There’s probably nothing better than getting together with family and friends over a delicious home cooked meal as you catch up on each other’s lives. However, as you stand in the cookware aisle trying to weigh up the pros and cons of a fresh pasta maker vs. a heavy duty immersion blender remember to keep it simple. Think about how much cooking you do, if you actively spend weekends baking, then a bread maker could be a worthwhile investment, but not everyone likes making muffins! Food is pretty personal, and we all have different tastes so don’t feel like you should be making zucchini pesto pasta just because spiralizer’s are on trend. Focus on making tasty food that you and your family enjoy. It’s a lot easier to make one delicious family friendly meal than lots of separate dishes because the kids don’t like vegetables.
We’re also no longer sitting down to multiple course meals prepared by kitchen staff, planning extravagant dinner parties and observing formal dining etiquette, many of us are also relying more on convenience foods and easy to prepare oven ready meals. What was once seen as mere fuel to get hungry workers through a busy day is now celebrated as being a focal point in our lives and a communal experience that everyone looks forward to. It’s no coincidence that many important life events such as births, deaths and marriages are often marked with a meal of some sort, be it a buffet spread, sit down dinner or a casual post-christening brunch.
These days it’s very easy to get wrapped up in what you’ve not got instead of what you do possess and that’s true even in the kitchen! Cooking shows often display endless shiny gadgets, fully stocked shelves, and everything’s magically switched on without the presenter doing anything! Still, it doesn’t mean you should splash your savings on an industrial oven if there’s only four of you living there. Overall, you don’t have to be a Michelin-starred chef to whip up delicious dishes and neither do you need to spend a small fortune to buy the items that are essential to home cooking.
To help you successfully navigate the minefield of spatulas, cookie sheets, and bakeware we’ve narrowed down the essential kitchen kit that most home cooks use on a daily basis. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you don’t have everything immediately, then that’s ok. Build up a collection slowly because the only way home cooking becomes more cost effective than dining out is by not spending money on items you don’t need. If you aren’t sure what things you use the most imagine you’re moving! Seriously, picture all your kitchen utensils in boxes and think about what you would need to use straight away or what items you would set aside until the very last moment.
Made To Measure
Be it kitchen scales, measuring cups, or spoons you’re going to need something to weigh out ingredients otherwise, your food is going to taste a little odd or be completely the wrong consistency because you forgot the check how much milk the batter needs. Pretty much every recipe requires some form of measuring so; you’ll need a lovely, core set of cups that are pretty durable because you’ll be using them every single day. Try to avoid stylistic designs because you want to instantly be able to read a measurement and not have to second guess thanks to a swirly font. When it comes to measuring cups, spoons, scales and weights plain is perfect! Don’t forget to get your hands on a handful of silicone or bendable plastic spatulas; they’re awesome for getting all the mixture out of heavy glass mixing bowls or turning, flipping and moving food from one place to another. Unlike wooden spoons or older spatulas silicone ones are super easy to clean and work well with silicone cookware.
Cut It Up
We might be going right back to culinary basics here, but you would be surprised by how many people don’t own a chopping board, or who chop ingredients directly on plates or surfaces. Heirloom chopping boards tend to be made from a heavy duty smooth wood, and if they’ve been carved or painted look fabulous hung on the wall instead of being hidden away in the cupboard. It’s best that you have more than one, kitchen prep often involves preparing meat and produce at the same time, so it’s good to have a choice. If you’ve got young children, you could also color code the boards so that blue means fish, red for meat, green for veg and yellow for fruit so they can learn about kitchen safety and food hygiene. Whether you want a big farmhouse style collection or prefer the plastic, bendable polyethylene boards that may suit a more minimalist, modern kitchen chopping boards are a must in any kitchen.
Every home cook should have a range of pots at their disposal because of all the recipes that require ingredients to be fried, skilleted or stirred into sauces. Large saucepans are perfect for making soups, hearty stews, and dishes that need a decent amount of meat like a bolognese, casserole or lasagne. It’s quite easy to scratch a frying pan, as well as having to spend hours soaking them in hot, soapy water to get bits of food off. Look out for those that have a non-stick coating; you can learn all about scratch resistant surfaces and hardwearing materials at stonefryingpans.com and they’ll save you both time and money. Why? It’s far better to spend a little more now than to have to buy new ones a couple of months later because inferior manufacturing could lead to a rusty set.
Pots and pans don’t need to be ridiculously expensive but it’s important that they’re heavy duty enough to be serviceable as cheap pans tend to have loose handles or are more prone to food sticking to the bottom. You also need to think about being able to cook more than one dish at a time as it’s no good draining your rice, then having to wash the same pan before adding sauce or sautéing vegetables because rice clumps together quickly and cold food tastes somewhat grim.The same goes with mixing bowls because even if you’re making something as simple as fairy cakes not all ingredients are combined at the same time.
On A Knife Edge
If you’ve ever watched programs such as Masterchef then you’ll have seen all the contestants going gooey eyed over industry standard blenders and razor sharp sets of global chef knives nestled in black velvet cases. While chef’s knives are fantastic to use, they slice through onions like they’re butter, they’re also extremely sharp and need to be kept out of reach of children at all times. Global may be going a step too far but a well made and moderately priced set is ideal so look for ones that are held in a lockable knife stand that lives on your counter.
However, if you aren’t sure whether you need a full set of variable blades or not you can get by with just a couple, mainly large knives and small and paring ones because these will do just as well. It’s also worth having a pumice, or sharpening stone handy because there’s nothing more useless than a dull, blunt knife when you’re busy cooking! When cleaning your kitchen knives don’t forget to wash all the handles too as food debris can quickly become trapped in rubber grooves which then leads to a buildup of bacteria.