Pots and pans and parchment paper- oh my! If you’re waiting to have a bridal registry to pick out fancy cookware and dishes, don’t waste your thyme! Sure, it’s nice to get all that new stuff, but no one needs to get or be married to learn how to cook great meals.
Having the right combination of basic tools can make meal planning a snap and put health in your hands. Did you know that meals eaten away from home are higher in fat, salt and sugar and lower in fiber, vitamins and minerals? While a dinner out is a nice treat, too many meals can put a strain on your waistline and your wallet.
That's why today's edition of Get It Prepped is all about key pieces of kitchen equipment.
When stocking a kitchen, you can find great deals at department stores, discount stores, thrift shops, and yard sales. Years ago, I found a mini food chopper at a drugstore for $10 that I still use today. Cooking healthfully doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg.
Below are my top 15 “equipment” picks...
- Cutting boards. Go for wood or plastic. These are the most durable and easy to clean. Avoid glass cutting boards. They’re primarily decorative.
- Three knives. It's wise to have a chef’s knife, paring knife, and serrated knife. You’ll want the chef’s knife for chopping vegetables and cutting meat and the paring knife for small items like garlic or fruit. A serrated knife is great for cutting bread or delicate foods like tomatoes.
- Mixing bowls. These sound basic and they are. Don’t spend a ton of money on them. Clear glass is great if you’re doing food demos, but stainless steel or plastic is fine, too.
- Measuring cups and spoons. You can find these at the dollar store in plastic or inexpensive metal. I prefer measuring cups for both liquids (measuring broth, water or milk) and solids for baking (sugar, flour, etc.).
- Take whisks! Wire whisks are great for whipping up eggs or salad dressing. I like to have a few sizes on hand for making dressings or marinades or larger jobs like pancake batter.
- Wooden spoons. Again, these are inexpensive but necessary for mixing batter, making pasta sauce, or other simple mixing needs.
- Baking sheets and pans. One-pan meal or cookies? You get to pick! I like to have a few sizes on hand. 15 x 13 is my go-to for one-pan meals. A 9 x 13-inch and 8 x 8-inch pan are perfect for casseroles or small cakes, respectively.
8. Sauté pan or skillet. This is great for quick stir-fries or a grilled sandwich. A 9 or 10-inch non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet works well.
9. Large stockpot. I use mine for soup, chili, popcorn, and spaghetti sauce. Stainless steel is durable and easy to clean.
10. Small saucepan. This can be used for gravy, competes, or melting butter.
11. Citrus squeezer. If you like fresh citrus, this is a must-have. Great for lemons, limes, and any other citrus you can "squeeze" into the compartment. Available just about anywhere.
12. Basting brush. Add a stroke of olive oil to bread or brush BBQ sauce on poultry. A basting brush is great for those finishing touches, too like an egg white wash on homemade bread.
13. Tongs. Another basic, but necessary tool! You’ll need these to grasp or flip food while it’s being cooked or retrieve it when it’s done.
14. Spatulas. You’ll need these for mixing or spreading batter or flipping and turning food. The metal types work best for cooking meat while silicone spatulas are great for baking. These are worth spending a bit more money on.
15. Parchment paper. Nope, this isn’t a pot, pan, or spoon. Parchment paper is used to line your baking sheets or pans before popping them into a hot oven. I use it every time I roast vegetables. It helps them come out evenly and reduces cleaning time.
16. Veggie peeler - sometimes you do want to peel your potatoes or carrots
17. Colander - these come in handy for draining noodles and for washing all kinds of fruits and veggies.
Stay tuned next week to taco ‘bout more ways to Get It Prepped!
By Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD