I wrote this post after a long and lengthy discussion with my wife. She’s the main cook around here, and the kitchen is her domain. I say that not as a jerk, but as she truly loves cooking (and oh, horrors of all horrors, doesn’t like the way I put the pots and pans away). Between my needs as an athlete and what she uses to make her life easier when feeding me, we came up with a pretty exhaustive list. You don’t need a lot of money or any fancy gadgets. In fact, most of my teammates are just starting out in apartments of their own and are keeping it basic. Putting a little bit of money into some decent tools you’ll use every day will save you time and headaches.
- A crockpot. I put this first because this thing is SO important. Take a cheap cut of beef, pork or chicken and put it in the crockpot with a liquid (broth, salsa, italian salad dressing), set it for 8 hours, go to practice, and come home to shredded meat. If you’re on a budget or short on time, or both, this thing will save you so much work. My wife recommends a crockpot that has a high and low setting, and automatically turns to “warm” once the timer goes off. This will prevent burnt messes.
- A good blender. This is the one thing I would put a little bit of money into. I’m not saying you need the $400 mixers that people tout as amazing, but $50 to buy something that isn’t a piece of crap is a solid investment. I use my blender every single day, and sometimes twice a day. If you’re a protein shake fool, and you should be, you need a blender. Enough said.
- An egg pan. Eggs are cheap, good for you, and fast to make. While I recommend this pan, I’ve used the $3 version from Ikea and had great results.
- A grill pan. While some people might not think it’s a necessity, I would argue they’re wrong. I use this in the morning to make bacon, in the afternoon to grill up steaks, and sometimes for dinner to grill burgers, fish, or even veggies. The ridges on the pan help fat to drain off as food cooks, making things a bit leaner, and generally, better for you.
- Bamboo spoons. These things are awesome. I haven’t broken one yet, and that may be a record for me.
- Tongs. I use these to flip food, serve food, and pinch people. Just kidding on the pinching thing. Sorta.
- A big ol’ pot. Again, this doesn’t need to be fancy, but it’s good for when you make pasta, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, etc.
- Spices. I’ll go into this in more detail later, but you don’t need a spice rack. Kosher salt, a pepper grinder, some cajun seasoning, adobo seasoning, and seasoned salt is all you need to start.
- A good knife. My wife recommends this santoku knife, and she knows what she’s talking about. You don’t need to spend $100, or even $50 on one. Just get this and you don’t need much else.
Any must haves that you recommend?