7 Basic Tools Every Kitchen Needs
The amount of kitchen gadgets available for purchase nowadays is nothing short of overwhelming (anyone in the market for an Egg Cuber?). It’s hard to wade through all the wildly unnecessary products out there, but shopping for the essentials is an imperative process for anyone building their own culinary arsenal — no matter how basic their aspirations be.
Cooking is faster, safer, and easier when you’ve equipped yourself with the right tools — and you don’t need to break the bank to do so! Here’s a list of seven basic items essential to every cook or baker’s kitchen. Each of these items is available for purchase at any vendor of household wares.
Knives can get pricy, but they are one utensil that is worth the splurge — for the sake of both safety and quality. As acclaimed chef Jamie Oliver tells Oprah, “You’ll be much better off with three good-quality knives … than you will be with a whole set of rubbish knives that won’t last long at all and will make your chopping worse.”
Real Simple suggests that every basic kitchen be equipped with a chef’s knife with an 8- to 9-inch blade for slicing meats, poultry, and vegetables; a 3- to 4-inch paring knife for the finer and more precise cuts used in carving, cutting, scoring, and peeling; and a rigid, serrated bread knife for cutting through breads and tomatoes.
2. Cutting board
The use of a cutting board will protect your knives’ blades as well as your countertops. Cutting boards are also advisable for hygienic reasons, and because they are a great means of simplifying kitchen cleanup.
Huffington Post suggests that cooks at any skill level “Consider buying two boards, one specifically for cutting meat and another for everything else.” This precaution will avoid the risk of cross-contamination. Plastic and wooden boards are the most efficient and cost-effective.
3. Measuring cups and spoons
Some seasoned pros in the kitchen may be able to eyeball out approximate amounts for their own dishes, but not all of us are so gifted. Since cooking and baking rely heavily on ingredients combined in the correct proportions, your best bet is to invest — just a couple bucks — in a set of measuring cups and measuring spoons. Epicurious suggests that cooks spring for a separate measuring cup for fluids, given that “a cup of water isn’t exactly the same as a cup of flour.”
Any store-bought set of measuring cups or spoons will consist of the typical units of measurement found in recipe books, and these tools will cut a hefty amount of guesswork out of your next culinary foray.
4. Large pot
“Every kitchen should have at least one really big pot!” writes The Kitchn.
Yes, small pots are great for sauces — and a medium-sized pot can get a lot done in its own right. Neither, however, can hold a candle to the large pot! This is a vital tool when it comes to throwing together dishes such as stews, mashed potatoes, and soups.
A large pot is a staple in many favorite at-home meals. If you’re worried about overdoing your portions — who said leftovers were a bad thing? Store remnants in the fridge, or freeze to keep on-hand for future meals.
5. Non-stick skillet
A non-stick skillet is one of the chef’s most versatile stovetop tools. Skillets are ideal in preparing eggs, poultry, meats, fish, and more. It’s vital to spring for a sturdy, non-stick option. As Jamie Oliver tells Oprah, “I always go for really good-quality nonstick ones … As long as they’ve got sturdy, thick bottoms, I think they’re all about the same.”
Follow Oliver’s basic guidelines and purchase a piece according to your own cooking preferences and budget. Epicurious reiterates Oliver’s advice to opt for a sturdy material that is “heavy enough to sit comfortably balanced on the burner of your stove.” If the option has stay-cool handles to reduce risk of burn — even better!
6. Mixing bowls
Mixing bowls are a must for almost every cooking or baking recipe you’ll encounter in your kitchen, and they are one of the best investments a cook can make. As Eating Well writes, “A set of 3 stainless-steel mixing bowls that fit inside one another is a space saver. They are inexpensive, versatile and will last a lifetime.”
A solid set of mixing bowls will have high sides to reduce the risk of spillage. Mixing bowls are available in all sorts of materials — plastic, steel, and glass being the most prominent. Glass is particularly helpful for when ingredients need to be heated or melted in the microwave.
7. Essential utensils
Finally, every kitchen should have a stockpile of the smaller culinary essentials — most of which can be bought together in one set. These include a mixing spoon, slotted spoon, spatula, ladle, whisk, tongs, peeler, can opener, and thermometer. Each of these tools will prove helpful in the scooping, serving, combining, transferring, and overall preparation of your dishes. You won’t get far without them!