These tend to be an investment, but they're virtually indestructible and can be used for everything from roasting and braising to baking and stewing. The heavy enamel-coated cast iron maintains a steady heat and the close-fitting lid has spikes on the interior for continuous, natural basting. And this one's dishwasher safe.
$120, at Crate & Barrel
An eight-inch multipurpose chef's knife is the ideal implement for chopping, mincing, slicing and dicing. It's strong enough to handle dirty jobs like carving up a chicken, but it isn't so big that it feels strange simply chopping vegetables. This one, by the makers of the Swiss Army knife, is one of the best rated blades around and it's affordable too.
$40, by Victorinox
A Serious Pot
The cook's workhorse, a large saucepan is big enough to boil pasta or potatoes, but still manageable enough for simmering a sauce or hard boiling an egg. You don't need to go fancy on this, so opt for a durable 4.5 quart steel clad pot from a restaurant supply store. If it's good enough for chefs, right?
$23, at Restaurant Supply
If you plan on leaving your cutting board on the counter, spring for a chopping block made from a sturdy piece of thick lumber. A wimpy wood board will ultimately split or warp. And those dainty plastic cutting boards are fine to use for raw meat, but they stain and and you can't set a hot pan on them. And honestly, they look like shit.
$80, by John Boos
Like an extra pair of hands, tongs will handle anything too hot, messy or slippery to tackle. They especially come in handy when flipping meat or oven-roasted vegetables along with tossing pasta and salads. This locking pair has a firm grip and a built-in resting foot to keep your counter clean.
$11, at Williams-Sonoma
Get some handsomely understated cotton towels and use them for everything from extra large napkins and placemats to potholders. Oh, and you can use them to clean up messes and dry your hands too. These yarn-dyed cotton towels also come with a loop for hanging.
$.79 each, at Ikea
A dull knife is a dangerous knife. Most home cooks' blades should be sharpened once a year. Take them to a knife store, local sharpening service or learn how to sharpen them yourself on a wet stone.
Ideal for searing meats, flipping pancakes and making perfectly fluffy eggs, a nonstick skillet is a quick-cooking godsend. This dishwasher-safe model features a durable and slick ceramic-titanium nonstick surface that's bonded directly to the pan so it doesn't peel or scrape away, even when using metal utensils.
$111, by Scanpan
Extremely heat-resistant and easy to clean, you don't have to worry about these tools melting into your food, ruining your cook wear or heating up and burning your hand.
From $10, at West Elm