I love to cook and I have something of a reputation as a good cook among close friends. Every once in a while I find myself giving advice to someone who is new to cooking (at least new to cooking without the use of a microwave) and is looking to build out their stable of core kitchen items. While a fully stocked kitchen can contain dozens of highly specialized pieces of equipment, I think you can outfit a kitchen for 80% of the dishes you might want to make with only a handful of core items. Here are the 5 kitchen items essential for new cooks
You can buy a set of knives for $20 but trust me when I say that knives are not a good (or safe) place to save money when stocking a new kitchen. Hands down your knives are the tools that you will use most often in your kitchen. High quality knives will keep their edge longer and will be more properly balanced in your hand, both of which contribute to making them safer to handle. It is important to note that good quality knives are not cookie cutter/universal some people will prefer the balance and grip of Global Knives, whereas other might prefer the feel of Shun or Wusthof. I highly recommend that you try out your knives in the store before making a decision on which brand to choose. I personally love the balance of Global Knives.
You can get a good deal on a set of Global Knives here
Whereas knives are something you will use every day, an immersion blender is something that will come in handy only occasionally. That said, a good immersion blender is an invaluable tool that can take the place of many other tools in your kitchen. They come in handy when making smoothies, soups and sauces. Additionally, some immersion blenders come with attachments that allow them to do a credible job as mixers, food processors and grinders. While a professional chef will want a purpose built tool for each of these tasks, the average home chef can get away with 1 high quality immersion blender.
Check out this Immersion Blender
It can be tempting to get a set of “as seen on TV” non-stick frying pans. Good stainless steel pans just seem less cool or useful than their flashier teflon coated cousins. However, there are a couple things that make an investment in a 3-5 piece stainless steel set worthwhile. First, while teflon is stick resistant, it is almost impossible to use them long term without scratching the coating, which has potential health impacts and definitely kills the non-stick feature. Moreover, while stainless steel pans do suffer from stuck food occasionally, you can use steel scrubbing pads to clean them, which is sufficient to remove even the toughest grime. Cheap pans can’t say the same thing. On top of all this, high quality pans heat up quicker and heat more evenly meaning that your food comes out better. If you go with cheap pans you might save some cash today but it will cost you more over the next several years.
Here is a really good starter set of All Clad stainless steel pans.
Every kitchen I’ve ever seen has one cupboard that looks like a spice tornado hit it. Spices are tough to organize and over time they seem to reproduce on their own. I recommend keeping your 10 most used spices in convenient magnetic jars like these in easy reach of the stove. It will encourage you to use more spice in your cooking and will help keep the spice cabinet chaos to a minimum.
You can find these magnetic spice jars for a bargain here.
Why a cast iron skillet? Because there are a handful of dishes that your grandmother made and no matter what you do, you can’t make them taste the same unless you cook them in a cast iron skillet. Corn bread, gumbo and fried fish are all comfort foods that only reach their true potential when cooked in a cast iron skillet.
Target carries a nice selection of cast iron skillets but we really like the Lodge 12 inch.
If you are a new cook looking to get your kitchen tacklebox put together you can’t go wrong starting with these kitchen essentials for new cooks.
Let us know what you think your most important kitchen item is in the comments below.