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Old 08-06-2010, 01:41 AM   #1
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College kid looking for a kitchen setup.

I'll be moving into an apartment in the fall and was starting to gear up for a year of cooking. It'll be typical Italian food using fresh ingredients, as well as a lot of breakfasts.

Whenever I've cooked in the past it has been with my parents' stuff or at the restaurant I work at. So in terms of what I'll need, I really don't have a good idea.

At the moment I'm looking for skillets and a knife block set. I'm guessing I'll want a couple 10" sautee pans and a couple 10" frying pans. I'll also need a pot for pasta (for between 2 and 6 people, not sure what size).

I don't know what material I want, but something without a nonstick coating (that's what margarine is for!). Maybe just cast iron?

On knives, I really don't know what I'm looking for. All I know is I want a metal that will hold it's edge (even if it is harder to sharpen), and is capable of being honed very sharp. Suggestions are greatly welcomed.

I'm going to say my budget for everything is $500.

I'd greatly appreciate any input.


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Old 08-06-2010, 05:45 AM   #2
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Welcome to DC! There have been several threads recently on this type of subject if you care to hunt around in the forums, including discussions on knifes and knife sets, non-stick vs stainless and cast iron, and even one on stocking a first time pantry and what herbs to buy when starting out. Keep hunting the Cookware and Accessories forum.

My advice it to buy individual cookware pieces, not sets and individual knives, not blocks or sets, because overall it is cheaper and you can get just what you want an not extra pieces that you wont' use. Hunt around for prices, places like Ross and Marshall's and TJMaxx have really good deals on all the things you will need and watch the sales at major dept stores as well. I have picked up some great deals at Macy's on their strore brand of cookware and have found some really good deals at my local Marshall's

Here are a few threads from the forum to get you started:

Looking to buy a knife set
Cast iron skillet
How to know which stainless steel cookware is quality?
Beginner looking for a good knife set and cookware

Quoth the chicken, "Fry some more."
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:20 AM   #3
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Another consideration is are you living alone or with roommates? If you will have roomies, will you be sharing kitchen items? When my son moved into an apartment last year for school, we outfitted him with kitchen stuff. None of the other guys thought to get pots and pans and skillets to cook. Consequently, they all used my son's stuff. We didn't spend a lot of money on it but got fairly decent stuff. Fortunately, most of the stuff held up well to the abuse except for the CI skillet. It needs reseasoning which will be done when he comes home this weekend. The other guys didn't clean and store it properly. So take into account whether others besides yourself will be using it.
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Old 08-06-2010, 11:07 AM   #4
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My advise is simple. Wait until you have a good job before spending a lot on kitchen tools. For your needs, discount stores are your friend. There are very serviceable knives that sell for a lot less than the name brand knives such as Henkle, or Wusthoff, or even Global, or Chroma. There are people around here that swear by Japanese steel, and that's great quality stuff indeed, if you want to spend several hundred dollars for a knife.

You can shop and Kmart or WalMart and get perfectly usable knives for 30 to 40 bucks. Plus, as was suggested by Jabbur, if you will have roommates, then they will probably want to use your hardware. My son cooks professionally and has had 3 $100+ dollar chef knives broken by others who used or abused his stuff.

As far as pans go, though they may need to be re-seasoned every now and again, cast iron is nearly indestructible, as is stainless steel pans. You can get Tramontina brand stainless steel at reasonable prices. Stay away from coated pans as they just don't hold up. Tip - if you do use stainless, heat the pan completely dry and clean until water drops skitter accross the surface. Then add the oil. If you add the oil to the cold pan, and allow it to heat with the pan, everything sticks like glue. If you get the pan hot first, then add the oil, the pan will be nearly as stick free as the best non-stick pan. And unlike cast iron, you will want to wash it in hot, soapy water.

To keep costs down, purchace knives and cookware that will serve multiple purposes base on the kind of cooking you expect to do. Are you going to bake? I find that my cast iron dutch oven will serve as a roasting pan, with or without the lid, as a pot for steaming veggies in, I can bake a cake in it, if I need to, or cook up a batch of baked beans. I can even fry an egg in it if I have to, or use it as a deep fat fryer. The same is true of my cast iron frying pans. The handles are a part of the pan and so are oven-proof to whatever temperature I want to cook or bake at. I have even boiled pasta in my 12-inch cast iron frying pan. The pasta doesn't care what shape or material the pan is made from. It just needs boiling water to soften and cook it.

One, 10 inch chef's knife does almost all of the cutting chores in my kitchen. I do use a boning knife when slicing a bone-in roast, simply because it's more maneuverable in tight places. But I find the chef's knife suitable for carving roasts, roasted turkeys, for breaking down a rack of ribs, for slicing everything from tomatoes to watermelon, to mushrooms, onions (without tears), or boiled eggs, lettuce, bread, or whatever. I can even detail foods with the pointy tip. And contrary to popular belief, you can even fillet and skin fish with it.

A three quart lidded-pot will handle most of your sauces, gravies, soups, stews, pastas, custards, and even hot chocolate chores.

You should invest in a few stainless steel and/or glass mixing bowls, a balloon whisk, good tongs, and spatulas. A good hand powered can opener is a must as well. Throw in a ladle, a few slotted and solid serving spoons, and eating utensils, plates and something to hold your favorite beverage, and you've pretty much spent your budget, and outfitted both you kitchen and dining room. If you have anything left, a good hand blender with chopping and other attachments is a great tool for the kitchen.

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Old 08-06-2010, 04:08 PM   #5
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I'd agree with everything Goodweed just said, and add that if you have a "Big Lots" store you can find really good bargains for cooking stuff there.
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away.

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Old 08-06-2010, 04:21 PM   #6
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IKEA has been a hit with my nieces when they went off to college. The pots and pans they purchased were nice enough to not be upset when the roomies abused them. They even had a few really nice utensils for the price.

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Old 08-06-2010, 04:36 PM   #7
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Goodweed is spot on... I love homegoods for cheap, but good, items...
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:44 PM   #8
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Thanks for the replies. I am all for saving money, and will check all listed sources, but I would like to purchase items that will perform well and last me forever when properly cared for, rather than buying too cheap and replacing every couple years.

On my roommates, they have their own stuff and we are good with not messing with each others' expensive items. So I am not worried about anything being abused.

Thanks again for the replies.
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:54 PM   #9
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Also, let me know if I am missing anything. Just so I have a list written down somewhere.

-Chefs knife
-Utility/paring knife
-bread knife
-filet/boning knife
-magnetic strip for the wall
-diamond hone
-wood cutting board
-poly cutting board
-pots of various sizes
-sheet pans
-skillets of various sizes
-wooden spoons
-nylon utensil kit (cheap)
-mixing bowls
-measuring cup (gift for the roommates, ha ha)
-Small wooden plank for mixing tomato-based sauces

And I didn't realize how "bad" margarine is. Switching to butter. O_O
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:59 PM   #10
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Sounds like you've got it covered, and yes switching to real butter is a wise decision, lol...
What is a small wooden plank for mixing tomato based sauces???

A woman is like a tea bag, you never no how strong she is until you put her in hot water...
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