If you are just getting out of college, recently divorced or getting your first apartment or house, you are gonna need to stock your kitchen. Most guys I have seen, go over to walmart and buy a bunch of the cheapest stuff they can find. But many bachelors forget what an integral part their kitchen can be in their life. Food is an important part of life, regardless of culture.
Think I am wrong? You food prep, or you should be to get the best body you can and to not waste time and money eating junk fast food or heavy sauces at restaurants. Friends, families and even girls can come over to have dinner or a cookout. So it’s important that you have good quality supplies in your kitchen.
Here is the thing, good quality stuff it better to use and will literally last you years. I have stuff in my kitchen over 20 years old that is still in great shape. In fact, half the time, I buy new stuff and end up going back to the tried and true. So I am gonna save you from wasting a lot of money and only have you get the essentials, the stuff you will use every day.
You can add to this over time, but if you are on a budget, or just aren’t sure what you want or need, only get the essentials. Let’s get started.
I know you are walking through the store eyeing that pack of 48 knives in a block thinking you will use all those knives. Stop. You won’t. I bet you I have 50 different knives and I literally use the same two all the time. And while all of them strapped up to my wall looks cool, I find it a waste of money at the same time.
Starting out, you need two knives to start. You need a good chefs quality knife, and you need a paring knife. Whether its a traditional chef knife or japanese style Santoku knife, you need a big knife to act as your workhorse. Breaking down meet, cutting up vegetables, all the prep that goes into cooking. The knife I use all the time is below.
I personally prefer an 8 inch forged chefs knife. I have had mine for over 20 years and is the knife I grab for all the time. The heavy piece of stainless steel has stayed sharp over the years and I can use it to chop through bones, or a delicate tomato.
A pairing knife is great for things like, peeling potatoes, and more delicate work that the chefs knife is to big for. Added bonus, you can use it when you make yourself a steak as a steak knife in a pinch. No need to buy cheap steak knives when its just you. What about friends and girls? Normally I do several proteins, let them rest and then slice into pieces to eat family style.
Over time, you can add things like a serrated knife for breads, carving knives for turkey and others, but really, 90% of the time you will be using the chefs knife. In fact, before you get any other knives, you need to get yourself a honing steel and use it every time you pull out your chef knife.
You do not need any more than two cutting boards. A high quality wood cutting board, and a plastic one for things like fish and chicken so you don’t get those smells in your board or cross contaminate with salmonella. But the wood board should be big and should be thick. You want it big enough to have plenty of room to work on. My board is a Maple, Wood Edge Grain cutting board that is 24 inches by 18 inches and over 2 inches thick. Maple is a great wood to use since it doesn’t have a ton of resin and the edge grain is great to cut on.
Don’t get the bamboo cutting boards. Don’t get a cheap thin cutting board. My board is so big that even when i work with chicken, I still put the plastic board on top. It is a dream to work with and because its so heavy, it hardly moves around.
If you are getting a plastic board, don’t get the hard plastic cutting boards. Get the soft polypropylene cutting boards. They are non-porous, can be put in the dishwasher and won’t dull your knife. If you are in a super small kitchen, this might make more sense but I still prefer my maple cutting board.
Pots and Pans
You have a cook top and will need to cook on top of it. But you don’t need a 13 piece cookware set when there are only a few you will use. You need a saute pan for searing meats and fish and cooking bacon and eggs. As large as you can is ideal. I have a little 8 inch saute pan that really I hate because its so small, its almost worthless. If you can get a 12 inch frying pan like the one below, it will go a long way to serving you. It has a lid, lots of surface area, is oven safe and will work on any cook top.
A lot of people are going to disagree with me and say, get a cast iron skillet. Cast iron can be great to work with, but it is just not as versatile as the fry pan above. As you grow into your kitchen, a cast iron pan can be a great addition to the kitchen, but in my opinion, is not the first one you should buy.
Next you need a big ass pot. It is a technical term, big ass pot. Really you want a good sturdy pot that you can make soups. boil noodles, make sauces and even things like rice. I would either do a stainless steel or an enameled cast iron like those below. If you can afford two, even better. They are very versatile and can be used in the oven, on the stovetop or even out on the grill if you need to.
Finally, some sheet pans. A pack of three is versatile in so many ways. I broil bacon on it, cook chicken thighs, bake cookies, if it goes in the oven, it can go on a sheet pan. I buy a pack of three. And the irony is, one of them I don’t use for cooking. It goes into the fridge and I put my meats I am gonna use to make sure they don’t leak all over my fridge. The medium sized one is perfect in my fridge. Taking things to the grill, sheet pans are great for this as well.
As a bachelor, that is all you need to start out with pots and pans. As you find your needs grow, you add to it over time but not till you find you really need it. The irony is, I cooked most of my stuff on the grill so never used a lot of this stuff at first anyway.
Plates, bowls and eating utensils
Next time you go to a nicer restaurant, or watch the food channel, pay attention to their plates. Elegant white plates is what they use, and then mix it up with different bowls and serving platters. Your first inkling will be to get a whole set that includes coffee cups you won’t use and small plates you will barely use. Instead, spend your money getting a pack of clean white porcelain plates. 6 – 12 dinner plates will be more useful than just about anything else. You have enough for friends and family, enough so you are not washing every night, and a dinner plate can work just fine as a serving platter.
Next add in bowls. I like a variety of bowls depending on what I am using them for. Soup bowls, a japanese curry, oatmeal or cereal if you eat it. A set of japanese bowls like those below can be really useful. A set of 10 ounce bowls can be used for prepping, dipping sauces and even things like hard boiled eggs.
You need something to eat with, so yes, silverware is a must. These you will use every day so i never agree with skimping on these. A set like this will serve you well, allow you to have friends and family over and doesn’t include a ton of useless utensils. The only one I can see is useless it the butter knife but what are you gonna do.
The following tools are useful tools that can be used when you cook. I try and avoid unitaskers as much as possible. But these are the tools I seem to use the most.
You need a good pair of tongs. At least one but a pair can be useful as well. If I had a pair I would get one with the silicon head which means you can use it in your non-stick pan and another one without the silicon head. Get the 12 inch instead of the 9 inch so you can keep your hands away from the heat of the grill or the splatter of the butter as you saute.
Now this may surprise you, but my next tool is a salad spinner. Why the salad spinner? Not only is it good for, well, spinning salad leaves, but it has two other uses. The mesh insert can be used to drain noodles so you don’t need to buy a separate colander for that. And, the clear glass bowl can work just fine to actually serve up your salad. If you don’t eat salad, a regular stainless steel colander will work just fine as well.
A good peeler can come in handy in so many ways. This includes peeling potatoes, shaving pecorino romano cheese into your salad or even the skin of lemons and oranges for drinks and flavoring. There are lots of cheap ones but I find the one below doesn’t cut so deep. The cheaper ones you lose a lot of flesh and cut to deep into citrus. This one has lasted me over 10 years.
Coffee, Tea, milk or me?
I’m a coffee drinker. I even sell coffee online. And if I had the time for it, I would be using an entire espresso set up. But alas, the cost, the room and the fact I have other things more important, means I use a simple drip coffee maker. Just make sure you use a Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder, and grind before you brew.
The best bang for the buck in both looks and quality of the brew is again, an OXO product. I like it because it looks good, has a therma carafe so it doesn’t scorch coffee, and is certified by the Speciality Coffee Association of America to make a hell of a cup of coffee.
That’s all you need as a bachelor
This may surprise you but thats all you need. These things will set you up to cook great food and 90% of this stuff will last you years. Like I said above, I have had many of these items for over 20 years. Be cautious of what you buy, and don’t just buy the cheapest, buy something you would have no issue moving across the country. What other things do you think are missing from the list? Let me know below.