To make your kitchen an enjoyable, easy place to work, make sure your tools and ingredients are handy, your sink is cleared out and your work surfaces are clean. Like any good workspace, your kitchen needs good tools. The following recommendations include what you’ll need to cook healthy meals, as well as a few other useful items.
Bakeware: A 9-by-13-inch baking pan, roasting pan and rack, baking sheets, 3-quart rectangular and 8-inch-square glass baking dishes, muffin tin and loaf pan.
Blender & food processor: Handy for blending smoothies and salad dressings, chopping vegetables and pureeing soups.
Bowls: A set of 3 stainless- steel mixing bowls that fit inside one another is a space saver. They are inexpensive, versatile and will last a lifetime.
Colander: One that has feet and is the right size for your family (think about how much pasta you need to drain at once). Also make sure it will fit in your sink.
Cookware: Nonstick skillets are great tools for all cooks, but remember never to use them over high heat or use metal utensils on nonstick pans—scratched surfaces negatively affect their nonstick surface. You’ll want both small and large nonstick skillets. You’ll also want small and large stainless-steel skillets, as well as small and large saucepans and a stockpot.
Cutting boards: Two cutting boards are ideal—one for raw proteins and one for cooked foods and produce—to avoid cross-contamination when cooking. Cutting boards made of polyethylene plastic are inexpensive, durable and easy to clean. Look for ones that are dishwasher-safe.
Dutch oven: A double-handled, large, high-sided pot (typically smaller than a stockpot). The Dutch oven is great for soups, stews and braises.
Electric hand mixer: Baked goods are so much easier to make with a hand mixer. You can get one for as little as $15.
Instant-read thermometer: Found in nearly every supermarket meat section or with other kitchen gadgets, an instant-read thermometer is essential for making sure meat and poultry are safely cooked and done to your preference.
Knives: You really only need three knives: a serrated knife, a 9- to 10-inch-long chef’s knife and a paring knife. Make sure you hold a knife before you buy it; it should feel natural in your hand. Buy the best knives you can afford—they will last for many years.
Measuring spoons & cups: One full set of measuring spoons and two sets of measuring cups. One set should be for measuring liquids—those measuring cups usually have handles and pour spouts—and one set for measuring dry ingredients that can be leveled off.
Slow cooker: A great tool for people on the go: a lot of recipes can be made in minutes before work and be ready to eat for dinner. Buy one that’s the right size for your family.
Storage containers: Storage containers aren’t just for storing leftovers, but can also hold any unused ingredients that come from making dinner.
Utensils: Heat-resistant nonstick spatulas, vegetable peeler, rolling pin, meat mallet, a slotted spoon for draining, a wire whisk, tongs, a few wooden spoons, ladle, a microplane grater for zesting citrus.