Originally Posted by LRCooks
For 23 years old, she is a good cook. She grew up scratch cooking. But, she leans toward more convenience right now. So I guess it is a blend. She likes to bake cakes, quick breads, cookies, etc. Loves pasta anything. She has a pan from Marshall Fields 2 1/2 qt, I think it is their private brand, a set of cooking utensils from Bed Bath and Beyond, a jelly roll pan and muffin pan (borrowed). That's basically it. She will be cooking most of the time for three (one big boy who loves steak - so I was wondering about a grill pan).
It's nice that she likes to bake, but you can't live on baked goods. Quick breads, etc. are good for breakfast and snacks. Breads, etc. can be used for sandwiches, toast and such.
You say she's into convenience at this point, then a covered 2-quart casserole would be a must. Maybe even two of them. On weekends she could prepare casseroles and freeze them. All she has to do is to line the casserole dish with parchment paper. Once frozen, remove it from the casserole and store the food in a freezer zipper-lock bag. Normally I would suggest lining the pan with foil, but she might want to reheat the casserole in the microwave and foil is a no-no there.
The grill pan is a good idea. She can use it for more than steaks. Chicken breasts, fish, chops. Just use your imagination. Grilled chicken is great for a main dish salad in the summer. However, a cast-iron skillet will suffice as well. Plus, there's nothing like cornbread cooked in a cast-iron skillet.
Her 2 1/2-quart pan will be good for soups and stews for four people. She'll need a larger pot to properly cook pasta. Get a colander to drain the pasta or kill two birds with one stone and get a salad spinner. She can use the inside basket to drain her pasta.
Another item she might find useful is a skillet with lid that can be put in the oven. She could make frittatas for breakfast, lunch or dinner with one of these.
A good knife and cutting board are high on the list. As are high-heat silicone spatulas and scrapers. Good heavy potholders will serve her well especially if she gets any cast-iron, which is what I would suggest for a grill pan.
There are more I could suggest but there are others on this board who will offer great advice. I'll post more as I think of it.
Even though she's facing a time crunch right now, she can still cook from scratch and not rely on some of the boxed quickies that are on the market shelves. She'll save money, too, cooking from scratch and will cook in a more healthful manner.