Basic Kitchen Equipment: Getting Started

July 1, 2008 at 1:35 am 4 comments

To cook a decent meal at home, you don’t need a fancy food processor, a stand mixer, or a $400 set of cookware. Wait until you know your preferences before you make those kinds of investments.

To start cooking simple meals for one or two people, here’s a list of equipment I recommend you have on hand. (I’ll provide a list of staples for your cupboards in my next post.)

  • A cast-iron skillet — with a cover, if possible
  • A stainless steel skillet or a small, stainless saute pan
  • One large (2 1/2 or 3 quart) and one medium (1 to 1 1/2 quart) saucepan, with lids
  • A dutch oven
  • A cookie sheet: the best you can afford
  • Three decent knives: a medium 8-inch chopping knife, a serrated bread knife, and a small 3 – 4 inch paring knife
  • A cutting board: many kinds are available, so get one that’s bacteria resistant
  • A large colander
  • A vegetable peeler
  • A grater (box or flat, whichever you find easiest to use)
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • A metal spatula (if you buy non-stick cookware, you may also need a plastic or silicone spatula so you don’t scratch your pans’ surface)
  • A long-handled wooden spoon
  • A wire whisk
  • Stainless steel mixing bowls (small, medium, and large is optimal)
  • A can opener
  • A garlic press
  • Kitchen shears
  • An 8×8 glass or aluminum pan
  • A 9×13 glass or aluminum pan
  • A 9- or 10-inch square covered casserole dish
  • Plastic containers of various sizes for leftovers
  • Plastic wrap
  • Foil
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Chip clips or rubber bands to secure open packages
  • Oven mitts
  • Hot pads/trivets
  • Salt and pepper shaker (a pepper mill is best)

If you’re cooking only for yourself, you can probably get by without a dutch oven, and with just one saucepan, and one glass or aluminum pan (8×8 or 9×13).

But even if you decide the entire list makes sense for you, there’s no need to break the bank, especially if you shop at some discount stores. (Even better: If you like yard or estate sales, you can find some major bargains. Just make sure anything you purchase is clean and in good condition.)

As you gain experience in the kitchen, you’ll find other tools and gadgets that suit your style: pizza cutters, salad spinners, rice cookers, meat thermometers…you can find a mind-boggling number of “kitchen essentials.” But only you can really decide what’s really essential to you. No two kitchens are the same, so have fun finding the pots, pans, bakeware, and other tools that fit you!


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Kitchen Basics: Part Two Kitchen Basics: Stocking the Cupboard

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Theresa  |  July 1, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    Hi Mary,

    Great info here! I discovered a new cooking technique while camping this weekend. Some friends had a cast iron dutch oven with a flat lid with a lip on it. You put coals under the oven and on top of the lid and you can cook anything you would normally bake in an oven. We had the yummiest cinnamon rolls for breakfast!


  • 2. Judy Ferril  |  July 1, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    Hi Mary,
    What an informative post. This is excellent information and makes the process not so intimidating as well as affordable. Cast iron cookware – love it for cooking. There are some dishes that just only work that way!

    Best regards,

  • 3. Terri Forehand  |  July 1, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Very good ideas and great information. Readers will love this. I listed you on my blog tonight for more parents and readers to find you. Love your site.

  • 4. Lisa Kirby  |  July 2, 2008 at 2:54 am

    Hi, Mary,

    This is a great list for cooks to use when setting up their kitchen. I’m a big kitchen gadget fiend, so I’m always looking for new stuff. I look forward to your next post.

    Lisa Kirby

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