Setting up your kitchen

Basic Tools for Every New Cook

by Leanne Ely


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Cooking is a basic life skill, as far as I'm concerned. Knowing how to cook is as important as knowing how to brush your teeth or how to drive a car. Well, knowing how to cook is probably more important than knowing how to drive a car because you have to eat three times every day of your life!

Perhaps you're just now learning to cook. Maybe you're starting out as a newlywed or setting up a kitchen as a college student. Perhaps you're simply adopting a healthier lifestyle that requires you to learn how to cook. Whatever the reason, as a new cook, you need to stock your kitchen with the proper tools. If you don't have a fortune to spend on kitchen tools (who does?), you're going to love me because I've put together a list of what I consider to be the essential basic items each kitchen must have.

Knives

You'll need an eight-inch chef's knife for chopping and a small paring knife for peeling. There's no need to buy an expensive knife set when you're just learning to cook. If you have these basics, you'll be able to make just about anything.

Cutting boards

Get two cutting boards. Have one for meat and one for other items. I don't care if they're plastic, wood or bamboo, but you will need a couple of cutting boards.

Pots and pans

Get a good, solid ten-inch stainless steel or cast iron skillet. Don't buy non-stick cookware no matter how small your budget is. It is very unhealthy for you.

You should have a large pot for soup or pasta and a smaller one for grains and veggies.

A jelly roll pan, a covered casserole, and an 11"x9" pan will help you cook a variety of items from roasting a chicken to broiling chicken breasts.

While they don't necessarily fit in the pots and pans category, you will also need a set of mixing bowls.

Utensils

You'll need a can opener, a vegetable peeler, a slotted spoon, a silicone spatula, a couple of wooden spoons, dry and liquid measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a set of tongs.

These basic items might be plenty to keep you going indefinitely! If you find that you're enjoying cooking more and more, you'll likely start picking up odds and ends like a steaming basket, a salad spinner, or a garlic press. All of these items help to cut down on a bit of prep work, but they really are simply convenience items. You can steam veggies without a basket, you can dry salad greens with a dish towel, and you can mince garlic with a knife!

What items would you add to the list of basics every kitchen should have? Let us know on our Facebook page!


Leanne Ely is a New York Times best selling author of Body Clutter and the popular Saving Dinner cookbook series. According to Woman's Day Magazine, she is the expert on family cooking.

Leanne's syndicated newspaper column, The Dinner Diva can be found in 250 newspapers nationwide and in Canada. Her vast broadcast experience includes media satellite tours, QVC several times as well as guesting on several national television shows, including HGTV's Simple Solutions, ABC Family's Living the Life, Ivanhoe's Smart Woman, Small Talk for Parents and Talk of the Town. She has guest chef-ed on the cooking show, Carolina Cooks and has taught cooking classes all over the country for Bloomingdale's.

In addition, she is a seasoned radio personality. Leanne's own radio show, Heart of A Woman aired during drive time in two major California markets, Los Angeles and San Diego. Her current show, The Dinner Diva is one of the top Blog Talk Radio shows on the Internet.

On the Internet, she pens the Food for Thought column for the immensely popular, FlyLady.net, with over half a million readers weekly. She has been featured in Woman's Day magazine, the Chicago Tribune, St. Petersburg Times, Orange County Register - to name a few. Additionally, she is a sought after speaker and has spoken all over the country, with keynote addresses to corporate and non-profit entities. SavingDinner.com. Visit Leanne Ely on Google+.

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