There comes a time in every woman’s life when she looks at the detritus of being a twenty-something and finds herself repulsed. Her bathroom counter is buried beneath mountains of cosmetics, many of them expired, glittery, or bought on a whim. Her purse is weighed down by loose receipts, uncapped pens, and perhaps some wayward almonds. But nowhere is her transient existence more evident than in her kitchen.
We’re not all as bad as Carrie Bradshaw (who used her oven for shoe storage), but still, many of us use the microwave and the coffee pot and not much else. Our continued livelihoods are predicated upon the existence of a never-ending supply of Grubhubbed Chinese food and pizza.
The time to start using our kitchens is now, friends. We must cast off the shackles of the cute delivery boy who brings us our Pad Thai, and begin to take a tentative step towards “becoming real people.” We will go to the grocery store. We will purchase green things. We will cook those green things and we will eat them. We will eat them!
Not sure where to start in terms of stocking your kitchen? Don’t worry; it’s actually not as overwhelming as you think it is. A lot of kitchen supplies are cheap and easy to find: peelers, spatulas, tongs, and toasters are all easy to find inexpensively.
But, there are some tools that you should splurge on. I know it seems like buying fancy kitchen stuff is silly if you never cook, but if you’re really committed to the idea of starting, you need the right tools. And when you invest in good stuff, it will last much longer. Seriously, ask any chef the last time he replaced his good, cast-iron skillet and he’ll tell you he’s had it since culinary school.
So, if you’re willing to splurge, what items are worth shelling out a bit more for?
People who are new to cooking almost invariably have a motley collection of paring knives, and nothing else, to cut with. If you don’t know what I mean by “paring knife,” go look in your kitchen and find that small, short-bladed knife that you think is an appropriate tool for cutting or chopping anything. Now throw it away, and go buy yourself a real collection of knives. Good chef’s knives will go a long way in making you feel like a culinary badass, and will make the prep-work for cooking go much faster. At the very least you’re going to want a good, sharp, version of: an 8” chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a bread knife. Oh, and don’t forget to get them sharpened about once a year.
A Cast Iron Skillet
A cast iron skillet is not just a typical frying pan. These babies distribute heat totally evenly, are versatile, and nonstick (if you use them correctly). You don’t have to spend a fortune on one, but you should expect to pay around $50 for a good, new one (like this).
Stainless Steel Pots/ Pans
Please, step away from the aluminum pot you’ve been cooking in since college and invest in at least a couple of good, stainless steel pots and pans. They clean easily, distribute heat evenly, and last forever if you treat them right. This is a good option.
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer
If you don’t bake at all you can skip this one, but if you’re doing any kind of baking then a stand mixer is almost critical for success. You just can’t get the same effect with a hand mixer, and while they’re a bit pricey, it’s worth waiting for them to go on sale (or worth marrying that loser you’re dating so you can register for one) (just kidding) (sort of). They come in all kinds of pretty colors too. Make sure you get a whisk attachment (which typically comes standard) as well as a flat beater attachment.
If you have a good food processor with a sharp blade, you can make smoothies, sauces, dough, soups, and a million other things that you thought you would need a blender for. A food processor is like a blender but much more versatile. Try this one.