“I don’t know where to start with stocking my kitchen!”
“I don’t have enough money to stock my kitchen!”
“I have a crappy set of equipment from college, is that good enough to get started?”
If you think stocking your kitchen is overwhelming, I have good news.
It takes far less money or equipment to properly equip your kitchen than you realize.
For starters, there are very few things you need at first. And you probably have most of them already. You probably just need a couple more additions to be ready to cook 95% of the dishes you’ll ever need.
All the massive lists I see on how to stock your kitchen make me want to bang my head through a wall. You don’t need a bread knife. You don’t need a blender. And you certainly don’t need a mandoline.
The amount of tools you need in your kitchen are remarkably small, and can be broken down as follows:
- Three pieces of cookware
- One knife (and three knife “accessories”)
- Six utensils
- Seven “miscellaneous” items
Do You Have to Buy a Whole New Kitchen?
Throughout this article, I’m going to make specific recommendations, but don’t feel like you have to go out and buy all of them.
In all likelihood, you already have most of what you need on hand.
Even the poorest post-grad has picked up a cheap set of nonstick cookware and plastic utensils somewhere along the line. And while I’d certainly suggest you upgrade when these things wear out, I don’t want you using “I don’t have the right equipment” as an excuse for not cooking.
The recommendations for cookware and knives I will make in this article fall into the following three categories:
- Top of the Line–The best tool on the market, regardless of price.
- Best Value–A lower-cost alternative that will give you the best bang for your buck.
- Good Enough–If funds are tight, I’ll suggest the cheapest reasonable option out there.
Of course, if you are looking for rock-bottom prices and are starting from scratch, you’ll be tempted to buy the cheap stuff from Target or Ikea.
And I’ve got some thoughts on that…
Don’t Buy Cookware Sets (Unless…)
You don’t need three sizes of pots and two sizes of pans. It’s overkill. It’s the type of thing that overwhelms people and makes them say they “can’t cook” before they even try.
In a perfect world, I’d suggest you pick up your cooking tools separately. It’s the only way to get high-quality stuff that will last forever and make cooking easier and more enjoyable.
That being said, I know we don’t live in a perfect world.
If you do have a lightweight, nonstick cookware set with plastic utensils (which you probably do), don’t worry. I’m not going to send you out to completely restock your kitchen.
You can put most of that stuff to good use, but be aware that it won’t last too terribly long if you start cooking a lot.
For most people, your best bet is to start with what you have, buy what you’re lacking, and upgrade over time as things wear out.
If you are severely cash-strapped and not interested in geeking out too much on cookware, the best way to get started cooking is just outfit yourself as cheaply as possible and move forward.
A Look Ahead…
Over the next few days, I’ll be publishing several articles on how to painlessly stock your kitchen with equipment, with specific recommendations.
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