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Basic kitchen equipment and supplies?

Hi, I have a friend who has just moved into his own apartment after living with roommates/parents/girlfriend for his entire adult life (he's 33). He needs to equip his kitchen with quality equipment and supplies, and has a good enough job that he can afford quality stuff. He'll also need a good, basic cookbook to get him started, since he's incompetent enough in the kitchen that he hurt himself the last time he tried to cook.


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  1. Chef's knife
    Paring knife
    Veg peeler
    Wooden spoons
    Stainless bowls
    Cutting boards
    Cookie sheet
    Casserole/roasting dish
    Decent pot and pan set
    Nonstick pan
    Cast iron pan
    A chopper/mixer/puree machine- I highly recommended
    Ninja brand

    1. Don't try to solve the whole problem at once. Decide where to start. The first thing I would need is a way to brew coffee, then a way to cook an egg. So he needs to decide how he wants his eggs (for example) and what he wants with them, and concentrate on that.

      3 Replies
      1. re: GH1618


        @snicmhuilean -
        His budgetary freedom notwithstanding, the shotgun approach is not advisable. Figure out with him what he most likes to eat, day-in, day-out, and begin equipping on that basis. Other good starter books are Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything" and, seriously, "Cooking Basics for Dummies".

        1. re: mcsheridan

          +1 for bittman book, as well as the " how to cook everything vegetarian", even if he is not its every possible way to cook veggies, grains, soups- he could always add chicken or whatever.
          Both bittman books are also apps for purchase yet the app is not as comprehensive.

        2. re: GH1618

          I agree, also. Start from what he wants to do. As for gear, I suggest he consult Cooks Illustrated online (subscribe for a year, even) to seek best-of-type tools, from skillet to pepper mill and roasting pan, etc.

        3. This is a pretty good resource, snicmhuilean:


          And for a book, "How to Boil Water" isn't bad for a start. Seriously!

          3 Replies
            1. re: pinehurst

              which one? when I searched Amazon's site, there are two by that name.

            2. In no particular order....

              A high quality chef knife and paring knife
              Stainless steel measuring cups/spoons
              An enameled cast iron dutch oven (as large as he can bare)
              A stainless steel tripoly saute pan (12 inches)
              A high quality non stick saute pan (12 inches)
              Set of stainless steel mixing bowls
              Ceramic or pyrex ramekins
              Set of wood mixing spoons
              Gallon and quart sized ziploc freezer bags
              Wine steward styled wine opener and church key
              Kitchen twine
              Large high quality wood or bamboo cutting board

              This is just a start....good luck

              1. Here's a link to previous threads on equipping a kitchen for a first-time cook: http://www.chow.com/search?q=basic+ki...

                1. Here is a nice article by Mark Bittman on equipping a basic functional kitchen for a home cook - I think it is pretty helpful guide


                  I would say start with a basic set up of functional items - avoid whole sets of things that will go unused as it will add clutter and confusion

                  1. Lora Brody's Kitchen Survival Guide. It is available at Amazon. She wrote the book when her sons were moving in to their own apartments. It is witty and a fun read even if you are an accomplished cook.

                    When I was a Realtor I would give this as a gift to young buyers when buying their first home.

                    1. How much (roughly) is he willing to spend?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                        As I said in the original post, he has a good enough job that he's capable of investing in good quality equipment. While I don't think he'll be interested in top-quality stuff, I don't think he'll be cheaping out either.

                        1. re: snicmhuilean

                          Lots of good info here but I'll recommend a pressure cooker.
                          C70 has a good start to a list, though I think those ninja brand machines are garbage.

                      2. For his basic cookbook, Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything," which is made to order for novice cooks. And he should watch some TV to learn basic knife skills.

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: John Francis

                          TV shows typically display very very poor knife skills.
                          What he should do is find some good youtube videos and watch those, I'm sure Coyboyardee or Chemicalkinetics can recommend some good ones.

                          1. re: John Francis

                            I suspect Bittman is a bit too complicated at this stage, though I may bring my copy over for tutorials. Right now, I'm leaning towards How to Boil Water or something similar, unless one of his buddies have something else in mind.

                            The last time we were out at the local drinking hole, he talked about oven-baking bacon candied in maple syrup, and we vetoed it; we'd afraid of him burning the house down!

                            1. re: snicmhuilean

                              Not knowing him, but just based on what you said, I also veto it unless and until one of you is standing by while he does this dish, fire extinguisher at the ready.

                              1. re: snicmhuilean

                                but it gives you a good idea of where he may want to go foodwise - why not a slow-cooker (or low slow oven) pulled pork - such a cheap trick - as a start. Great eazy party dish that yields very re-purpose-able leftovers. Make sure he is getting cookware that he knows will help make food he likes to eat and understands how it will do that.

                                1. re: JTPhilly

                                  Yum, great party dish, whether as BBQ or cooked with salsa for faux carnitas tacos.

                                2. re: snicmhuilean

                                  Complicated? Surely not. His basic recipes couldn't be more simple. They are also more precise and complete than in most cookbooks; the novice cook isn't left guessing what to do.

                              2. good kitchen shears- this is my first gift to non cooks...

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: girloftheworld

                                  I have shears and use them, but many years of cooking went by before I had them. Even now, I use them more for noncooking tasks than cooking tasks. I would call them useful but not essential for a beginning cook.

                                  1. re: girloftheworld

                                    Should definitely be part of the kitchen kit, if only to ensure that there is always a clean scissors when you need it!
                                    Having to rummage through the desk drawer is just annoying.

                                    1. re: KarenDW

                                      you know - some real Poultry Shears were always a missing item for me and of no good reason - finally picked up some at the restaurant supply cheap and they are indispensable - spatchcocking a chicken suddenly EZ

                                      1. re: JTPhilly

                                        I love my poultry scissors too.

                                  2. Since $$ isn't a BIG stumbling block and you put the word "incompetent" in the OP, I'd like to know how he "hurt himself"?? I'd go "cheap" before investing BIG bucks in stuff he might not need/use.

                                    I'm a big yard sale & thrift stop shopper and have made some GREAT buys on kitchen items... as long as CLEAN & working, with instructions (preferable). Can find name brand small appliances (like KA and Cuisinart) for pennies on the dollar, like:

                                    - hand mixer (with attachments)
                                    - toaster/oven
                                    - waffle iron
                                    - rice cooker
                                    - blender

                                    If ya find that you don't like/use something, clean it up and re-donate to thrift shop. Was a NO on juicer... too much clean up for me. was a BIG YES on "vintage KA stand mixer with bowl and all attachments!

                                    Same with pots/pans and other cookware. Have found Griswold/Wagner/Lodge cast iron with very little... a little elbow grease and re-seasoning and put to work.

                                    A LARGE pot should be on list... for pasta, soup, chili. A few "casserole" type dishes. Corning-ware (hopefully with lids, or OLD crusty Pyrex... there's a reason none of Nana's stuff has ever exploded and a dose of oven cleaner brings stuff back to sparkling.

                                    And a few BASIC recipes (written or oral) on what to do with... whole or cut-up chicken, pork chops, ground beef, etc. OH, and how to cook basic RICE!

                                    When niece was even younger (and expecting 1st child) she moaned about wishing she could afford to be a SAHM?!? She had a kitchen FULL of nice stuff (from wedding registry) that was rarely used & a kitchen drawer full of TAKE-OUT menus!! She had little kitchen/cooking skills (a LONG story) and was pretty intimidated by the whole thing. After baby arrived, I went over for a visit and brought dinner... chili. I cooked rice there, but you'd have thought I was winning competitions with the chili, the way they went ON and ON... will even admit to using a PACKET of chili "seasoning"!?! They have people over a LOT during football season... a big pot of chili could feed a bunch of hungry Eagle's fans for a fraction of take-out stuff.

                                    1. I agree with most of the suggestions but I'd make the cutting board plastic for sanitation reasons and I'd add a quality timer. I used to use my cell phone or iPad for a timer but it's easier to just use a regular kitchen timer. Also, don't forget oven mitts and perhaps an apron. For the cookbook, about the Betty Crocker cookbook? Comprehensive and plenty of easy, tasty recipes.

                                      1. Bittman's version of How To Cook Everything for beginners has a post colon title "The Basics" and that is a GREAT place to start. Lots of photos (1000) and how tos. pp. 1-41 cover everything from setting up a pantry, basic kitchen gear one needs, how to hold a knife, etc. I often give this book as a present.

                                        1. Hi snicmhuilean,

                                          I'd encourage him to start with an inexpensive portable induction stovetop (like Max Burton), a cast iron fry pan, and a two qt. tri clad saucepan, and a "playbook" of basic recipes to learn--possibly supported by a basic cooking class through a jc or adult education. He will buy additional equipment as his skills emerge, possibly guided by classmates and instructor. Induction stovetops are extremely safe--they'll cut off automatically if he overheats a pan while allowing him to learn better and better temperature control techniques.

                                          He'll master boiling water for sure--without burning down the apartment building.


                                          1. Hi, snicmhuilean:

                                            (1) I would point him to this thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/989982 and help him pick a list.

                                            (2) I would then have him take that list to a good (and preferably independent, not chain) kitchen or restaurant supply store. If none is nearby, get him on the phone with Fantes in Philadelphia. Have him tell them he wants the best they carry of each item on the list, he doesn't want a set, and that he never wants to buy again as/after he learns to cook.

                                            (3) Have him also tell the folks there that he also needs some basic utensils, like ONE chef knife, ONE paring knife, a peeler, wooden spoons, a silicone spatula, a colander or chinoise, a turner, a whisk, some potholders or side towels. Same criteria: he wants to buy quality, and ONCE.

                                            (4) For a first cookbook, I always suggest "The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook" by Elizabeth Wolf-Cohen. It's direct, basic, concise and the preps are likely to please foodies and gastrophobes alike. If he's an unafraid learner, he might also consider "Professional Cooking" by Wayne Gisslen--more whys and wherefores and also some good preps, also illustrated.


                                            1. A large measuring cup-1 litre, good for mixing and also for heating food in microwave.
                                              A soup pot which can be used for soups, canning, large items for boiling.
                                              Good quality kitchen dishes.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                                Hi, ruthie:

                                                Dang, you got me! Measuring cup--good idea. This and measuring spoons.


                                              2. You have probably received some good advice. Id suggest a basic cooking class for him, so he doesn't burn the kitchen up or cut himself. The cooking class might also help him know what he needs for his own kitchen.

                                                1. Just saw this. Cookbook: The Urban Peasant, More Than A Cookbook, James Barber.
                                                  To start: nonstick skillet for eggs, triply saute pan, sauce pan, pot to boil water for pasta, small roasting pan. Big knife, little knife, tongs, turner, cutting board, measuring cup. With this he can make breakfast, roast a chicken, cook rice or pasta, cook chops, saute shrimp, etc.

                                                  So, can we get an update??

                                                  6 Replies
                                                  1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                    Hey btc,

                                                    That would be a good start, no question. I think I could cook for a year with that kit.


                                                    1. re: DuffyH

                                                      Duffy, a cook with your skills could make culinary magic with that kit, and a popcorn popper.

                                                      1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                        Hi btc,

                                                        Much thanks for the compliment. I fear it's unearned, but I thank you all the same.

                                                        I love my popcorn popper. It makes me smile every time I fire it up. If I drank coffee, it would be a multi-tasker. Still, I refuse to feel guilty about it.


                                                        1. re: DuffyH

                                                          BTW, how do you feel 'bout pina coladas and getting caught in the rain? :-)

                                                          1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                            Margaritas on sunny beaches, that's how.

                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                              LOL. I only meant we often have similar opinions re cookware.

                                                  2. It is an interesting exercise to study what is in my kitchen that gets a lot of use. Obviously the basic pans, sauce pans, sauté pans, skillets, Stockpots, Dutch ovens, woks, roasting pans, and the basic knives, especially 10" chef, paring, and bread (plus water stones and steel), but all the incidental players: jelly roll pans and cookie sheets, ceramic casseroles and baking dishes, pie plates, whisks, wooden spoons and spatulas, silicone spatulas, ladles, metal turners and spreaders, tongs, pepper mills and salt pigs, a Breville oven, the burr grinder, French press, and Bialetti, a milk frother, the electric kettle, hot pads, measuring cups and spoons, a pastry scraper, the FP and the KA, the waffle iron and the deep fryer, skimmers, a Chinoise, a colander, microplanes, an eggs slicer and a cherry potter, a meat pounder, a cheese slicer, peelers, instant read thermometer, pizza cutter, can opener, Mouli, ice cream scoops, juicer or reamer, funnels, pastry cutter, scissors, corkscrew, mortar and pestle, steamer basket, pastry cloth and rolling pin, pitchers of oils and cruets of vinegars, loaf pans, cake pans, tart pans, souffle dishes and a Charlotte mold, containers for flours and grains, lots of towels and cloths, a candy/oil thermometer, loads of mixing bowls including deep ones and shallow ones, a dedicated omelet pan, a butter keeper, several pitchers, Pyrex measuring cups from quart to cup, several cutting boards of different sizes, including one with a lip to catch juices, cooling racks, a griddle, Silpat and/or parchment, an industrial size roll of plastic wrap, lots of glass tubs with snap on plastic lids, prep bowls, a spoon rest, a rack for dring things like cutting boards, a pizza stone...These are the things that get a lot of use here. As for cookbooks, I really learned a lot from Julia. I also really love La Varenne Pratique.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: tim irvine

                                                      Tim, when you just started to cook, did you use that ten inch knife, or did you grow into it?

                                                      1. re: brooktroutchaser

                                                        I'm not Tim, but I got a 10" chef's knife when I bought some stuff when I went to college. I think, but don't remember, it was because the store (a restaurant supply store in or near Dayton) had a cheap one, but only more expensive shorter knives. I was fine with it, mostly. The problem was that I was in college, and cooking in crap spaces, with crap cutting boards, and it was too big for them.

                                                    2. I bought this larger size cutting board a couple of years ago and really love it, wish I'd gotten one this size years ago. I use Boos oil in the tube on it:


                                                      I wish I'd known about half sheets pans years ago, don't know how I lived without them. I've had some inferior ones but recently bought the one rec by ATK:

                                                      Wear-Ever Half Size Natural Finish Aluminum Sheet Pan, 17-3/4x12-7/8x1
                                                      by Vollrath
                                                      I paid $25 for one (my second) a month ago (Amazon) and now it's reduced to $19!) Even tho it's pricier than some, it does not warp like my others from Wm-Sonoma.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: walker

                                                        Yes, sheet pans are one of those 'secrets' many cooks don't learn about until they've been cooking a while. I spent 5 years in food service during my misspent youth and it didn't occur to me to buy some sheet pans for home use until I saw them recommended in one of my Cook's Illustrated cookbooks.

                                                      2. The 4 Hour Chef (http://www.amazon.com/The-4-Hour-Chef...) has a somewhat interesting "learn to cook" approach that throws some professional tips, tricks, and techniques in that many cooks don't learn until they've been cooking for a few years. For example he goes through a ghetto sous vide recipe fairly early on.

                                                        The motivational-speaker/lifehacker sort of tone he takes can grate at times, but I think it is worth tolerating for getting to 'competent & confident' cook relatively quickly.

                                                        He has a list of gear you need for the book here: http://fourhourworkweek.com/the-4-hou...
                                                        "The basics" has lots of inexpensive multi-taskers, though there are items from "extras & upgrades" and "shopping spree" I'd recommend anyone start with (such as the Unicorn pepper mill).

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: cstefan206

                                                          Hi, cstefan:

                                                          Interesting list. Quite a bit of duplication, though.


                                                          1. re: kaleokahu

                                                            The idea is he gives several alternatives for some items. It is clear if you have the book but not so much if you read the list out of context.