10 Affordable, Essential Cooking Tools

YumSugarSource: 10 Affordable, Essential Cooking Tools

If you've just moved to a new city or are learning to cook for the first time, it can be hard to nail down new recipes, let alone all those kitchen tools. Just ask Eunice, who recently wrote in with this request:

"I've just landed my first real job, am moving across the country, and out of my parents' house for the first time. What are some kitchen essentials I should get? Can you direct me toward some companies that produce quality products [that won't] blow my whole budget? I'd like a good set of knives."

Eunice: we're here to help you - and anyone else looking for a complete set of cooking tools. Here are 10 pieces of kitchen equipment that are sure to be put to good use.

  • Knife set: The average quality knife set costs several hundred dollars, and some get even more expensive than that, but Victorinox makes a wildly priced three-piece set for only $70. Don't have that much to spend? Just the 8-inch chef's knife will do, too.
  • Cutting board: Wooden cutting boards can get pricey, so invest in a thick, durable plastic cutting board that will do the same job at a lower price. Architec makes a reasonably priced high-density plastic version for $15 that is safe to go in the dishwasher.
  • Tongs: Haute chefs may look down on what's diminutively called "white trash tongs," but in my kitchen, this utensil never stays clean for long. Use locking tongs like this style from Oxo ($11) for flipping meat on the grill, cooking pasta, or tossing salads.
  • Stainless-steel stockpot: The word "stockpot" belies just how exciting this product is. For a mere $30, Cuisinart makes a stainless steel Dutch oven-shaped pot that you will literally use every single day in dishes from pastas to soups to stocks to casual stir-fries.

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  • Bread knife: One thing you'll need in addition to a set of sharp knives is a long, serrated bread knife ($28). Try cutting bread for crostini, bread pudding, or stratas just once with a regular knife, and you'll see why this tool's so necessary.
  • Skillet: Nonstick pans aren't really a necessity, but they do come in extrahandy when it comes to frying eggs. Calphalon makes some of the most affordable, durable nonstick, like this 10-inch omelet pan for $40. It's oven safe, so it works with frittatas, too.
  • Grater: Shredded cheese or zested citrus simply cannot be achieved any way other than with a grater, so why not invest in the best? A Microplane grater and zester is top-of-the-line, and still a reasonable price at $13. Thanks to its sharp yet safe blade construction, grating Parmesan, lemon, or nutmeg on this tool will feel entirely effortless.
  • Saucepan: Tyler Florence calls a saucepan one of only seven cooking essentials you need, and for good reason: a light, small stainless-aluminum saucepan is ideal for simmering tomato sauce, boiling eggs, or cooking just a few vegetables. We like a simple version from Cuisinart for less than $20.
  • Y-peeler: When it comes to peeling produce quick, a knife just won't cut it. Invest a paltry $3.50 in an easy-to-handle Y-peeler from Kuhn Rikon, which'll come in handy for everything from apple pie to zucchini "pasta."
  • Paring knife: A paring knife is a crucial accessory to go along with your larger chef's knife, and it'll be put to use when peeling fruit, seeding jalapeños, deveining shrimp, or other smaller kitchen tasks. Invest in one with a solid stainless-steel construction like the 4-inch paring knife from Henckels ($27).

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