How to Stock a Kitchen to Cook Like the Pros

Kitchen tools on a table

Take a moment to rummage through your kitchen drawers and cupboards.

Have you owned that warped frying pan since sophomore year of college? Are those hand-me-down knives so dull that they can barely cut through a wheel of brie?

If your kitchen tools just aren’t up to par with the culinary creations you’d like to whip up, then it’s time to consider making some serious upgrades.

Stocking your kitchen can be spendy. It’s a good idea to start with a few basics to kick things off, and slowly build your collection over the years. When properly cared for, quality kitchen tools will last a lifetime. Invest in and care for these quality pieces, and you’ll never have to replace them.

Quality pots and pans

Professional chefs are willing to splurge for a good set of pots and pans. They know that good cookware will help food cook evenly and will prevent burning, both of which are key to producing delectable meals.

Building your collection slowly over time can make buying top-notch pots and pans more manageable. Start with the basics, like a saucepan and skillet, and add in one extra piece per year. Look for heavy pots and pans made out of a high-quality material. Many professional chefs swear by cast iron cookware, which is ridiculously heavy but extremely efficient.

Cast iron saucepan and skillet

Food processor

The food processor is worth the real estate it occupies in your cupboard. Once you own one, you’ll forget what life was like before it. The ultimate time saver, it can chop nuts, slice veggies, mix up hummus or salsa, create smooth purees, juice citrus…the list goes on.

A quality food processor lasts forever. Chances are good that your parents still have the one they bought when you were a kid. Stick with a well-known brand and spring for a few extra attachments to make the most of this dynamic kitchen tool.

Quality food processor

Food scale

Winging it in the kitchen is fine for most types of cooking, but when it comes to baking, you need to be precise. Measuring cups and spoons are OK, but they leave plenty of room for error—how tightly did you pack that brown sugar? Is there air in that cup of flour?

Eliminate any doubt by weighing out ingredients with a food scale. It’s how the pros make sure that their recipes turn out perfectly every time.

Food scale

Chef's knife

Any professional chef will tell you that the most important tool in their repertoire is the chef’s knife. You will use your chef’s knife in almost every single recipe you’ll ever prepare. How’s that for important?

At-home chefs will want to look for a knife with an 8-inch blade and a handle that fits comfortably in their hand. Because choosing a knife is such a tactile process, you’ll want to shop for this one in person rather than online. Take the time to test a few different knives to find the one that feels most natural to you.

Chef's knife

Silicone baking mat

Hey, bakers, what if we told you that the trick to evenly baked goods lies in one good silicone baking mat? Forget tinfoil and wax paper; reusable baking mats are the perfect substitute. You don’t need to butter them or grease them, because the silicone does all the work for you. Use them for baking cookies, catching pie drippings, or even roasting veggies in the oven. They work best at 428 degrees F (220 degrees C) or less.

Invest in a quality silicone baking mat, and never cut anything on it directly. There is fiberglass inside of the mat, which is harmless inside the mat, but not so good if it gets into your food.

Silcone baking mat

Slow cooker

The slow cooker is the MVP small appliance for busy people across the world. The concept is simple: Add a bunch of ingredients to your slow cooker, set it before everyone takes off for work or school, and come home to a delicious-smelling house and a perfectly cooked meal. Having a slow cooker is almost like having a personal chef, only much less expensive.

Slow cooker

Meat thermometer

Meat is often the most expensive part of a dish, so it’s a pity when it doesn’t come out like you planned. If you’ve ever stressed over an undercooked chicken, overdone steak, or too-tough turkey, it’s time to take the guesswork out of cooking meat. Pick up a meat thermometer. This tool lets you know exactly when it’s time to take your meat off the stove, out of the oven, or away from the grill.

Meat thermometer

Disclosure: Hey! Welcome to our disclaimer. Here’s what you need to know to safely consume this blog post: Any outbound links in this post will take you away from, to external sites in the wilds of the internet; neither Simple nor The Bancorp Bank, our partner bank, endorses any linked-to websites; and we didn’t pay/barter with/bribe anyone to appear in this post. And as much as we wish we could control the cost of things, any prices in this article are just estimates. Actual prices are up to retailers, manufacturers, and other people who’ve been granted magical powers over digits and dollar signs.

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