Start Cooking at Home: 11 Essential Pieces of Gear That You Need

In a recent post, we reported on how to start a new, healthy cooking habit and get past the common excuses we use for not beginning.

In this post, we’re going to cover the basic gear you’ll need to put your new habit into practice.

If you’re looking to start cooking at home, here’s a list of 11 essential pieces you’ll need to get started – ones that’ll make cooking easier and more fun!

Whether you’re setting up a kitchen for the first time, or simply want to do a bit more cooking, having the basic gear is an essential part of success. Not only does it make cooking easier, it also makes it more enjoyable.

If you’re looking to start cooking at home, here’s a list of 11 essential pieces you’ll need to get started – ones that’ll make cooking easier and more fun! Buying a set of utensils and equipment to start with will help you to enjoy more success in the kitchen, and they don’t have to be expensive. Later, as you gain experience (and as your budget allows), you can build on your starter set to suit your needs.

You don’t need to buy out Ikea, nor does your selection have to be the most expensive. Get the best quality for your budget, and build from there.

The Essential Kitchen Gear List for Cooking at Home.

Here are the basics:

1. Cast Iron Skillet

Having two is better, one large and one small. If you can only swing the price of one, go for the larger version.

For the beginner, a cast iron or a thick, carbon steel skillet is a better option than a nonstick version, because it won’t wimp out when mistreated the way nonstick cookware does – although you must take some measure of care and not mistreat them by soaking them in water.

Cooking with Cast Iron |

The great thing about these type of pans is their huge versatility – they can be used from everything to frying up a chicken southern style to putting an awesome sear on a steak, to baking a cobbler or a deep dish pizza.

Want to make wholesome and nourishing food for your family at home? New to cooking? Find out what gear you need to get started now.

And if you’re on a really tight budget, check out garage and estate sales for cast iron cookware. When well maintained, these beauties last for decades.

Check out Foodal’s Cast Iron Cookware Guide now.

2. Roasting Pan

A roasting pan is another important piece that can perform multiple tasks.

Get going with home cooking now. Find out what you need to start making meals from scratch. credit: Mike Quinn.

Beginner or expert, quick and easy meals are important for every cook, and a roasting pan is the perfect vessel for one-pan meals. It can also be used as a casserole dish with some foil for a lid, and will serve as a baking sheet in a pinch.

Find out more and take a look at Foodal’s Roasting Pan Guide.

3. Colander

A stainless steel version with handles is optimal.

Looking to start preparing your own home cooked meals? If so, give Foodal's guide a read and find out what gear you need in order to make it a successful adventure!

Make sure it’s sturdy enough for handling hot ingredients, like straining pasta, as well as rinsing salad greens, veggies, berries, and so on.

Read more about how to pick the best model now.

4. Mixing Bowls

A nesting set of three will do to start with. Stainless steel, glass, or food-grade plastic – the materials are up to you.

Ready to get going with cooking at home from scratch? If so, check out this handy guide from Foodal to get you going today.

Besides their standard duties including mixing baking ingredients, tossing a salad, and marinating meats, they can double up as serving bowls.

5. Box Grater

Not as chic as a microplane zester, but much more versatile with three grating sizes, plus a slicing side.

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Use the small caliber for zesting citrus, and grating ginger, nutmeg, and chocolate. The medium and large-sized holes can be used for grating root veggies for sauces and soups, and hard cheese. And the slicing side is good for shredding items like cabbage, onions, and soft cheeses.

Read Foodal’s Box Grater Guide now.

6. Saucepans

One small and one large, with about 1- and 3-quart capacities.

The small one is great for creating sauces or cooking up rice, quinoa, or couscous. The larger one will handle pretty much everything else, such as pasta, veggies, and sauces.

Ready to begin cooking from scratch? Find out what gear you need to get going now!

Or a steamer rack can be placed inside, for cooking those ingredients that you plan to steam.

Again, if you can only afford one, go for the larger size.

We prefer tri-ply pans made by All-Clad, but copper and even non-stick are great options as well.

7. Steamer Rack

Either stainless steel or bamboo.

Cooking from scratch is easy with the right kind of gear. Find out all there is to know with Foodal's guide now.

If better nutrition is one of your reasons for learning to cook, a steamer rack is essential, as steaming veggies retains more nutrients than boiling. Just make sure it will fit into your large saucepan with the lid on.

8. Utensils

These can often be purchased in sets if you’re looking for value.

Cooking at home can be a challenge if you've never learned and don't have the right equipment. Find out what is necessary to buy and what is not with Foodal's guide.

To get started, you’ll want a set of a wooden spoons, a spatula, vegetable peeler, can opener, whisk, and a ladle. Add more pieces to suit your cooking techniques as you go along.

9. Knives

Having a knife for every function isn’t absolutely necessary – two will do.

A chef’s knife and a petty blade, such a paring or small utility knife, will be able to achieve all of the standard kitchen tasks for beginners.

Try your hand at making a home cooked meal with Foodal's guide.

Be sure to handle the chef’s knife before purchase if you can, or pay close attention to the measurements to ensure it’s a good fit for you in terms of weight, balance, and maneuverability.

Get the best quality you can, and add a honing rod to your set if possible.

Check out all of Foodal’s kitchen knife guides and reviews now.

10. Cutting Board

Wooden or plastic are the kindest on your knives – stay away from those made of marble, granite, or glass.

Marble is better for rolling out buttery pastry dough, since the cool, smooth surface will help to keep it from melting.

Cooking at home is not that hard. Read this guide now and find out what you need.

Read Foodal’s Guide to Finding a Knife Friendly Cutting Board now or see all of our cutting board guides and reviews.

11. Measuring Cups and Spoons

Using the correct measurements in a recipe is crucial for success in baking, and for the beginner in particular.

And as there’s a difference between dry and liquid measures, having a set for each is recommended.

Using exact measurements is a really a necessity for new foodies.

A cup for liquids should have the measuring line well below the rim, so none of it spills as you move the cup from counter to mixing bowl.

Cups for dry ingredients are meant to be filled right to the lip, then swept with a straightedge for precise measurements.

Eyeballing amounts and making guesstimates are for those with more experience, and should be diligently avoided by the newbie foodie.

Not Absolutely Necessary, But Smart to Have…

A clever way to kit out your kitchen is to model the tools experienced cooks rely on.

Here’s a couple for your wish list – ones that savvy kitchen mavens depend on for eliminating uncertainty, and producing consistently satisfying results.

A Meat Thermometer

This takes away the guesswork when grilling or roasting meat and poultry, and ensures that your proteins are done to perfection. It’s an inexpensive bit of gear that will boost your confidence by leaps and bounds.

Looking to prepare a nice home cooked meal? If so, this guide will give you the nuts and bolts of what kind of kitchen equipment that you need to get started.

Find more information about these handy devices.

A Digital Food Scale

This is a much more accurate method for measuring all ingredients, except for liquids.

A digital kitchen scale takes the guess work out of measurements.

Dry ingredients measured by volume (i.e. using measuring cups) can vary wildly in weight – for example, a cup of flour scooped from a canister will weigh considerably more than a cup of sifted flour. And this can make a huge difference in the outcome of a recipe.

As more and more recipes give both volume and weight measurements, investing in a kitchen scale is a wise choice.

A Stockpot

A larger version of a saucepan, these vessels are ideal for preparing stock and broths, but are also great for making all sorts of soups and stews.

A stock pot is a vital piece of kitchen kit |

It’s great to have one in the 8-quart range, and another in the 16-20 quart range for when you’re feeding a crowd, or want to make freezer meals for those busy times.

Comfortable Kitchen Footwear

Crocks Cooking Footwear |

Though kitchen clogs aren’t at the top of every budding home chef’s wish list, they can go a long way towards preventing injury, and combating back pain that might come as the result of long hours spent in front of the stove.


Having the basic tools and equipment on hand will help to make your cooking experiences easier, more fun, and more successful.

Start Cooking at Home: 11 Essential Pieces to Begin.

And a little bit of success at the start will go a long way towards developing your cooking habit.

To the beginners, if you have any questions, ask away – we’re happy to help!

And for you cooking pros out there, are there any suggestions you’d like to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!


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