How to Budget for Cooking Essentials

Learn what kitchen supplies you need to start cooking as a hobby

A craftsman is only as good as his tools, and chefs are no exception. Even when you're just cooking as a hobby, it's important to purchase quality cooking essentials to truly realize your culinary potential. Then, once you're ready to move on to more advanced cuisines, you can upgrade to chef-grade, niche cooking appliances and supplies. Check out our guidelines on what supplies you need to begin cooking; then read about how to budget for the most popular kitchen appliances by opening a checking account online with Citizens Bank.

First, equip your kitchen with these cooking essentials

When you first start cooking as a hobby, your list of necessary items will consist mostly of the cooking basics. Aside from obvious appliances like a refrigerator, oven and sink, the following are what you'll need to successfully prepare most beginner and intermediate recipes:

  • Pots and pans - Since you're sticking to essentials at first, you will just need to purchase 1/2- and 1-gallon saucepans, an 8- to 10-inch skillet (frying pan) and a 2- to 3-quart sauté pan. Saucepans are classic pots that are used for sauces and soups. However, skillets and sauté pans appear very similar to the untrained eye: Sauté pans have steeply sloping sides designed to contain food while it's being tossed around, while skillets have outward-flaring sides to cook food more quickly. For example, you would use a sauté pan for searing meat or vegetables and a skillet for making scrambled eggs. Though both pans can do the same thing, you'll learn with practice that each is better suited for specific tasks.

  • Prep tools - Proper cutlery and utensils should be at the top of your cooking essentials list when starting out. When it comes to knives, good ones are worth splurging on since you'll be using knives for nearly every dish you make. Look for a stainless steel, 8- to 10-inch chef's knife, a 3- to 4-inch paring knife and a serrated knife to get started. A few other examples of basic utensils for aspiring chefs include a ladle, slotted spoons, metal and rubber spatulas, measuring cups and spoons, a liquid measuring cup, two cutting boards (ideally one for meats and one for vegetables), rolling pin, mixing bowls, a whisk and a cheese grater.

  • Baking sheets and pans - If you'll be baking, whether fish or cakes, it's important to have the right-sized dishes. Start with a 3-quart baking dish, a pie plate, two cookie sheets, a non-stick cake pan, a muffin tin and cooling rack.

Add popular niche kitchen appliances to take your kitchen and cooking up a notch

It's difficult to anticipate which appliances, utensils and cooking supplies you'll need when you first adopt cooking as a hobby. However, once you start cooking and find you're missing certain items that can get the job done better or faster, it's worth budgeting and setting aside funds to get quality appliances. Here are a few suggestions:

  • High-end appliances - Once you begin growing your culinary skillset, you may find yourself wanting to leave the basics behind. Are you spending an inordinate amount of time chopping fruits and vegetables? It might be wise to invest in a high-end food processor. If you find yourself constantly making meals that require baking or broiling more than one item at a time, look into a double oven to handle twice the cooking at once. There are many other chef-grade appliances that could be helpful once you've established where your culinary passions lie, including an immersion blender or a food mill, as well as time-savers like slow cookers, rice cookers and more.

  • Specialty/gourmet kitchen items - Depending on the type of chef you become, you could add some specialty kitchen appliances to your list of cooking essentials. If your fettuccine recipe puts Mario Batali to shame, you could invest in a pasta maker to take your Italian cuisine to the next level. On the other hand, if you're more proud of your pastries than your pastas, it might make sense to purchase a few pastry bags, more cookie sheets, pie plates and a heavy-duty mixer. Once you find your forte, you can budget for the cost of kitchen appliances that are specifically tailored to your cooking style.

The cost of kitchen appliances can be high, so when you're thinking about upgrading from cooking essentials to more expensive equipment, be sure that you're getting your money's worth. A good rule when considering a new appliance is to divide the price of the item by how many times you expect to use it annually. A $600 high-end mixer may sound like a good idea, but if you only use your current one twice a year, upgrading probably isn't cost-effective. When cooking as a hobby, start with the basics to gauge which equipment you use most often.

Open a checking account online to plan for supplies and take advantage of overdraft protection on purchases

To manage and budget for the cost of kitchen appliances and cooking supplies, consider opening One Deposit Checking from Citizens Bank® online. With the One Deposit Checking account, we'll waive the monthly maintenance fee if you make at least one deposit of any amount per month. When you have a passion for cooking, it can be hard to stick to only the cooking essentials when you're at the store, which is why Citizens Bank provides several different overdraft protection options. Plus, you can always check your balance with mobile banking before you hit the register. When you have the tools you need to plan for the costs of kitchen appliances and more, it's time to get cooking!


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