Essential cooking tools to get you set for the kitchen.

The simple things you need to cook almost anything in your kitchen and keep costs down.

You don’t have to spend half your student loan on your kitchen equipment – stick to this basic list and the price recommendations and you will be able to cook 90% of meals like a chef for minimal money. List with prices found at the end.

Pots and pans

When it comes to pots and pans the magic number is 3. A medium size saucepan can be used for sauces, single rice and pasta portions amongst many other things. A larger, two handled deep saucepan, can be used for one pot dishes, like curries and stews or they can be used for dishes made in a large quantity, like pasta. Finally, the frying pan: this needs to be medium to large sized to it can be versatile (better too big than too small), it can then be used to fry meat, make sauces, blacken fish… When buying pans the general rule is that the thicker the bottom the better, as it will conduct more heat and is less likely to burn your food. Also make sure they are non-stick, it will make your life so much easier.

There are many other types and size of pan, however these 3 will cover pretty much everything, take good care of them and they will last you ages, saving you money.



Knives, like pots and pans, should come in a 3. This 3 pack from IKEA provides the perfect trio and is £6, no one can complain at that. The most important knife amongst all others is the chefs knife (middle), as you will use it 90% of the time for: meats, veggies, herbs etc. The paring knife (left) is used for things like taking ends off veggies or cutting small fiddly things that a chefs knife is too big for. The final knife you need is a large serrated knife (right) for cutting things like tomatoes, bread or tough meats.

You must keep you knives sharp, ironically it reduces the chance of you cutting yourself. You should sharpen your knives once a fortnight with a basic handheld sharpener to make chopping safer and easier.

When it comes to knives, there is a long list that you can find, however you won’t need to waste your money on them, you can cover everything with these 3, trust me.

Chopping boards

Chopping boards can be made from all sorts of materials, plastics, marbles, metals, however you need a board that will be heavy duty, durable, easy to wash and not too expensive. To get all that you need a wooden board, relatively large and at least 2cm thick so it will last. If you take care of it, it will last you years. You must not put it in the dishwasher or leave it standing in water as it will crack, also you should oil it (any cooking oil will do) every month or so to keep the wood in good condition.

Even though plastic boards are cheaper, a wooden one will last longer and will be less likely to bend and warp, so will save you money in the long run.

Baking and roasting trays

A good pair of baking trays will set you up well for your oven cooking. A deep roasting tray is essential and can be used for roasting things like chicken or potatoes. A shallow baking tray is useful for warming up flatbreads and baking cookies etc. Both have thousands of uses, and are all you need for baking and roasting in your oven.

General Utensils

You don’t need to fill an entire drawer with wooden spoons and ladles, you can get a few simple utensils to keep you set in the kitchen.

  • Wooden spoon – for stirring sauces etc.
  • Fish slice (preferably a metal one)  – for flipping meat, pancakes, eggs…
  • Ladle or deep soon – for serving sauces and soups.
  • Whisk – for getting the lumps out of any sauces or batters.
  • Pair of tongues – these make it so much easier to turn things over in a pan.
  • Rubber spatula – for scrambled eggs, sticky sauces etc.

Other necessities

Don’t fill up your cupboards with unnecessary junk. Keep the clutter down by only getting these things and you will still be able to work wonders in the kitchen.

  • Sieve – for straining rice, separating flower…
  • Colander –  needed for straining pasta and vegetables.
  • Grater – for grating cheese and thinly slicing vegetables.
  • Peeler – for peeling vegetables and thinly slicing things, keeping waste down.

All this isn’t going to cost you a fortune and it will provide you with everything you need to cook delicious food with ease. Check the list below for estimates prices for your kitchen essentials.

  • Small saucepan with a lid – £10
  • Large saucepan with a lid – £20
  • Medium to large non-stick frying pan – £10
  • 3 knife set – £6
  • Knife sharpener – £5
  • Wooden chopping board – £8
  • Roasting dish – £5
  • Baking tray – £1
  • Wooden spoon – £1
  • Metal fish slice – £3
  • Ladle – £1
  • Whisk – £1
  • Pair of tongues £2
  • Rubber spatula £3
  • Sieve – £4
  • Colander £2
  • Grater £3
  • Peeler – £2

Total estimated cost – £80-100

So, for less than £100 you can get yourself everything you need to start cooking like a chef in your kitchen. Secret is, don’t go and buy all of this from the supermarket, go to IKEA, they have it all and its cheap too.

Written by Max Knight.

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