The current reality of how a home gets established is a bit less linear, and perhaps a touch more fun. Unless you’re a trust fund baby, you probably didn’t move into your first home with a matched set of All-Clad pans, fine china service for 12, and kitchen linens straight from Food52. If your first independent living arrangement was anything like mine, you would have had nowhere to put all that beautiful stuff anyway.
photo by jennifer burk via unsplash
Instead, we start out with the basic necessities. Perhaps that began, like it did for me, with a pile of takeout menus. Maybe you were outfitted with a few hand-me-down cutting boards, frying pans, and dishes from older relatives or friends. Along the way you may have acquired a few cooking skills and the accompanying tools and gadgets. Perhaps you found yourself registering for a wedding and aimlessly selecting whatever Crate & Barrel told you was a “must have”.
The point is, you probably acquired your arsenal of cooking, serving, and entertaining equipment over time, through different phases of your food life, and perhaps, without a master plan.
However you got where you are today, at some point, all serious amateur cooks need to take stock. Understanding your current kitchen equipment inventory, where your holes are, and where you’d like to fill in (and at what quality level) leads to a shopping plan with purpose and vision.
photo by annie spratt via unsplash
But where do you start? What are the “best” brands to buy? What if you have nothing but those take-out menus and need to start from scratch? Choosing items for a registry and not sure you really need all this stuff?
That’s where my plan comes in. It is more than another shopping list. It reflects all the trial and error I went through to get to where I am today. You know I love nothing more than sharing my view, and this sums up my 20 years of buying, using, and sometimes even tossing a range of kitchen equipment, serving pieces, and entertaining supplies.
I’ve learned a few things along the way. Things I wish I had known when I built that registry over 15 years ago. My list will give you the benefit of my lessons learned. The “budget” options I later had to replace, the “must haves” that I’ve never used, and the brands that hold their own over years and years of loving use.
photo by todd quackenbush via unsplash
A few overall pointers as you work through the list:
- Don’t feel obligated to buy “sets” of things. All those pans in the set are not created equal. Playfully mismatched china is charming. Give yourself the freedom to acquire what you need, when you need it, and to evolve as your tastes change.
- Splurge where it counts. In my view, that’s in electrics, knives, and a few key pieces of cookware (but not all). Everything else – especially glasses, dishes, linens, and gadgets – is a great opportunity to explore the many beautiful and lower-cost options out there. I love Ikea; unlike their furniture, their bargain cooking and serving housewares really stand the test of time.
- Some of the brands on the list are pricier than others. If you have a plan, you can keep an eye out for sales, visit outlets, or add them to wish lists for gift-giving occasions. Because many of them are made with tremendous quality, you can keep an eye out for second-hand pieces as well.
- Buy for how you cook today. Maybe you aspire to make homemade cupcakes for your kids kindergarten class, but if you don’t have kids yet, ask yourself how often that’s going to happen. Same goes for gadgets and electrics – especially the pricey ones. Are you sure you’re going to make smoothies for you and your new roommate every day?
What’s on my shopping list these days? I’m considering adding a cleaver to my knife collection, and I’m considering a pantry storage overhaul to better align my containers to the amount of dry goods in rotation.
So here it is — the foodwithaview kitchen inventory. What’s on yours?
Don’t forget to follow my kitchens board on Pinterest for more ideas and recommendations!