Just starting to cook? Need to know what are the most essential items to have in your kitchen? Domestic CEO gives her 4 savvy tips on how to stock a kitchen without busting your budget.
Kitchens. I’ve seen a lot of them. Whether I’m cleaning the kitchen for my Moxie Girl clients, or snooping through friends and family members’ kitchens to get a glass of water, I’ve become pretty familiar with what kitchens typically need to function well..
One thing I’ve learned is that the kitchens that have the most stuff aren’t always the best stocked. So today I’m going to share with you the essential items you need to have a well-working kitchen. If you are living on your own for the first time, or you just want to make sure you have what you need to start your new cooking habits, today’s episode is for you!
Kitchen Essential #1: Dishes and Silverware
The first thing every kitchen needs is a set of real dishes. Even if you don’t cook, you still need to have a few plates for heating things up in the microwave, bowls for cereal, and cups for the occasional cup of tea when you are sick. I recommend that every kitchen have a dish set to accommodate at least 4 people. This will give you the ability to serve up take-out on real plates, or give you at least 4 days between needing to wash dishes if you get lazy.
I am a big fan of matching plates and bowls, so I bought a pre-boxed set of 16 items (4 bowls, 4 cups, 4 salad plates, and 4 dinner plates) for our home. If you aren’t into the matchy-matchy thing, you can search through consignment or second hand stores for 4 of each items until you have a perfectly mismatched set. While you’re searching for the dishes, also look for glasses that you would be proud to serve a grown-up drink in. Plastic tumblers that you got free from a bar are great, but they don’t cut it when you want to impress your friends with a fancy dinner party. Look for a set of 4 matched or mismatched glasses that you can pull out anytime you want your table to have a more polished look.
Now that you have the big stuff picked out, it’s time to pick out the silverware. When I was buying my first set of silverware, I wanted something fancy and trendy. What I discovered was that sometimes the fancy silverware is a little annoying to actually eat from. Before you purchase your own silverware, take note of the styles of silverware you like at your friends houses and favorite restaurants and get something similar to the ones that you like. Keep in mind who will be using the silverware. If you have kids, you probably don’t want to get the set that has the massive dinner forks. As odd as it sounds, you want to make sure to get the ones that will fit and actually feel comfortable in your diners’ mouths.
Kitchen Essential #2: Utensils
After you find the perfect eating tools for your kitchen, it’s time to look for the cooking tools to get the food on your plate. When it comes to cooking utensils, I’ve found it pays to invest in a few, higher quality utensils than waste your money on a bunch of cheap stuff. When you are shopping for cooking utensils, you will want to look for ones that won’t melt if you accidently leave them on your stove. Many higher quality tools will have a note that they can withstand heats over 400 degrees. These are often made of silicone or nylon. For about 10 years, I’ve been using the same nylon tool set from Pampered Chef. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve left them in a pan and never once have they melted a bit. If you buy quality tools, you won’t have to worry about them melting over the side of a pan, or becoming so misshaped from heat that they become unusable.
Now that you are focused on finding good quality cooking tools, it’s time to know what to buy. You can get by with one of each of these tools: spoon, slotted spoon, spatula, and a couple of silicone scrapers (formerly known as rubber spatulas). You will also want to have a few sharp knives to help you chop your ingredients. Instead of purchasing an entire knife set just to have most of the knives sit idly in the block, consider purchasing just a few key knives to do the jobs you need.
The ones I recommend are: a chef’s knife (usually about an 8” blade, and can cut through almost anything), a utility knife (5” blade, super versatile), a bread knife (longer straight blade with a serrated edge, so it will go through soft things like bread or tomatoes), and a paring knife (small, 3” blade which is great for when you need more control). These 4 knives will get you through 99.9% of every cutting situation you find yourself in, so if you are on a budget, pick up one at a time until you have the full set you need.