Cooking for yourself can be daunting, especially when you’re on your own and responsible for feeding yourself for the first time. It’s so daunting, in fact, that many people don’t know where to start, and as a result, never do. Instead they opt to eat out of tins or order in. That’s no way to live. So to help all of you kitchen newbies find the path to self-sufficiency in the kitchen, I’ve created this checklist of sorts that includes the basics of what you’ll need to start making delicious, healthy, inexpensive meals at home. It’s time to get cookin’!
Whether you choose a countertop model or a toaster oven, you’ll need a toasting device if you want to jazz up dull, soggy sandwiches. Besides, breakfast just isn’t breakfast without toast and jam.
Salt and Pepper
Salt and pepper are nonnegotiable kitchen essentials — more important than any other herbs and spices. This is what gives your bland food its base flavour.
Even amateur cooks should have a small rack of common spices. The rack should include thyme, sage, basil, oregano, parsley, dill and a few others that you enjoy.
Many foods need some kind of lubricant in which to cook for flavour and so it doesn’t stick to your cookware. Olive oil is a healthy alternative to butter that you don’t have to feel guilty using.
Dishes – Set of Four
A set of four dishes is ideal for two reasons: 1) So you don’t have to constantly wash dishes because you don’t have enough, and 2) so you can invite friends over for dinner without forcing them to eat on paper plates. A set of dishes will generally come with four plates, saucers and mugs.
Silverware – Set of Four
Four is the minimum; there’s nothing wrong with double that amount. Your set should include small and large spoons, knives and forks.
Because you don’t want to drink out of mugs of all the time.
Because sometimes you want to drink something a little fancier than milk.
A good vegetable peeler will help you remove the skins of root vegetables like potatoes and carrots, but it has many other applications, such as shaving hard cheeses.
Without a can opener, you’re severely limiting what you can eat. Many foods come in cans including tuna fish, fruits, veggies, soups and more.
Think of these like heavy-duty scissors. You’ll use these to open food packages, cut meats with bones, and trim the ends off some vegetables. Kitchen shears should only be used for kitchen tasks — cutting other items will dull the blade — and washed after every use.
Set of Knives
Butter knives won’t cut everything you eat efficiently. You can get a set of knives in a convenient block that will include every kind of knife you’ll need.
You’ve got to get in that wine somehow. The other end you can use to open bottles with caps.
Measuring spoons are necessary for measuring just the right amount of ingredients. These are especially important when baking.
You’ll need measuring cups to measure larger quantities of ingredients like liquids, sugar and flour.
To prevent contaminating your countertops with bacteria from raw foods, you’ll need a cutting board. A plastic cutting board is best because germs can seep into wooden cutting boards easily.
A large wooden or stainless spoon makes it easy to stir a big pot of food.
When you want to take food that’s been in liquid from pot to plate without transferring any of the liquid, the slotted spoon is perfect.
Ladles are great for extracting a hearty helping of soup or plain pasta from a pot.
You’ll need a spatula to flip over the food you cook in the skillet like eggs, French toast and grilled cheese.
When a spatula doesn’t make sense — like when you need to turn a piece of meat in the skillet — tongs are a great alternative to keep the hot liquid from splattering when you flip.
This is a big bowl with small holes all over it. It’s used to drain pasta and vegetables that you’ve boiled in water.
How else are you going to get the delicious dinner you just made out of the oven?
Pots – Set of Three
Three sizes of pots — small, medium, and large — are required in every beginner kitchen.
Whether or not you plan to use the microwave on a regular basis, you still need it. It’s not only convenient for heating up leftover, but it’ll save you time by defrosting frozen foods and melting other items.
Even non-coffee drinkers should have a coffee pot. Chances are, any guests you have over would like a cup of coffee in the morning.
Mixing Bowls – Set of Four
Mixing bowls allow you to combine ingredients, and graduating sizes are perfect for keeping dry and wet ingredient separate until you’re ready to combine them. Mixing bowls with lids are also great for storing leftovers in the fridge.
A baking sheet is required if you want to roast vegetables or bake cookies.
Skillets – Set of Two
Your skillets are probably the items in your new kitchen that you’ll use the most. These allow you to grill sandwiches, cook eggs, and fry meats among many other applications.
Your hands will get messy while you’re cooking so it’s good to have something reusable to wipe them on from time to time.
After you eat, those dishes will need to be washed. They don’t magically get clean like they did when you lived with mum and dad.
Unless you plan to wash the dishes with your bare hands, you’ll need sponges to help scrub away the goop.
Have any other suggestions for what kitchen newbies must have when starting out? Let me know in the comments below.