Thirteen Essential Kitchen Tools for Starter Cooks

As a young person, in charge of my own kitchen, I was overwhelmed by all of the kitchen gadgets out there. It's kind of hard to know what is actually helpful and what just ends up taking up space.

There are a few things to take into consideration when registering or just deciding what you need in your kitchen:

1.  How much space do you have? Do you have a lot of storage space, or just a little?

2.  How much cooking experience do you have? If you've never cooked in your life, the basics will get you started and as you become more experienced you can collect more specialized items.

3.  What will be practical? If you're moving into a one bedroom apartment, it might be kind of silly to register for 12 place settings of china. Maybe one or two would be more practical (I think it would be fun to get two place settings at the beginning and add to it on each could even pick a new pattern each time!). Or maybe you have absolutely no use or desire for fine china!

Okay, so without further adieu, here are what I consider to be essential kitchen tools for beginner cooks...

1.   Mixing bowls.  I think this is pretty self explanatory. You use them to mix things up.

If you don't have a lot of storage space, serving bowls can double as mixing bowls. My mom had something very similar to this while I was growing up.
Except hers were 70s, pea green. We used them for everything! I made countless batches of chocolate chip cookies in them...and we served countless dishes to company in them. They work. If you work them. :)

2.  A hand mixer. So you can mix things up. Cause things need to be mixed up.

You can use it to whipped mashed potatoes or make yummy cookies or cakes.

3.  A skillet. There are debates on what types to use. Some say nonstick. Some say stainless steel, and still others say cast iron. Do your research and decide for yourself. We all have different priorities and information means different things to different people.

Whatever you decide, decide on quality. Don't go for cheap. They warp and don't cook evenly. Invest in your family and in your sanity and go for the good stuff.

4.  A saucepan. Again, do your research and decide what fits with your needs and lifestyle.

5.  A cookie sheet. To make lots of yummy cookies! Sheet pans also work well as cookie sheets, so it might be nice to have one of each. I personally don't care for stoneware for cookie baking. I prefer stoneware for pizza and casseroles.

6. A 9x13 baking dish. You can bake cakes and casseroles in them. There are tons of uses for them. Piece of advice...Pam is not for baking...when you put it in the oven it creates a sticky coat on your bake ware that can be extremely difficult to remove.

7.  A cheese grater. So you can grate cheese that doesn't have that gross cellulose stuff on it. Seriously, freshly grated cheese is yummier. A fine grater is used for hard cheeses like Parmesan. A course grater is typically used for softer cheeses like cheddar.

8.  Knives. Good ones. The ones that can cut your fingers off VERY easily. But here's the thing. Good knives are an investment. An investment that is worth making. If you need to gradually collect them, choose a multipurpose knife to start out with.

But if you choose to make this investment, take care of them. Read the instructions and properly care for them so that your investment will pay off. Good knives will last a lifetime (some of them are guaranteed to!).

9.  Measuring cups and spoons. So you can properly measure stuff.

10.  A colander. So you can drain liquid off of noodles, potatoes and grease off of meat.

11.  Wooden spoons. For stirring stuff. Cause you know, you're gonna need to stir stuff.

12.  Spatulas for baking. And spatulas for flipping things and scraping the bottom and sides of your skillets. For stirring stuff and scraping the sides of bowls and pans to incorporate ingredients properly!

13.   Cutting boards. So you don't scratch the surface of your table or counter top with your super duper sharp knives! The thing with these is that you probably should have more than one. It's not wise to cut up raw meat and veggies on the same cutting board. Cause who wants their veggies marinating in raw chicken juice, right?!

Okay, so I'm sure I've left things off. What do YOU think are essential kitchen items for a beginner cook? And specific products you recommend?

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