Having worked in restaurants nearly ten years, I’ve learned a fair bit about cookware. Many people seem to think they need every gadget and gizmo out there to succeed as a home cook. I’m here to show you otherwise, educating you on how to use the ten items below to stock your kitchen for all of your food making needs. Though this list is based on my experiences, these items are found in most every kitchen.
A nice big skillet is often the first thing that comes to mind when we are talking cookware. You’ll need a decent sized one to be versatile enough to meet all your needs. Personal opinion, but I’d stick with stainless steel or cast iron. First of all, non-stick are too easily damaged and require flimsy silicone utensils. And furthermore, the chemicals used to coat the pans are plain disgusting near food. Whatever you choose, get a good quality one with a sturdy handle and preferably a lid. As far as size, I’d look for around 12 inches.
You’ll need something to boil water, heat soups and sauces, and generally cook simple meals in. A saucepan is essential, and no kitchen should be without at least one. I would not recommend anything smaller than three quart, as this limits what volume you can cook. Again look for sturdy construction, especially checking the handle.
For larger tasks you are going to want something capable of handling the volume. A stockpot is large enough to make batches of homemade soup, boil and debone a whole chicken, and even double as a deep fryer. As already stated, all my cookware recommendations are for stainless steel. Also look for sturdy construction and a tight fitting lid.
This is one of those cookware items that many people overlook. However it is used quite frequently in my kitchen. It bakes holiday hams and poultry, cooks my Sunday pot roast, and roasts a favorite in my house-stuffed peppers. 12 quart is a good size to purchase, as it will handle most tasks. As always, sturdiness is key when choosing a product.
Some of my favorite childhood memories involve baking cookies in Grandma’s kitchen. But a good baking sheet can handle far more than cookies. Use it to bake bacon rather than frying it for a healthier breakfast. Bake pita bread wedges into the ultimate tortilla chips. The possibilities are near endless. Again several designs are out on the market, my only advice is to avoid the air bake type. This is simply because they are more limited in the tasks they can accomplish. You may want a baking sheet with higher sides if you bake meats on it. Whatever you choose, this cookware work horse belongs in every kitchen.
For straining, draining, rinsing, and more a colander is the cookware you need. Many designs are available from the traditional bowl shape to large pans that nest over your kitchen sink. Choose what suits you, just be sure it is big enough to handle what you cook. I find myself shying away from anything under three quarts.
No, not that electric contraption in every suburban kitchen. I’m talking about the real deal, a heavy duty pan made for placing over two burners on your stove or range. The applications are only limited by your imagination, and I use mine for anything from flapjacks to grid iron steaks. My choice is for a cast iron unit, but designs are endless. You can easily find even a flat grill pan that will meet most cookware needs. Breakfast wouldn’t be the same in my kitchen without my griddle.
Baking Pan/Cake Pan
The first thing that comes to my mind with this cookware classic is a rich chocolate cake cooling near the window in Mom’s kitchen. But don’t limit them to mere cake baking. I use mine for casseroles, layered meals, and lasagna. My preference here turns away from the metal and toward the heavy duty glass type. Whatever you choose, 9×13 is the standard size to look for.
Unless you’re trying to convince your significant other to buy a new kitchen table, you’ll be needing a good cutting board or two. My kitchen features two in different sizes. Whether you choose to do the same, or buy a single mid-sized board is up to you. Look for ease of cleaning and stay away from unsealed wooden boards for meat. The last thing you want to serve your family is food poisoning.
And finally we come to the end of our cookware list. Don’t think of this final addition as least in the kitchen though, as it will pull its weight nicely. As usual several materials and designs are available. Choose whatever suits your fancy. I prefer to err on the side of caution and get bigger bowls rather than a varied set.
Thank you for taking the time to read this selection of essential kitchen cookware advice. I hope it has equipped you to stock your own kitchen and begin creating memories with your family. Happy cooking everyone.