When I moved into my first apartment and started building up my kitchen, I wasn’t quite sure what to buy. I knew I needed the basics—pots, pans, baking sheets, cutlery, plates, and bowls — but I wasn’t sure where to go from there. Walking through the maze of Bed, Bath, and Beyond, I was completely overwhelmed. Sure, the fancy glass lemon press was pretty, but would I really need it? What about the stand mixer that came in 15 different colors… was it worth $400? And don’t even get me started on all of those little knickknacks for peeling, coring, pressing, chopping, and slicing food. I had no idea what I really needed in my beginner’s kitchen, and I felt lost. To help you avoid a similar experience, I came up with a list of five tools and gadgets that you need to get your kitchen up and running!
1. A food processor
I didn’t have one of these growing up, so I was skeptical when I bought it, but I quickly learned about the magic of food processing and will never go without one again! Food processors are great for chopping up just about everything (fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.) and can also be used to blend liquids and even knead bread! The prices range quite a bit depending on the size and how many attachments you want.
Purchasing tip: Go for a processor that can hold 7 cups or more… it seems huge, but I promise that you’ll use it once you get going!
2. Prep bowls and dishes with lids
This one is basic, yes, but the basics are important because they provide the foundation on which a good kitchen stands! The lids make all the difference, if you ask me. Not only can you shake the contents (ex: coating chicken with breading or tossing a salad), but you can also store food easily without having to bust out the plastic wrap! Amen for that, sister.
Purchasing tip: Try to get as many different sizes and shapes as possible… you can never have too many options! Here’s an example of a cheap, versatile set that’s also microwave-safe!
3. A crock pot (a.k.a. slow cooker)
A crock pot is the perfect tool for busy cooks, and it’s also a great starter-method for those who are just starting to gain confidence in their cooking. It cooks food slowly and can be left unattended for hours at a time without overcooking the food or burning the place down! Most recipes allow you to just throw the ingredients in the pot and stir, so it’s hard to mess up. Bonus: there’s only one pot to clean afterwards!
Purchasing Tip: For the most freedom, choose a crock pot with a timer, three heat options, and a “keep warm” setting.
4. An Immersion blender
Here’s a perfect example of “don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” in action. I thought these little blenders were a joke until I got one of my own and started using it. Now, it’s one of my most beloved kitchen gadgets! Immersion blenders are perfect for making single-serving smoothies, blending soups right in the pot, and basically mixing or blending any liquid without having to transfer it to a larger blender. Sometimes they even come in sets with food processor attachments and a blending cup! Double score.
Purchasing tip: Whether you get a full set or just the immersion blender, make sure you choose one with a detachable head that can go in the dishwasher!
5. Sharp knives
Knives certainly don’t belong everywhere in your home, but the one place where they’re invaluable is in the kitchen! A sharp knife can save you time, energy, and heartache when cooking. There are lots of great brands out there, so I recommend asking a sales person to tell you about each set and help you pick one in your price range.
Purchasing Tip: If you can’t afford a whole set at once, then build up your collection over time. I recommend starting with two paring knives, a chef’s knife, and a bread knife.