“The only equipment you need in the kitchen: a pot, a pan, a knife, a fork and a spoon. That’s what it all comes down to. (And in a pinch you could give up the fork.)”– Bunny Crumbpacker, How To Slice An Onion
In the past year, I have had the opportunity to cook in two kitchens that weren’t my own. The first kitchen was my dear friend, Steph’s, tiny apartment kitchen. Steph is 24 and just starting out on her own. Most of Steph’s kitchen equipment came from her 82 year old grandmother. She had the common spices of salt, pepper, cinnamon, and baking powder was that was best used in 2006.
The second kitchen belonged to my friend, Mike. Mike is a culinary school graduate with a huge kitchen, brand spanking new appliances, $400 knives, 4 kinds of salt and pepper, a ton of herbs and spices and just about every kitchen/cooking gadget in existence. Although these kitchens are very different, I have eaten good food from both. Here in solitary kitchen, the solitary cook has tried to strike a balance between Steph’s bare bones approach to cooking with a minimum of equipment and ingredients and Mike’s everything plus the kitchen sink approach.
The first step in equipping our solitary kitchen is determining what we already have and what we need. The following list is based on things I use to cook with daily. If you have this basic equipment you will be able to cook just about everything I post on this blog. The people who have cooked for families or even a little bit for themselves probably already have most of the items. If you are new to cooking, you may have to invest a little more money to get started. The good news is that most of the items can be found at dollar stores and discount stores like Walmart and Target fairly cheaply.
2 cup liquid measuring cup#
a set of dry measuring cups#
2 1 quart mixing bowls
1 8” frying pan with lid#
1 12” frying pan with lid
1.5 quart sauce pan with lid#
3.5 quart sauce pan with lid
2 cutting boards#
1 8” chef’s knife*
1 5” paring knife
A couple of wire whisks in different sizes
1 heat resistant rubber spatula#
1 flipping spatula
A couple of wooden spoons
1 3 cup baking dish with lid#
1 6 cup baking dish with lid#
Various sizes of storage containers
1 6 cup muffin pan
It is possible to spend thousands of dollars to equip your kitchen and that’s not even including major appliances like refrigerators and stoves. While that may be fun, is it really necessary? Is a 70 dollar set of Le Cruset 3 cup and 6 cup baking dishes really any better than the Pyrex set I bought at Walmart for 10 dollars? In the end, that decision is up to you. I say buy the best quality you can afford, even if that means a trip to the dollar store for the basics. Great, anything to get you into the kitchen. If you can spend a little more, try places like Walmart and Target. Keep a look out for the basics at garage sales, consignment stores, thrift stores, or hand-me-downs from friends and families. I have even found awesome pans and other equipment in the garbage bin behind my apartment. My most treasured piece of kitchen equipment is an angel food cake pan that a friend bought for me at a garage sale for a quarter.
While kitchen equipment doesn’t have to be expensive, there are a few areas it pays to spend a little more for quality equipment, those areas are your pots and pans and your knives. Over the next few weeks I will have articles on why it is important to choose quality pot, pans and knives and how to choose those that best fit your needs as a solitary cook. In the meantime, start considering the things you need to start cooking.
#= must have in order to cook