Whether you’re a newlywed, a recent grad moving into your first apartment or one of the 25% of millennials who Forbes recently reported will be moving back home with Mom and Dad, surely the idea of furnishing a kitchen has crossed your mind.
I’d love to help you get started. Here’s the deal: There are a few basic kitchen tools you absolutely need — 10, to be exact — without which you are not likely to use that kitchen for more than a place to pile takeout containers. We’re not talking about mountain of stuff — just 10 essentials to get started.
1. Fire extinguisher
My personal experience makes this an absolute requirement and first on the list. It was one of those lazy Saturdays. I decided to make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch. I put the greased skillet over high heat and ran out to the garage to say something to my husband. A neighbor wandered over, and we started talking. It was the smoke alarm that caught my attention and sent me flying.
In those few moments, the pan flamed out and caught the upper cabinet. My kitchen was on fire! A fire extinguisher sitting on the counter saved the day. I am still surprised I’d learned how to use the thing and reacted almost intuitively. Your kitchen must have a fire extinguisher that is fully charged.
2. Knives and sharpener
You need good knives. I’m talking about knives that can be sharpened and that you will keep sharp. That means they need to be handy and super easy to use. If you can find a reasonably priced set that comes with a block and shears, plus at least chef, carving and paring knives, and perhaps even a bread knife, that’s exactly what you need.
You also need a knife sharpener that you will actually use in your drawer of kitchen tools. A block sharpener works well — it’s small; it fits easily in a utensil drawer; and it’s easy and foolproof to use.
3. Pots and pans
You can go broke on pots and pans. You want to make sure you have at least a skillet, a couple of saucepans and a larger pot for soups and stock. Tramontina offers a nice basic set that won’t break the bank.
4. Measuring cups and spoons
Every kitchen needs at least one set of quality measuring cups and spoons, preferably stainless steel. Find ones that will nest together for easier storage.
5. Dish towels
Also known as bar mops or restaurant cleaning towels, you need a stack of them — clean and ready to go. You’ll save a ton of money not buying paper towels. As they become soiled, throw them in the laundry hamper.
I can’t tell you how many times I reach for my colander in a typical day. I use it for so many things. And now that I have begun cooking rice as I do pasta (in a lot of water, uncovered, boiling rapidly until it’s done and then draining and rinsing under hot water), I’m using it even more.
I wouldn’t know what to do without them. Truth be told, I have three pair. Look for ones that lock in closed position for easy storage.
8. Baking dishes
Whether it’s a cake or a casserole, you’re going to need something to bake in. I recommend a set of inexpensive Pyrex glass dishes.
9. Instant-read thermometer
You need this — you really need this kitchen tool! With a reliable thermometer, you won’t suffer the heartbreak of overcooked steak or undercooked chicken. Thermapen makes several great models.
10. Cutting board
Face it: Cooking means a lot of cutting, chopping and mincing. You need a good cutting board to protect and preserve your cutlery and countertop.
A nonporous polypropylene board will be easy to clean and sanitize. And it’s safe in the dishwasher.
You can find specific brand recommendations and additional resources at www.everydaycheapkate.com/kitchentools.
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at EverydayCheapskate.com, “Ask Mary a Question.” This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.