Eating at home can help you save money and eat healthier, but if you’ve never cooked at home, you may not know where to start. To learn to cook at home, you can try
- Asking a friend or relative to teach you a few recipes
- Watching online videos that provide detailed, step-by-step instructions
- Making a slow cooker or one-pot recipe for easy preparation but with tasty results.
However, before you head to the grocery store to pick up ingredients, make sure you have all the tools you need in your kitchen to prep and cook great meals. To start cooking at home, here are few essential tools every home chef needs:
Chef Knife: A chef knife is a very versatile knife that you can use to prep food such as chopping veggies and fruits. Look for a good-quality knife. If you notice the knife becoming dull, you may need to sharpen it. A sharp knife is actually safer than a dull knife in the kitchen. It will cut through foods without much effort to keep you from accidentally cutting a finger.
Cutting Boards: To go with your chef knife, you’ll need cutting boards for food prep. You’ll need more than one so you can practice good food safety by keeping meats and produce separate to reduce the risk of illness.
Measuring Cup and Spoons: If you want to try out a new recipe, you’ll need measuring cups and spoons to make sure you’re adding the right amount of each ingredient.
Mixing Bowls: You may be surprised at how often you reach for mixing bowls. You’ll use them to create marinades, sauces, and dressings. You’ll need them to mix batters for baking. You may also use them while prepping food to hold chopped veggies until it’s time to add them to the pan.
Strainer: If you plan to make any pasta dishes, you’ll need a strainer to separate the cooked pasta from the water. You can also use a strainer to rinse berries or other produce.
Pots and Pans: Depending on your budget, you may want to buy a small set of pots and pans. Or, you can create your own collection. A good place to start? One large and one small sauté or frying pan, a sauce pan with a lid, and soup pot. As you tackle more recipes, you’ll figure out what types of pans and pots best fulfill your needs.
Spatula, Tongs, Spoons: To go with your pots and pans, you’ll need utensils. The basics include a spatula, tongs, and spoons. Look for heat resistant ones and for ones made of materials that won’t scratch your new pots and pans.
Baking Sheet: A baking sheet will always come in handy in the kitchen. You can use it for roasting vegetables, pizza, fish wrapped in alumni foil, and of course, cookies!
Oven Mitt: To go with the baking sheet, make sure you have a set of good oven mitts and pot holders to protect you and your counter tops from heat when pulling foods out of the oven.
Can Opener: Don’t forget a can opener. Many simple recipes incorporate canned items such as tomato sauce or canned vegetables. Don’t get halfway through a chili recipe and realize you can’t add the canned beans!
Easy-to-read Meat Thermometer: An important part of food safety is to cook foods to a safe internal temperature. You should use a digital meat thermometer to make sure you food is done and prepared safely. Use this chart for reference.
Slow Cooker: Many tasty meals can be made in a slow cooker, and all you have to do is dump in the ingredients and wait. A slow cooker is a good appliance for a beginner or someone who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen.
Spices: Yes, spices may not be a tool, but if you’re a true beginner in the kitchen, chances are you don’t have a full spice rack. Salt and pepper are the basics every cook needs. You will continue to build up your spice rack as you try more recipes. Some other common spices include paprika, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cloves.
Many of the items above do not have to be expensive to be good quality. A glass measuring cup can last for decades. As you cook at home more, you’ll figure out what else you need and which tools are worth an investment.
Don’t get discouraged if your first attempts at cooking at home don’t go well. At some point every home chef has burned, under seasoned, or messed up a meal in some way. Practice makes perfect. The more you cook, the better you’ll be at it. Enjoy the process!
Need some meal ideas? Check out PearlPoint’s recommended recipes.