Gift Guide 2013: 10 Essential Tools for the Bachelor’s Kitchen
Posted on December 12, 2013
1. Update International 8″ Cook’s Knife 2. Thunder Group 16″ Cast Iron Wok 3. Browne-Halco Handheld Can Opener 4.1 Update International 1 Quart Plastic Measuring Cup 4.2 Update International Stainless Steel Measuring Cups 4.3 Update International Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons 5. Update International 12″ Wooden Spoon 6. Update International 5 QT Colander 7. Browne-Halco Thermalloy Aluminum Pan 8. Update International Plastic Cutting Board 9. Browne-Halco Oven Mitt 10. Update International Stainless Steel Fry Pan
Beyond toasting pop-tarts, microwaving frozen lasagna and cooking top ramen in a coffeemaker, my kitchen skills weren’t exactly adequate when I first moved out on my own. My adult-ish life had the nuances of a successful graduate (I had a real job, a city apartment, and a sassy business casual style, but nightly restaurant trips were leaving me broke. And like any young adult, sometimes I just wanted to stay in and play Mario Kart while enjoying a home-cooked meal that didn’t come from a box.
There was no deficiency of spirit or will to give cooking a shot—it was the tools I lacked. It was a typical bachelor’s kitchen. If I had known how easy and relatively inexpensive it was to gather a basic kitchen set, I would have experimented with chicken breasts and various vegetables much sooner. If I had to go back, this is exactly what my kitchen would have had available:
1. A super sharp chef’s knife that will cut pretty much everything.
A decent chef’s knife, also called a cook’s knife, will be a Sam to your Frodo, a Bert to your Ernie, a Pippen to your Jordan. Between chopping vegetables and divvying cuts of meat, a sharp chef’s knife will be your best friend through every dish you make.
2. A deep cast iron wok that functions as a pot to boil spaghetti in or a fry pan for scrambled eggs (and can make killer stir fry too!)
The most forgiving and universal piece of kitchen equipment I ever had was a wok. Stir-fry, pan fry, deep fry, boil, braise, stew, and poach in this Chinese cooking vessel.
3. A trusty and easy-to-use can opener for fast dinners and lazy nights.
You won’t realize how important a can opener is until you try to open a can of Chef Boyardee ravioli with your chef’s knife.
4. Basic measuring tools that you will use more than you realize.
Rice is an easy dish to make, and even easier to screw up. You may need more measuring help than you realize. Get yourself the basics now and be happier for it later.
5. One (or three) really good wooden spoon that will stir your best tomato sauces, push around scrambled eggs and safely scrape Rice-a-Roni from the sides of your wok.
It’s the unsung hero of many kitchens, but the wooden spoon is truly the utilitarian pan saving extraordinaire. It’ll save your non-stick pans from scratches and it will serve you well with pasta sauces, chili recipes and scrambled eggs. It’s the cheapest big investment you’ll make for your kitchen.
6. A solid colander that will stand the test of time, pasta and a few other things…
A colander can be used for straining water from pasta, but did you know that it can also:
- Keep grease from splattering out of the pan when frying up a burger
- Steam vegetables over a pot of boiling water
- Strain grease from taco meat
- Drain canned food
- Wash fruits and veggies
7. A super strong baking sheet for pretty much anything you want to cook in the oven.
I use my baking sheet to make chicken wings and jalapeno poppers for Broncos games, but it turns out you can use them to make cookies, homemade pizza, roasting vegetables and holiday turkeys too.
8. A cutting board to slice, dice and chop your veggies, fruit and meat safely.
Save your countertops and invest in a few cutting boards for your kitchen. We recommend having a few handy while cooking to prevent cross-contamination between raw meat and whatever else you’re making.
9. A man-sized oven mitt that will keep your hands safe and your dinners less disastrous.
If you’re planning on putting things in and out of the oven, or handling a hot wok, you’re going to need this. Get a mitt that provides a good, non-slip grip and heat protection up to at least 400°F.
10. A non-stick frying pan that will heat up evenly and is also super easy to clean.
A wok can pretty much make anything, but if you have the space, a frying pan will make your life that much easier. You can flip pancakes, cook up a hot and melty grilled cheese or make a small meal for one. Bonus: a good non-stick frying pan will last a long time as long as you take care of it (and taking care of it is easier than you think.)