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first thing to purchase...?

i just moved into a house with a decent-sized kitche...

and i'm ready to start cooking more, experimenting more, and just creating more dishes in the kitchen. i'm a newbie without any cookware.

what are some of the first thing i need to purchase to grow my artillery?
i've found that friends ran out and bought numerous pieces of cookware, only to find out there were others that could have saved them time and money.

i'm tapping into the chow-knowledge...

what?
where?
for how much?
and why?

many thanks!!

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  1. Start off with 2 good sauté pans; they will do quite a lot of your every day stuff. One can be a non-stick so you can do eggs, omelets, etc. You'll need one that isn't non-stick because there is much to say about its superiority in browning, pan sauces, etc. Cost isn't nearly the factor that many foodies think.

    Look into Cook's Illustrated for reviews and recommendations for brand names and prices. Don't buy sets of cookware. By the pieces you need as your skill level improves. Open stock (especially heavily discounted close outs) is the best way to put together a good collection.

    1 Reply
    1. re: bkhuna

      Go on Amazon and buy all the Magnelite pieces they have! No, they are'nt extra pretty but after filling my new kitchen with Profession anodized Calphalon I miss these great pots and pans. I have some pieces that go back five generations and still look great and cook so well. No need to do anything fancy to them they are non- destructive. Also get a kitchenaid mixer, you will always use it I love mine!! Good luck!!

    2. I second everything that bkhuna said should be your first purchase. The next purchase, I would say, should be a set of good knives (one paring, one butcher, one bread and one all-purpose serrated) and a cutting board. Pick up a heat-resistant nonstick spatula and a wooden spoon/spatula, and you are ready to get started just with all of the above items. Without knowing what type of foods you are apt to be preparing, I would suggest a good large pot and collander be your next purchase, as boiling and draining pasta and noodles, as well as rinsing veggies, are pretty universal tasks. Some useful tools: lockable tongs with a good grip, a vegetable peeler, a microplane cheese/rind/spice grater, and a garlic mincer. A roasting pan with a removable rack is also a good thing to get comfortable using. I suggest you purchase a baster and a saucepot with a lid whenever you do get the roasting pan, to take care of whatever sauces/juices you will be accompanying the meat with (the small pot will always be useful for making oatmeal, heating soups, etc.). I could keep going, but this is a great start- I am sure there are plenty of people who use nothing but these items!

      1. All of the above is on the money.

        I would add dry & liquid measuring cups & measuring spoons (if your spices are in tins or narrow bottles look for the rectangular shaped spoons, easier to use) and some glass oven wear. Even if you aren't interested in baking the oven wear is good for casseroles, meatloaf, etc.

        If you are patient you can often find great stuff at yard sales & craigslist. Lots of combining households get rid of their duplicates. If buying new, get on BB&B mailing list for the coupons! They really help your money go further. If there is a restaurant supply store in your area take a look. Most of the stuff is too big, but many items work well in a household situation.

        Most of all mime your cooking actions with the knives & pots & pans you are considering. If they aren't comfortable for you they won't do you any good. Look at how the handle is attached: does it look sturdy, will it be hard to wash?

        4 Replies
        1. re: meatn3

          And heavy depending on your size, etc. Calphalon (i like mine but) is really heavy. My mom hates it for that reason and I've found it is hard because my kids will have to be REALLY old before they can lift it. It's not so bad empty but full it is - especially in a large pot like pasta water!

          1. re: AMFM

            If you're talking Calphalon aluminum, it is not heavy. Aluminum is the lightest metal commonly used in cooking.

            1. re: mpalmer6c

              no. i have the anodized either commercial or professional nonstick that i got 10 years ago when i got married. not what i would've picked now but i was so young then! it's heavy with stuff in it. again - i'm a strong, tall girl and can lift it fine but my kids can't and my mom hates it at my house so i was just pointing out disadvantages to some folks.

          2. re: meatn3

            I would also add that there are great prices and finds at stores like Marshall's, TJ Maxx and Home Goods. You have to be patient and be willing to make frequent pilgrimages but you could outfit your kitchen with almost all the basics people have listed here fairly inexpensively.

          3. Good knives. I was helping a friend cook at his home and I got chopping duty. He told me to finely chop onions, celery, etc. Well, the knife that he gave me to use (his "best") would flex when I used it. Now this might be good for making interesting shapes out of food but not for finely chopping (or even effectively chopping) anything. Spend money on knives. I've used Oxo.

            1. thank you everyone for being so helpful!! this is great~ especially appreciate the tip on Calphalon's heaviness because i sometimes already have trouble w lighter pans when there's food in it and i can't use two hands to hold it...

              a thought on the knives-- should i wait until i know how to use knives and have some "skills" before i purchase a good set, or is it OK for me to get them now? any way my lack of skills can ruin a good set?

              this list is a gem. thank you!!

              9 Replies
              1. re: so_hungry

                calphalon - i forget which type i have but they're all heavy - is DEFINITELY 2 handed cookware. glad you appreciated the tip. my hubby loved it when we registered (and i had to let him pick something!LOL) but he never uses it and i hadn't really thought through the kids thing at that point in my life. is good cookware though. but my mom's stainless farberware is completely non-fancy and inexpensive and i know other foodies who love it too and it not only weighs nothing but can go in the dishwasher! there are days i would kill for that! :) i don't now what all-clad weighs.
                but i agree about buying the pieces you'll use not a big set.

                1. re: so_hungry

                  You don't need an outrageous set of knives just ones that aren't woefully cheap.

                  What I also use a lot is my garlic press and vegetable peeler.

                  Cooking is basically:
                  1) browning meat in pan
                  2) removing meat and sautéing chopped aromatics (e.g.: onions, carrots, celery) in meat drippings
                  3) deglazing pan then adding more liquid and reducing
                  5) pouring reduced liquid (sauce) over protein and serving with a starch

                  A good knife and a couple solid pans are a great start.

                  1. re: so_hungry

                    Don't buy knives in sets. Unless you have several hundreds to spend, you won't get top quality in the three blades you really, really need:

                    10 inch chefs knife
                    6 or 7 inch utility knife
                    4 inch paring knife

                    Unless (or until) you start hacking up large primal cuts or making cutsy little radish roses, those three knives will do everything you need to put food on your plate. I know a lot of people have serrated knives and bread knives, but those are cop-oputs to folks that won't learn to keep a good knife sharp. I haven't met a loaf of bread yet that I couldn't slice with my chef's knife. Get a decent steel (F.Dick Multicut will keep a good sharp knife in sharp condition easier than anything else) and those three blades and you'll have it made.

                    You don't need to spend a ton of money on a good knife. Look for Forschner. Inexpensive yet very highly rated.

                    Don't overlook your local restaurant supply store. There are incredible buys on stuff in these places at very low prices. Don't buy cookware at a mall or boutique. You kneed steel, not overhead.

                    1. re: bkhuna

                      I agree with the "no set" statement. Sure you can get some good deals, but if you never use it, it's not that good a deal. I use a santoku, a paring knife and a medium serrated knife mostly. I have more, but I cook a lot also. Those would be my top 3 knives.

                      1. re: bkhuna

                        I agree, but I am happier with an 8" chefs knife. A heavy one that felt better in my smaller hands than the 10 " model. The OP needs to hold them at the store to see what feels good.

                        1. re: RGC1982

                          I agree with this. I have small hands and I have an 8" chef's knife too. The 10" felt way too large to me. Always test them in your hand first to make sure it feels comfortable for your grip.

                          And don't get a knife set, like everyone else has said. Waste of money.

                      2. re: so_hungry

                        If you have the room and the $, get a big Boos Block cutting board to go with the good knives, they will work even better. With a good block, you can't ruin the knives. The only thing that comes with more experience is to know what size / weight shape you like best.

                        1. re: so_hungry

                          Don't get a knife set. There are a lot of useless knives that you will never use. I'd start with a good chefs knife that fits well in your hand and a small paring knife. You can perform almost all knife functions with these two. As you get more comfortable with those ask yourself, "what kitchen tasks do I regularly perform could I use a specific knife for?" and add to your collection that way. You'll save money both up front and in the long run.

                          And the main reason I have a bread knife is we have bread with nearly every meal and it saves me from having to go back and wash the chef's knife that is at the bottom of the sink somewhere.

                          1. re: so_hungry

                            Buy good knives now, but don't get a set. You just need a chef's knife and a paring knife (okay, and a long serrated blade for bread and tomatoes, but start with a cheap one). I'd start with quality forged blades. Henckels and Wusthof are the ver common, and can usually be found on sale.