A new year is a great time for new culinary beginnings. If your kitchen cabinets are crammed with hand-me-downs and holdovers from your dorm days, your cooking space may be overdue for a makeover. But what should you keep? What should you toss? And what new items should you make room for? Resolve to whip your kitchen into fighting shape with Home Chef’s helpful tips.
Cookware and Bakeware
Keep it: Stained and burned pots, pans, and baking sheets. Even if your cookware has taken a beating over the years, most pots, pans, and baking sheets can have their good looks (and usability) restored with a little TLC. Remove spots and burns from stainless steel using vinegar and baking soda. Rehab aluminum pans and baking sheets with a stain-busting combo of cream of tartar, baking soda, vinegar, and soap. Make a tarnished copper pot look like new again with salt and white wine vinegar. With your cookware and bakeware up to snuff, you’ll be amazed how confident and capable you can feel while preparing your Home Chef delivered meals.
Toss it: Flaking non-stick cookware. Although most cookware can be brought back from the brink, we recommend disposing of non-stick items once the teflon starts to flake. These flakes can dislodge from the pan and find their way into your meals. Even though they’re harmless to consume, no one wants to find bits of frypan in their frittata.
Treat yourself: Cast iron skillet. If you don’t already own one, we highly recommend picking up a cast iron skillet. Not only are they infinitely useful and virtually indestructible; a properly maintained cast iron skillet will actually improve over time, giving your delivered meals and personal recipes an oh-so-perfect finish. Our pick: the pre-seasoned 10” cast iron skillet by Lodge.
Once you’ve got that awesome new cast iron skillet, check out making one of our Home Chef meals in it! We’ve got a Shrimp Jambalaya with Okra, Peas, and Roasted Red Peppers coming up on our menu soon!
Prep and Pantry
Keep it: Cutlery. Much like cookware, knives can last a long time if treated well. If yours have dulled with use, sharpen your knives with a honing steel, or take them to a local shop that specializes in knife sharpening. Once sharpened, your blades will be virtually as good as new–and with proper knife care and storage, they can be around to help you chop, dice, mince, and julienne with aplomb for years to come.
Toss it: Old herbs and spices. Dried herbs can last up to three years if stored in ideal conditions; whole spices can last up to four. Although herbs and spices will, in most cases, remain safe to consume after their expiration date, they lose potency and flavor over time. Therefore, consider replacing that half-used bottle of rosemary from Sophomore year with a newer model.
Treat yourself: Mandoline slicer. Once you get your hands on a mandoline, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. This kitchen gadget makes slicing, grating, and peeling a breeze, and does so with a precision that’s nearly impossible to achieve by hand. Pick one up to seriously reduce prep time, whether making a Home Chef meal or a recipe of your own. We recommend an adjustable version, like the GoodGrips V- Slicer by OXO.
Keep it: Stainless steel flatware. It’s not silver, but that old stainless steel flatware can regain its silvery shine with the help of a little olive oil. Simply add a few drops to a microfiber rag, and apply. (Be sure to remove any excess oil before storing.) If your flatware appears rusty, combine one part baking soda with three parts water, and buff with a soft cloth.
Toss it: Anything plastic. When you were in college, plastic plates provided a serviceable alternative to eating your Hot Pockets over the sink; but now it’s time to upgrade to dinnerware more worthy of your culinary creations. Everything you eat–including your Home Chef delivered meals–will look and taste better on quality diningware. We recommend a matching set of glass tumblers and sophisticated microwave and dishwasher safe stoneware.
Treat yourself: Wine glasses. A great meal deserves a great wine, and a great wine deserves an equally great wine glass. Our meal kits recommend drink pairings, often a fine wine, with each entree. Consider splurging on a few nice red and white wine glasses, such as the ones in the Riedel Vivant collection, for optimal enjoyment.