Welcome back to the collaboration between Mint and Brewing Happiness. I’m Haley, the girl behind Brewing Happiness – a blog about celebrating the small healthy choices we make in our lives, complete with recipes for everybody! I’m here to give you tips on living a healthy, happy life on a budget.
It’s graduation season! You’re turning the tassel, throwing your hat, and venturing into a new phase of life. This phase often comes with new jobs, locations, and living situations. Often this is the first “real” adult home (or apartment) you will have. So it’s time to trade in that hot plate and get some real kitchen equipment.
As a food blogger, I’ve worked with tons of kitchen equipment and I’ve come to discover which are the most useful and which aren’t worth your money. This is my definitive list of the most important kitchen equipment to invest in when creating your first adult kitchen. It’s not a complete list of everything you’ll need in your kitchen, but rather a guidebook for what items you shouldn’t skimp on. Everything else you can inherit from a family member, friend or just buy at a discount store, because the quality matters less.
When it comes to investment pieces, I’m a big believer that while the quality is extremely important, it is equally important to properly care for and maintain your equipment. It’s not worth buying a $100 knife if you improperly care for it and render it useless in a year. Therefore I am going to talk both about what products I recommend as well as how to properly care for them. Make your investments last!
Kitchen Gadgets Worth the Splurge
1. Chef’s Knife
You don’t need a full set of knives to start off with. You just need one nice knife to make your life so much easier. A nice knife will make recipes faster and easier to make, they save you time, and make your life in the kitchen more fun.
Recommended knives: I have this knife, but you don’t have to spend that much to get a good one. I’ve heard great things about this knife as well!
- Wash and dry your knife shortly after each use.
- Don’t let it sit with food on it.
- Don’t let it soak for days.
- Don’t leave it wet.
- Don’t store it in a drawer.
- DO get it sharpened professionally at least once a year.
2. 10-12 inch Non Stick Skillet
Having (at least) one nice skillet in your kitchen is an absolute must. I recommend getting a larger size, like 12”, so that it can accommodate your morning eggs as well as a stir-fry for dinner. Investing in quality non-stick cookware is important, but more importantly is maintenance. You determine how long the skillet will last, by how well you take care of it.
Recommended skillets: I have this pan from American Kitchen Cookware, but I have also heard great things about this All-Clad pan. If you want something more mid-range, check out this other pan by All-Clad or this one by Zwilling (Bon Appetite called this one their favorite). If you aren’t ready to invest that much, this skillet by T-Fal has tons of positive reviews!
- DON’T soak for hours.
- DON’T put in the dishwasher (even if it says it’s dishwasher safe.)
- DON’T use metal utensils.
- DO gently wash and dry it soon after use.
- DO lightly coat it with oil after cleaning. (Treat it similar to a cast iron skillet.)
3. 3 or 4 Quart Sauce Pan or Pot
Having one quality large pot in your kitchen will come in handy again and again. Use it to make sauce, soup, cook grains, etc. I recommend this size, because it’s large enough to make a big batch of soup or grains so that you can meal prep if that’s your thing.
Recommended Sauce Pans & Pots: I have this Staub Cocotte, because I can use it on the stove or in the oven, but if that’s too fancy for you I recommend this 3-quart All-Clad sauce pan. If you aren’t ready to invest quite that much, I’ve heard great things about GreenPan as well as this Calphalon.
- Don’t use metal utensils.
- Don’t put in the dishwasher.
- Do wash thoroughly with a gentle sponge.
- Do lightly coat it with oil after cleaning. (Treat it similar to a cast iron skillet.)
4. High Speed Blender
I don’t recommend a high-speed blender for everyone. If you are new to the kitchen or don’t cook that often a regular blender or an immersion blender will do just fine. But if you like to cook and make things from scratch, I cannot recommend a high-speed blender enough. I use it in place of a food processor, juicer, and regular blender.
Recommended High Speed Blender: I have this Blendtec and LOVE IT, but have also worked with this Vitamix before and highly recommend.
- Easily clean your blender by adding soap and hot water to the jar, and blending on high for 30 seconds.
5. Parchment Paper
This probably seems like a silly thing to have on the list, but I find that it’s crucial to have in your kitchen if you want to preserve the life of your baking sheets and pans. By lining all of your cookware before you bake or roast, you’ll preserve the surface and you wont have to scrub baked-on food off of it.
6. Coffee Grinder & French Press
If you’re a coffee lover like me, having a good cup of coffee in the morning is important. I’ve found that having a coffee grinder and French press or Chemex in the morning keeps me from buying a latte. The equipment might feel like an investment, but it will save you money in the long run.
Recommended Coffee Grinder: If you’re a true coffee snob, try this Breville grinder. If you don’t care that much, try this much cheaper version. And if you really don’t care get this one (it’s under $20.)
- NEVER use metal utensils to stir or clean your French press or Chemex. This chips the glass and can cause it to shatter.
- Do hand wash and dry.
Obviously this isn’t everything you’ll need in your kitchen, but these are the things worth splurging on. Go find everything else at Ikea, TJ Maxx, Target or Amazon. Just remember to take good care of your investments, so you know they will last you a long time!
Over the next few months I’ll be covering a variety of ways to be healthy on a budget. Keep an eye out for those and head over to Brewing Happiness for healthy recipe inspiration in the meantime!