I decided to write this because I know a lot of people are out there who want to get into cooking but are unsure of what they really need or how much they should spend. This post is for people who don’t want to waste money, whether you cook once a month or several times a day.
This will be an ongoing series. In today’s post, I will be writing about knives. In the next part of this series, I will be writing about pots and pans, so be sure and check back!
Kitchen gear, unlike almost everything else you buy, has the potential of lasting a very long time. It’s smarter to buy the right thing the first time than to repeatedly spend money on junk that doesn’t fill your needs. The good news is that you don’t always have to spend a lot to gain the ability to do a lot.
Before we get started my general advice is to stay away from sets of gear. This goes for knives, pans, and even cooking utensils. Whether they’re cheap or expensive sets, you will almost always end up spending more money and they always throw in useless items. Why buy a pot and pan set that has 10” and 8” skillets when all you’ll ever need is a 12” skillet? That 1-quart saucepan serves the same purpose as the 4-quart except it doesn’t hold enough liquid to be useful. The best advice is to buy what you need as you need it.
Knives are a kitchen essential. Finding the right knives can be confusing, whether you’re on a budget or not. Thankfully for you, I’ve already learned the hard way and I’ve found some good advice that I’ll share in this post.
To start, the most important knife you’ll buy is a chef’s knife. A chef’s knife is going to be the most used and most useful knife in any kitchen. Having a good knife makes cooking so much easier, faster, and safer. This is why people who spend a lot of time in the kitchen have no problem spending $100+ for a good knife; it’s that important. However the good news is you don’t have to spend a lot to get a great knife anymore.
Cook’s Illustrated, who is basically the Consumer Reports for the kitchen, recommends Victorinox Fibrox 8-Inch Chef’s Knife, which sells for $30 on Amazon. They compared it to other, more expensive knives ($100+), and actually found it to be better. In fact, they like it so much that if you were to watch an episode of American’s Test Kitchen or Cook’s Country, you would see them use it on the show. There is also a 10-inch version for the same price if you want something longer.
I’ve had the crappy Ginsu stuff too, and it’s really night and day when it comes to cooking. Chopping onions on a Ginsu used to be a brutal affair drenched in gallons of tears. Now, with a good sharp knife, I can mince an onion in less than a minute with no tears. Don’t waste your money on crap.
Other than a Chefs knife, the one other knife I’d highly recommend is a good paring knife, which can also be had for cheap. I have a couple of these Rikon Paring Knives, which are cheap ($10), sharp, and come with their own sheath. Cooks Illustrated likes them too. They’re very useful for smaller jobs that are unwieldy on a chef’s knife
Those two knives are all the general purpose knives you’ll ever need. There are other knives that are useful, but don’t buy them unless you really feel a need for them. Other than the chef’s knife and paring knife, I use a Victorinox 12-Inch Granton Edge Slicing Knife for slicing meat and a Victorinox 47547 10-1/4-Inch Wavy Bread Knife because I make bread all the time.
As for sharpening knives, this used to frightening and confusing to me. I was too scared to do it myself. I used to have my blades professionally sharpened. Once again, CI turned me to a cheap and easy solution with the AccuSharp Knife and Tool Sharpener for $10. It’s easy to use and works great. I can’t tell the difference between using this and having my blades professionally sharpened.
Written by guest blogger: Ryan Tamm