Being a big proponent of cooking at home, one of my goals is to inspire everyone to enjoy home-cooked meals more- be it via blog, my work, or personal life. I spend a lot of time encouraging my patients on 'cooking more at home' and talking about 'healthy eating'. While some of them ignore me completely, there are a significant number of people who genuinely want to learn about healthy living but have no idea where to begin. It hit me when one of my patient's told me that he does not know how to chop onions. I never thought I would come across something as basic as that...but again, if you never cook at home and depend heavily on processed foods, take-outs, and eating out, you probably won't know how produce look in their natural form or what to do with it. So today instead of a recipe, I am focusing on "Every Essential Kitchen Tools" that I use in my kitchen. If you are looking to cook more often at home (which you totally should), don't shy away from investing in kitchen tools; this is probably the first and most important step to take while making a transition to a healthy living. While I don't have a big kitchen or fancy tools, I do have a decent collection of tools I use regularly in my kitchen and most of them have lasted me a very long time.
Chef's Knife - this is probably the most important tool to have in the kitchen. There are different types of knifes for different purposes (pairing, serrated, boning etc) but to start out with I suggest you get yourself a solid, sharp chef knife. I use it as my all purpose knife for chopping vegetables, cutting fruits, and even meat. Currently, I am using Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife which I won and love it. It is a very affordable ($40) and good quality stuff. Here is a guide on how to buy one.
Cutting Board - Please don't use a plate or a surface as a chopping board (I am guilty of doing that). I generally suggest getting two different types of board - flexible plastic ones (for chopping and directly dumping vegetables in the pot, fruits, and meat ), and a wooden one for everything else. I love the wooden one because it is pretty solid and good for the knife but since it is porous, there is a high chance of bacterial contamination. A good article on when to replace a cutting board.
Glass Storage Containers - This is the best kitchen purchase I have made last year. I replaced all my plastic containers with a glass one. Read here for more on if plastic containers are safe? I use these containers for my lunch, store leftovers, and cooked beans/grains etc. I love how these are dishwasher safe and freezer-friendly too.
Measuring Cups and Spoons - I don't routinely use measuring cups and spoons while I am cooking but it is an absolute for baking. For a new cook, it's a good tool to have especially when trying out new recipes. Also, it is very helpful to watch portion size.
Hand Blender- I use my hand blender pretty much everyday to make anything from smoothies, hummus, to soups. This KitchenAid 3-Speed Hand Blender (with whisk and chopper attachment) is perfect for blending, crushing, chopping, and pureeing; since I only make a small batch I love it. Also, it's a space saver and pretty affordable if this is your first blender. I use a Ninja Professional at work and it's wonderful as well.
Baking Sheet - Whether it's roasting vegetables , baking a cookie, or making my favorite salmon, I use baking sheets at least 1-2 times a week. I think everyone should have a couple of these in their kitchen and use an aluminium foil or parchment paper for easy clean up.
Stainless steel cookware- I switched from non-stick pots and pans to stainless steel cookware sometime last year and I am liking it a lot. I do have a non-stick for omelette, scrambled eggs, and fish dishes but I stick to stainless steel pots and pans for making sauces, saute, and stir frying or anything that requires a high heat. Unlike a non-stick pan, stainless steel cookware does not have scratches or gives off toxic fumes which are very scary to think about.
Spoon/Spatula - You need a couple good spoons (slotted, solid, and ladle) and a silicon spatula to do most of your cooking. If you have a non-stick cookware, make sure to use a wooden or a nylon one. Otherwise, a stainless one can work too; here is the difference between nylon vs stainless steel. I am a big fan of silicon spatulas for making eggs, scraping the sides of mixing bowls, and general stirring because it is heat resistant and does not scratch non-stick pans.
Even though this is not a comprehensive list, in my opinion these are "Everyday Essential Kitchen Tools" that can make cooking more approachable and fun for you. I would suggest starting out with these basics and slowly building on your kitchen tools depending upon how much you cook/bake, your budget, and your storage space.
What are some of your essential tools in the kitchen?