You want to have good set of basic tools such as a spatula, ladle, tongs, flippers and assorted wood and rubber spoons. The spatula helps scrape mixing bowls when baking or saucepans from the stove. Ladles help serve the soups and stews you prepare. You may want to consider a large one and smaller one for sauces. A third ladle with holes is useful for serving food cooked in a liquid. Another option looks like a large spoon, somewhat flat, to remove pasta (small pasta like bowtie of elbow macaroni) or steamed/blanched vegetables. Tongs are useful for long pasta and turning foods in a sauté or frying pan. We all use flippers for turning over those sunny side eggs!
A colander is a normal essential for draining pasta or vegetables from boiling water. Many cooks turn to a multi-purpose pasta pot which has parts to steam, cook and drain food.
A set of nesting glass bowls in various sizes from very small to very large gives you the tools for baking, making sauces, tossing meats or vegetables in a sauce or marinade and other useful purposes… storage of leftovers, etc.
A good chopping board is also on the “essentials” list. They can be made of wood, plastic, glass and even granite or marble. Wood has the advantage of being the friendliest to sharp knives. Plastic and glass provide better cleanup for hygiene purpose. IMPORTANT REMINDER… whatever type of board you use… when working with raw chicken ALWAYS wash immediately after use before any other food is on the board.
Other utensils… a peeler is good for fruits and vegetables to remove the right amount of skin and maximize the good part of the food. Pasta recipes often called for grated cheese. Add a box grater to your essentials list. It usually has four sides of different degrees of grating. Small, hand held graters are fine if your needs are simple. An ice cream scoop, pizza cutter, bottle opener and cork screw should also be initial purchases.
Last but not least… knives.
Chef’s knife… a must have for all cooks. What a regular knife should look like. Chef knives have a large blade with a curved edge and pointed tip.
Paring knife… It is short and stout and the smallest of the basic types. Use it for more intricate work like small garnishes or removing seeds. Like a chef’s knife, it is considered an all-purpose knife.
Bread knife… can’t cut those bagels or crusty Italian bread without a cut bread knife. It has a serrated edge and slender and sleek blade.
Carving knife… for that Thanksgiving turkey. It has a very sharp and thin blade which makes it perfect for thin slice of meat.
To take proper care of a good set of knives you should invest in a good quality knife block. They come in a variety on very attractive styles.