Kitchen Essentials for the Beginner Chef

Does the thought of starting a stovetop scare you? Are you culinary impaired? Does a home-cooked meal mean “microwave ready?” Odds are, you aren’t a terrible chef—you’ve just been working with the wrong tools. A carpenter can’t build a house without a hammer, and you can’t prepare an excellent meal without the proper equipment. Here are some must-have and nice-to-have kitchen essentials for the beginner chef:

Must-Haves

  1.     Good knife set—One of the most essential things for any chef is a good knife set. If you can’t cut your food, then you definitely can’t cook it properly. A sharp and sturdy knife set will let you get the precise slicing and dicing that your recipe needs. These sets can get pricy, but it is well worth the investment. A good set will last you for many years to come. To keep your knives at their best, avoid putting them in the dishwasher.
  2.     A few sturdy pots and pans to heat evenly—Did you know that all pots and pans are not made the same? Cheap pots and pans will have hotspots and your food will come out with strange burnt areas and undercooked areas. This is another area to invest in. It may cost a little to get some nice pots and pans, but these will also last for many years, and the ease of cooking will be well worth it.
  3.     Cutting board—Now that you have a nice sharp knife set, you need a cutting board to save your nice dinner plates from getting nicked and torn up. A good cutting board will also preserve your blades from dulling.
  4.     Measuring cups—Recipes are crafted with exact ingredients. You can’t expect the right results if you rely on your eyes to estimate how many cups of flour or sugar to use. The good news is that measuring cups are usually inexpensive and come in lots of fun shapes and colors.
  5.     Thick stainless steel baking sheets—Baking sheets aren’t just for cookies. You can use these handy sheets to bake veggies, potatoes, chicken, fish, or whatever else you would like to pop in the oven. It’s important to invest a little here to get a quality one that won’t warp in the heat.
  6.     Spatula/tongs—You’ll use these more than you might think. It makes flipping anything from bacon to chicken parmesan a breeze.
  7.     Wooden spoons—These are simple, non-stick, and super affordable. Now that you have the nice pots and pans, you need to be careful about what you use to stir. Metal will scratch the finish and ruin your expensive pots. Wooden spoons are a perfect alternative.
  8.     Meat thermometer—Never again wonder if the pork chops are finished cooking. Make 100% sure that all harmful bacteria are cooked out by popping in a meat thermometer. Do a quick Google search to see what the internal meat temp should be and compare it to your food.

Nice to Have

  1.     Hand mixer—A small hand-held mixer will save your shoulder from all of the strain of stirring. You can use this for anything from whipping mashed potatoes to quickly mixing up some pancake batter. It’ll make your cooking experience so much more enjoyable. That way you can focus on the food and not your sore arm.
  2.     Nesting mixing bowls—These different sized bowls are perfect for any meal prep work.  
  3.     Cast iron skillet—These heavy-duty pans add tons of flavor and a crispy touch to the food. There’s a reason why grandma swears by them!
  4.     Strainer/colander—If you’re a pasta lover, then this may be a must-have—but if not, then this can wait.

If you’ve struggled with cooking, baking, or just preparing food, it may be because you’re not using the right utensils. Becoming a better cook or simply preparing meals easier may be as simple as picking up a few new tools. With these few simple kitchen essentials, you’ll find it easier to chop, flip, and measure to your heart’s (or stomach’s) delight.

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