One of the most frequent question from beginner cooks that we can hear all around is: what do I need to start cooking?
First of all, you’ll need a good reference source for cooking beginners, just like a cooking website for beginners! Just as well, you’re already on it ;). After that, you’ll need a minimum cooking equipment and a few useful items you should always have in your cupboard or fridge.
Here are a few basic guidelines to help you when choosing you kitchen equipment and supplies when you just start in the kitchen.
Cooking equipment for beginner cooks
About the cooking utensils, we cannot emphasize more the importance of cooking equipment, it is very difficult to start cooking well if you do not have the minimum essential cooking utensils.
I’ve made a list of basic necessities essential cooking tools — those without whom I really can’t do anything — but we will try to narrow it even further to create a “cooking survival kit” for beginners, which may be what you’ll find in these few lines below.
What you need to start cooking
In order of importance:
1) Kitchen Knife: when beginning to cook you need a good kitchen knife, medium sized, stainless steel, plastic handle with a sharpener: the one with 2 discs of metal where the blade slides in between. If you feel confident, you can purchase a butcher’s steel but you will need to learn the correct technique, which is not so easy for a beginner cook.
A good kitchen knife is really the first thing you should buy. It is almost impossible to get good food without one. It can sound harsh but once you get a real good knife in hand, you work becomes easier and safer.
Do not hesitate to buy something that “looks” expensive, perhaps one of the premium brands. Think of it as an investment for the future. Check this post to get some good references.
2) Cutting board: Get a synthetic, broad and thick enough cutting board to allow you to use it comfortably. This will allow you to cut, slice and chop without messing up your table or your countertop, and without blunting your precious knives.
If you’re tempted to get a wooden cutting board that seems natural and convenient, it is preferable to prevent the wood to absorb and retain odors from the ingredients you are cutting. Know that it is also more difficult to keep it clean and you will inevitably end up putting wood dust in all what you do.
Similarly, avoid cutting board made of metal or glass, they look stylish but are not really necessary, especially for someone who just begin cooking. Here’s a trusted brands and products selection.
3) Kitchen Scales: There are so many things that needs weighing and measuring when cooking, especially when baking, the scales are therefore vital. I highly recommend electronic kitchen scales as the most convenient because they have an automatic weighing function module and are now very affordable. Beginners in the kitchen often overlook this aspect of cooking, but measuring is a part of the — almost — exact science of pastry.
4) Spatula: a kind of flat wooden spoon is a multi-purpose tool for stirring the pot, pushing the elements of the cutting board, lifting, turning, etc.
It is important that this should be made of wood as it does’nt transmit heat like metal, you can leave it in a very hot pan with no risk of burns, which is not possible with a tablespoon, for example.
You can peel potatoes with an ordinary knife, but you need the skills of a professional chef to not end up with peels as big as your thumb! So a good vegetable peeler is a good choice for a beginner cook.
There you have it: this short list of 5 items is enough to get you started. If you want to go further, go to this cooking utensils article
Cooking Basics for Beginner’s
To succeed in any recipe you will need to put together all the necessary ingredients. With time and experience in cooking, you’ll see that some ingredients reccur often, even very often.
So it’s a good idea to come up with a list of items you should always try to keep either in your pantry or in the fridge. These basic cooking ingredients will provide your “cooking base“.
Here is some advices for making up your own, with 10 ingredients that are simple, but almost indispensible..
The 10 essential ingredients to keep either in your pantry or in the fridge
- 1 – Salt and pepper: it’s almost impossible to cook without them. Some will tell you that it is through them that you can recognize great leaders: just with salt and pepper they are able to bring out the flavors of a dish. Always have a bucket of salt and pepper. If possible, get some coarse salt and a pepper mill that you can fill with peppercorns, it gives a better and fuller flavor.
- 2 – Oil and Vinegar: A bottle of each, left out of the refrigerator and selected according to your taste. For example, my choice would be olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- 3 – Sugar: preferably stored in an airtight jar.
- 4 – Mustard: A simple Dijon style mustard in a jar kept in the refrigerator.
- 5 – Eggs: organic eggs if possible. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need to keep them in the fridge.
- 6 – Butter: real butter, not reduced fat, organic if possible, stored in the refrigerator.
- 7 – Flour: white flour, stored in an airtight container.
- 8 – Cream: organic if possible, single or double depending on your preferences, stored in the refrigerator.
- 9 – Onions and/or shallots: these can be stored in the crisper of the refrigerator or at room temperature.
- 10 – Milk: Organic milk if possible, whole or skimmed milk according to your taste, stored in the refrigerator.
Of course, this can be changed to suit your habits and preferences, but at least with this list you have a good basis on which to build.
You will notice that I often stress the quality of ingredients, as this is important not only for the dishes you prepare, but also for you.
In general, whenever possible, try to find the best ingredients you can, fresh, healthy, and unfortunately often more expensive than others, but is there a price for a good health?
Where to start cooking
Once you have some cooking equipment and quality ingredients, you need to start and choose a recipe.
No problem – choose one from on the eatwell101 site! If you are not sure, check the list of all recipes.
I also suggest you to look at the “Recipes – tips” page. Here you will find everything you need to know before tackling a recipe, either from this site or elsewhere. This page about kitchen utensils may interest the cooking beginners as it list the various families of kitchenware.