You may already have a well-stocked kitchen, and if you do, kudos to you! But, if you are just starting out doing most of your own cooking then here are some of the tools I simply cannot do without. I don’t have too many fancy tools and gadgets (though I am a sucker for what seem to be time savers that really turn out to be useless money wasters!) but, I do believe that you are only as good as the tools you use.
So, if you want to become a great home cook, then there are some things that you really need to have. Don’t worry too much about having everything all at once. It took me years to get all the tools I have now. I didn’t go out and buy them in one day. I hope this list helps as I really want to help make people better home cooks and to get excited about cooking great food from your own kitchen that you would be happy to pay for if you got it in a restaurant. And of course, this is just a sample list. There are more things you could get eventually but for now let’s keep it simple and go for the the must have items.
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Lodge 10 1/4″ Cast Iron Skillet
This is my cast iron pan. There are many like them, but, this one is mine. Hopefully there are some Stanley Kubrik fans out there otherwise this went over your head. Seriously, though, if you don’t already have a cast iron pan then you need one badly. This one here is linked to Amazon, but if you have one that is in your grandmother’s that she is willing to part with, then use that! If it’s used regularly, then it will develop a nice patina that will make it non-stick. And it works great on an induction cooker which I use all the time and will talk about later on this page.
Like the regular Lodge cast iron pan, this grill pan features prominently in my kitchen. Here in snowy New England, there are times that I physically cannot reach my grill outside even though it is only about 5 feet from my back door! So what to do when I want to grill in the winter or even in the summer when I can’t be bothered firing up the grill? This pan comes in very handy for those times!
There is a certain brand of Dutch oven with a French name that everybody seems to think that they must have in their kitchen when they decide to get serious about becoming a better home cook. But what difference does a fancy name make? I, for one, am far too frugal to get sucked in by a brand name. So, I went with these Lodge Dutch ovens and they work just as well. And with all that money I saved I could buy other kitchen gadgets I really don’t need!
This device is a life saver. I got it for Christmas a few years back and thought it would be one of those things that sits in my closet for years before finally getting sold at a yard sale. Thankfully I gave it a shot because what it does is incredible. It uses magnetism to cook the food so it uses no heat. As long as you use iron or stainless steel pots and pans it will work. I use it almost everyday in the summer since it doesn’t heat up the kitchen. And since it doesn’t use heat, you can leave the house while it cooks and not worry about it. It even works like a slow cooker but much better since you can control the temp from 175 up to 550 degrees for all kinds of cooking. Using the timer, I can do a one pot meal in my favorite Dutch oven and leave the house. Set the timer and temperature and come home to a cooked meal. And I love using my cast iron grill pan on it. Do yourselves a favor and get this! (It does not work with non stick pans or copper alloys though!)
I cook everyday. Not once in a while. And I only use 3 knives. A chef’s knife, boning knife and a paring knife. That is really all you need. This particular set of these 3 knives might not be the most expensive or high end, but I have had them for years and they have treated me well. You can certainly spend more, as there are some really fine quality knives out there, but, I don’t think you will go wrong with these. I do implore you to get rid of the flimsy knives that you might have, though. A set of proper knives is not only to make your life easier, but to make your kitchen safer. Low quality knives are far more likely to injure you than anything else in your kitchen.
The most dangerous thing in your kitchen is a dull knife. A sharp knife requires very little pressure to cut properly, but, a dull knife needs more effort. Which means you are not in control of the knife and that is when you slice through a tomato and right into your finger. Trust me, you need good quality knives in your kitchen and they need to stay sharp.
This is another one of those things that I saw on TV and thought I had to buy it even though it looked like a gimmick item that I would regret later. Well, I use it all the time. It is small, so that is a downside and an upside. Downside because you might have to do things in batches wasting a bit of time, but the upside is that it is so much easier than busting out the food processor an then cleaning it up. This chops things quickly and takes a second to clean it. I’ve used it to make dressings and sauces as well as chop veggies.
Zesting a lemon or orange is so much nicer with one of these microplane zesters. It makes the zest so fine and tender as opposed to a cheese grater. And, using it to grate cheese helps if you are watching your calories because it gives a much greater volume while using less. It seems like every chef on TV is using one of these so I would be surprised if there are still people out there that don’t have one. But, then again, my uncle is still using dial-up for his internet, so you never know!
you are doing some baking then it will really improve your results if you weigh your ingredients instead of measuring by cup. It is far more accurate and in baking, accuracy is key. I admit, though, that I am not much of a baker so it rarely gets used for that. I am on Weight Watchers, so, it gets used multiple times A DAY since it helps me track my points. It gets used a lot! In any case, it is always a good thing to have on hand.
Being on Weight Watchers sometimes means cutting back on things that are actually healthy for you but high in fat or calories. Olive Oil is one of those things. Sometimes I simply don’t have the points to spare and need to use some olive oil. Well, misting oil can help cook certain things and still give the olive oil flavor without all the points. I’m not sure, honestly, if I would use one of these if I wasn’t on Weight Watchers, but, since I am, I use it a lot.
This is such a time saver for so little money. And I am a sucker for precision in the kitchen too, so this helps a lot with that. Not only am I able to slice up a whole potato in seconds, but each slice is the same which helps in cook times. I wouldn’t want to be without this in my kitchen.
If I were getting my kitchen set up from scratch, these are the things I would get started with. Of course, there are many more thing to get to have it properly set up. Is there anything missing that you would add? Send me a comment below and let me know what your kitchen essentials are!