Every discipline has its tools. Artists have canvas and brushes. Welders have torches and solder. Musicians have instruments and sheet music. Cooking is no different.
There are few basics that I believe everyone should have in their kitchen. Good tools will make your experience easier and more pleasant. That said, I know shiny new things are expensive. If you have budget constraints, then shop your local thrift store to start building your arsenal of chef’s tools.
Chef’s knife. This is an absolute must. Your chef’s knife will become the single most important tool in your kitchen. You will also need something with which to sharpen it. If you can only afford to buy one new thing for your kitchen, buy a good knife. You won’t regret it.
Stainless pots and pans. I don’t like nonstick. You might feel differently, but I promise that you will never to wrong with stainless. Also, pots and pans don’t have to match. Your food doesn’t care.
Baking sheet. Otherwise known as a cookie sheet. These are a dollar at the thrift store. You’ll be using parchment paper on it most of the time, so as long as the pan isn’t rusty, you’re good to go.
Glass baking dish. The standard size is 9×13, but if you are cooking for one, you might consider a 9×9 square dish instead.
Cutting board. You will be doing a lot of prep. That means chopping, dicing, mincing, etc. I like to have cutting boards in various sizes, but one is enough to get you started.
Bowls. You will need a few large bowls for preparing meals. I have a variety in metal, glass, and ceramic. If you are on a budget, skip the metal bowls. Acidic foods cannot be prepared in metal, so beginning chefs should opt for glass.
Cooking Utensils. You will need a large spoon, a spatula, and tongs. I prefer metal utensils for some tasks and plastic for others. When I buy plastic utensils, I try to purchase solid ones with no grip and no separate handle piece so water cannot seep inside.
Prep Utensils. Peeler, grater, can opener, small strainer. Buy the types that suit you. When you start preparing more complex recipes, you will probably want to invest in a garlic press, citrus press, and a zester, but those are not necessary right now.
Colander. You’re gonna need to strain the pasta and wash the lettuce. If you’re a fan of mac n cheese, you probably already have one of these babies in your cupboard.
Storage Containers. You don’t want those yummy leftovers to go to waste! I recommend glass storage containers. They are more expensive than plastic, but they last a very long time, and they don’t impart a plasticky taste to your food. Also, there has been some debate about whether or not chemicals leech from certain plastics, and I find that I feel more comfortable using glass. That’s just me, though. You do you.
Miscellaneous Items. Parchment paper, aluminum foil, plastic cling wrap, plastic zipper storage bags, etc. You get the idea. I don’t think we need pictures.
Pressure Cooker/Rice Cooker/Slow Cooker. This isn’t necessary, but it’s nice. If you can afford it, buy one. I have an Instant Pot, a rice cooker, and a couple of crock pots.
So that’s it! I know it sounds like a lot, but you probably have most of this stuff at home already. If you don’t, start with a good knife. You can pick up the rest as you go, but you really do need a good knife. Happy cooking, and be sure to drop me a line if you have questions.
Please note that I do not endorse any particular brand of kitchenware, nor have I been compensated for showing photos of these items. Each person should purchase the cookware and kitchen utensils that suit their needs and their budgets. The photos on this page are for illustration purposes only.