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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...

                                2 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.

                                  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.