Kitchen Essentials

Equipping a Kitchen from Scratch

Part 1—Pots and Pans


Marcella, April 24, 2012, 2:23 pm | Kitchen Essentials

My husband Bob and I recently bought a home near Palm Springs, CA so that we could be closer to Lauren, Randy, and the cutest toddler ever, Eloise, who live in Los Angeles. For the first time in a long time, I was faced with equipping a kitchen pretty much from scratch. The house came furnished, so I did have dishes, flatware, and glasses; but the cooking equipment was severely limited. So, I had to decide what I absolutely had to have to feel that I could make a decent meal.

I should start by saying that I am not one of those people who can make anything with just a frying pan, a wooden spoon, and a spatula. In fact, I am Williams-Sonoma’s dream customer—if they tell me I need a specialty pan to make something, I buy it. (And let me tell you that you can live without an asparagus pot.) But I decided to be frugal in starting my California kitchen, and just buy the essentials.

The first meal I cooked, within 24 hours of walking into the house for the first time (Bob bought the house without me—long story), was Thanksgiving dinner. Since, due to popular demand, the Thanksgiving menu never changes at my house, this was not as daunting a task as it might have been. And it gave me my starting point: a large roasting pan with a rack. Ideally, you would have both a large and a small roasting pan, but if you can have only one, go with the large. Next, a small (1.5 quart) and a medium (3 quart) saucepan; 8- and 10-inch frying pans, both regular and nonstick; a Dutch oven (5.5 quart is a good size); a 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan; and a large multi-pot, which you can use as a stockpot, a pasta pot, or a steamer. Add two jellyroll pans, and even I could make almost anything.

My last point is that you should buy the best cookware that you can afford—good pots and pans will last you a lifetime. My cookware of choice is a subject for another day.