There’s a really easy trap to fall into when kitting out your kitchen: buying too much stuff. We get it – it’s a space that is naturally primed for hoarding. Loads of cupboards to fill that you never open again. Everything from measuring spoons to mixing bowls come in those Russian doll-esque renditions of three or five. But we’re here to assure you that you don’t need so much stuff.
Next time you go to someone’s house, take a look in their kitchen and see for yourself. Far too much cutlery from historically different sets, mountains of pans tumbling out from overhead and drawers full of needless utensils. If you’re in any doubt, we’ve compiled a list of the true essentials below. Resist kitchen clutter and invest in the best.
Pots and Pans
The number of pans you have does not correlate with how good a cook you are. Resist sets and invest in a large stock pot, a large frying pan and a saucepan. Add one or two good quality roasting tins and that’s all you’ll ever need.
Pans should have heavyweight bottoms and the frying pan should be non-stick. Soak and clean them immediately after use and don’t use a scouring pad. You’ll be using these most days for years to come, so don’t be afraid to invest good money. Quality brands in the sector include Le Creuset, Berghoff/Eurocast, Greenpan, Eaziglide, Robert Welch and Tefal.
Knife block? Forget about it. Honestly, waste of money. With your knife money you need to be purchasing a solid kitchen knife, an offset serrated knife and, if you really insist on another, a good-quality paring knife. When it comes to brand, do as Anthony Bourdain would and pick up a Global G-2 chef’s knife – it’s worth every penny and will make your life in the kitchen a hell of a lot easier.
Once purchased, to ensure they remain in top condition, learn how to sharpen your knives properly.
We’re verging ever so slightly on the professional (dare we say frivolous) side here, but if you want to cut out the hassle of chopping vegetables and you want those vegetables to look more uniform and appealing, invest in a mandoline. Whether you’re cutting carrots Julienne or bâtonnet, a mandoline will prove to be a genuinely effective and helpful addition to your preparation arsenal.
Tread carefully here. This might seem like an intense warning for something so menial but it’s items like colanders where people seem to lose the plot. You might be surprised to know there’s a lot of variety here – some that clip to your pan, some with little plastic feet, some that mould to your sink. Sidestep the gimmicks and get yourself something akin to a Bellemain Micro-Perforated Stainless Steel Colander.
All you need is a solid, stainless steel set without any unnecessary detail and certainly no plastic handles. In fact, a good rule to follow in the kitchen is, don’t buy anything with a plastic handle of any sort because it’ll inevitably fall off. Habitat do slightly playful renditions on the classics while John Lewis stock simple sets to suit all budgets.
Grater / Zester
You’ll want a box grater for large amounts of cheese; something solid made out of stainless steel that won’t buckle under the pressure of grating. Many even have removable panels these days. It’s not essential, but we’d also recommend a handheld version – something like Microplane’s Premium Grater – as they’re ideal for grating at the table.
A solid, heavy casserole with a lid is an essential piece of kitchenware for the winter months. Perfect for everything from slow-cooking stew and meats to hearty shepherds pies and even Moussaka during summer. If the budget will stretch, go for a cast iron version with a well-fitting lid and easy-grip handles. Check out the likes of Le Creuset, Staub, Moreso, Finex and Denby.
The smell of the kitchen is unavoidable. The little spots of tomato sauce all over your pristine white T-shirts are not, however, so invest in an apron. A truly premium (and stylish) option can be sourced from Brighton Denim experts Dawson. For everyone else, opt for something that’s simple and avoids novelty at all costs.
Wood or plastic, it doesn’t really matter. If you want one of those sets of four colour-coded plastic boards to avoid cross-contamination, go for it, but don’t feel that one is dramatically more hygienic than another. We’d opt for a solid oak version because they look better and usually last longer.