Kitchen Gear: Getting By on the Minimum
Starting out? Moving out? It’s time to face facts. Sooner or later you’re going to have to cook. And when that day comes, you’re going to want to be at least minimally prepared. So here’s a handy guide to equipping a kitchen when you’re strapped for cash.
The first thing to know is that it’s easy to get sold on the idea that you have to spend five hundred dollars or more on a pan set alone. Bunk. An enterprising novice can equip an entire kitchen for around two hundred.
Let’s start with pans. You’ll need a 6 to 8-quart stockpot or Dutch oven for boiling pasta (and perhaps even steaming). Here, a thin, inexpensive model will do just fine. A decent one can be had for under $40. Next a sauté or omelet pan, 9” or 10” inches across. You can get good nonstick versions at restaurant supply shops for as little as $20. The same goes for a 2-3 quart saucepan, which you’ll also need, but that’s everything in the pan department.
After that, the implements. Forget the risotto paddles and sushi mats. Most of what you need can be found in a supermarket equipment section for bargain basement prices. You’ll need a whisk ($4), wooden spoons ($5), a plastic turner ($3), a colander ($7), a cheese grater ($6), a vegetable peeler ($4), a can opener ($3), a soup ladle ($4), a potato masher ($4), a slotted spoon ($3), a cookie sheet ($8), a set of two or three inexpensive plastic-handled knives ($12) and a plastic cutting board ($8). Get a simple set of steel — not plastic — mixing bowls at a restaurant supply shop for about $20.
So we’re at about $170. The one thing you should spend at least a little money on is a decent chopping and/or slicing knife. Make it a chef’s knife, 6-8 inches long. A $30 expenditure will get you a knife of surprisingly high quality.
So there we have it, a two hundred dollar kit that will serve you through thick and thin, mac and cheese to coq au vin. Now all you need is the food. More on that later on.
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