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When I moved out of my parents’ house, the moving van was loaded up with three boxes of clothes, two boxes of pictures, ten boxes of books, and zero boxes of kitchenware. I loved to eat but had zero cooking skills, and that had to change before I wasted away.
It took me a few years to get this together but I’ve now got a reasonably stocked kitchen and that, plus a few great cooking blogs, have made all the difference in the world.
The Best Essential Gifts for the Beginner Cook
Airtight containers keep coffee beans or grounds fresh, our flours and sugars and pastas safe from ants, and the cereal from going stale. We all have our vices.
Airtight Spice Jars
Buying spices in bulk ismuch more economical, and earth friendly, and these containers make it a lot easier to do so.
Unless you’re a cook grown in the old school of “eyeball all your ingredients,” measuring spoons are a must. The difference between a tablespoon and a teaspoon could be the difference between edible and inedible.
Liquid Measuring Cups
I learned back in seventh grade that there’s a difference between liquid and dry measures. Good thing, too, or I would have just grabbed one or the other and assumed we were good.
Dry Measuring Cups
Whether packing in the brown sugar or lightly scooping flour, your dry measuring cups must be easy to fill and easy to level.
This isn’t required for high volume cooking but it can be amazing if you want to prep ingredients for a week of meals at a time. It’s saved me quite a few painful hours on my feet.
A really good knife set is the very basis of a good cooking experience.
Silicone Spatula Set
It might seem like a waste of space to have multiple spatulas but all sizes are really useful – the thin ones are much better at stirring and scraping batter out of bowls and minced garlic out of food processor bowls. The wider spatulas are better for stirring scrambled eggs while they cook, and mixing pizza dough. YMMV of course.
Really useful for basting the various things in the roasting pan, this is also quite useful for quickly buttering toast and bagels (really!) when serving up breakfast for a crowd.
Large and Small Silicone Turners
You need both a small and a large turner – we’ve learned the hard way that it’s not easy to just use a one size fits all turner when you cook tiny foods *and* huge pancakes.
Cast Iron Skillet
We’ve newly come to the cast iron world but they’re amazing staples for the kitchen.
Cast Iron Double Dutch Oven and Domed Skillet Lid
Our cast iron dutch oven is the perfect one pot vessel for chicken soup from scratch, chicken and dumplings, pork stew, vegetable soup, and even mac n cheese. One pot yields so many meals!
Multipurpose Silicone Pads
Again, workhorses with multiple uses: Pot Holders, Trivets, Jar Openers, & Spoon Rests.
Please treat your knives well by always cutting on cutting boards and never cutting on the glass. *shudder*
These dishes are so easy to cook in, serve in, and clean up afterward, everyone should have at least one.
Silicone Oven Mitts and Potholders
The standard square potholders can do the trick but the oven mitts will save you from some nasty burns when lifting more than one hot item out of the oven.
Small Baking Dishes
These are workhorses: perfect for cooking, serving, and reheating leftover side dishes.
Corelle Serving Platters
Corelle is so reliable and break-resistant that even, a certified klutz, I haven’t been able to break one yet!
These small ramekins are excellent for sous chef needs, and also serving dips and sauces.
Not strictly necessary when you’re just cooking for one or two, serving utensils are great for entertaining a larger party.
There are a host of useful tools in the kitchen, did I miss any of your essentials?