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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.

                          2. A good, high quality chefs knife.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: swsidejim

                              Don't forget to make sure you've got a good, high quality wood or plastic cutting board to go with the good, high quality chef's knife (which i absolutely agree, should be the first thing in any kitchen). Get the largest board you can put into your sink to wash.

                            2. Re nonstick saute pans, my advice is not to spend a lot of money. The finish is going to wear. I can find a decent 12" in the grocery store for under $20, and when it gets too worn or scratched, it's no big deal to replace it.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: WNYamateur

                                I'd recommend staying away from the really cheaply made grocery store pans. Even going to a LincolnWear or WearEver NSF style pan that is going to be far more resistant to warping and having thin spots and should still be very affordable.

                                http://www.potpanworld.com/lincoln-fr...

                                http://www.potpanworld.com/lincoln-sa...

                                1. re: renov8r

                                  agree with renov8r; my mom used to take that route; not only do they warp and have thin spots, frequently the handles are heavy and they are not well balanced on some types of cooktops. dangerous.

                                  1. re: beccaboo

                                    Cheaply manufactured non-stick pans are unhealthy. You don't need to be eathing flouropolymers with your flapjacks.

                                    Good non-stick is durable and will take quit a bit more abuse than the cheap stuff. Still, get wooden or silicone spoons and such.

                                    1. re: bkhuna

                                      For sauteeing and short-order stuff like pancakes, hash browns, etc. I really like the french crepe pan from williams sonoma. it must be seasoned before use (coat with oil and bake) but is better than non-stick for a lot of things because you can re-season if you scratch up the coating. its made of spun steel and is pretty much indestructable. Because its fairly thin you can manage the heat really well (gets hot fast, cools fast) - the handle will get hot while you use it, but its a one handed pan all the way.

                                      http://www.williams-sonoma.com/produc...

                                  2. re: renov8r

                                    Just watch out for roommates taking a metal scrubber to your nice heavy nonstick pan that should have lasted years and years :(

                                2. Just so you know, non-stick pans have their place, but they cannot fulfill all of the functions of regular cookware. If you want to learn how to sear meat, brown it and use the "fond" for sauce, non-stick won't work.

                                  1. Yes, start with knives. I was thinking roughly what bkhuna said. Except I would say 8” to 10” chef’s knife and a serrated bread knife. Also a cutting board and steel. You get them at a restaurant supply house or a knife shop that sharpens knives on the premises and sells working knives, not show piece knives. Mail order seems nice, but you need to hold them/try them before you buy – especially that chef’s knife. Look for Forschner, Dexter-Russell, Chicago Cutlery. Oh, yeah. Look at the Kapoosh knife block at Bed Bath & Beyond.

                                    You do need a couple of skillets. Non-stick is nice, and you will find particular uses for them. But also think about a couple of cast iron skillets. Once you use them for a while, you’ll find they have their place and work really well.

                                    Also think about a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, and some 1 to 3 quart casserole dishes. And a new cook book for each of them. These do not have to have bells and whistles and overseas labels. A stainless steel Presto works just fine as does a Rival crock pot (with a removable liner).

                                    And sooner or later, no matter where your cooking goes, the Kitchen Aid mixer will be worthwhile.

                                    Opinions and discussions and information on ALL of this abound on Chowhound boards. Just use the “search” feature.

                                    You don’t need a show place kitchen with show piece equipage to turn out show stopper meals.

                                    1. Everyone has been giving you really great suggestions, I'd just add a few things:

                                      heat proof rubber spatulas
                                      wooden spoons that feel good in your hands
                                      a steamer insert (they cost about $2 and are sooooo useful)
                                      a good collander
                                      a good tight mesh strainer

                                      Seems to me that with some decent pots/pans, knives, and a can opener, you can do just about anything if you have the above.

                                      Happy housekeeping!

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: tzurriz

                                        You're absolutly right! You can go to BB&B or Target or someplace like that, pick up a bucket, and fill it with small things like : a timer, a pastry brush, a vegetable brush, a vegtable peeler etc.

                                        1. re: yayadave

                                          geniuses! both of you! because i tried to cook the other day and had none of the above, and was left using plastic forks to saute things and a spoon as a brush. let's not mention what happened to my noodles!

                                      2. Don't overlook T J Maxx, Marshall's or Home Goods for kitchenware. You can get some great bargains on overstocks and irregulars of Calphalon, All-Clad, Le Cresuet, Cuisinart and other good brands. They are especially good for pots and pans. Check often as merchandise moves quickly. Last week I saw two All-Clad slow cookers at a T J Maxx for $49 each. It retails for $149. I went back the next day and both were gone.

                                        1. There are four pots/pans that get 90% of the use in my kitchen

                                          1) A 12 inch skillet (with sloped sides)
                                          2) An braiser with a lid (which I use like the skillet 1/2 of the time and the rest of the time for braises)-- Most people view this as an extra, but I love mine and find it essential
                                          3) A dutch oven
                                          4) A sauce pan

                                          Throw in a good cutting board, a chef's knife, and a paring knife and I'm set for almost any dish I decide to tackle.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: Megiac

                                            I'd add a large stock pot to that list. Not necessarily for making stock (although I use it for that too) but for boiling pasta in. You need a BIG pot. :)

                                            1. re: tzurriz

                                              Good point! I should amend my previous list to say that there are 5 pots that get 90% of the use in my kitchen because I use my stock pot all of the time too.

                                              1. re: Megiac

                                                And a pressure cooker can do double duty.

                                          2. these suggestions are amazing and 100% educational for me... i feel much more comfortable walking into a place to buy some pieces of cookware now...

                                            i've started cooking a bit (with just a dull knife and 1 grocery store pan) and familiarizing myself with the kitchen since my original post as well!

                                            keep adding if you have more, i can use all and any tokens of knowledge in building my beginners kitchen!

                                            many thanks...

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: so_hungry

                                              Get on to Bed Bath and Beyond for their 20% off coupons. They just keep coming and supposedly are good forever.

                                              Also keep an eye out for the Friday specials at Amazon.

                                            2. I found this while checking out the Bridge Kitchenware website:

                                              http://www.bridgekitchenware.com/what... - "What every kitchen needs."

                                              1. It is almost always less expensive to buy a set versus the individual pieces; but, with the serious caveat that that's only the case if you plan to buy all of the pieces in the set. Most everyone I know and virtually everyone on this board has pieces from sets that they simply never use. Not even occasionally. So, the less expensive option can often be, buy only the pots/pans you'll use.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                  I am one of the fortunate few who got a set that I use all of! All-clad, and I have several skillets, a saute', 2 saucepans, a big pot, and I have other pieces I got individually. It was a good deal for me, and I learned a lot about what specific pans can do for me.

                                                2. mixing bowls
                                                  basic food processor
                                                  9 x 13 baking dish

                                                  1. Great replies..here's my two cents: like others, I go for the same 3 knives all the time..so get the best knives you can afford. Someone mentioned a Boos Block cutting board...I love mine and it is worth it. My mother in law found it for me at Home Goods. I paid $60 for it there, which was about a third of the price. I personally don’t like nonstick cookware. I do love LeCreuset—they have both cookware and bakeware. This line has become my new favorite and I find that they almost function like a nonstick. This line can be pricey, but I have found some pieces at Home Goods and I go to the outlet in Kittery Maine for others. I also love stainless and have a few pieces of All Clad. I don’t have a lot of kitchen gadgets as much as I am fascinated by them---I try to stick to basics that can multi-task (back to good knives). Depending on how much you cook and how many you cook for at some point you might enjoy a food processor. It can be a splurge, but worth it. I’ve had mine for over 20 years and while I don’t use it daily, I do enjoy it for a great many things. I also love to bake, so my Kitchen Aid mixer is priceless to me.

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Pawsinhand

                                                      yes! i do love to bake, as well... i've always used my parents' hand mixer which can be quite exhausting to me, and have been eyeing the nicer stand mixers (which look like they can double as bond-like weapons)....

                                                      do you recommend kitchen aid food processors as well?

                                                      in total, i will likely be cooking for 4-5 people max-- and even that will only be on occassion. on a daily basis, its just myself and my +1, but we like to get creative hope to spend more time in the kitchen once it is outfitted.

                                                      ... and at some point... i will get good enough to entertain! :) *fingers crossed*

                                                      1. re: so_hungry

                                                        So Hungry,

                                                        I still have a hand mixer kicking around and actually used it not too long ago--but for more heavy duty baking--especially cookies which are my favorite--the Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer rocks. Also great for making cheesecakes, which I've started to do recently.

                                                        I have a Cuisinart food processor which may be older than you are--I see the newer versions at sometimes I feel a slight envy, but my old one does a fabulous job--so I cannot justify getting a "new"one. I am not familiar with the Kitchen Aid food processor--perhaps another question for the board to see what people have and like. Also--you can check both out and see what you think.

                                                        What is most important is that it be enjoyable. I agree that the right tools certainly add to enjoyment, but some of the best meals I've enjoyed have been by people who would be considered culinary masters. What made them wonderful was that the person was very happy to be entertaining (which I feel is the key) and happy to server whatever it was. Another trick for entertaining--don't try to showcase all your talent at once. I used to be a purist and felt that if I was cooking for company then absolutely everything must be made by me. Now a days...I keep it simple. I cook what I most enjoy doing then I embellish (if I cook the main course, I will get picky items from a shop and dessert from a good bakery). I also have been known to bake an awesome dessert and decide after my big effort that dinner will be take out! Good rule to follow as the host/hostess: Your guests will love it if you do and also if you are enjoying yourself.

                                                          1. re: so_hungry

                                                            If you love to bake an inexpensive oven thermometer to make sure you cooking at the temperature that you want. I bought mine at Big Lots for about $1

                                                            I love to bake and I have a Ktchen aide mixer...I love it. I also have a hand held. I use them both

                                                        1. Tramontina 12" 18/10 Stainless Steel Saute Pan,with TriPly Clad construction. It is every bit as good as All Clad, and at a fraction of the price. The cookware is very expensive on their web site, but if you go to WalMart on line, you can get it for a steal, and free shipping if you pick it up at the store. I also have their 10" fry pan and love it. Love my old wooden lemon reamer too! I couldn't be without my Cruisart FP, but maybe a gift??? Have fun! I forgot about my Magnum Pepper Mill. 9 inches , it is the best one that I have ever had, and I have had many, use it everyday.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Mother of four

                                                            The 12" Tramontina saute pan at Wal mart looks good but is the quality really the same as other tramontina items? I ask because I read an article about Walmart wanting to carry a popular line of lawnmowers that has a very good reputation but Walmart dictated what price they were going to pay. The company could not sell their mowers for that so walmart asked them to lower standards on the mowers to bring it down to their price because they mainly wanted an item with their name on it. The lawnmower company refused and said they would not put their name on something that was inferior to what they sell and are known for. I forgot which lawn mower company it was but this is a true story I read in a business magazine a couple years ago.

                                                            1. re: kcbeave

                                                              It is the same. I couldn't believe the price, so I called Tramontina to ask the same question, as the one on their website is much more expensive. They said that they are the same pan,as Walmart gets a special price which is even better then Tuesday morning. I went to Tuesday morning and sure enough she was right. Walmart does't carry it in the store, but when you buy it online, they will send it to the store where you can pick it up, with no charge for shipping. Very good deal, and VERY GOOD cookware. I hohestly like it better then All Clad, and I have both. The Tramontina handles do not get hot, while the All Clad does. Your' the first person, aside from myself that even seems to have heard of the line.

                                                              1. re: Mother of four

                                                                Hello again I saw the Tramontina tri-ply pan at Walmart and the sticker says it is made in China. Are all the items made for Walmart made in China and wverything else made in Brazil? If so, this goes back to my question, is this the same quality as what is made in Brazil.
                                                                Thanks,

                                                          2. THANK YOU everyone for the thoughtful suggestions... I've compiled a list and will be armed with a wealth of knowledge for my shopping expeditions.

                                                            Many thanks and gratitude~
                                                            so_hungry

                                                            1. Hard to think of something that everyone else hasn't yet mentioned but I would suggest getting different sized plastic baggies, plastic wrap, foil, parchment paper, etc for storage needs. Oh, and disposable containers - I prefer the cheap ziploc containers that can share the same sized lids. It makes it easy to find a container and lid fast. Now that you have the space, you can afford the luxury of having the right container for all the leftovers you'll be making.