Well, the mountain that walks, the International Lord of Hate himself, got bored and decided to pound out an article calling someone an idiot for… well… FISKING THE “STOP TELLING POOR PEOPLE TO COOK” DOOFUS, WITH SPECIAL GUEST, MY MOM
A recipe is far more than the ingredient list, and things like utensils alone can make what seemed like a simple, cheap dish into something more costly than going by the drive-thru would have been.
Poor people can’t just own utensils! That’s crazy talk.
At this point I realized that I needed back up for this post. I grew up really poor, and I spent a lot of years scraping by, but now that I’ve worked my way into the ranks of the evil 1%, guys like Jef will just dismiss me as being out of touch.
For this post I called in a special guest expert on utensil costs and the shopping habits of poor people. So I called my mom.
Having been married to a dairy farmer, Mom understands cooking while poor (on the bright side, we always had all you can drink milk!) But the reason I called her is that my mom has been the manager of a dollar store in a poor rural area for the last decade. Jef seems unfamiliar with the concept, but a dollar store is a place where you can buy stuff for super cheap. Plus, she retired like a week ago, so I can quote her freely and not get anyone fired. So you’re in trouble now, Jef.
Mom said forks are four for a dollar. Spoons are four for a dollar.
Now, allowing for one basic caveat, I’m in complete agreement with the article – Larry’s examples are workable, and absolutlely better than nothing if you have to pinch every dollar.
That said, there’s something to be said for spending a couple extra bucks for better build quality. And you still don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on that special cheese grater.
So I’m going to follow up on Larry’s post with a few examples of what to look for if and when you have a couple extra bucks.
My first priority is the lowly cutting board if you do not already have one. That said, the suggestion here will be the least specific, most likely. Wood or plastic. Nothing “hard” like glass, metal, and please don’t cut on any ceramic dinnerware for any length of time either. You want something reasonably hard but soft/pliable enough not to dull your blades. Wood can be cleaned with salt and water, salt and lemon juice, etc. to disinfect it though most often a simple scrub with soap will do the job. There’s no reason starting out to spend more than $10-$12 on a set, and WalMart, Marshalls, etc. should have a reasonably cheap selection.
Assuming you have a cutting surface that will not harm your cutlery, my next priority is a good knife.
(edited the following because I was tired and didn’t write what I thought I was saying)
Say away from serrated. You can’t sharpen them easily, and most, especially cheap ones, are flimsy. Straight edge blades are easier to maintain, and a decent one is thick enough to not be pliable/bend on you when you’re trying to cut something tough. Look for knives if you can that are good solid steel. Again, doesn’t have to be hideously expensive. While a paring knife is useful for apples, potatoes, and small work, for everything else, you can forego carving knives, cleavers, or anything else fancy at first. All you really need is a good, solid chef’s knife and a paring knife – the last of which, in a pinch, will allow you to forego peelers until you can free up a couple bucks. This will set you back $40 but you’ll be using these every day. You want them to be sturdy and not slip or cut you.
My third priority, a sharpener. To maintain said knife. A sharp knife is a safe knife. This one is handy.
More later, guys.