How to Stock Your First Kitchen

You walk in, to your left is your new fridge, in front of you stands the IKEA shelf you just constructed—full of spices, onions, garlic, as well as other things you convinced yourself you will cook with but you know you won’t. 

Next to that stands your brand new stovetop—your pride and joy—burners readied for spilled sauces and boiling water, oven prepped for popping sausages and spitting roasts. However, surveying the scene, something is decidedly missing. Tomorrow is kichen supply-shopping day, and you’ve borrowed your best mate’s car, so you don’t want to make repeat trips. You need to make a list. 

Now, What to Get?

Heston Blumenthal says you need a sous vide machine to make scrambled eggs, while Ottolenghi insists you’ll want Ajwain seeds, lemon myrtle salt, and dried rose petals as pantry basics. On second-thought, you’re probably okay without the sous vide machine for now. 

Picturing dinner parties, Christmas dinners, and date nights to come, there are clearly some gastronomic tools you’ll need more than others. A list of basics begins to form that won’t bankrupt you and are guaranteed to be fundamental to future culinary plans. 10 basic items that are indispensable to chefs and cooks at every level, and now you:

1. Chef’s Knife and Honer

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Some shops offer ranges of up to 8 knives. Some will try and sell you a knife just for tomatoes. Some articles say 3 is in fact the lucky number. When it comes down to it, you only need one

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One proper chef’s knife to endure all you throw at it in the kitchen. If you can afford a top-end Japanese or German knife, then go for it. Well looked after, these knives will outlive you, so it’s worth splashing the extra cash if you can. Otherwise, there are plenty of other great options out there. Just don’t forget to get a knife honer as well, so you’re not cooking with a blunt knife.

2. Cutting Board

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Because what is a knife without it’s cutting board?

3. Mortar and Pestle

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Do you want to make beautiful curries or mouthwatering spice mixes to cover your meat or stir into stew? Then you’ll need one of these. Again, it’s an item that can be hideously expensive or incredibly reasonable, so have a look around. 

4. Instant-Read Thermometer

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This will allow you to cook meat and fudge alike to perfection. Cheap and invaluable, it would be silly not to get one. 

5. Kitchen Scale

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Even if you don’t think you need to measure things when you cook, you will need to eventually—especially when it comes to baking. It might be okay to escape this aspect of cooking to begin with, but as your dishes progress in difficulty, you will find yourself needing one sooner than you think. 

6. Cast Iron Skillet

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More versatile than you will believe and something that can last you a lifetime if lucky. If lacking, it is time to invest in one

7. Tongs

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Tongs are not just for a barbecue. Serving and mixing sauce into a pasta dish are just two of the many kitchen duties better executed with tongs. An indispensable tool of professional chefs. 

8. Wooden Spoons

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The wooden spoon may not be the most exciting buy, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most of important things to have in a kitchen for literally centuries. 

9. Can Opener (with a Bottle Opener!)

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Because I can’t count the number of times I’ve returned from the shops, started to cook, and realized the tin I bought does not have an easy open tab.

10. Whisk

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If you want to splurge and get an electric whisk, or even a stand mixer, then by all means do. For your first kitchen, however, a good only fashioned hand whisk will do just fine. Scrambling eggs and whipping cream, the humble whisk has earned its place in this list.