By Patricia L. Garcia
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you likely have a few items that you’re carrying over from your rental or parent’s house. But, as time goes on, you’ll realize that you might be missing a few practical items.
So, to help those who are experiencing their first home, we’ve come up with a series of articles to help you stock up on handy items you may not have even considered before moving in. Since you’ve purchased a newly built home, you’ll save time by not having to do any repair work or deal with old plumbing. In the first of our “Your First Home” posts, we’ll cover the basics of kitchen necessities — can opener, anyone?
1. Be Practical
As Wendy Santantonio, a Realtor with McEnearney Associates in Alexandria, Va., says, “Forget the customized gadgets and small appliances.” If you go for trendy items that aren’t practical – like, say, that fondue set that you’ll probably use once or twice a year – they’ll likely go unused and take up valuable storage space.
Instead, you’ll find more value from items that are practical and that serve many purposes. “Focus your budget and your space on items that can serve multiple functions and lay a good foundation for your culinary and entertaining needs,” Santantonio says. “Consider investing in durable pots and pans and a good set of knives. Choose basic white dishes that can be dressed up or down, as well as lidded glass bowls that can meet your prep, serving and storage needs.”
2. Go For Quality
You may be tempted to purchase inexpensive cooking items, like those that come in sets, to hold you over until the pricier house gifts start rolling in. However, while these sets may be inexpensive, they might not be of the highest quality. Now that you have a new home, it’s time to stop skimping.
“Having been a chef for a long time, I’ve always believed that a few quality items beats a collection of cheap gizmos,” says Tannar Agar, founder and CEO of The Chef Shelf based out of Fort Worth, Texas. “Quality knives and pans make cooking safer, easier and more fun. If I could only spend $500 on my kitchen, those (items) would be the first purchase.”
As mentioned above, quality knives are critical for any kitchen.
“The knife is the most important – and also most dangerous – tool in the kitchen,” says Rachel Sherwood, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based food stylist, culinary expert and author of The Pretty Plate.
Dull or low-quality knives are dangerous because you have to work harder to cut food, making it easier to “slip” and cut yourself. You don’t have to have a set of professional knives, which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars for just one, but you should have three basic knives for all of your cooking needs, suggests Sherwood:
- paring knife: for cutting small fruits or cutting a piece of cheese;
- serrated knife: for breads and cakes; and
- chefs’ knife: for all of your main chopping tasks.
While, you’re at it, don’t forget the cutting board!
A food processor may not seem like a necessary kitchen item, but it will help keep your menu varied and recipes manageable. From dough to hummus, this kitchen workhorse will make cooking and baking a breeze. “It chops, kneads, slices and blends, so you’ll be making pizza dough, croquettes or veggies burgers, chapped salads and dips like hummus, in minutes,” says Rachel Asher, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based food writer.
Sherwood also suggests a crock pot, which can make easy dinners while you are away at work, and a mixer, which will make mixing easier than doing so by hand.
Also on Sherwood’s list? Pans of all types:
- Sheet pan: for cookies and bacon;
- Baking pan: for cakes, brownies, casseroles;
- Sauté pan: for cooking meats and vegetables; and
- Sauce pan: for soups and sauces.
Don’t get lost in the sea of kitchen gadgets out there. There are a few basics that Sherwood suggests to perform basic tasks:
- Mixing bowls: for holding items and mixing salads, cookie or cake batter;
- Whisk: use to make fluffy eggs, creaming batters, blending sticky substances, blending sauces and whipped cream;
- Rubber spatula: to scrape up all the goodness from a pan or bowl;
- Spatula: for turning food that is being cooked in a pan, such as burgers;
- Tongs: to easily grab things or flip them;
- Grater: to shred cheese, vegetables, chocolate or cinnamon sticks;
- Strainer: to separate a solid from a liquid, draining pasta, vegetable and removing particles from sauces or soups;
- Peeler: for peeling veggies, but can also make “vegetable ribbons” and shave items like chocolate and cheeses;
- Slotted Spoon: for removing items from a liquid;
- Garlic press: to easily mince garlic; and
- Zester: to remove rinds from citrus, to grate fresh spices like nutmeg and to finely grate chocolate and hard cheeses.
Now that you have your list, go forth and prosper, er, cook well in your new kitchen!