The most important part of starting to cook for yourself is having the basics in your kitchen. It is almost impossible to just walk into your kitchen and start cooking without a little preparation. Here are things that I always have in the kitchen:
1. A List
Every week, I make a list of what food I need to buy from the grocery store and what meals I’m going to make with said food. Writing this list is crucial to having a seamless week. Instead of throwing my grocery list to the bottom of my purse urging it to be lost among mints and deceased receipts, I clip it onto the fridge. This piece of paper keeps me from opening the fridge and just making whatever I please with the ingredients inside.
“To have a basic ingredient that can be prepared a million different ways is a beautiful thing.” – Alice Waters
These are some small things I almost always have written on my grocery list regardless of the meals I plan to make:
- green onions
- bell peppers
Understanding the intentions of these ingredients before I grab them saves me from running out of food before my next grocery store trip and turning to the take out menus, which happen to also be clipped on the fridge.
Spices are arguably one of the most important things in a kitchen.
Some spices I always have on hand are:
- garlic powder
- cayenne pepper
- Italian seasoning
Spices have the ability to transform any plain dish into a desirable one. Once you start cooking, it is impossible to make a dish without a spice and if you do, you’re doing it wrong.
No kitchen is complete without the proper utensils. In addition to the obvious pots, pans and dish rags, there are a few more things that I must always have clean before I start cooking. First, a garlic mincer or crusher. Vampires beware! As an avid garlic consumer, I have gone through so many garlic presses but this one is the best! Next, I always have a few cutting boards prepped for battle. I designate plastic cutting boards for veggies, fruit and herbs and, I designate glass or marble cutting boards for meat to avoid cross contamination. Finally, the pride of the kitchen, a silicone spatula. These things are life changing! They’re so easy to clean and I have to admit I’ve accidentally set them in a hot pan for a few minutes and they don’t melt.
Unfortunately, starting a kitchen can be a little expensive but making sure that you have all of the necessary items before you start will save you money down the road. For weekly ingredients that are on the list, I always go to Aldi for. Usually, their fresh produce is from local farmers and much cheaper than other grocery stores. Adding spices to your spice collection can rack up the bill if you don’t look around. My go-to for spices is Hy-Vee where you scoop the spices that you want and pay per weight. Instead of spending a flat rate for spices which includes its packaging, I buy the spices from Hy-Vee and they sit in a bag. If this is too unsightly for you, you can buy inexpensive jars from Amazon and spend half the price of the prepackaged spices. I always purchase my kitchen equipment from TJ Maxx. They’re inexpensive and trustworthy.
Now that you have the basics for your kitchen, let’s get cooking.