When I first moved out on my own, I bought a knife set that included nine knives and a gorgeous wooden knife block to be put on display, a deep red nonstick cookware set, and a set of seven kitchen utensils, two of which I used quite often. This initially felt like I was saving money as I was getting more items, but I ended up spending more in different ways. My cookware set took up more space than I wanted and that prevented me from putting other things in my cabinet. The unused utensils sit in my drawers waiting for the one occasion that I happen to need them. I only use one of the knives daily. The money I spent on the knife set could have been used to buy one fantastic knife instead of nine mediocre knives that dull quickly.
So what do you really need if sets are no good?
Here are the top 5 items you need for your kitchen:
1) The 8 inch Chef’s Knife
This is the one item that is used for nearly every meal. The shape of this knife is flat towards the handle and slowly curves up and this allows a motion that rocks back and forth which is great for mincing. From the middle to the end of the blade, it’s great for chopping and slicing.
Choosing a chef’s knife can be overwhelming, but the best way to choose a chef knife is by holding it in your hand. You can feel where the weight is and how the handle feels. The weight influences how it feels when you’re chopping. It could be very tedious to use or it could be too light and not able to cut things as easily. As for the handle, it could get slippery if your hands are greasy or wet or it just isn’t pleasant to hold.
Make sure to try to cut with it. For me, I have small hands so my knuckles never hit the table. However, for big hands, it could be a problem.
I also recommend staying away from knives with a colorful coating. Those may be aesthetically pleasing to have, but the coating does come off and can end up in your food.
For maintenance, sharpen your knife. You can feel a dull knife when cutting a tomato and it doesn’t glide into it like it used to. You have a higher chance of hurting yourself with a knife if the knife is dull.
2) The Skillet
When buying a nonstick skillet, do not under any circumstances buy one that contains PFAS, PFOA, and PTFE. These are the chemicals that create that nonstick coating that also has been said to cause cancer.
When using a nonstick skillet, use a silicone spatula or wooden utensils for cooking and use a non-scratch sponge for cleaning. When you use a metal utensil or a knife, you end up cutting the nonstick surface which will cause food to stick more. This will cause wear and tear on your skillet and you’ll have to buy a new one much sooner.
3) Saucepan/Stock Pot
Alright, this is kind of cheating if I say both, right?
So what I mean is you want a pot that has high sides that you can use to heat soup, boil some pasta, and make a sauce. I mention both as it depends on your situation and how many people you cook for at once. If you are cooking for a family or making extra to have as leftovers or meal prepping then you would want a pot that can hold at least four quarts. If you are just heating soup for one person, then a saucepan would be great to use.
4) The Classic Cutting Board
Yes, you could use your countertop or a dish to chop things on, but cooking is so much easier with a cutting board. Make sure to get one that is appropriate for your countertops and sink. If it’s too big, then you’ll hate washing it and dread using it.
The cutting board I like most has a reservoir that collects water or any liquid that runs off. Without it, the liquid drips all over the table and is a pain to clean especially if it’s raw meat.
After cooking, wash your cutting board right away especially if it is made out of wood or bamboo as those materials are known to warp or crack if they sit in any liquid for long durations.
5) Silicone Spatula
I use this for everything from scraping the bowl of cake batter to getting the rest of that delicious sauce out of the saucepan.
My favorite spatula and one that is highly recommended by America’s Test Kitchen is the Dioro Silicone Spatula!. It is heat-resistant up to 600 degrees and has a flat head with a curved corner that is wonderful for scraping the corners of the bowls. The tip is thin and flexible so you can get every last bit. It has a seamless one-piece design that makes cleaning it easy. This is not sponsored. I just really love the product!
So what are some of the essential items in your kitchen?