Cooking Basics For Beginners – Setting Up Your Kitchen

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CONGRATULATIONS on your venture In The Kitchen With Me!! Setting up your kitchen is super exciting but it could also be overwhelming if you are truly starting from scratch or even just trying to pair down and get organized.

In this post I will discuss helpful tips, ideas and resources to get you going and ready to create awesomeness in your kitchen.

I invite you to read on to explore these cooking basics for beginners and how to set up your kitchen for success….


OK, so what are the basic pots and pans and other important cookware you will need for a simple and functional start?

You really don’t need to go overboard! When I was starting off in the kitchen, I wanted a big 17+ piece cookware set and I thought this would take care of most my kitchen equipment. What I learned is that over the years I used maybe half of it while the rest just seems to take up a lot of space. (I have a pretty small kitchen so I have to use my space efficiently!)

Below is a list of the absolute basics for 2-4 people. You can add on to these as needed. (Keep in mind if you are cooking for more than four people you might have to adjust.)

  • 12 inch frying pan with lid – This a very versatile pan used for almost all dishes, can saute, make eggs, sear meats and so much more. The size fits well on cook tops and can be use for meals for 1-6 people.
  • 1 small and 1 medium saucepans with lids – These are great for heating up soups, cooking sauces, oatmeal and other hot cereals, rice and even noodles for 1-3 people.
  • stockpot – Very useful if you love making soups, stews, noodles for 4 or more people and curries.
  • 9×13 rectangular baking dish – A must have for casseroles, mac-and-cheese, au gratin potatoes, cakes and brownies.


If you’re on a budget…

Keep your cookware to a minimum using the above list to help guide you. AND…if at all possible…definitely spend the few extra bucks to purchase quality products. REMEMBER that buying a few high quality pots and pans of a strong, long-lasting material will save you in the long term. A good pan should last for years…even decades depending on material.

If money doesn’t concern you…

I would still suggest that you keep your cookware to a minimum at first. Why not go all out?

You may want to experiment with different cookware and materials as you spend more time in the kitchen and get a feel for your favorite and most common dishes you like to cook.

*In my opinion, STAY AWAY from cheap non-stick (Teflon) pots and pans. As soon as they start peeling, it’s over as the nonstick material can be harmful or even toxic.

Here are some better materials to consider:

  • ceramic (non-stick) – Non-stick ceramic pans are usually my top pick because they are incredibly easy to clean up and so easy to cook things like eggs because the food doesn’t stick. Again…I would stay away from Teflon, a very toxic material that off gases harmful chemicals.
  • stainless steel – This material is super durable and heats up quickly and evenly. Stainless steel is a great all-purpose cooking option.
  • cast iron – Extremely durable and holds heat for a long time making it great for roasting or even cooking pizza. Over time, it becomes more and more non-stick.


We live in a world where we have so many options and we tend to get bombarded with marketing from all directions. With technology, we are constantly exposed to new inventions and easier better ways to accomplish whatever we are working on. This is no different when it comes to working In The Kitchen.

My advice and theme of this post is to keep it simple and just start with basics even though it can be so tempting to buy the latest and greatest gadgets. Are they going to withstand the test of time? Will you actually use them? Or are they more of a distraction and possibly even more time-consuming?

What is truly useful when you are learning to cook? Here’s an idea of some tools to start with:

cutting board with knife and herbs
  • cutting board – At least 2, one for meat and one that is not used for meat. I like the basic plastic kinds because they can be sanitized easily. But definitely more on this in a future post!
  • set of mixing bowls – It’s nice to have a small, medium and large mixing bowl that can double as serving bowls or salad bowls. Glass or stainless steel is recommended over plastic because they are more durable, less toxic and look a lot better! (Especially if they will be on your dining table)
  • colander – A very basic and useful piece for straining noodles and potatoes, rinsing rice and beans and cleaning veggies.
  • kitchen knives – Again, the basics are simple, a chef’s knife, a pairing knife, and a bread knife are the basics, but please go for quality in this category!! Also, a knife sharpener is great to have!
  • utensils – spatula, mixing spoon, slotted spoon, ladle, tongs… Try for material that won’t scratch you pots and pans. Silicone, wood or bamboo are great options.
  • measuring cups and spoons – The classic glass handled Pyrex (2 cup) measuring cup is a must have and it will last forever! I even do some mixing in that dish. But also get traditional measuring cups and a set of measuring spoons.


Don’t get too overwhelmed! You may have a lot of these items already. If not, check out your local thrift stores because oftentimes you’ll be surprised that there are some quality finds. Ever heard the saying, “One man’s trash is another’s treasure”?

Friends or parents getting rid of kitchenware is also another fantastic source. If it’s good quality, it will last! I have some of Grandma’s dishware and utensils. Sometimes, the older the better! “They just don’t make them like they used to, honey”!


Well, for starters, this is your basic wishlist. Set out and start creating your kitchen collection so you can have the basics to cook In The Kitchen With Me!! Also, feel free to leave a comment below with any questions or thoughts you may have.

And as always… can’t wait to see you In The Kitchen With Me!




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