Monday, September 10, 2012

So You Want to Start Cooking Part 1: Pots, Pans and Utensils

If you're going to start any new undertaking, you've got to have the right tools. Buying for your new life as an at home chef can seem overwhelming, but I'm going to break it down to the bare essentials for you.

My own personal perfectly arranged and perfectly clean kitchen and totally not just a picture I drooled over on Pinterest.

Absolute Essentials:
  • 2 non-stick frying pans - 1 large, 1 medium
  • 2 casserole pans (Pyrex is ideal) - 1 9x13 and 1 8x8
  • Pot with a lid
  • Set of wooden spoons for stirring
  • Set of plastic mixing bowls (3 is a good start)
  • Spatula
  • Large whisk
  • GOOD kitchen knife for chopping (my recommendation)
  • Food processor (I love my Ninja blender and food processor set)
  • Hand held grater
  • Salt and pepper grinders
  • Peeler (I like this one because it's a monkey
  • Colander
  • Pizza cutter
  • Ladle 
  • Tongs
  • Measuring cups (I have these and yes, they're adorable)
  • Measuring spoons
  • Basic Tupperware set for leftovers
  • Baking sheet

Next Step Up:
  • Refillable olive oil bottle (olive oil is cheaper in bulk, spouts allow for a perfect drizzle)
  • Storage containers for dry basics (flour, sugar, etc... I have these)
  • Microplane (for zesting citrus fruits, fresh cinnamon, etc.)
  • Garlic press
  • Handheld juicer
  • Additional knives (seriously, hold off on buying more knives until you know your cooking style, I have a set but I use the same one over and over)
  • Small whisk (great for dressings)
  • Serving spoons
  • Pie pan (Pyrex recommended, again)
  • Blender
  • Electric mixer
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Ramekins
  • Ice cream scoop
  • Small and large slow cooker (small for dips, large for chilis, meals, etc.)
  • Salad bowl and serving spoon and fork set
  • Set of serving platters
  • Rice cooker
  • Pizza stone (I actually prefer the AirBake)
  • Spoon rest
  • Muffin pans
  • Small oven safe bowls (french onion soup, egg bakes, etc.)
  • Griddle (I prefer stove top to electric)

Shopping Tips
  • The dollar store has great basics like spoons, plastic bowls, etc. Also giant wine glasses that make you feel cool and you don't mind if you break them. Go there first to see what you can stock up on for nothing.
  • Ikea, Target, Walmart and the usual will take care of you from there.
  • For more expensive purchases, keep an eye on department stores like Macy's for sales or troll your local TJ Maxx/Home Goods for luxury brands on the cheap. Even Goodwill can be a source for a great $5 rice cooker. Take the time to search and you can have a perfect kitchen arsenal without spending the equivalent of a new Tory Burch bag.
  • Do I talk about my Ninja blender and processor set too much? No, I don't. It's amazing. Trust me. Worth the $50 investment for the onion mincing alone. 
  • I mostly steal things from my mom when she replaces her own things or takes pity on me.
  • I love CB2 for inexpensive "fun" serving and dinner plates. Ditto for Anthropologie's big sales.
  • Get married and you'll get so much free stuff, it's crazy. The divorce might end up being expensive, but if you're in a time and financial crunch, just get hitched. 

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