you love to cook one-dish meals such as pot roasts, casseroles and soups made from scratch. On the other hand, you’re not much into making bread and seem not to have a ‘green thumb’ when it comes to baked goods. In this scenario, you want to serve your immediate needs and interests. In this case, a slow cooker, a stock pot and a heavy casserole with a cover should make a good start on your cache of cooking equipment. Add a single, good quality frying pan – for eggs, bacon, crepes, omelets and a juicy burger or steak to round out your menu possibilities. If you enjoy steamed veggies, consider one of the dual-purpose cooking pans – a rice cooker which may also be used for veggies.
Beyond this brief list, you’ll need at least one French chef’s knife, a paring knife, a 4-cup measuring cup, a set of nested measuring cups and measuring spoons. Can’t do without utensils include a spatula, a few wooden spoons, a metal slotted spoon and a whisk.
Yes, the old advice of ‘buy the best you can afford’ does still apply. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t shop the thrift stores for some of your cooking equipment. You might find a nice quality frying pan here on the cheap, freeing you to spend a little more on another piece of cooking equipment near and dear to your heart – let’s say a covered casserole you see is on sale this week. Shopping the garage sales can also yield some gems.
Here’s a helpful tip in prioritizing your wish list of cooking equipment. Try making up a month’s worth of menus comprised of foods you regularly enjoy. Go through your menus and match those dishes up with the pieces of cookware you’d use. You’ll find that most of the dishes require the heavy or exclusive use of just a few pieces of cooking equipment – those are the ones you can’t do without. Buy those first!
Remember too, that cooks are inventive sorts: if you don’t have the right pan, there’s always a workaround. Case in point? A while back, my oven went on the blink. I had a pizza in the frig that needed to be cooked. I discovered that setting a broiler pan inside my large electric frying pan was just the right platform for my pizza. I mentally adjusted the cooking time and temperature, put the lid on the pan and hoped for the best. Astonishingly, that pizza, rising crust and all, came out perfect. Who knew?
So when you’re making out your list of kitchen cooking equipment, know that there’s always a way to get by until your budget allows for additions. In the meantime, make the most of what you’ve got – and enjoy! Bon Appetit!