I’m sure everyone who spends regular time in the kitchen has their list of ‘basics’…stuff that they couldn’t manage without.
Having been a single parent, fresh out of a women’s shelter at one point, my idea of ‘basics’ is even more basic than most. So, I thought I’d put together a list to help anyone that’s looking at just starting out on their own, or whose finally working up the nerve to tackle the great mystery of cooking.
(I honestly do believe that there are many folks out there that haven’t been taught, for one reason or another, their way around the kitchen. Many families eat largely prepared, prepackaged, or frozen foods, due to time, energy, and money constraints, on top of skills not having been passed along. I know I had to teach myself how to cook! Nobody took the time to teach me as a kid, so I had to play catch up when I went out on my own as a teen).
Ok, so here’s my list of ‘basics’.
Large pot – sometimes referred to as a ‘dutch oven’. Big enough to cook pasta, soups, and stews. So, big! Preferably with a lid, but in a pinch (like, if the kids have run off with it, or the handle broke off) the bottom of a frying pan, or even a large dinner plate will work.
Medium pot – ‘sauce pan’. Good for steaming veggies, pasta sauces, boiling eggs, etc. Again, preferably with a lid.
Frying pan – With a family my size, I go for the bigger, the better. It’s a basic for most ppl, but to be honest, I made it over a year with just using the bottom of my biggest pot as a fry pan. You adjust and manage as you need to!
Metal strainer – I find metal simply lasts longer than the plastic ones I’ve had, plus it works for steaming veggies as well.
Mixing bowl – any BIG bowl will do. I’ve used a casserole dish or a pot in a pinch.
Paring knife – small knife, non-serrated. Peeling and chopping small veggies.
Serrated knives – cutting meat, large veggies
Spatula – aka ‘egg flipper’ ‘cookie lifter’.
Wire whisk – can pick them up at the dollar store, one of the few things that are really technically an ‘indulgence’ but that I’d go nuts without
Big spoon/ladle – saves being burned by steam when things need to be stirred
Casserole dish and/or rectangular glass pan
2 cup glass liquid measure
Dry measuring cups
Vanilla extract (real or artificial, let budget be your guide)
Pancake syrup (when all else fails, pancakes are quick, cheap and easy!)
For everything but the food items, I highly recommend Good Will, Salvation Army, Value Village and garage sales if you’re on a tight budget. You can find excellent quality things for a fraction of the price in department stores. I do caution, however, check the handles on any cook ware to ensure that they’re not going to come off when you go to use them!
Please keep in mind, I consider the above the very, very, very basic things. There’s obviously loads more that many ppl find indispensable, but I’ve tried to pare everything down as much as possible. I may need to add to this list as I go, so check back now and then!
There will be more ingredients required in the recipes I post, but above is a good basic start in setting up a kitchen.