What are the essentials in kitchen tools & utensils?
Of all the seemingly endless array of kitchen gadgets, tools and utensils you could possibly include in your new kitchen setup, there are a few essentials that will make your everyday life so much easier.
We've detailed them here for you, so you don't feel overwhelmed the moment you step into the kitchenware section of a store.
While each knife is designed with specific functions in mind, they're all versatile enough to be used for different applications. For example, serrated edge knives are ideal for slicing breads - chef knives allow you to chop, slice and dice without changing kitchen tools and paring knives are perfect for skinning fruits and vegetables.
See our guide about caring for your kitchen knives to ensure you get maximum performance from your investment.
When it comes to cutting boards, a wooden cutting board is gentler on your kitchen knives and harbours fewer bacteria than its plastic counterparts. But, plastic cutting boards can be cost-effective given the initial outlay of setting up your kitchen, and you can always upgrade to wood later on when the funds aren't as tight.
A good set of kitchen scales takes the guesswork out of your food measurements so you can create delicious-tasting food exactly the way the recipe intended.
Like kitchen scales, measuring spoons, measuring cups and liquid measuring cups help make you look good in the kitchen by ensuring your recipe measurements don't go horribly wrong. It could mean the difference between a teaspoon of chilli and a tablespoon of chilli!
A good cast-iron frypan (or skillet) should have a very long lifespan, and requires very little fuss to keep it in great nick. While it will sear your steaks, saute your vegetables and heap of other tasks, a non-stick frypan is a much better choice for making sure ingredients like omelettes, scrambled eggs or crepes don't coat and stick to the pan.
Mixing bowls are your hardest-working food preparation helpers, with stainless steel being widely considered by professionals as the best choice for versatility, functionality, hygiene and storage. Create cake mixes, marinate meats, toss and serve salads, and any number of other kitchen tasks.
Between cooking pasta, heating sauces, melting butter for baking and steaming or boiling veggies, there's no end to the uses for saucepans in your kitchen. Stainless steel is the best option, and knowing what you'll be using them for - whipping up your own gourmet dishes or maybe just re-heating tinned soup and leftovers, for instance - will dictate how much money you spend on them.
A rolling pin is vital if you're someone who bakes a lot of pastry or dough-based goodies. In terms of versatility, you can always break out the rolling pin to help with other food preparation tasks, such as flattening chicken breasts so they're cooked faster and more evenly in your frypan.
Apart from roasting meats and vegetables, a decent-sized roasting dish is ideal for larger meals like lasagne, meatloaves and shepherd's pie.
Whether you're a keen cookie-maker or just like snacking on oven fries, the importance of having good baking tray (or baking sheet) in your utensil arsenal can't be understated.
Silicone Baking Mat
A silicone baking mat is essential for kneading dough and other general kitchen prep tasks. Being made of silicone makes it easy to clean and store.
With more grunt than ordinary scissors, a good pair of kitchen shears has a number of different uses in the kitchen, which makes them an essential tool - and not one to be confused with your normal scissors so to avoid cross-contamination. Some even come with a bottle-opening function, and can be disassembled for cleaning.
There are many inventive ways for you to improvise draining pasta, legumes or boiled veggies after cooking them but you'll wonder how you ever did it previously when you finally get a colander. A colander gives the best results (read: flavour) and can also double as a rinsing aid for salad items and vegetables.
Is there anything more frustrating than not being able to open a canned product because you mistakenly thought it had a ring-pull top? That's when a can opener comes in handy, and you're sure to use it more often than you think. While you're at it, put a bottle opener on the shopping list too - you won't be sorry.
Another time-honoured essential kitchen utensil is a fruit peeler so, when you're under the pump, you can de-skin veggies and fruits with ease and speed.
A grater is excellent value for money and extremely versatile. You get to grate, shred, slice and zest - all with the one handy utensil.
Tongs are likely to be your go-to kitchen accessory for turning, moving and lifting anything that is hot. You can also use them for tossing and serving salads, and stirring your stir-fries while they're cooking.
Similar to tongs, spatulas will prove to be your best friend in the kitchen. Use rubber or silicon spatulas when baking - their flexibility makes working with hot or cold substances simpler and they're easier to clean. If you have non-stick pans, use a plastic offset spatula or slotted turner for cooking. Metal spatulas can wear away the Teflon coating of your frypans and saucepans over time.
A cooling rack is the perfect way to let baked goods cool, and can also do the hard yards for you when it comes to draining oven-prepared meats, like lamb or meatloaves, to avoid excessive sogginess.
A quality dinner set - incorporating dinner plates, bowls and mugs - is worth the outlay because it's something you will use every day. If functionality with style is your preference, there's a wealth of options available that won't break the bank.
Going hand-in-hand with your dinner set is a full cutlery set of forks, knives and various spoons. Nowadays, cutlery comes with handles in a range of fashion colours or the whole item in a different metal - like copper and gold. Just make sure you stock your kitchen with enough cutlery to last a couple of days of filling a dishwater or catering for dinner party, because running out of cutlery is never fun.
Meat & Oven Thermometers
Cooking meats to their correct temperature ensures good health and great food. Likewise, ensuring your oven is at the correct temperature for baking and roasting is the key to serving a tasty meal on time, every time.
Stainless steel vegetable steamer baskets make it simple for the more health-conscious cook to steam foods, and they sit easily inside your saucepan.
This list of kitchen equipment might be long but, remember, in the same way Rome wasn't built in a day, you don't need to get all your kitchen supplies in one fell swoop. Use this guide to kitchen accessories as your starting point, and slowly add more as you go along.
And make sure you take a look at our must-have appliances guide too.