Just starting or a seasoned pro, everyone could use some standbys in the kitchen. Maybe you were like me when you starred out cooking — a $5 knife and my parents’ old stainless steel kitchen set I had no idea how to use.
I will never forget the first time I tried to cook eggs in those things. Growing up using non-stick for everything, I was ill-prepared for the amount of stick that comes with not knowing how to use stainless steel.
Even to this day I don’t use stainless steel for everything. I have a great set of Calphalons that I use for a lot of things, but eggs and other notorious sticky foods still get the non-stick treatment.
Once you graduate from your parents’ leftovers and start looking out for deals on amazon or locally, here are some things for which you should be on the lookout:
1. Chef knife: If you could only have one thing in your kitchen, it should be a well made chefs knife. Thirty dollars would score you a pretty decent one that would keep an edge for a long time. But keep it sharp. I’m not including a whet stone in this list because it is a use it or lose item, but keep your knives sharp. They are much safer this way.
2. Wooden utensil set: I scored a huge set of at least 30 wooden utensils at a garage sale a few years ago for $2 and I use them all the time. They don’t ding up your pans, are great for non-stick use and breeze through scrambled eggs. Plus they look cool. Bonus points.
3. Whisk: You could get by mastering fork skills here, but a whisk will make your life easier — and food taste better.
4. A large cutting board: One of my many pet peeves is not having enough real estate to work with when chopping items. So I made it a mission to find a big cutting board that fit more than two carrots. Not wanting to spend $100 on one really put the damper on my search, but I did manage to find one at Costco if you ever want to take the drive up to Billings.
5. Cheese grater: Not only does freshly grated cheese taste better than that dry pre-graded stuff, it’s cheaper. Getting a block of sharp cheddar is the way to go. It stays fresh for a while, and even if it does start to grow some funk, you can chop it off and the rest is still good to go. I have no confidence in picking out moldy shredded cheese.
6. Vegetable peeler: Spend a few bucks more and get a good one, one that makes you a little worried for your knuckles every time you drag the peeler down a carrot. One stroke getting everything peeled for a few bucks more beats spending five minutes peeling one potato.
7. Non-stick pan set: Let’s be honest, you can get away with only having a non-stick pan or two. Stainless will last you the rest of your life and you need it to sear any meats you cook, but non-stick is so much easier. Sometimes you don’t want to be bobby flay and just want to cook a grilled cheese that won’t stick to the pan, itself, the ceiling and last week’s leftovers.
8. A few mixing bowls: Sure, that bowl you use for cereal, soup, chips and snacks will work, but why use your one good bowl when you will need it later? You can get them on the cheap, and it’s nice not having to wash a bunch of dishes halfway through cooking because you are out.
9. Pyrex storage containers: Tupperware works great, but it get old fast. Try microwaving some spaghetti in Tupperware and you will have baked on red for the rest of its life. Hard to do that to glass. Plus it will probably outlive you. Great investment.
10. Spatula: It is probably a good idea to own more than one. More than once I have found myself looking for a good spatula and they are both dirty in the dishwasher. Make sure to use the right kind on the right pan, though. Don’t use a steel spatula on your new non-stick pans. They will soon be sticky pans if you do that. Get a nice flexible plastic one for that. You should be able to knock out some pretty awesome grilled cheese and spaghetti that won’t kill the family when they come over.
And really the things you use most in the kitchen will come down to what you like to use. I held off buying a stand mixer thinking it would be a horrible investment. I thought I would maybe use it once a year. It turns out, I’m now trying to perfect my pizza dough and will eventually be Little Deasar (Doug-Ceasar) by the end of the year.
Same with the waffle iron I put off buying. Sunday is waffle day in the Sanders household.
I don’t put off buying something you might rarely use because you feel that way. I have found having something when you need it is far better than needing something a few times a year and never having it.