Equip Your Kitchen For $300, Seriously.

If you, like us, watch the Food Network, you’ll no doubt have noticed all the nifty gadgets and high-end cookware the star chefs are using. It’s pretty, and we’re sure it sells well after Bobby Flay chops his omnipresent mango chutney next to it, but do you really need all those copper pots and $100 knives? Nope. Hooray! According to Mark Bittman, you can equip a kitchen for $200, and nicely equip one for $300. That’s less than we paid for a semester’s worth of text books in college. (Goddamn you, Art History degree.) So what did Mark buy?

A knife. $10. Instant-read thermometer, $5. Three stainless steel bowls, $5. You get the idea. The trick? Mark did his shopping at a restaurant supply store, (Bowery Restaurant Supply, 183 Bowery Street, for you New Yorkers out there.) Check out the New York Times article for his complete list. And step away from the bread machine. Shhh. It’ll be OK.—MEGHANN MARCO

A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks [NYT via Get Rich Slowly]
(Photo: Tony Cenicola/New York Times)

Comments

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    There’s a place in Philly called Singer (like the sewing machine; don’t ask) that’s a restaurant supply store. They’re only open 8-5 M-F, but they have everything from stainless steel bowls to chef knives to whole booths and refrigerator units. You can also get bar glasses there, stools, etc. It’s a wonderland.

  2. mikyrok says:

    I don’t really see mention of him buying teflon pans, but in the picture he mentions a non-stick pan that is clearly teflon. It is a hazard to cook with teflon coated pans, spend the extra couple of bucks and go with something else.

  3. mopar_man says:

    I do some hobby knife sharpening and I can tell you, money put into those is well worth it (a $10 knife will be good for peeling potatoes and that’s about it).

  4. pestie says:

    Holy crap! People spend $300 on their kitchens? What for? How much stuff does one actually need to microwave some mac & cheese?

    Oh, wait, some of you probably eat better than I do. Never mind.

  5. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Yeah…good knives that keep a good edge are usually more money. I bought a santoku and giggled like a school girl the first time I used it.

    And a good non-stick anodized pan is worth its weight in gold, and don’t they just charge it?

    And I neeeeeeeed my rice cooker, toaster oven, electric water kettle, and slow cooker. Im not gonna expend that much gas on getting my basics done.

  6. kelmeister says:

    The salad spinner is the greatest thing ever. I got one as a wedding gift and scoffed. But lettuce lasts twice as long when you use it, and you can store the lettuce in it in the fridge. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

  7. smallestmills says:

    When I originally read this I was disappointed, only because I thought it’d be more of a guide. I already have a $200 kitchen, what I’m looking for is quality items for under $200. Of course I can buy crap and replace it every couple of years, what I want to know is, can I get GOOD essential pots and pans for under $200, and will they last me more than a few years?

  8. mikyrok says:

    @smallestmills: Yes, but it takes a bit of effort and patience. You have to frequent stores such as HomeGoods and hope that they have good pots and pans on sale for cheap. I’ve managed to pick up some >$100 pots and pans for ~$15 each at HomeGoods.

    When it comes to cooking supplies, you really do get what you pay for.

  9. I love my cast-iron frying pans — one 12″, one like 5″ or so (big enough to fry one egg). They’re dirt cheap and last forever.

    I also like a jelly roll pan — it’s like a cookie sheet but with a 3/4″ to 1″ lip on it. You can use it as a cookie sheet or as a roasting pan, particularly for things like potatoes or asparagus. It’s much more flexible than a plain cookie sheet.

    I disagree about the food processor. We have one, but I’ve never ever used it. (And I use a mortar and pestle rather than an electric grinder.) I’d rather have my stand mixer, after mixing for six years with a crummy hand mixer. I LOVE THAT KITCHEN-AID STAND MIXER!

    Oh, and I use my stock pot all the time, but we make a lot of “stew-for-8″ dishes to freeze and reheat and they don’t fit in the big pasta pot.

    Target always has those “kitchen in a box” sets in August or so for the kids going off to their first aparments. Those are like $30 and include a pretty good kitchen set-up and dishes for four. It’s cheaply-made stuff, but it would take you through college. Plus, I’m fascinated by sets of things that come in boxes.

  10. not_seth_brundle says:

    Amazon has great prices on some Calphalon pots. These try-me deals seem to be permanent. You can get a 2 1/2 quart saucepan, a wok with lid, or a nonstick crepe pan, all from their commercial hard-anodized line, for $30 each.

  11. bluemeep says:

    No bread machine? Never. The smell of baking bread alone is worth the admission price! Plus it’s good. I can’t ever go back to Wonderbread after making my own for so many years.

  12. @smallestmills: “can I get GOOD essential pots and pans for under $200, and will they last me more than a few years?”

    You can with the pans if you get cast iron. I like Lodge (http://www.lodgemfg.com/). I got mine cheaper than listed retail at a warehouse store, but even at retail, $30 for a frying pan that will STILL BE WITH YOUR GRANDCHILDREN is pretty cheap.

    I inherited my grandmother’s entire kitchen because I was the grandchild moving into an apartment next soonest when she died, so I actually got quite a stock of mismatched-but-sturdy pots that way, the ones my grandmother had kept over the years because they were worthwhile. I can’t exactly RECCOMMEND this method of stocking your kitchen, but garage sales and estate sales often have excellent pots cheap. Or if you have a relative who’s doing their kitchen up all Emeril, maybe you can get the discards.

  13. not_seth_brundle says:

    @bluemeep: You can make bread without a bread machine. Bittman himself even has a recipe for no-knead bread.

  14. DeliBoy says:

    Two things that I’ve found to be useful:

    Cast iron rocks. I love the 8″ skillet I picked up at World Market for $10. There’s plenty of instructions out there about how to season & condition them. Downside – they are heavy, and the handle heats up. Upside: cast iron holds even heat like nothing else.

    Don’t overlook your local Salvation Army / thrift store. I once picked up 5 commercial Calphalon pans for about $6.

  15. acambras says:

    I’ve been cooking since I was 8 years old. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to acquire quite a bit of kitchen stuff, but I try to keep things simple. The three things I ask myself are, “Can I afford it?”, “How often will I use it (and could I improvise with something else)?”, and “Where will I put it?” Space is a big consideration, and if your counters and cabinets are too full of crap, cooking won’t be so pleasant.

    If I had to start over, I would get the following:
    - Decent knives (I got some Cutcos as a gift and I love them)
    - Multipurpose bowls (that are good for prep, oven, and serving)
    - A few multipurpose pots and pans (do you really NEED a crepe pan?)
    - Cutting boards (more than 1, for food safety reasons – besides, they don’t take up much space)
    - A modest food processor
    - Basic utensils, like spatulas, whisks, spoons, etc. (a melon baller is not basic, IMHO)

    In the past, I’ve had a bread machine and an electric can opener, but I’ve gotten rid of both — I didn’t use them enough to justify the space. Besides, I can make bread by hand, and my manual can opener is sufficient for my use. I do have a rice cooker that I use enough to justify keeping; however, if it breaks I don’t plan to run out and replace it. I have never had the need for a crockpot and don’t intend to buy one (although I know people who would only let you pry their crockpots from their cold, dead hands).

    For me, the key word is MULTIPURPOSE. There are very few one-trick ponies in my kitchen. Do I really need those pans that make cornbread shaped like an ear of corn? No — if I make cornbread, I’ll do it in my square Pyrex dish that can handle other tasks. I have a wonderful pot thingy that can do many things: stockpot, double boiler, dutch oven, steamer… it’s even deep enough to fill with oil and use as a small-scale deep fryer. And all the pieces nest, so it doesn’t take up much room at all.

    I think the key is KNOW THYSELF — ask yourself what kind of things you like to cook (and cook fairly often). For example, if you love to bake pretty cakes and pastries, then some specialty pans and cake-decorating paraphernalia may be in order. I don’t own grapefruit spoons because I loathe grapefruit. I have no use for a melon baller, but a lemon zester has come in handy for me (key words — “for me”). You probably don’t need a tortilla press, a pasta maker, or a meat grinder unless you make LOTS of tortillas, pasta, or sausage — me, I prefer to buy those things, as I can find good cheap storebought versions of all three. Also, if you live alone, your needs will be different from someone who’s cooking for a family of ten.

  16. acambras says:

    Oh, and some places to pick up cheap or free kitchen stuff:

    - Tag sales
    - Thrift stores (saw a bread machine in Goodwill the other day)
    - Mom – especially if she’s sworn off cooking now that the kids are grown
    - Friends who are moving (especially if they’re moving in with someone who also has lots of kitchen stuff)
    - People who are getting married (they’ll get so many wedding gifts that they’ll want/need to get rid of some old stuff to make room for all the new loot. Or they might find it easier to give you one of their duplicates than try to return it to the store with no receipt).

  17. Spider Jerusalem says:

    Alton Brown has a good guide in his first book, and he has another book just about how to stock your kitchen. He has the same no-frills approach as some of us, and he has no problem with getting some of his stuff cheaper from a hardware store.

  18. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Best place for Lodge is Amazon. After 25$, the shipping is free. I have: a 12inch pan w/lid, a 11 inch griddle pan, a 12 inch pro-logic chef skillet, a two burner pro griddle, 2 corn stick pans, a 5 inch skillet, and one of their spoon rests.

    THE ONLY BAD THING about cast iron is that it requires care. But you keep up on seasoning it, and oiling it lightly after each use, and never wash in the dishwasher or w/ soap, and it will become more non-stick than teflon.

  19. etinterrapax says:

    I love my Kitchen-Aid mixer, too. Wouldn’t give it up for the world. But it was a gift; I don’t know how I’d feel if I had to buy it myself.

    Consumer Reports has information about nonstick pans this month that seems to indicate that they are not as hazardous as they once were. I keep only a small fry pan and large saucepan that are nonstick, and I’d say, just don’t go absolutely low-end with them and they should be fine. The fry pan is an All-Clad nonstick from the outlets, and it was well worth the money.

    Of course, I think this list assumes that you already know how to cook, but that’s another kettle of fish, so to speak. Knowing how can replace an awful lot of gadgets.

  20. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @mopar_man: Catch a good full tang forged knife on sale at a store, and invest in a good sharpening steel, and any almost knife will cut great.

  21. @GitEmSteveDave: “THE ONLY BAD THING about cast iron is that it requires care.”

    Yeah; we keep an old regular non-stick frying pan for when we’re feeling too lazy to hand-wash the cast iron. On the plus side, though, all you need to care for cast iron is oil and salt. (Salt & oil on a cloth will scrub off all the rust, for those who are unfamiliar with cast iron. The oil alone keeps it seasoned. So it’s cheap to take care of.)

    They say that some of the iron flecks off into whatever you’re cooking, and that rising rates of anemia in the U.S. coincided with decreasing use of cast-iron cookware. I’m not a scientist or nothin’, but my doctor did say my (relatively dire) iron levels improved after we switched.

    @etinterrapax: “I love my Kitchen-Aid mixer, too. … I don’t know how I’d feel if I had to buy it myself.”

    Picked mine up at Tuesday Morning for less than half price. No choice in colors (it’s white), but at less than half price, who cares?

    Corelle outlets are awesome, too.

  22. MeOhMy says:

    @mikeyrock: From your own link:

    These new tests show that cookware exceeds these temperatures and turns toxic through the common act of preheating a pan, on a burner set on high.

    In other words, if you don’t know how to operate a stove, you can make toxic fumes. Preheating a pan with a burner on the highest setting is something we in the IT industry call operator error. Now if you keep birds, you may have something to worry about, but for the rest of us that know that the max setting on that burner is only good for boiling water (and even then you turn it down once it starts boiling), just make sure you replace your teflon pan when the surface begins to degrade (and it WILL degrade eventually).

    @not_seth_brundle: You don’t need a bread machine to make bread. In fact, a bread machine seems utterly worthless as a kitchen gadget. Humans have been baking bread for thousands of years. You don’t even need a stand mixer. I recently took up bread making and it never even crossed my mind that I should buy an additional machine to do it for me. Try it by hand…you may well never go back to using a machine!

    I also take exception with Bittman’s suggestion of a food processor. It has too many pieces to clean and I can rarely justify using it versus spending some extra time with the knife that I would have had to clean anyway. I’ve got a very small food processor for the rare times I need it. Nice to have, but definitely not essential, especially given the cost.

  23. Rajio says:

    you’ll want to spend more than $10 on a quality knife.

    you should get kitchenware to last, not to replace in a few years.

  24. not_seth_brundle says:

    @Troy F.: I know you don’t need a bread machine to bake bread; I said so myself in my post. I’ve made tons of loaves by hand and have tasted bread machine bread and there’s no comparison.

  25. Binthere2 says:

    I agree about the knives. The reason Mr. Bittman sees them in professional kitchens is because we get them as a “service” item. A guy comes in replaces our batch with sharpened ones and we pay a “lease” price, which is pretty cheap. That way we always have sharp knives that we don’t worry about. We then proceed to use them to cut open 5 Gallon Bucket lids, hack up cardboard, and cut quick dulling items like root vegetables.
    Every good kitchen has its prep cooks who can’t afford good knives. Every good kitchen has professional chefs who own good ones without plastic handles.

    Can’t believe Bittman was lam-o on this. He is usually much better.

  26. Aleithia says:

    I have to disagree about the rice cooker. I picked a Chinese brand one for about $50 back when I was in college. Four years later, it still works great; I use it all the time. I also see the same brand in restaurants that regularly serve rice (such as Indonesian ones). I use it more than I use stove pot probably and a few of the other items he mentioned (I would virtually never use a blender). Certainly, I wouldn’t pay for the more expensive models with timers and such but that’s me. Also, rice doesn’t taste the same when you cook it over the stove.

    The other item I bought in college was a Chinese chef knife for $20 (both items were bought from a Chinese grocery store in Lynchburg, VA). It’s the only knife I’ll ever need. The blade is very sharp and it’s great for cutting up vegetables, etc. Between my rice cooker, my knife, and my wok, I can cook just about anything I regularly cook.

    Personally, I’d rather buy well-crafted tool than several poorly crafted ones. While I am sure the wholesale market sells well-crafted tools, I’m happy with my non-US brand products-they just don’t design tools to last in the US these days. Heck, I buy shovels, furniture, and hammers used because the drop in quality is just that pronounced.

    Anyway, for me, I’d rather have a rice cooker than a mixing bowl-I virtually never bake and even if I did, the bowl inside of the rice cooker could serve as a mixing bowl. You can ever make a kind of bread in a rice cooker, if you wanted to.

  27. Indecision says:

    @mikeyrock: “…teflon…hazardous…”

    Today’s lesson in “there’s two sides to every story” is brought to you by the letter T.

    Washington Post – Don’t Toss That Teflon Pan — Yet:

    Even if it does harbor trace amounts of PFOA, which is all anyone has suggested, the PFOA is unlikely to seep into food or escape into the air in kitchens — unless, of course, an empty nonstick pan were abandoned on a hot burner, because above 600 degrees or so (a temperature rarely reached in cooking), the Teflon would begin to decompose into toxic fumes.

    Before we even see a nonstick pan in the store, its coating already has been heated to high temperatures during manufacturing, partly to get rid of any residual PFOA.

    Personally, I’m more concerned about the amount of mercury in my amalgam fillings. And when I say “concerned” what I mean is that I’m having several fillings put in next week.

  28. deltasleep says:

    I recommend TJ Maxx and Marshall for cookware! I have a set of NICE JA Henckels knives from there, and a great set of Calphalon non-stick(i lack the energy to waste on being paranoid about what lines my skillet) and I’m positive I paid under $150 for everything.
    This shouldn’t be a big shocker…if I had a $200-$300 kitchen from either of those stores it’d be amazing!
    Also- for baking, try silicone flexware. It takes some getting used to, but its cheap and cooks sooo evenly, and it NEVER sticks.

  29. MeOhMy says:

    @not_seth_brundle: Yeah meant to quote Bluemeep. Clicked the wrong one.

  30. fief says:

    mopar_man: Yes, expensive knifes can be wonderful, they are however generally overrated in my opinion. I do believe the knife Mr. Bittman bought was a Dexter Russell one that is the staple of the restaurant industry. While not the best, they are knives that sharpen well and will last a lifetime. I would take one of these over a $150 Wusthof or Henckel if I were paying for it.

    smallestmills: Yes, this is stuff that will last a few years. The pieces he bought are the daily use pans in restaurants across the US. Sure they aren’t multi-layer metal pans but they will get the job done, clean well, can be abused, and last pretty much forever in a home kitchen.

    As much as I like the shiny things sold at Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table, expensive things do not make a good cook. In fact, I would say that the best cooks are the ones that can make good food without those expensive gadgets.

  31. Mills says:

    Not even the Minimalist can convince me that buying one of those $30 box kitchens is a bad idea-once you wear something out, invest in a good replacement, since you know you’ll use it.

  32. Wally East says:

    @not_seth_brundle: Word! Bread making is easy. The no-knead recipe is so easy it’s laughable and the results are ridicuously good.

    If you have a stand-mixer, you have all the kneading power you need plus it does a load of other stuff, like creaming butter and sugar to make cookies.

  33. kelmeister says:

    An option for the stand mixer: I bought my husband one for a gift, refurbished from Kitchenaid.com. It’s one of the Pro 6, six quart bowl mixers, and I got it for about $280, with shipping. Plus Kitchenaid’s customer service is awesome.

  34. I don’t agree with everything in the article. Particularly, I think a wok is a good investment for anyone with a gas stove. If yours is electric, don’t bother. You can get a good and cheap steel wok at any asian grocery store, like 99Ranch. Shouldn’t cost more than $7-10.

    Skip the mandoline and learn to use a knife properly, unless you really, really like julienned carrots.

    Its true you don’t need fancy pots and pans, but thats not to say the nicer ones don’t have significant advantages. I’m not saying go buy all-clad, but sometimes you can get really good deals on hard-anodized aluminum stuff from amazon. I spent a total of about $250 on my various pots and pans on amazon; the same set-up would have cost me close to $1000 if I tried to buy equivalent stuff at Williams Sonoma. And I LOVE hard-anodized aluminum. It produces a good fond (almost as good as all-clad stainless) but is much easier to clean, and doesn’t scratch or peel like teflon pans.

    Don’t buy more than one teflon pan, and dont use it for anything except cooking eggs, or possibly fish. Meat doesn’t brown properly in non-stick skillets.

    Rice cookers don’t cost that much, and makes making rice is much less of a head-ache. Burnt rice sucks. They also double as a vegetable steamer. And if you are on a budget so tight you can only spend $200 on your kitchen, then you SHOULD be eating a lot of rice. Its versatile and just about the best nutrition per dollar you’re going to find.

    if you buy hard anodized stuff, buy calphalon. avoid circulon, kitchen aid, cuisenart, etc. Amazon’s prices for cookware fluctuate wildly. I bought this set for $125 through a promotion:

    http://www.amazon.com/Calphalon-Commercial-Hard-Anodized-9

    The trick is to stick it in your shopping cart and just leave it there. It will let you know when the price changes. Check every few days and buy when it gets low enough.

  35. The_Shadow says:

    QVC’s Cook’s Essential’s line is excellent cookware.

    I’ve used Calphalon before – and while it is indeed good, it doesn’t make much sense when you can buy a Cook’s Essential’s pot or pan of equal quality for much less. You can even get a whole set of Cook’s Essential cookware for less than the price of a single Calphalon pot/pan.

    QVC has a companion cookware line called Techniques. This line is all NSF certified, which means that it can be used in professional/restaurant kitchens. The Techniques line is also very well priced.


    Of course, everyone should have a cast iron pan – some things just can’t be made well without one. I highly recommend Lodge if you’re looking for new cast iron – high quality and American made.

  36. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    In addition to Marshalls and TJ Maxx, cruise the reduced prices on name kitchen merchandise on Overstock.com, SmartBargains.com (which routinely carries Caphalon) and the clearance portion of Cooking.com. Signing up for email deals will often let you in on additional reductions or shipping deals.

    Have to echo the sentiments of all, regarding the fact that investing in a good set of knives (while expensive) is worth it. I love my Whustof knives!

  37. Wasabe says:

    This might be the perfect place to ask this: anyone know anything about ebay liquidators? For example, these guys are selling a Farberware set for $26.00 – it’s the same model of cookware my parents received as wedding gifts and are still using today. This regularly goes for between $130-$200, and I figure even if they’re a little dirty/discolored, a little vinegar bath would clean them up pretty nicely.

    So basically, my question is, any reason to be wary of liquidators?

  38. kerry says:

    Eh, I can’t really agree with all his stuff. First and foremost, I’m the one who does the cleaning and cleaning aluminum pots and pans SUCKS. Really, really sucks. We have our All-Clad stainless stuff for a reason, and the cost is worth the savings on elbow grease alone. I can take the dirty pot coated in baked on chicken crud, soak it in water and a drop of detergent for 10 minutes, then a couple swipes with a brush and everything is off. I’ve used a lot of cheap stainless, expensive aluminum, ceramic-coated, cast iron, etc. cookware and nothing on this planet is easier to clean than good-quality stainless. Also, Calphalon makes stainless cookware that is also very good, and not as expensive as All-Clad. I have a $25 Calphalon stainless sauce pan I would never part with.
    Stainless is also very non-stick, and safer than teflon. I went through a lot of torn up, burnt out, hazardous teflon cookware in college, and have since learned my lesson. Shit’s toxic, yo.
    Also, we don’t have a food processor or mandoline. We have a blender, a box grater and a set of knives. Buying extra appliances for things your hands can do is silly. Why dirty up a Cuisinart with cheese when I can just toss the box grater in the dishwasher? The only reason we have a dedicated flour sifter is because we got it as a gift, before that we just used a regular sieve.

  39. bluemeep says:

    From the rave reviews, I’ll have to track down and try this no-knead recipe.

    Though just to clarify, I’m well used to the ol’ punch’n’rise way of making bread. Our machine probably gets used as much as it does because of how much our house goes through. It’s rather nice waking up in the morning and being able to fix some toast and my lunch from the loaf that started at 3 AM, I think.

    I guess it’s a bit of a luxury compared to the concept of the article, but still…

  40. bcostin says:

    I think even $200 is a lot to spend on outfitting a “minimalist” kitchen. In my experience you can find just about everything you need at your local thrift store. People drop off perfectly good pans, pots, utensils, and bowls of every kind. You can even pick up a decent mixer or appliances. The cast iron pans may need re-seasoning and the knives may need some sharpening, but if you want to maintain your equipment you’ll need to do that eventually, anyway.

    I mostly agree about the bread machine. We have a combination unit that’s also a convection/toaster oven that we use all the time, but I wouldn’t spare the space for something that just made bread. I do have to disagree with the author about the desirability of a microwave. No, they’re not “essential” but they’re really cheap, and when used properly they’re good for a lot more than just defrosting. (And what’s up with that anyway? For generations our moms would just leave the roast out on the counter to thaw, but apparently that causes instant death by sepsis nowdays, or so you’d think.)

  41. mathew says:

    IKEA is also great for cheap kitchen outfitting. Mugs, cutlery, plates, etc.

  42. kimsama says:

    @rhesuspieces00: Right on.

    I think buying a wok and a rice cooker, and really any kitchen equipment, is not a one-size-fits all operation. I personally make stuff all the time that I need a wok for (fried rice is ridic hard to stir in a regular frying pan). And even if you only eat rice twice a week (not twice a day as Mark Bittman so sassily suggested), it’s majorly great to just put rinsed rice and water in it and let it do the work.

    For the same reason, if you make a lot of Italian food, having a convenient cheese grater will probably save you time and money (money because block cheese is cheaper, not to mention moister and better textured when freshly grated). If you only cook German food, though, probably a slow-cooker is a better investment. It’s all really very dependent on each person’s habits, so I always disregard stories like this.

    Now, if he had published a story about how to properly sharpen a knife, I would have been ecstatic. Anyone on here know how to do it? I usually have to wait for one of those craft-store “we sharpen your scissors, knives, etc” events.

  43. Dustbunny says:

    No need for a rice cooker — since I discovered Trader Joe’s frozen brown rice (3 minutes in the microwave, and it’s done), I’m never cooking rice again. It’s the best thing since sliced bread!

  44. @bcostin: “microwave. No, they’re not “essential” but they’re really cheap”

    I have to think “foodie” when I see that … if you like/have time to cook, and it’s one of your leisure activities, you could get along without a microwave. But for a lot of us, it’d be easier to get along without a full-sized oven than without a microwave!

    (Also, I’ve GOT to think this dude has never been a parent in a two-career family that can’t afford a nanny. I can’t even IMAGINE living without a microwave then!)

  45. JohnMc says:

    An Art History Degree? Talk about a reality check.

  46. DeafLEGO says:

    “Alton Brown has a good guide in his first book, and he has another book just about how to stock your kitchen. He has the same no-frills approach as some of us, and he has no problem with getting some of his stuff cheaper from a hardware store.”

    True, I love Alton but not everything he stands by is cheap. Look at that his support for Shun Knives… $95-233 knives. Once we finish remodeling our kitchen I plan to get a Shun Onion Chef Knife. God that thing is beautiful!

  47. kerry says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Yeah, I felt the same way. Also with the “no need for a giant stock pot” line. We don’t have kids, but we both work, so we try to make enough food on Saturday or Sunday night to last most of the week. Often that means a giant stockpot of beans or soup that gets reheated in the microwave. We have a small microwave that fits inside a cabinet in our kitchen, it takes up no counter space.

  48. G-Dog says:

    Alton Brown from the Food Network show Good Eats suggested buying from supply stores like five years ago. And avoid unitaskers, lots of money wasted on stuff that only does one thing.

  49. FLConsumer says:

    I’ve done the restaurant supply trick for ages. I’ve never worn out any of the pots & pans I’ve bought there. Also, be careful on buying some of the high-end cookware if you’re looking to get an induction cooktop. I have an induction cooktop (and love it) but can’t use Calphalon because there’s no ferrous metals hidden within it.

    The cheap cookware is borderline useless unless you’re going to throw it out rather than clean it. It’s about that difficult to clean compared to the good stuff.

  50. crankymediaguy says:

    Bowery STREET? Uh, how about just “Bowery?”

  51. Mr. Gunn says:

    kelmeister: Seconding that. A salad spinner is a money saver! However, I’ve somehow managed to cook at a fairly high level for over a decade and never use a rice-cooker.

    not_seth_brundle: Amazon Calphalon is the way to go. It’s crazy cheap and truly high-quality.

    The_Shadow: The only reason QVC is still in business is because not everyone has figured out about Amazon just yet.

  52. eKiTeL says:

    Please don’t cook with aluminum, ever! Unlike iron, aluminum is not one of those minerals you need in your diet. Cooking tomato sauce or anything else that is acidic will dissolve trace amounts of the metal into your food.

    For frying pans go with good old fashioned cast iron. Don’t pay more for the machined surface, it sticks more. Once you get it well seasoned (a thick coating of burned on cooking oil) then it is the best non-stick frying pan you can buy and makes your food taste good too! I got a nice one for like $10 at Wal Mart.