You can equip a kitchen for as little as $ 79.57! Does this sound too amazing to be true? It is not. The secret lies in buying the most critical tools for food preparation and knowing the versatile uses of each tool. Just 15 tools are key to cooking, and you can cook just about anything if you have them.
About to stock your first kitchen or one for your child? Feeling a bit overwhelmed after pricing your cookware sets? I am not. I will show you how to properly furnish a beginner’s kitchen with good quality tools for a song.
I have been cooking for 40 years and have all kinds of nifty kitchen appliances and beautiful equipment. But I made some of the most delicious and interesting foods of my life in a 10 ‘x 7’ galley kitchen with a small white 1950s refrigerator and matching gas oven and range. The white tub sink hung above the exposed drainpipe and the drab linoleum floor covered the floor. Cabinet and counter space were limited, but I happily found that a built-in 2-foot-deep, 3-foot-wide maple cutting board was pulled out of a 1/2 “slot between the countertop and drawers. How useful!
The walls of my apartment with no elevator on the third floor had been painted institutional green some 20 years before I took office. But the hardwood floors were barely worn, and the small living room was well lit by a cozy bay window. For the first time in my life I had a space to myself. I loved!
My entry-level professional position paid accordingly, which is why furniture and kitchen utensils tended to be second-hand. A second-hand sofa carried a blanket to cover the cushion that the claws of the pets had destroyed. A small black-and-white television, with a broken antenna, perched on a wobbly coffee table. I lived shabby chic 2 decades before its heyday.
I didn’t need a lot of kitchen cabinet space as I only had a few chipped stoneware flatware (courtesy of my late grandmother’s kitchen), some stainless steel flatware, and an impressive array of beer mugs pulled from the drinking troughs in the kitchen. college. And of course my kitchen utensils: a covered pot, a wire mesh strainer with one of its 3 legs missing, an old black frying pan, a decent chef’s knife, and a few assorted tools like spatulas, a peeler. potatoes and pot holders. I splurged on one thing: a new, hardcover, glossy page, fully illustrated copy of a gourmet cookbook simply called “The Cookbook” by Terence and Caroline Conran. Long before Julie cooked Julia, I made almost all of the recipes in that book in my ill-equipped little kitchen. And the meals were delicious! We are talking about Filet de Beeuf en Croûte, Veal with Apples and Cream, Gnocchi Romana, Paella and Hare in Sour Cream. I confess that I skipped the gizzards and tripe dishes, but I made a paltry Campagne pâté.
When a recipe called for a rolling pin, I used a glass as I had seen my grandmother do to roll out the cookie dough. My chef’s knife became my best friend, saving me the expense of a food processor, grater, grater, and mandolin. Forks ranked second in replacing beaters, reamers, pasta rakes and tongs. Although I coveted the beautiful equipment I saw in cooking stores, I was spending my money on cooking classes. And I noticed something funny. Many instructors also used a fork as a whisk when cooking in a hurry. Today I love and enjoy all my cooking things. But I know from experience that everything is “nice to have” and you don’t need to cook a fabulous meal.
Learning to cook is like learning to play golf. You don’t need all the fancy clubs to play a decent game, especially in the beginning. I had the urge to learn golf after seeing a set of Lynx Tigress woods. They were a beautiful royal blue and came with a matching bag. My heart sank for a few minutes in my first lesson when the pro told me that the only club I would use for weeks was a 5 iron. I thought I had clearly chosen a poor pro. What would I do with the adorable skirt and shoes I had bought to match my outfit? But as we went through our lessons, I came to understand his wisdom. Mastering the most versatile club taught me the basics without overwhelming me with too many options.
What do you need for a beginner kitchen? Surprisingly little. This is what I call my
“5 List of Irons”:
Chef’s knife ($ 14.99)
Cutting board ($ 1.49)
10 “covered skillet ($ 14.99)
2-quart covered saucepan ($ 10.99)
Dutch oven ($ 14.99)
Mixing bowl set ($ 4.99)
Liquid Measuring Cup ($ 4.99)
Dry measuring cups ($ 3.99)
Dry measuring spoons ($ 2.99)
13 x 9 “ Baking sheet ($ 8.39)
Flip the spatula, Kitchen spoon ($ 0.79)
Mesh strainer ($ 3.99)
Vegetable peeler ($ 4.99)
Can opener ($ 1.99)
I found the prices listed above at IKEA and Target.
The kitchen utensils are made of stainless steel. I chose it over aluminum and nonstick surfaces for two reasons. Stainless steel is known to be a stable metal, while there are some concerns about the potential health damage of aluminum cookware. There are also some questions about the health risks caused by nonstick surfaces, and once they are scratched, they should not be used. Smooth old stainless steel is the safest way to do it.
Why IKEA and Target? Because they both have physical stores, as well as e-commerce sites, and they both keep a constant stock over time. I often get great deals on cookware and kitchen supplies at stores like Home Goods and Tuesday Morning and I highly recommend stopping by to see if there is a store near you. But their models are such that the merchandise available can vary from day to day. Your local grocery store or membership store may have some affordable options, too. And, if you’re willing to browse online, you can find a lot of great deals. However, keep shipping costs in mind and try to buy from a seller to keep them low.
In the meantime, try veggies and protein with your new affordable kitchen supplies. Keep an eye out for part 2 of this article on tool substitutions.