Kitchen appliances and cookware are a lot like tools. There are a few essentials, and then you can build upon that based upon what you do.
And feel free to use this list as a gift for someone you know moving into their first home or apartment.
Cooking at home is a great way to save money, and after buying a home, or putting down a deposit for an apartment, it helps to watch the finances for awhile.
It could be tempting to buy a large kit with multiple pans and lids, but you probably should hold off. The best pan to start with would be a saute or sauce pan with handles on both sides and a lid. You can cook just about everything in it, and you can put it into an oven to finish off. You could do stir fry with relative ease because the sides of the pans are sloped rather than squared off. And you could steam food in it.
After you’ve been cooking with it, you’ll have a better understanding if you like nonstick, cast iron, aluminum, glass, ceramic, etc.
You will also want a large pot if you’re going to cook pasta, soups and stews, and a small pot for sauces.
A small, inexpensive microwave can be used for simple cooking like melting butter or cooking rice as well as an easy way to boil water. Some people may not want a microwave, and they will need a few more pieces of cookware.
Purchase a toaster oven instead of a toaster. You’ll be able to cook in the toaster oven as well as make perfect toast. It’s also useful for reheating if you don’t want to use the microwave.
If you’re into coffee, buy a small coffee maker.
Add on electric skillet or grill when you’re feeling more confident. An electric skillet is useful for making fried potatoes and pancakes as well as burgers and steaks.
For cooking utensils, there are a variety of choices of materials including wood, plastic and metal. You will want wood or plastic if you use non-stick cookware.
Buy more eating utensils than there are people because you will have dirty forks and spoons, and don’t want to have to wash them every time you go to eat a meal. Don’t forget to get steak knives as well.
Glasses & Dishes
Find a simple set or go to your local thrift store and find what you can for an inexpensive price.
You may want a regular glass for drinking water or juice.
And you probably will need a coffee mug.
A cutting board can be plastic or wood. The nice thing about plastic is that it can go into the dishwasher if you have one.
A vegetable peeler with a good grip on it.
A decent chef’s knife can cut just about anything. If you can buy a better quality one, you’ll be happier because you won’t be sharpening it all the time. You may want to invest in a paring knife, but the truth is, a good chef’s knife can take care of most anything.
You’ll want a Pyrex 2-cup measuring cup. It’s not perfect for dry things like flour, but it’s good enough for getting started.
Buy a Pyrex 8″x8″ square baking dish. You can use it for snack cakes, baking fish, chicken, and small roasts. You could even make a small lasagna if you’re so inclined. At some point, you’ll want to get larger rectangular baking dishes, and a large roasting pan.
A box grater in case you need to grate up cheese or vegetables.
Buy an inexpensive baking sheet for when you make cookies or biscuits or a frozen pizza. (save yourself some headache with cleanup by using parchment paper or silpat mats)
A large metal colander is great for both draining pasta as well as washing produce.
Did we forget anything? What was your favorite item in the kitchen when you were first starting out?