TIPS: Top Ten Cooking Utensils

Kitchens can get crowded with utensils. There is a seemingly endless array of gadgets out there in the marketplace supposedly to make your life easier. But in fact you can get away with having a few core, good quality utensils and live an uncluttered and simple kitchen existence. In this case quality is definitely better than quantity. Check out the top ten cooking utensils to use in your kitchen…

Let’s face it, Kitchens can get crowded at the best of times making it very difficult cook, clean and find things. If you are going to stock up your kitchen with various cookware and kitchen utensils you are best to fill your pantry with a variety of great ingredients rather than have pots and pans spilling out of every cupboard. You also want to have as large a clear bench space as possible. It can be quite annoying when you have to wade through a junkyard of unused bench-top machines to clear some space; or you have to clamber through random containers and pots in the cupboard to find what you are looking for.

So in order to keep things simple, maintain an ordered kitchen and not spend money on useless items you will use only a few times you must consider carefully what tools you require for the kitchen. It is true that there are hundreds of tools and utensils that you can buy, many of which may be useful. But the fact is, you should only buy things that you are actually going to regularly use – i.e. if it doesn’t perform a few tasks in the kitchen then you don’t want it.

It should be pointed out that everyone’s requirements are different. There are kitchen utensils that may be infinitely helpful to one person and a complete waste of space, time and money to others. So you must consider your own needs when deciding what you need for your individual kitchen. But here are 3 points you should consider before you purchase any new item for your kitchen.

1. Can you do without this item – is there another utensil that you already own that can pretty much do the same job. It may not be as ideal as the one you are currently thinking of buying which leads us to…

2. Will it make your life far easier and will you use this item all the time

3. Does this item have multiple purposes? If not how often will you use it for its single purpose? And is there another tool out there that does the same thing but has multiple purposes?

I am sure you get the drift.

If you want to be able to cook food properly and want to save money in the long-run, then considering what you buy and buying something that will hopefully last you a lifetime will pay massive dividends in the long run. By no means do you have to throw your hands up and give up on cooking just because you don’t have the latest Italian designed espresso machine etc. No. This is about giving you the understanding of how to achieve a great deal of things in the kitchen that ultimately require good tools to achieve. You are far better to buy a few top quality items that will last you a long time and perform far far better for you, than own every gadget advertised on infomercials only to find you give up on your kitchen completely.

I know a good workman is not meant to blame their tools, which is why I maintain that you can literally just have one pot or pan and still cook a great deal of things. You can also have utensils that are all purchased from the local $2 shop and you can still achieve much in the kitchen. But the reality is, if you want to progress beyond just cooking great food for yourself and want to cook for the multitudes of adoring friends and spouses (I guess that should really be singular???) then you are advised to start making a few minor investments – as I said this will actually save you money in the long run.

So bearing these things in mind, what are the ten things that you could own in a kitchen to not only get by in the kitchen, but achieve great things? Let us for a moment pretend we are starting from scratch and own no kitchen items. What are the first 10 things you would buy?

1. Chefs knife – heavy, made from good quality steel, well weighted. A good one will be expensive but well worth the time and effort you will save. It will last a lifetime and you will be far less likely to cut your finger (sharp and well balanced knives have been proven to be safer).

2. Cast iron frying pan – again this should be heavy and made of good quality iron. You will never consider buying a non-stick pan again. A good cast iron pan is super easy to clean, far harder to burn things in, and caramelizes your food far better (increasing flavour!). It will last a lifetime and will actually be up to a 10th of the price for a similar weighted non-stick pan. You should be able to pick one up for $20-$30, or even less 2nd hand (remember they last a life time). For similar quality of non-stick pan (assuming it existed) you would pay hundreds!

Here are the top ten cooking utensils that are all you really need to make great food:

3. Large pot – you are probably spotting a pattern now. Get a heavy one made of good quality steel. The more steel your pots and pans have (and therefore more weight) the more they will distribute heat evenly which will give you considerable more control over the cooking process. You will be less likely to burn your food, you will get better caramelization (and therefore more flavour) and it will be easier to clean (as the food, being more evenly heated, will not stick to the bottom as much). You need a big pot for cooking pasta, soups, stocks and stews.

4. Small pot – same goes as the large pot, except you use it for cooking sauces, noodles, rice, vegetables etc.

5. Cork screw/bottle opener/Can opener – there is no point buying beautiful French wine, easy canned food or making your own home brew if you can’t get to the contents. It is not advised trying to break the packing open on these items.

6. Chopping board – a good heavy wooden one is best. The more heavy it is the less likely it will move about as you are chopping, making the whole process much safer and simpler. Wood is also good as it wont blunt your knife (granite for example, will destroy your fantastic chefs knife). Wood is actually more sanitary than most other materials, despite what you may think. Boards made out of eucalyptus are the best as this wood contains a natural anti-bacterial resin.

7. Hand held stick blender – smoothies, soups, sauces and dips, need I say more?! Stick blenders are far more flexible in terms of use.

8. Cheese grater – grated cheese, carrot, beetroot. Not to mention zest and grated mace. You do need one of these.

9. Oven dish – doesn’t need to be a fancy one, as long as it can roast, bake and grill your food you will be happy.

10. Food processor – something that can chop for you, combine, mix and generally do many things that your elbow would rather not, how can you not require one these. Again, good quality is better. I once purchased a $30 one from the supermarket. It blended two things and broke. Better to get a heavy duty one and sit back and watch as it makes you life infinitely easier. They can be quite pricey which is why it is last on the list. You can get this item last.

You may agree or you may strongly disagree. The point is that you don’t actually need many things in the kitchen to make great food. In fact many things like kettles, tongs, potato mashers, vegetable peelers, wooden spoons, salad servers, colanders, sieves, pairing knives and bread knives all have a purpose – and sometimes even a very useful one – they are not necessarily required. In fact for many of these items it could easily be argued that they are a waste of space for how often you will actually use them. Of course this is entirely dependent on the individual. A keen tea enthusiast will probably want to invest in a kettle, but then again, a pot on the stove still does a great job of heating water. You would be better off investing in a few great quality kitchen items than owning many that are useless.


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