Kitchen Gear for Healthy Cooking

My husband and I just bought our first house, a weekend place about two hours north of the city. It sounds glam, but “humble” would be more accurate. After saving for three years, we realized we’d never catch up to New York City’s real estate market. We decided to continue renting the broken-down, below-market-rate apartment where my husband has lived since 1992, and take regular escapes to a snug little house on 3½ acres.

One downside to buying a weekend home can also be an upside: The place has almost no furniture, just a handful of items we bought from the seller. This goes for the kitchen as well — he was kind enough to leave behind sufficient plates and random cookware to get us through our first few weekends, but we’re basically starting from scratch. Yippee! As someone who makes her living by writing about food, this makes my heart soar.

These are the top 10 items on my shopping list, with a focus on gear that will help me maintain a healthy diet while also indulging in lots of weekend entertaining. With these in my kitchen, I’ll be able to whip up almost anything:

1. Knives. Well, duh. It ain’t a kitchen without knives. I picked up an 8" chef’s knife, a long serrated knife, and a paring knife. Those three ought to be enough to handle most jobs for now, but I’ll add a few spares later so guests can pitch in on meal prep.
2. Cutting boards, to go with the knives. I can’t very well chop a bushel of vegetables on the counter, can I?
3. A filtered water pitcher. I drink a lot of water. Other than my morning coffee and an occasional glass of wine, it’s pretty much all I sip. Water helps me feel full longer, and I like to think it’s giving my aging skin a dewy glow.
4. Nonstick skillets, one large with straight sides, which I’ll use for sautéing chicken breasts or vegetables, and a smaller one that’ll serve as egg-cooker central. I’ll scour the local thrift shops for a big cast-iron skillet, too, since they become naturally nonstick with use.
5. Large and small saucepans, for general use. The pans I reach for every day.
6. A big ol’ Dutch oven, for soups (lots of soups), braises, and pasta.
7. A crock filled with utensils: wooden spoons, stainless slotted and solid spoons, silicone spatulas and turners, a ladle, and whisks.
8. A giant salad bowl and salad spinner, because if we’re going to be entertaining, we’re sure to be serving some giant salads.
9. Rimmed baking sheets and a 9 by 13-inch baking dish that will work for roasting vegetables and chicken parts, casseroles, and (of course) delicious baked goodies.
10. Measuring cups and spoons and a kitchen scale. Because how can you be on-program without them?

I’ll also bring my laptop with me every weekend, so I can consult the Recipe Database for new ideas. What did I miss?

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