We have to eat to survive, so we might as well enjoy it, right? And the best way to access amazing food you enjoy, without having to fork out inordinate amounts of money for fancy restaurant meals, is to learn to be a great cook. It goes without saying that cooking at home is the healthier and cheaper option, but to become an incredible cook, you need all the right equipment. Believe me, even with all the upfront costs of mixers, knives, meat grinder and measuring cups, it’s still a whole lot more economical to learn to cook amazing food yourself. Here are the kitchen essentials that no self-respecting home cook should be without.
- Good knives
Oh man, the different a good set of knives makes to the cooking experience is phenomenal, and you never really know it until you try them. Cutting food should be simple and effortless, but poor quality knives can make it slow, arduous, and even dangerous. Blunt knives are far more likely to slip on the food, meaning a cut finger becomes a distinct possibility. If you want to see a real difference in the quality of your food prep, good kitchen knives are the way forward.
- A crockpot
We all lead busy lives, and sometimes we just don’t have the time or the inclination to spend our early evenings slaving away over a hot stove to feed the family. The simple solution is to buy a crockpot. Delicious, healthy meals are just a stone’s throw away; it just takes a bit of forethought. Cut the veg and brown the meat the night before, and in the morning take it all out of the fridge, add the cooking liquid, and set it on a low heat for the day. When you get home, you’ve got an incredible meal all ready and raring to go.
- A smoker or BBQ
Sometimes it’s nice to change things up a bit – straight up kitchen food can get a bit boring, so in the summer months, it’s nice to get things on the barbie or in the smoker. A smoker, in particular, will change your life. Check out here for the best electric smokers 2017, which allow you to make your own bacon, smoked cheese, or kippers – a surefire way to wow guests. And barbecues are perfect for social gatherings, many of which can even double as a smoker. Once you’ve got these in your inventory, you’ll never look back.
- Pestle and mortar
When you’re experimenting with flavors, spices, and herbs, having access to a good spice grinder is really important for getting the most out of the ingredients. You’ll be surprised at the difference a good pestle and mortar can make to the flavor of your food. From meddling garlic and oil for salad dressings, to grinding whole spices for curries, it opens up a whole new world of flavor experiences for your cooking.
- A good set of scales
If you fancy branching out into world cuisine, a good set of scales is a must – it’s only really Americans who rely on cups for measuring. A digital set of scales allows you to measure in imperial and metric, which offers the flexibility you will require for adapting recipes from any nationality. A set of scales is particularly important for precise cooking, such as baking, which is basically a delicious form of chemistry and requires exact measurements for the recipes to work.
- A mixer
When you’re a frequent cook, it can get quite tedious to mix everything by hand. A blender with a mixing blade allows you to mix everything you could ever need. Whether it’s mixing a cake batter, whisking an egg white, or blending soup, a good quality kitchen mixer will make light work of all of these – and you won’t feel like your arm’s going to fall off either. Some people prefer to have a separate blender and mixer, including hand-held devices. It’s entirely down to personal preference, as each has their own benefits.
- A bottle opener
If you can’t open wine and beer, what’s the point in even having a kitchen in the first place? A good corkscrew and bottle opener are absolute kitchen essentials. Not only are wine and beer great cookery ingredients, but they’re also important for keeping the chef happy too. Chefs with a good bit of self-control should also consider investing in high-quality wine stoppers too. If you need to cook with half a bottle of wine, a good stopper will keep the wine from spoiling before you come back to use in in your next recipe or decide to drink it.
- Good quality pans
There’s something to be said for good quality pans in a kitchen, and for the most part, there isn’t a one size fits all policy. The bare minimum should be a large saucepan, a small saucepan, and a frying pan. Outside of this, there’s a whole world of possibilities. Egg pans, pancake pans, woks, griddles – it all depends on what you want to cook, and how much space you have to store them. Ensure some have a non-stick coating, and please please please take good care of them – no metal implements anywhere near them. Some don’t need to be non-stick, although heavy based and good quality will mean they’ll last a whole lot longer. Pans are great gift request items, so if people are struggling to buy for you, put a few pans on your list.
- A waffle iron
Who doesn’t love waffles? There’s not a lot that can be said about waffle irons, other than the fact that they’re the easiest way to make a delicious breakfast, with basically no clean up afterward. And it doesn’t just have to be plain waffles – try cheesy jalapeno waffles, chocolate chip, or cheese and chive. The breakfast possibilities are endless, and they’re a whole lot of fun too.
- A steamer
Vegetable lovers should always have a steamer in their inventory. It takes cooking plain veggies to a new level and ensures all their healthy nutrients are kept inside and not leached out into the cooking water. Choose from stainless steel modern steamers or beautiful traditional Chinese bamboo ones – they all work the same way, it’s just down to personal preference.
- A coffee machine
A home coffee machine is a great money saving device, especially if you’re fond of stopping in at Starbucks on your way to the office. If you can make your own coffee at home and take it with you on your commute, you could save yourself a whole lot of money every year. Choose between a capsule machine or a proper barista machine – the effect is the same, it’s just about how much effort you’d like to put into individualizing your coffee. A home coffee machine is also great if you’re a fan of tiramisu, coffee cake, or any other coffee-based dessert, and basically a must for any true coffee lover.
- Measuring cups
And finally, no self-respecting American chef can be without good quality measuring cups. They should be stamped, dishwasher proof, and preferably good looking. You can’t cook anything to the recipe without them, so it’s best to invest in good ones. Compliment them with the matching measuring spoons, and you’re well on your way to being Martha Stewart.
Cooking should be fun, adventurous, but not difficult. When your kitchen is properly kitted out with all the right equipment, it should be a walk in the park, and you open yourself up to a whole world of delicious flavors.