The essentials: kitchen equipment

Having a stocked pantry and easy recipes do no good if you don’t have the proper equipment, or any equipment, to cook them in. One walk inside any kitchen store or the housewares section of any department store, you’re sure to be overwhelmed at the amount of gadgets, gizmos and appliances to choose from. It’s exhausting. But to really get started, all you need are the following basic pieces of equipment:

  • One each of the following saucepans with lids: 1, 2, and 3 quart. If you cannot afford all 3, start with the 2 quart
  • One 4 or 6 quart stock pot
  • Skillets: 6, 10 and 12 or 14 inch, preferably with lid. If you cannot afford all 3, start with the 10 or 12 inch
  • One 13 x 9 inch casserole dish with lid
  • One baking sheet
  • One muffin pan
  • Two 8 or 9 inch round baking pans
  • Mixing bowls
  • Measuring cups–dry and liquid
  • Measuring spoons
  • Chef’s knife
  • Paring knife
  • Bread knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Can opener
  • Kitchen Tool Set (spatula, spoon, slotted spoon, ladle, pasta fork)
  • Strainer
  • Storage containers (Rubbermaid, Tupperware, Gladware, etc) in various sizes
  • Ice cube trays
  • Dishes: plates and bowls
  • Silverware: at least a setting for 4
  • Cups and mugs
  • Toaster oven
  • Crock pot (aka slow cooker)
  • Coffee pot (if you drink coffee)
  • Miscellaneous: tin foil, plastic wrap, plastic bags in various sizes, pot holders (these are way more important than they get credit for), dishrags/dishtowels (you can also improvise by cutting up old towels), drying rack (if you do not have a dishwasher), paper towel holder, trash can, broom and/or mop, good all-purpose cleaner (or you can mix white vinegar in a 1:1 ratio with water in a spray bottle as an inexpensive all-purpose cleaner), dishwashing detergent, sponges, hand soap
  • A radio. While this is not kitchen equipment, I find that cooking is a lot more fun if I can play some music while I’m cooking. It adds a certain element of fun. And spatulas make excellent microphones.

It seems like an extensive list. It is. But you will, at some point, use all of the items. There are other items you can add as time goes by (like a blender, food processor, garlic press, or hand mixer) but these are the basic essentials for a starter kitchen.

If you cannot afford all the items on the list at one time, don’t worry. Just buy the basics (dishes, cups, silverware, can opener, strainer, chef’s knife, kitchen tool set, skillet, stock pot and sauce pan as well as potholders, sponges, all-purpose cleaner and dishwashing detergent) at first. You can add the rest as you have the money. And don’t worry about buying the highest quality, top of the line items. A wise friend told me to just buy the best quality you can afford.  It is not worth going into debt to have the fanciest  kitchen around.


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