The cooking industry is trying to eat us. Nobody needs all these appliances. Nobody needs kitchens this shiny. The love is gone from gizmo cookery.
Stuff a backpack with cheap, versatile kit. Should cost less than an XBox. Way less.
Find a safe place to cook.
Stock essentials, or stuff 'em in the bag.
Limit your cash.
Cook. Feed people.
Become Internet famous. Or not.
Watch a slightly dated overview on YouTube.
Nothing more. More than enough.
In general, buy the cheapest one that works. Try for used, or repair something broken. When in doubt, commercial, not consumer, restaurant supply, not big-box store. Scrounge.
Stuff it all in a cheap backpack. Respect your tools, but don't love them.
eight-inch chef knife, like a Fibrox, $35
ten inch carbon steel frying pan, smooth inner surface, like a Winco, $20
Don't use a wider pan. You'll deflect heat toward your stove's butane can. That's unsafe.
single-burner butane stove, like a Coleman, Max Burton, or Iwatani, $20
Buy a new stove that meets the latest safety standards. Read the instructions. Follow them.
three-to-four-quart saucepan + lid, straight-sided, stainless steel with an aluminum sandwich disc, $20
two two-quart food containers + lids, like Camsquares, $20
unexpired ABC-rated fire extinguisher, $20
hot/cold insulated bag, fits the saucepan
cutting board, preferably poly
paring knife, cheap
spatula, preferably silicone, or wood
stirring spoon, preferably wood
spider, number six
four medium ingredient bowls
four small ingredient bowls
accurate two-cup measuring cup, glass
accurate measuring spoons
timer that counts up and down
two butter knives, spoons, and forks
two twenty-ounce plastic tumblers
two dinner plates
two soup bowls
cleaning brush, for ingredients
dish sponge, for dishes
food scraps bag
For each meal, you get:
one canister of stove fuel
∞ salt, preferably Diamond Crystal kosher
∞ black pepper, preferably fresh-ground
∞ lukewarm tap water
∞ vegetable oil
∞ sandwich-size plastic bags
∞ flour sack towels
∞ dish soap
∞ Cheerios, to eat when you fail
If you never eat Cheerios, you fail.
Make sure you have:
fan, fume hood, or outdoor setting
flat, stable surface for the burner
flat, stable surface for the cutting board
a drain that goes someplace responsible
Choose a budget:
1x minimum wage in your area
2x minimum wage in your area
3x minimum wage in your area
Spend in a single trip to a national-chain general or discount grocery store. If possible, one with more than a hundred locations. Safeway. Costco. Not Whole Foods. Not the farmers market.
Save your receipt.
MWF: Cook a balanced meal for three in as little time as possible, without rushing, starting with everything packed in your bag. Use either your frying pan or sauce pan, but not both. Use no ingredient bowls, measuring cup, or measuring spoons.
JC: Cook a balanced nutritional meal for as many people as possible, minimum 800 calories per cover.
Double: Cook a meal that yields another full meal's worth of leftovers that keep well.
Triple: Cook a meal that yields two full meals' worth of leftovers that keep well.
Big 8: Cook a meal without milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soy.
Pious: Cook a meal that is Halal, Kosher, Vegan, and delicious.
Royale: Cook a meal on the menu at the fanciest local restaurant in your area.
Zero: Cook a meal with no leftover ingredients or food scraps.
The more people you can teach to cook your meal reliably, the better.
Points: Widely available ingredients. Great technique. Cheap equipment. Time management. Creative misuse of tools. Sharing online. Mistakes. Failed experiments.
No Points: One-off bargains. Specialty ingredients. Relying on particular kit. French jargon. Production value. Flashy nonsense. Physical danger. Unsafe eats.