Kathy Maister's Start Cooking

Essential Kitchen Equipment

posted in General by Kathy Maister

If you are moving into your own apartment for the very first time, the list of “essentials” seems never-ending. So, for startcooking.com I have tried to keep your list of cooking essentials to the bare minimum.

I have already started several discussions on stocking your cupboard , stocking your refrigerator , basic utensils , and knives.

Now, let’s talk about kitchen equipment.

Three usually come with most apartments or houses you may rent, share or (if you’re lucky) buy. They are:

1. A Refrigerator

2. A Sink

3. An Oven with a stove top

Typically, you are on your own after these three.

There is one more absolute, non-optional, essential piece of equipment:

4. Pots and Pans

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You will need, at a minimum:

(a) One 6-quart pot for making spaghetti,

(b) One 2-to-3 quart pot for making rice, boiling potatoes, etc. and

(c) One 7-to-10 inch skillet or fry pan.

Many of the large discount stores offer “sets” of pots and pans. If you don’t own any, that may be the way to go. If you have time to shop around look for sales and “extra-off” coupons. That will cut the cost considerably.

Buy the best you can afford. Really inexpensive pans do not have the same heat-retention ability as the more expensive ones.

From here on, my list says “optional” but quite honestly most of it is essential.

Option 1: Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens have become incredibly inexpensive over the years. You can now purchase one for less than $40. Many of them now have sensors that take the guess-work out of microwaving potatoes, popcorn, and things like frozen meals.

(Even my husband, who does not know how to cook, knows how to use the microwave!)

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Option 2: Cutting boards
You can buy either wood or some kind of plastic or synthetic cutting-boards. Be sure to check out my post on How to Choose and Use Cutting Boards.

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Option 3: Baking Sheet with sides
This sheet pan has a multitude of uses including roasting potatoes, making English muffin pizzas, baking cookies (like chocolate chip) and lots more.

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Option 4: Mixing Bowls
Get some that could also double as serving bowls for salads, mashed potatoes, etc.

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Option 5: Colander
Straining water off spaghetti is impossible with out one. This is also great for washing fruits and vegetables.

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Option 6: Coffee Pot/Kettle
If you are on your own, you may want to consider a “French Coffee Press”. (A french coffee press is easy to use when you know how, and you can make a really good, cup of home-brewed coffee with one in less than 5 minutes.) To boil water for coffee or tea, you may want to consider a tea-kettle or electric kettle. If you have a microwave, you could also use that to boil water.

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Option 7: Toaster or Toaster Oven
If you like toasted bagels, make sure the mouth of the toaster is large enough to accommodate a sliced bagel. Toaster ovens not only toast breads, but as the names says, it’s a mini oven. It allows you to bake and broil in addition to toasting. I have seen them on sale for as low as $30.

Option 8: Blender
Blenders can be more expensive then a microwave. If you want your blender to crush ice (for smoothies and margaritas), then you will need one with a fairly powerful motor. The more powerful the motor is, the more expensive the blender will be.

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So this is my starter list. By popular demand I am adding a vegetable peeler and a garlic press to the utensil list . Make sure you also get some dishtowels and pot holders/oven mitts.

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A toaster, a blender, a coffee-pot and a tea-kettle may not be first on YOUR list, but cutting boards, mixing bowls, a baking sheet with sides and a colander really are necessary to start cooking.

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20 Comments

Pam C said:

I love this post, most especially the soft teal colander with matching towel!

Keep up the great work xoxo P

Bethany Riskin said:

I could not live without my food processor, pasta machine (manual, not electric), and baking stone!

Jon (Sacker) said:

Bethany, I’m so impressed at your use of the pasta machine. For some reason it’s the one major kitchen gadget I’ve never been able to master. What I don’t understand is where you get your third hand from:
one to feed the pasta dough;
the second to crank the handle;
and teh third to catch the pasta as it comes out of the machine!!

Dave said:

I’ve found my vegetable steamer to be a very useful and simple device. I’ve heard it doesn’t remove as much nutritional value as boiling does. It’s also good for a lot more than just veggies. I bought my dad an Oster model for $30 at Target recently.

Kathy Maister said:

Hi Dave, Steamers are great! Prior to microwave ovens, I used my steamer all the time to steam vegetables. (Yikes! that was a long time ago!) Nutritionally speaking, it was the only way to go. Now I find in much quicker to “steamvegetable in the microwave!

Jon and Bethany, Food Processors, pasta machines, baking stones, etc are amazing things to have in your kitchen! (I have them all!) But…if you are just learning to cook, I don’t think they are on the top of the priority list of equipment! Investing in a good knive is step #1!

Gary said:

Nice kitchen equipments…….!

Tom said:

When trying to design your dream kitchen keep a few things in mind. Start with a cabinet professional, they know the ins and outs of kitchen design and they can properly lay out your kitchen so that all the extras that you were hoping for will come together perfectly.

Kathy Maister said:

The last time I renovated my kitchen was 17 years ago! I’m wondering how much longer my Sub-Zero will last? The stove lasted about 12 years, and my microwave 15 years before they needed replacing. A newly designed elevator in our building means that to install a Sub-Zero, it would have to get carried up 7 flights of stairs or I would have to hire a crane and bring it through the window!

timothy lambinicio said:

Nice for showing the tools and equipment of kitchen, thank you! :)

Kathy Maister said:

We are all about learning the basics here at startcooking.com!

Karen Bosch said:

The one kitchen appliance that I could not live without is my Bosch blender…..I am able to puree soups, make smoothies, and grind coffee beans.

Roy said:

I just attended the Saladmaster cooking demo on its pots and pans. They seem to be very high quality stuffs but very expensive. Normally, I cook with nonstick. Is it safe? or we should really use Stainless steel or 316 Titanium Saladmaster is selling. Your feedback is much appreciated.

Happy New Year…

Thanks, Roy

startcooking said:

Hi Roy,

I am not familiar with Saladmaster cookware.

I use a combination of stainless and non-stick cookware mostly by All-Clad, plus two Dutch ovens by Le Crueset. (I do not get paid by them for giving them the thumbs up, nor have they ever given me any cookware for free. I have been sent cookware from other companies hoping for an endorsement. I have yet to try any that compares to All-Clad and Le Crueset)

I really like my non-stick inch fry pans. (My 10 inch is shown in my Fried Rice video) When you work with non-stick you just have to be careful that you do not pre-heat the pan to the smoking point. It is those fumes that can be toxic.

I am not a big fan of buying sets of anything, that includes a set of knives and a set of pots and pans. Good cookware is REALLY expensive. If the “set” includes pan sizes you will not use regularly, then it is a waste of money.

Many of the big kitchen shops will let you make up your own “set” with you being the one selecting what size and shape is right for your cooking needs.

An investment in good cookware requires some research on your part and be very wary of a good sales pitch.

This is not a easy decision. I wish you the best of luck trying to figure out what is right for you!

Cheers,
Kathy

Roy said:

Hi Kathy,

Thank you so much for getting back to me so quickly. The Saladmaster is selling its Starter Set for around $2500. It’s supposed to have the highest quality Titanium. Food cooks very fast. A lot of its recipes require no oil or water to prepare. So, it claims to retain much flavors from the food itself. Anyway, I am not sure if I can justify to spend that much on 6 pieces of pots and pans?

About non stick pans, I was told some countries already banned from selling them because of its potential to cause health problems. US might start putting label about its danger. Have you heard of it?

Thanks again for your wonderful website and videos.

Thanks,
Roy

startcooking said:

Roy,

If I were you I would go on line and read every review possible on this cookware before making such a huge investment.

Yes, many countries are considering banning non-stick cookware. Many of the issues stem from people using non-stick cookware improperly. If the non-stick surface has in anyway been compromised, then the pan should be thrown out. If you follow the manufacturers recommendations on proper use and care for non-stick cookware, they you should be fine.

As I said before, I use a combination of different pots and pans. I would not want an entire set of non-stick pans nor would I want an entire set of just stainless steel pan either.

Another thing to consider is the weight of the pans empty. My Le Cruest Dutch oven is fabulous but it does weigh a ton – which is one of the reason I would not want a whole set of Le Crueset cookware.

I hope this helps!
K.

Khuram said:

I want to be a chef!

Elana said:

Really great information. Awesome article. I am definitely coming back

monica said:

I’m so excited about buying my first kitchen utensils and equipment. Thanks for all the great information! How much should I be spending…

startcooking said:

Hi Monica,
Buy the BEST you can afford!
Cheers,
Kathy

Tina said:

I have found this to be really useful.