Having good cookware and utensils make all the difference in the world. If you are armed with tools that make your life easier, you will be more inspired to cook.
Here’s a list of my must haves in the kitchen:
1) Stainless Steel Cookware: small and large skillet, small and large saucepans, steamer insert, large pot, 5 qt. sauté pan. Don’t use non-stick. The plastic coating is toxic and awful for you, and it doesn’t last. A good SS set will last a lifetime if you take care of it.
2) Large Cast Iron Skillet: This is fantastic for cooking foods that you would normally grill. This is a great option for winter. Just hand wash, put a tiny bit of olive oil on it after it is cleaned, and put it back in the oven as it cools down. This will season the pan which enhances flavor and makes it easier to clean.
3) Steamer: If you don’t get a cookware set that comes with a steamer insert, you can buy a cheap basket steamer to add into any pot. Steaming veggies is so easy, and I use this method all the time.
5) Mixing Bowls: Get a set of mixing bowls of all sizes. Small ones are good for prepping and separating onions, garlic, and spices. Larger ones for working with combining a lot of ingredients. I prefer glass and/or stainless steel, but you can use whatever you want.
6) Cutting Boards: You will need a few different cutting boards. I prefer wooden or bamboo. I use one for things such as onions, garlic, spices, etc… I have a separate one for foods such as fruit that would soak up the residual garlic flavors. No one wants to eat a garlic strawberry. I have one flexible plastic one that I use for raw meats for sanitary reasons. That is the only thing I use it for and I wash it in the dishwasher after each use.
7) Set of Knives: A good set of knives is crucial. Keeping them sharp is also important. Don’t cheap out on these. If you get a good set, it will last you forever. At the very least, you need a good chef’s knife, and a good slicing knife.
8) Cooking Utensils: You need a good set of cooking utensils that include spoons, a slotted spoon, and spatulas. I prefer wooden spoons or silicone over plastic, as plastic is just not good for you and doesn’t last. This is purely a matter of preference.
9) Whisk: This is a must have for recipes that contain eggs or for making cream sauces and rues. I prefer wire whisks.
10) Garlic Press: A garlic press makes minced garlic a breeze. It saves so much time and aggravation. I wouldn’t cook without one. Try to find one that also helps to self-clean. To peel garlic easily, just cut off the root end, hit with flat side of chef’s knife to break up oils, and voila, skin comes right off. Put in garlic press, done! Minced garlic!
11) Zester: I use this to remove citrus zest for several recipes. Nothing makes a fresh flavor like fresh chopped zest!
12) Mortar and Pestle: I use this for grinding my own spices. It gives a much fresher flavor. I find a stone one works best.
13) Spice Grinder: I also bought a cheap coffee grinder that I use for grinding chiles into my own chili powder. Don’t mix with coffee though!
14) Spice Grater: This is great for using with hard spices like Cinnamon sticks, Nutmeg, or large chunks of sea salt. Just make sure if you use it for salt, you clean it thoroughly or it will rust. I primarily use it for nutmeg and store the leftover portions in the bottom.
15) Food Processor: This is my most treasured investment. Before buying a toaster, a blender, a microwave, or any other kitchen appliance, I would buy one of these. It is like the difference between riding a bike and driving a car.
16) Mandolin or Spiralizer: I prefer this instead of my food processor for making squash noodles. This can do everything a food processor can do except puree. So, if you can’t afford a food processor, get one of these and use your blender or a stick blender for pureeing. It’s a lot more work, but it will do the job.
17) Stick Blender: This is great for making soups that need to be pureed at the end. Love this tool.