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So you just moved out and you need to start stocking your kitchen with cookware and the likes. But what in the world do you need?
I’ve compiled this one-stop guide to help others like me who kind of just want the answers RIGHT NOW. These are based on what I’ve done and researched.
Now, these are just the essentials for beginners. I personally don’t have enough space or budget to allow for every cookware item. So I’ve found myself constantly making do with what I have. And that’s perfectly fine for every beginner. Because if there’s one thing you need to be when it comes to cooking is be creative.
Let’s get started!
What kind of cookware should I start off with?
The easy answer is to buy a cookware set. There may be a chance there is something you might not need, but it’s usually one out of six pots/pans.
For a more detailed answer…
Think of the things you like to eat. If you like a lot of pan-fried/sautéed foods, then you’ll need a frying pan. If you like a lot of soup or stews, you’ll need a medium-sized saucepan and/or dutch oven.
Then there are handles… Do you want a handle on each side or one elongated handle? For me, I like double handles. It can make the difference when you want to double your pan/pot as a serving dish.
My essential cookware:
- 8-inch fry pan
- 10 or 12-inch fry pan (although I cook for two, I like the space this allows)
- Small saucepan with lid
- Medium-sized saucepan with lid
- Sauté pan with lid (the lid is a must!)
What I’d rather have but use instead…
- Dutch oven, but I use a medium-sized saucepan that came with my cookware set. It does the job for a two-person serving.
- Calaphon everyday pan with two handles and a lid, but I use a lid-less sauté pan that came with my cookware set.
- What you might need…
- Stockpot, if you make a lot of food or make soup/stock.
Whatever you decide…
If you found a cookware set that doesn’t meet all your needs and you don’t have the money to spend, there are ways to make do with what you have. All you need is a little creativity. I sure have found ways instead of purchasing a variety of cookware (as listed earlier).
Should I buy nonstick, stainless steel, cast iron, enameled iron, etc?
It depends on your comfortability.
I recommend broiler-safe tri-ply (clad) stainless steel for everything except fry pans. Nonstick is the most useful for fry pans.
What is tri-ply?
Well, stainless steel on its own isn’t a good conductor of heat, but aluminum and copper do. Tri-ply stainless steel pans sandwich aluminum (cheapest and most common) or copper in between stainless steel. Think tri-ply as in three layers.
Clad continues the tri-ply up to the handles. This is important. If you want to hold on to the handles and not burn yourself, you need clad.
Is stainless steel nonstick?
No, it is not. The best practice to make it the most “nonstick” is to heat the pan before applying oil or food. Use the water test: Add water and see if it bubbles. If it does, then it’s ready. Now if it evaporates right away, it’s too hot.
Why stainless steel?
Stainless steel does not break the budget and is durable whereas nonstick pans/pots can scratch and peel so they do not last long.
Nonstick saucepans or stockpots aren’t really necessary either. They are actually a nuisance for me if the appropriate tool I need isn’t nonstick or does not work properly nonstick.
Right now, I’ve got Calphalon Tri-Ply Everyday Stainless Steel Cookware on my wish list. I did all the research which is why I’m recommending broiler-safe, tri-ply clad stainless steel cookware.
But I’m really afraid of food sticking to the pan…
When it comes down to you, use what you feel most comfortable with. Just make sure you don’t scratch your nonstick cookware by using nonstick kitchen tools as well. For beginner cooks who’ve never cooked a dish in their life, then nonstick is probably the best choice for you.
If you’re worried about Teflon, it gets toxic when it reaches 500+ degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid putting it in the oven. You can read more about it here.
What kitchen tools are essential?
- Chef’s Knife with Sharpener
- Paring knife
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Can opener
- Kitchen scissors
These are the kitchen tools I use on a daily basis. The list’s pretty short, right? You don’t need a bunch of steak knives. It’s like wasted space on my countertop really… (but they’re not mine so I can’t complain). But one thing that’s such a must and you’ll definitely agree too are the measuring cups and spoons!! What is a beginner to do without it?
What other kitchen stuff do I need?
- Cutting board
- Preferably, you should buy two. Use one for meat and the other for vegetables. You need to avoid cross-contamination as much as possible. Let’s not give ourselves food poisoning, yeah?
- Buy a large one. You really want to find one as large as you can find it, specifically for meat. You’ll never know when you’ll need the space. I tried to butcher a chicken on small, circular cutting board. Let’s just say the mess was everywhere.
- Choose bamboo/wood instead of plastic. When properly taken care of (which is by soaking in mineral oil before initial use and in between uses), wood lasts a lot longer than plastic would.
- Medium sized mixing bowl
What kind of ovenware / bakeware do I need?
It all depends how often you’d like to use the oven, but you probably just need one giant sheet pan. If you like oven-fried foods, you will also need a wire rack for evenly crisp food.
What about dinnerware?
This one is pretty self-explanatory. You need plates, bowls, and utensils. However, I don’t use all the dinnerware that comes in sets. I use appetizer plates for warming up food like mini cinnamon rolls. Instead of dinner plates, I prefer salad plates since it controls portion sizes. For bowls, I use cereal-sized bowls and slightly bigger ones to accommodate my ramen cravings.
How much dinnerware should I have for each person?
Minimalists will probably say one for each person, but I will have to say two for each person. Washing a utensil over and over again in a short amount of time is really inconvenient. But if that doesn’t bother you, go ahead with one per person.
At the end of the day, do what’s right for you.
This cookware essentials guide is by no means strict. I am providing this for you so that you can make a more informed decision when buying cookware for your kitchen. It is a kickoff point for beginners like ourselves to find what’s right for our purposes.
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