Grog and Vittles

Food and Spirits by an Vegetarian in Atlanta

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Carefully Outfitting Your Kitchen (Part 1)

The Simple Dollar recently published a list of pots, pans and knives for a beginner to get to start cooking

That blog is usually spot on with money advice, however I think this time people are being told they need to buy a lot more than they do to get started cooking. He preached restraint then told you to buy 10 pots. They said sets are silly then suggested you buy a set of knives. They were right you are going to ruin things but they didn't think about all the other parts of a beginner's mindset. A beginner will:
  • Ruin Food
  • Ruin Pots/Pans/Dishes
  • Misuse Knives
  • Possibly Give Up
  • Hate Doing Dishes
  • Will always want to use the dishwasher
  • Sometimes find they don't like cooking that much
  • Have have no frame of reference to pick out a knife/pot they like
  • Have a hard time justifying expensive dishes, and if they don't feel awful when they don't use them if they quit

I'm starting a three part series on how to outfit your kitchen, slowly and cheaply at first, then costing more money if and only if the new cook feels this is worth continuing. By the end, they'll be able to cook any amount of any kind of food for whomever they want. Even after the beginning, you'll be able to turn out edible and delicious meals for 1-5 people.

In this first portion, I'll get you started with what you could buy someone for "Their First Apartment" and yet not have a bunch of clutter that just confuses them and takes up space. The following list is skill-independent. It is enough to cook most things while not spending much money.

At this point you're just starting out and are possibly going to give up on this. This is a small investment that has a real chance of paying off for you, but at the same time, you won't feel like an idiot if you end up never using it like many Americans. (If I thought making you feel like an idiot would help make you keep cooking, I'd suggest more expensive stuff. I think you'll just not cook and feel like an idiot).

For a newbie, I suggest wooden spoons because:
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • They're cheap
  • Doesn't Hurt Teflon Coated Pans
  • No one ever got burnt grabbing a wooden spoon (that wasn't on fire)

You need only 1 knife and 1 cutting board. You're just starting. You really don't need more. For the "Big Pot" a huge aluminum one from a cooking supply store will be good enough. You can also buy them at places like Amazon and Bed, Bath and Beyond. For the other two pots, buy something cheap and coated with Teflon. These will probably be thrown away, although they may last a surprisingly long time (I finally threw out a pot I purchased in 2002 that was of this quality).

Here is a list of a reasonable amount of "gear" to get your kitchen able to cook enough variety you don't need to go out:
  • 1 Microwave (I'm assuming this is already available)
  • 1 Oven (I'm assuming this is already available)
  • 1 Stove (I'm assuming this is already available)
  • 1 Box (Cheese) Grater
  • 3 Wooden Spoons
  • 1 Big Pot (at least 4qts, preferably 6) and lid
  • 1 Saucepan (Teflon coated 2 or 3 quart) and lid
  • 1 Fry Pan (Teflon coated, at least 8 inches)
  • 1 9x9 Glass Baking Dish
  • 1 Cookie Sheet
  • 1 set Dry Measuring Cups/Spoons
  • 1 2-cup glass measuring Cup
  • 1 slotted plastic scoop (like to scoop a casserole)
  • 1 Silicone spatula
  • 1 Plastic Colander
  • 2 Metal Bowls
  • 1 Plastic Cutting Board
  • 1 Stamped Steel Chef's Knife (i.e. Crappy knife that doesn't stay sharp long but is cheap and will work for now)

Will allow cooking of:
  1. Any boiled/poached food (e.g. Broccoli, Potatoes, Shrimp)
  2. Any pan-fried food (e.g Panir, Sausage, Quesadillas)
  3. Many roasted foods (e.g. Roasted Bell Peppers, Roasted Rosemary Potatoes)
  4. Many seared foods ("Fried" Tofu/Steak falls in this category)
  5. Salads (Mix them up in the bowl)
  6. Nuts/Snack Mix
  7. Biscuits
  8. Pancakes
  9. Gravy
  10. Pastas
  11. Rice Dishes
  12. Most Sauces
  13. Brownies
  14. Cookies
  15. Casseroles
  16. Lasagnas
  17. Sausage
  18. Fried Hashbrown
  19. Gellates (a pie wrapped up like a Crunchwrap(TM) then cooked on a cookie sheet)
  20. Chili
  21. Stew/Soup
  22. Fried Eggs
  23. Omelets
  24. Poached Eggs
  25. Scrambled Eggs
  26. Stovetop Mac and Cheese (Homemade is easy, delicious and better for you)
  27. Melted Chocolate Foods (the metal bowl on top of the big pot == double boiler)

On Amazon, I put all these into one place, and came out with a price of $194 before shipping. I'm going to be switching out comparable items over the next week or so (and as suggestions come in) to try to get the shipping cost down. Right now it's in the 40's, I hope to get that down into the 20's.

Amazon is not the best price for some of these items, but you'll *easily* save the $200 (or even $240) within 2 months of cooking for yourself rather than eating out for every meal. You have 27 kinds of things to make, that is more than enough dishes to hold you at home eating for two whole months. You'll get away with an even cheaper start bill of you go by a cooking supply warehouse. A word of warning: don't get fooled by kitchen specialty stores that try to look like supply warehouses. If you don't see restaurant gear there, it's not where you want to be (at least right now).

Subscribe to make sure you catch part 2 of the series. If you want recipes for "beginner" versions of any of the above, comment and I'll post all of them together.


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  • At 4:53 AM, Blogger dream_on_girl said…

    Hey, thanks for the comment. You provided a practical list of kitchen things that I definitely do need, and even though I know how to cook, it was pretty difficult for me to come up with the right combination of stuff... now I get to cook at home and know I have the right tools, LOL. Thanks!


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