The Dappered Space is a series designed to help guys apply the sense of personal style they’ve developed to the space they inhabit. Watch for articles on furniture and decor sales & picks, advice on how to style a room or work space, and tackling creating a space that reflects your own (and perhaps a significant other’s) personal tastes. We’ll suggest items that can be sourced online, but always keep in mind that deals can be found at consignment and thrift stores, local stores with floor models, discount stores, and even yard sales.
A Dappered reader recently reached out with this request:
“Could you… consider doing a post on cooking, such as essential cooking equipment/book? For a variety of reasons, I have gotten away from it but would like to get back into it. I know that there are a lot of other sites that have done this, I feel like they are not necessarily geared to the average person. I am probably wrong on that last point.”
Well, Dappered reader, I’d be happy to make some suggestions that will make your kitchen life, and therefor cooking experience, more enjoyable, and most important, easy. Basic cooking is a skill every human should possess, but somehow not all do. It’s true that cooking can get fairly complicated, if you like that sort of thing. But having the right tools, ingredients, and knowledge can help you create meals with basic ingredients, but incredible flavors and presentation. Below are suggestions on what you need in your kitchen to cook, and cook well.
Pots & Pans
- GreenLife Soft Grip 16pc Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set – $85.99
- Cuisinart 77-10 Chef’s Classic Stainless 10-Piece Cookware Set – $107.88
- Threshold 14 Peice Stainless Steel Cookware Set – $129.99
- Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel 10-piece Cookware Set – $299.99
First things first. If you want to cook food in your kitchen, you need something to cook it in. A basic set of pots and pans will get the job done for you every time. Be sure to have a variety of sizes, so you’re not cooking too much food in too small of a pan. I prefer to use stainless steel cookware, simply because non-stick cookware surfaces use some pretty weird chemicals, which heat will release into your food and the air. Yes, food can stick more to non-non-stick, but you can mitigate this by using ample fat in the bottom of the pan, cooking with a little water or broth in the bottom of the pan, and not cooking things at the temperature of the sun. Get a good non-scratching scouring pad.
Knives & Cutting Boards
- Chicago Cutlery® Elston 16 Piece Knife Block Set – $54.99
- Cuisinart 17-Piece Artiste Collection Cutlery Block Set Stainless Steel – $60.99
- 6-Piece High Quality Stainless Steel Kitchen Knife Set – $149.95
- GORILLA GRIP Set of 3 Reversible Cutting Boards – $19.99
- Architec Gripperwood Wooden Cutting Board – $19.99
- 3 Piece Modern Index Cutting Board Set – $41.99
Have you ever been on a vacation at a cabin, and brought food that needed prepping, namely cutting, and the only knives available for slicing and cutting were super small and super dull? And you’re having to cut things up on a plate? Yeah. Not fun. The wrong knife for the job can be dangerous, and working on a plate with raised edges and slick surfaces only adds to the risk. So, for your kitchen, get yourself a good set of knives, and a few cutting boards. Make sure your knife collection includes a carving knife, chef’s knife, bread knife, fillet knife, and steak knives. For cutting boards, it’s really handy to have one with a well along the edges to catch juices. And added bonus if the cutting board has some grip to the bottom.
- 4-Piece Copper Brushed Mixing Bowl Set – $22
- Nordic Ware 4-Piece Prep N Serve Mixing Bowl Set – $26.56
- DOWAN Ceramic Mixing Bowls/Serving Bowl Set – $35.99
- iSi Mixing Bowl Set – $39.95
A nice set of mixing bowls can serve more than one function. There’s the obvious one, a bowl for mixing ingredients, but if you buy good looking bowls you can also use them to serve food. Well, you can serve food in not so good looking ones too, but since you frequent this site, I’m assuming aesthetics are important to you. Ceramic or glass (like Pyrex) mixing bowls are best if you like to serve hot foods in a bowl on your table (metal might conduct a little too much heat). You can also use mixing bowls for party snacks like nuts or chips.
Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Spring Chef Heavy Duty Stainless Steel Metal Measuring Spoons – $9.97
- Natural Wood Nesting Measuring Cup Set – $19.99
- Birch Lane Ceramic Stacked Measuring Cup Set – $27.99
- OXO Stainless-Steel Measuring Cups & Spoons Set – $29.95
- Simply Gourmet Measuring Cups and Spoons Set – $29.99
A basic that every kitchen requires. Once you’ve cooked enough you might be able to eyeball amounts in a recipe, but for baking, exact measurements are important. Exact measurements are also good when using spices, especially salt. I like the look of round measuring spoons, but spoons that have a more rectangular shape definitely make it easier to dip the spoon down into a jar of spice.
Serving & Mixing Spoons
- Chef Craft Maple Wooden Spoons – $4.50
- Hometeq (2 Pack) 8.5″ Stainless Steel Flatware Serving Spoons – $5.99
- OXO Good Grips Brushed Stainless Steel Ladle – $11.12
- Utopia Kitchen Stainless Steel 5 Pieces Cooking Spoon Set – $18.99
- Olivewood 3 Piece Utensil Set – $29.99
You don’t realize how useful serving spoons are until you have need of one. These would be larger than normal spoons, that can serve large portions at once. Also, a set of wood spoons are super handy for cooking. Since they don’t conduct heat, you can leave them sitting in or on top of a pot of cooking food without worrying about burning your hand when you grab them.
Spatulas & Scrapers
- Gray Silicone Slotted Spatula With Wood Handle – $3.99
- AdeptChef Fish Spatula – $7.97
- Black And White Silicone Spatulas (set of 2) – $9.98
- Nordic Ware Silicone Spatula – $15.99
My favorite spatula for every day use is actually a fish spatula. I like the length and width, and it just seems to work well for cooking everything from pan fried burgers to eggs (and of course, fish). If you opt for no-stick pans, a silicone spatula is a must, as metal can scratch non-stick coatings. Rubber scrapers (usually sold under the “spatula” name) are mighty handy for exactly what their name implies, scraping. Great for scraping out the ends of condiment and peanut butter jars.
Spices & Herbs
Spices are so important for taking cooking to the next level. It doesn’t take much, but adding spices to your cooking creates different layers of flavor. The spices I use most in my kitchen are Himalayan pink salt, fresh ground black pepper, garlic salt, chili powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, paprika, cumin, dried oregano, thyme, and rosemary. I only linked to one spice set because I think it’s much more economical to shop spices locally. One of my favorite, very affordable sources for spices and herbs is Trader Joe’s. Also, a lot of grocery stores sell spices and herbs in bulk, which can definitely bring the cost down, and if you need something random that you know you won’t use on a regular basis, you can buy just a small amount.
These are some of the most common shelf stable items you’ll want to have on hand. Olive oil, vinegar, perhaps some sort of flour, sugar, some canned goods like diced tomatoes, coconut milk, whatever you end up using on a consistent basis as you increase your cooking repertoire. Grains like rice and quinoa would also be included here.
Cookbooks & Apps
- Yummly App – Free
- BigOven App – Free
- Caveman Feast App – $2.99
- Everyday Food: Great Food Fast – $12.82
- Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck – $14.89
- The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science – $33.89
Of course, if you want to start cooking, or expand your knowledge, you need recipes to follow. If you’ve cooked a lot in the past you can likely create recipes on the fly, but if you’re just getting started, guidance is a must. There are A LOT of cookbooks, apps, and recipes right at your fingertips. You can avoid information overload by using the handy google machine, and searching the most popular current cookbooks or apps. And you can check out best sellers on Amazon. Or, if you know of a famous chef, check out what they have to offer.
On a final note, seriously consider buying a kitchen fire extinguisher to have on hand in or near your kitchen. Hopefully you’ll never have to use it, but sad would be the day if a grease fire started in your kitchen and you didn’t have a quick way to put it out.
Sarah is a long time member of the Dappered team, typically working behind the scenes editing posts, taking some photos, and keeping the books in good standing. Occasionally she’ll come out from behind the curtain to offer her two cents.