Help outfit a completely bare kitchen!
I have been lurking on this site for about a year but figured it was time I started posting.
My significant other and I have finally procured the apartment of our dreams in lovely Park Slope. However, both of us are fairly young, and although we have lived sans parents in various situations over the past few years, we have no kitchen tools or gadgets that we can bring along to our new place to help outfit our kitchen. Essentially, we are starting from scratch - we have a few sets of water glasses, but that is about it.
I thought I would be able to compile a basic list of what we would need, but looking through what is in my parents' kitchen has caused me to become a bit overwhelmed. Money is a bit tight right now, and we plan on adding things over time, including replacing cheaper things when we have the money.
I love to cook and bake, by the way, and have done a lot of both growing up, but have always had many tools at my disposal. I would like to continue doing so, and although I realize I might have to become a bit creative, (and I would love to hear about multi-purpose tools, or tools that double/triple as something else even if it's unorthodox!) I would like to have a cheaply, but somewhat well outfitted kitchen.
So, hounds, I would like to hear what you consider necessary tools to outfit a kitchen! Pots/pans (what type, and how many?) dishware/glasses (what type, how many?) kitchen gadgets, etc., and tips on where to get them cheaply, even if they only last for the next year or so (we are hoping to be able to replace with better quality by then). Also, if so inclined, a ranking from most important to least? Thanks for the help!
*Mods, I put this in Cookware, but I'm not sure if it's better suited for General Topics. Please adjust accordingly! Thanks!
Without knowing what and how you like to cook it can be difficult to make appropriate recommendations. If you bake a lot, certain types of pans are required--such as muffin tin if you make muffins. As to regular cooking, if you do a lot of Asian then a wok and rice cooker might be basics. So starting by looking at what you cook can help to determine what you will use. And I second the thrift store suggestion. I've been wanting a new mini Cuisinart Food Processor for months and have haunted the thrift stores. Two weeks ago a brand new one, still in the box with everything appeared--$7.95--at least $30 in the store/online.
When I was commuting to Houston a lot I outfitted my entire unfurnished apartment for $3,000 $2,000 of which was spent at Ikea. I've never had a problem with anything I bought there. Frankly, if you want cheap and acceptably good, it is hard to go wrong with a combination of Ikea and Walmart. Walmart used to have a set of 4 Santoku knives blessed by Wolfgang Puck for $25 - just fine for a small apartment. Buying most of your stuff there, you can probably get by with a crockpot, a microwave and maybe (since you bake) a breadmaker or a little oven (convection oven?). Get stuff you don't hate cheaply and then upgrade at your leisure.
Here's a link to my reply to a similar question, just about the pots and pans: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8460... The whole thread is worthwhile.
Some excellent equipment can be obtained cheaply via thrifts, flea markets, online auction/flea sites, and friends and family members who are downsizing or upgrading. You certainly should not get a set of everything of one material. For baking sheets and many utensils, as well as basic durable dishes, restaurant supply stores are good.
Here's my list of essential utensils:
Chef's knife, cutting board, small utility or paring knife, peeler, grater (a box grater covers all needs, or get a microplane of the size(s) suited to your most frequent uses: large for soft cheeses, tomato, etc.; medium for hard cheeses, chocolate, ginger; fine for nutmeg).
Mixing bowls (some glass or ceramic, a few stainless), 4-cup pyrex measuring cup, strainer (medium), colander, nesting prep bowls.
Metal spring-loaded tongs, blunt spoon, slotted spoon, whisk, silicon spoonula, measuring spoons, stainless measuring cups, manual can opener, timer (unless one is built in to an existing appliance), oven thermometer.
Small appliances: immersion blender, toaster. Coffee device (press or drip don't require an outlet).
Dishes: Dinner plates (not too huge, for ease of storage and washing, i.e. 10.5" or smaller), soup/cereal bowls, salad/sandwich plates (7-8.5"). Fork, soup spoon, teaspoon, knife for each person. Coffee/tea cups/mugs. Glassware is totally dependent on what you drink and how many people you serve/entertain. Second tier: shallow wide rimmed bowls for pasta, stews, etc., a serving platter, and a serving bowl or two [mixing bowls can serve], serving utensils [cooking spoons can serve].
Hope the list is helpful in assembling what you need to use and enjoy your new kitchen. Remember, you don't need everything at once.
<I love to cook and bake>
Well, your cookware should be based on your cooking style, and no one knows this better than you. For example, if you like to do a lot of slow cooker, then a Dutch Oven or a large pot is essential for you, and you may need two. If you like to cook Chinese, then a wok is more important than a frying pan.
For pot and pan, you will need at the very least one pot and one pan -- for large volume liquid based slow cooking and for fast quick oil assisted cooking. Of course, you will like want more than just one pot and one pan, but I am just trying to point out the very necessary.
If you like a cheap set and yet high quality triply cookware, then nothing beat Tramontina from Walmart. You said you have lurked in this site for over a year, then you must have seen many praises for this line of cookware.
This is only a good buy if and only if you like to cook with stainless steel surface cookware, so you have to ask yourself if you like this.
A good kitchen knife is a must must must, but that deserve a separate post.
A good cutting board of course.
In term of gadgets, I think a coffee grinder is nice if you like to grind your own spices which I do. You will of course need a few food containers for storing sugar, flour, ...etc for baking.
I don't have any experience with stainless steel, what makes it so love/hate? I have read a few threads comparing stainless steel and nonstick, but they always seem to devolve into why nonstick is so terrible, and then arguments about how harmful the coating is. As much as I love cooking, I haven't devoted as much time as I probably should have to learning the pros and cons between different types of cookware as I've cooked throughout the years.
Although I didn't venture much into the cookware section of Chow while I was lurking, I have read good things about stainless steel, but not so many things about why some dislike it. I have read about problems regarding sticking, but I would really prefer not to buy nonstick, which many offer as a solution to the sticking problem. However, I am afraid to spend money on stainless if it turns out I hate it! What do you love about your stainless?
I have a mix of many cookware from stainless to carbon steel, from cast iron to clay...etc. What I like about stainless steel cladded cookware are that they are very nonreactive. You can use it at high temperature or low temperature, to fry or to simmer, stovetop or oven, hand washing or machine dishwashing...etc. It biggest drawback is that foods readily stick to the surface. There are techniques to minimize this, but there is certainly a learning curve -- whereas there is absolutely zero learning curve for Teflon nonstick cookware in comparison.
<I have read good things about stainless steel, but not so many things about why some dislike it>
I am sure you have heard of the phrase that "vote by their feet", "or "dollar voting". That is to say at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, with all the passionate arguments silent and all the dust settled, significantly more consumers chose nonstick cookware over stainless steel cladded cookware. If stainless steel cladded cookware are so universally loved, then you would think there is little need for nonstick cookware. Basically, everyone who bought nonstick cookware sets are in fact saying that stainless steel cladded cookware are not for them.
Personally, I think stainless steel cladded cookware are good for many things especially for pots and saucepans. I prefer cast iron and carbon steel for fast cooking cookware like the frying pans or woks. However, my preference is not yours. You should choose cookware best for you, and not to be persuaded to buy something I like. I don't think you can really go wrong with stainless steel cladded pots or saucepans. Since the sticking problem of stainless steel mostly manifest in frying pans and saute pans...etc. Do you think you can go to your friend's house and try to saute or fry something in their stainless steel fry pans? Better yet if they can lend you theirs for a day or two.
P.S.: Get a good kitchen knife and a good cutting board if you have not. Many people buy $1000 worth of cookware, but use some crappy $10 kitchen knives.