You want to start cooking at home more but you don’t have the proper tools and don’t know where to begin. It can feel overwhelming! But, it doesn’t have to be.
I’ve created a list for you that takes all the guess work out of it and saves you time from doing all the research yourself. Yeah!
You don’t need to break the bank setting up your kitchen. With an investment of about $300 or so, you can get all of what you need to get started. And, you don’t need to buy it all at once. Create a budget for what you can allot to building your kitchen arsenal each month, prioritize the items, then do it in steps. You may also find that you don’t really need everything on the list or already have some of the items so you’ve just cut your spending right there. Great! Let’s get started…
- CHEF’S KNIFE. First and foremost, I believe having a really good chef’s knife (or two) is the most essential kitchen utensil a person can invest in. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. I use this Mercer knife, which is less than $40.00 and it’s great.
- STEEL KNIFE SHARPENER. If you’re going to invest in a good knife, then you need to invest in a good sharpener, aka honing steel. Honing your knife is actually a bit different than sharpening. Every time we use our knives, they bend making cutting challenging after too many uses. Honing straightens the knife out allowing for smoother chopping and slicing. I like the flat vs round honing sharpeners like the one found here for just under $40.00.
- TWO BAMBOO CUTTING BOARDS. I recommend getting baboo vs plastic as plastic wears quickly and bacteria gets stuck in the grooves making them difficult to clean. Bamboo on the other hand, is naturally antibacterial so anything that’s left on the board gets neutralized within 24 hours of use. Just make sure you have separate ones for plant-based and animal-based products so there is no chance of cross-contamination. Here is a great set of 3 different sizes for $14.00.
- STAINLESS STEEL MEASURING CUPS & SPOONS. Stainless steel lasts forever and measuring utensils are must for any cook. It’s best to use these when measuring dry ingredients as they measure out slightly different than liquid. Here is a great set of both for just under $10.
- PYREX LIQUID MEASURING CUPS. In order to get a much more accurate liquid measurement, I highly recommend getting a set of Pyrex liquid measuring cups. If you don’t think you need the set with three different sizes, I would recommend at least getting the 2-cup as I find it’s the one I use most. The set of three will run you about $18.00 and if you get just the 2-cup it will cost around $12.00.
- A GOOD PEELER. This one is a no-brainer. We all peel carrots, potatoes, cucumbers and more every day. Invest in a good one because you don’t want to spend an hour trying to peel a winter squash. I’ve done it. It’s not fun. Okay, I may be exaggerating a bit but it’s still not fun using a crappy peeler. This is the peeler I use and it runs around $9.00.
- MICROPLANE. While a microplane may not be super essential for everyone, I do find it to be pretty handy in my kitchen. I use a lot of fresh ginger and zest from citrus in my recipes and using a microplane is the easier way to grate it. It can also be used to grate hard cheeses. This microplane runs around $15.00
- STAINLESS STEEL BOWLS. I love my set of stainless steel bowls. Can’t live without them. I use them for soaking nuts and grains, measuring out ingredients while cooking so I don’t make a huge mess, and of course, lots of mixing. Here is a great starter set that has one small, medium and large bowl for under $35.00.
- SMALL PREP BOWLS. Also called, “pinch” bowls, these guys are so incredibly helpful in getting ingredients prepared prior to starting cooking. Read over your recipe, then measure out your spices, onions, garlic or other small items so all you need to do to throw in each one as the recipe calls. It will help prevent you from making mistakes while following a recipe because it’s prepped in advance rather than measuring it all out on the fly. It will also help you from not making such a mess in your kitchen. Here are some glass prep bowls or some squishy silicone ones, which is how they got their name, “pinch bowls”. Both are about $8.00 each.
- STAINLESS STEEL MESH STRAINERS. If you make a lot of grains, then these guys are for you. After you soak and/or rinse your grains (i.e. quinoa, rice, lentils) in a bowl, you’ll need a fine mesh strainer to drain the water. Fine mesh is best so you don’t lose the tiny quinoa granules when draining. I like to use the smallest strainer for catching the seeds while I squeeze my lemons or other citrus. Here’s a set of 3 for about $20.00.
- BAMBOO COOKING UTENSIL SET. Inexpensive, sustainable and won’t scratch your pots & pans – it’s a win-win for everyone! Here is a 5-piece set for about $6.00.
- BAMBOO/SILICONE SPATULA SET. Perfect for getting every last bit of sauce out of your blender or of course, for licking the last of the cake batter out of the bowl! Here is a set with 3 different sizes/uses for around $11.00.
- STAINLESS STEEL COOKWARE. I could do an entire post on this one (and probably will at some point) comparing different companies, styles of pots, and various metals used. However, for the simplicity of this article, I will just say that investing in a few, good, stainless steel pots and pans is a must for anyone who intends to cook at home a lot. Aluminum has been known to leach into the food if you accidentally scrape your pot so take aluminum off your list! And if you need non-stick to make your pancakes, just make sure to get an eco-friendly one for the same reason. As a starter kit, I’d recommend getting a set like this that you can use for sauteing, making grains, and soups. And for this 4-piece, stainless steel set, it’s only $85.00. Truly a bargain.
- GLASS PYREX CONTAINERS WITH LIDS. These guys are an organizational must if you like to prep & cook your food in advance for the week. Make a pot of rice and quinoa, cut up some veggies for a salad, roast or saute other veggies for side dishes then organize them in these glass containers with labels for the week. They are freezer-proof, oven-proof, and while I am not a big proponent of microwaves, they are safe for those too. Here is a multi-size starter kit for just under $40.00
- GLASS MASON JARS. And last but not least, the mighty mason jar. The 32-ounce is great for storing rice, lentils and beans. I like to use the 16-ounce for storing sauces or nuts. And the 4-ounce jars are perfect for making and storing dressings. These guys are inexpensive – just over $1.00 per jar and you can get them online or at your local hardware store.
So, there you have it! My list of what I can’t live without in my kitchen. Hope this helps inspire you to start cooking!