“Food is an important part of a balanced diet.” - Frank Lebowitz
When it comes to cooking, you need to make sure you have the right utensils!
A stewpot, grater, funnel, or mincer? What utensils should you have before you start making your own dishes?
Most people have at least one homemade dish they can do rather than buying a ready meal.
What about you? How can you if you don’t have the right kitchen tools?
Let’s fix that!
In addition to the flatware, dinnerware, and glassware you probably already have, in this article, we're going to look at the most common culinary equipment you should have in your pantry, cupboards, and drawers so that you can make every recipe in your cookbook.
Essentials for Preparing Vegetables in the Kitchen
A lot of people eat ready meals, especially men under 30 and men over 50 living on their own. While a microwave can be useful, it shouldn't be the only thing you use in your kitchen. Making your own meals doesn’t necessarily take a long time and it puts you in charge of what you eat and making sure it’s healthy as well as allowing you to enjoy yourself and save money.
Ready meals are expensive and are generally bad for your health.
So are you ready to start cooking for yourself?
You won’t need an arsenal of kitchen accessories like they have on Masterchef. We’re just going to focus on the essential items that every kitchen should have. This means that we have to first focus on how to prepare vegetables. Keep in mind that a balanced meal includes:
- Animal proteins (such as meat, fish, egg, and cheese)
- Carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, etc.)
- Dairy (cheese, yoghurt)
Fruits and vegetables are at the heart of any balanced meal and if you want to prepare them, you’re going to need three main utensils.
A peeler is a utensil used to remove the skin from fruits and vegetables. If you’re buying organic, it’s recommended that you remove the skin from fruits and vegetables such as:
- Peaches and nectarines
A peeler is an essential item for any basic kitchen.
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A Good Knife
Kitchen knives are essential when it comes to cutting vegetables as the knives in your cutlery drawer won't be good enough to cut uncooked foodstuff. You don’t need to have a hundred different ones, though. A good knife and a sharpener will be enough for cutting the majority of vegetables.
Choose a mid-sized knife that’ll be able to fully cut vegetables like carrots, courgettes, and potatoes. Don’t forget to sharpen it from time to time or whenever you feel like it’s not cutting as well as it usually does.
If you’re a perfectionist, you might want to get a potato chipper so that your chips are perfectly regular.
A Chopping Board/Cutting Board
After you’ve bought your peeler and knives, don’t forget that you’ll also need a chopping board. You don’t want to wreck your kitchen bench or countertop, after all. A wooden or plastic chopping board is useful when cutting fruits, vegetables, meat, or fish.
While wooden chopping boards look nicer, I recommend getting a plastic chopping board as they’re easier to clean and bacteria is less likely to get into the marks you make on them.
There are also glass chopping boards but I tend to find the noise these make as unbearable as forks on a plate or fingernails on a chalkboard.
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Kitchen Utensils for Cooking
Pressure cooker, steamer, saucepans, skillets, casserole dishes, etc. You could fill your kitchen with all the different cookware and gadgets available. However, you don’t need tonnes of equipment to make gratin dauphinois or spaghetti bolognese.
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A Small Pan and a Large Pan
A large pan will allow you do make dishes when you get home from work or impress your partner with a lovely tuna and basil pasta. Chefs prefer a small pan when making sauces.
Don’t skimp on the quality; opt for a thick stainless steel. If you’re genuinely on a budget, you should opt for wooden utensils as they won’t scratch the Teflon or non-stick surfaces of your pots and pans.
A Wooden Spoon and Spatula
As we said before, wooden utensils won’t scratch your pots and pans and, as a result, they’ll last you much longer. Plastic utensils run the risk of melting when being used under very high temperatures.
You can find this stuff everywhere and at a very low price. If you’re making a lot of soup, don’t forget your ladle!
One or Two Covers
Covers allow you to speed up the boiling process as long as you make sure you don’t let it boil over!
It also allows you to stew meat and fish at a low heat. You won’t make as much of a mess at boiling pots tend to spit.
A Good Pan
Your pan is going to be your best friend. You should make the investment if you’re just going to get one. The last thing you want to be doing is regularly replacing your pans when you can buy a decent one that’ll last you for years.
It can be expensive buying a stainless steel, ceramic, or copper stone pan. However, most modern pans can be used on any type of hob.
Copper stone pans tend to be the best value for money because they don’t require a lot of oil when cooking.
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An Oven Dish
Bakeware and trays are useful for baking or roasting vegetables, making gratins, pies, and cakes. It’s a good idea to get a decently sized dish but also make sure that it isn’t too big for your oven!
If you’re only going to get one strainer, make sure it’s suitable for rice. A stainless steel rice strain will allow you to not only strain rice but also spaghetti without any of it going through the holes.
It’s also easier to clean than a strainer with large holes as you won’t get as much stuff stuck in the holes.
Useful Accessories for Baking
Let’s get serious for a moment! If there’s one type of cooking that requires absolute precision, it’s baking. If you like baking, you should probably be prepared to invest a little more into your hobby.
Of course, you don’t need a waffle iron, a crêpe pan, fruit press, or a centrifuge when you first start.
A Measuring Glass and Kitchen Scales
Precision is essential when it comes to baking. While you can sprinkle some salt and pepper on stuff when you’re cooking, when it comes to baking, adding sugar can be more complicated.
You should probably follow the recipes to the letter and to do so, you’re going to need to invest in a measuring glass or measuring cup and a set of scales. When it comes to measuring solids, the scales will suffice. However, for liquids, you’re going to need that glass.
A whisk will suffice when you’re first starting out. You can use it to beat egg whites and make dishes like:
- Chocolate cake
- Floating islands
While whisking is a good workout, you may want to invest in an electric whisk (which is useful for making your own mayonnaise, too!). This can drastically shorten your prep time.
Two Different Sized Salad Bowls
How are you going to make lovely dishes if you’ve got nothing to mix them in?
You should get large and small salad bowls to mix cake dough or pancake batter in.
A Cake Tin
A cake tin with a removable bottom is really useful and looks far more professional than a cake made in a lasagna dish! There are plenty of different sizes, shapes, and depths. You need to choose the one that you prefer!
While not essential, it's also worth getting plastic containers and jars for leftovers and a few other essentials like a can opener, bottle opener, tea towels, corkscrew, tongs, and salt and pepper shakers. Don't forget to make sure that each kitchen utensil is dishwasher safe before you wash them!
There are also plenty of appliances you can get to help you to cook, some of them can be expensive so you should make sure you're serious before you head out and buy something like an expensive mixer, juicer, or blender.
Check cookbooks and websites to see what other cooks suggest in terms of kitchenware.
If you’ve just started learning how to cook, there are probably a lot of words you’ve never seen in your life! We've got more definitions in our other articles on cooking so make sure to read them, too!
This is when you remove the skin from a fruit or a vegetable with a blade such as a knife or a peeler. However, with tomatoes, for example, this is done by place them in boiling water and then into ice water.
Beaten Egg Whites
When you beat egg whites, you’re introducing air into the mix. This gives them a lighter texture.
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