Just starting out with your own kitchen? Here are some lessons that could be of value to you . . .
When I moved out of my mother’s house twelve years ago I also moved out of her kitchen and into my own. And mine had absolutely nothing in it, no appliance, no utensils – nothing. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about all the great things I could cook for myself or the different innovations I could have from the latest equipment designs or new foods I always wanted to try out. No. my mind was on two things : First, I had very little money. And second, I’ve got to eat.
Most of my cash (and some of my credit) went to two key appliances. A refrigerator and a two -burner stove. The refrigerator to store food and prevent spoiling and the stove for cooking. That’s two basic functions and two appliances to meet both. If there was one appliance that could store food and cook it too I would have bought it, but no such gadget exists – at least not yet.
In retrospect, the two-burner was a good call. I chose between that and a one-burner but decided to go with the two burner in case I wanted to cook two things at the same time. Guess what? This never happened. What I used the second burner for was to put very hot cooked dishes to cool off for a bit while I cooked another meal with the other burner. It saved me from having to put down very hot pots and pans in other surfaces which might get damaged by the heat. It seems trivial, I know, but you’ll appreciate this too if you get a two-burner.
With the refrigerator I have some regrets. I decided to go cheap and get a one door refrigerator where the freezer is on the inside with its own small plastic door. I also went for a model where I had to defrost the freezer. The freezer door tended to ice up and not close properly necessitating the use of an ice pick to chip at the creeping ice so I could close the door. And yes, sometimes I would miss with the pick and hit the freezer lining damaging my appliance. Because I had to defrost the freezer I would unplug it once a week, usually while I was out doing groceries. I could have spared myself all this with a no-defrost freezer or a two-door refrigerator. So that’s the right call : No defrost two-door fridge. If you are stuck with defrosting, don’t forget to empty the water tray behind the fridge from time to time. I forgot this initially, and water spilled on the floor.
Alright, now that we’ve got the core appliances out of the way, let’s talk about basic cooking utensils (I won’t go into eating utensils at all except to say to go for the microwaveable plateware and cups even if you don’t have a microwave because someday you will have a microwave).
For my first purchase I asked myself, ‘What is the easiest way to cook?’. Answer : Put some oil in a pan and fry stuff. So that’s the first thing – a frying pan. Once again I made a mistake and bought a regular pan instead of a non-stick pan. A non-stick pan is pricier but it will allow you to save a bit on groceries because you’ll be cooking with little or no oil and it will take a smaller amount of dishwashing agent to clean out; not to mention less effort during dishwashing. If I could do things over again I would buy just one high-quality pan and take care not to scrub off the Teflon when dishwashing instead of skimping on quality and having to buy multiple pans over the years.
Next, you need a covered pot. It has to be large enough to cook pasta in, that is, you have to be able to put a length of spaghetti without it falling out of the pot. You’ll also be boiling food in there like beef shank for stews or potatoes for mashing. Buy one with a thicker bottom for even heat distribution. Here’s a tip: Before buying one, go look at the pot covers they sell without the pot; be sure these covers fit the covered pot you are buying. Why? Because your pot cover will get damaged or lost at one point and you want the simple convenience of buying just the cover.
Next buy a knife. You’re going to use this knife for all your cutting – meat and vegetable. In the absence of a garlic crusher or mortar and pestle, you should be able to crush garlic using the side of the knife against a flat surface – so take that into account too. Highest quality affordable please. In my case I bought a knife set but just one really good knife will be fine.
Buy a good size cutting board.
Buy a spatula. Remember that a metal spatula will damage the non-stick pan, so if you have a Teflon pan go with a rubber or soft spatula. I also recommend slotted spatulas to allow liquids to slough off. I did damage my first non-stick pan with a metal spatula so I bought an all rubber one. This spatula I left on the side of a hot frying pan and the handle started to melt. Best spatula : slotted rubber head and grip but metal stem.
Next you’ll need kitchen tongs. Buy one you’re comfortable holding – I wasn’t happy with the kitchen tongs available because of the unwieldy grip so I ended up using metal ice bucket tongs in the kitchen. No problems and cheaper too.
Lastly, a ladle for handling soups and stews. I initially bought a ladle that was so short it sunk inside the stew in my big pot. Get a ladle and put it in your big pot; the head should rest on the inside edge and the handle should project from the rim on the opposite side – that’s the right length.
And there you have it. A kitchen which will allow you to cook on your own. Cook means frying, boiling, braising, stewing, soup making, and salad making. Some of the major things you can’t do is baking and grilling, blending and microwaving but you can build up your kitchen going forward.
Everyone knows that updating a kitchen can be a very expensive project. Because of this, millions of home owners get a loan so they can quickly update their kitchen. Not only does this encourage people to spend more on their renovations but it also causes people to pay more for their update in the form of interest. You do not have to get a loan to update your kitchen. By simply saving, prioritizing and shopping smart, you can update your kitchen on a budget. Here is how.
Make a List
Start by making a list of what you would like to do to your kitchen. For most, a complete overhaul is not going to be an option, so be realistic when making this list. What are the biggest things that bother you about your current kitchen? Those things should be at the top of your list. Then estimate how much you expect each item on your list to cost. Do some research so you are not busting your budget later on.
Once you have your list, it is time to start saving for the most important item on their. Start cutting back expenses where ever you can so you can get that money saved up quickly. Eat at home, turn down the thermostat and clip coupons to raise the money you need. Remember, the more money you are able to save, the faster you are going to be able to get your kitchen updates done. Once you have saved enough money for the first item on your to-do list, you can get started.
Work Through the List Slowly
Avoid the temptation to get everything done at once. Leave your credit cards at home and only bring enough cash to complete one item on your list at a time. Once you have completed the first item on your list, you can start saving for the next. Instant gratification is nice, but the payments that go along with it is not. So tap into your self-control and work through each item as you have the money.
Do the Work Yourself
If you want to get through the process of updating your kitchen faster, you are going to need to find ways to save money on your projects. One way you can do this is to do the work on your kitchen yourself. Things like painting, installing flooring, installing counters and replacing old light fixtures can be done by your average home owner if they take the time to learn how. You would be surprised how much money you can save in a kitchen update by doing the work yourself.
Save What you Can
Before you start ripping everything out, try to see what you can save in your kitchen. Could you reface your kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them? If your appliances are still functional but are ugly, update them with appliance paint instead of replacing them to save money and stretch your budget. See what you can save and you will find yourself updating your kitchen must faster because your money will go farther.
Choose Less Expensive Options
Finally, when you want to update your kitchen without going into debt, try to find less expensive options to stretch your funds. For example, tumbled marble tile may be the look you are going for but you do not have to pay the premium price. Instead, choose a ceramic tile made to look like tumbled marble and save. There are almost always less expensive options that will give you the look and quality you want for less.
So when you decide to update your kitchen, do not spend a fortune. Use these tips to give your kitchen a beautiful updated look for much less than others spend. If you do it right, you might be able to do it without going into debt.
A kitchen remodel can be quite the undertaking. You may only be updating a few things – the cabinets and countertops perhaps – or taking on the entire room floor to ceiling. Either way, you’ll no doubt agree it’s a time investment. But it can also be a colossal money investment, especially if you don’t plan before you start knocking down walls. Budgeting in general is not always easy, and remodels have a way of running over budget. But with a little planning and priority setting, you can effectively budget for your renovation.
– First, you need to know how much you have to spend on the remodel. You can find a helpful budget worksheet on The National Association of the Remodelling Industry’s website. Some questions to ask include: How long do I plan living in this house? What debts do I have? What is my gross monthly income? It’s especially important to look at how long you intend to live in your house. That will largely determine what you put into your remodel. Having the overall number that you have to work with will help you move on to choosing what to remodel.
– Now that you know how much you can spend, what do you spend it on? If you’re giving your kitchen a minor makeover, like adding a sophisticated countertop (like granite), a new paint job, and new appliances, you won’t have much to consider. If, however, you plan on gutting it and starting over, balancing your money will be more complicated. So unless you have unlimited funds, this means some picking and choosing is in order. One way to know where your money should go is to decide what means the most to you. Do you have your heart set on all granite countertops or stainless steel appliances? Then maybe that’s what you should focus on, compromising or scaling down on other features like intricate crown mouldings. Think about the things that are more permanent (cabinets and tile) that you won’t be replacing soon, if ever. It may be worth investing a little more in those things. Some recommend budgeting about one-third for labour costs. Of course, you may be able to save some money in this department by enlisting the skills of family and friends – or even yourself. By doing some of the labour on your own, even just the demolition (removing old countertops, for instance), you may save money you can put toward other features of your kitchen. Always leave a financial pillow. Even with excellent planning, you may experience the unexpected. Especially with older homes, problems may arise during demolition, or you may have to make changes in what you plan to buy. Whatever may turn up, leave enough space in your budget to handle unexpected payouts.
So when planning your budget for your future kitchen remodel:
Decide how much you have to spend on the renovation.
Choose what you should invest the most in and scale back on secondary features.
Save a little money by handling demolition yourself and recruiting family and friends to help with labour.
Budget for unexpected changes in your renovation plans.
A little budget planning will go a long way toward a smoother kitchen remodel.
Author Chris Gleason designs and builds kitchens for a living. In Kitchen Makeovers For Any Budget he offers his advice and how-to knowledge to help you make the correct decisions about whether to re-face or paint your present kitchen cabinets, add new appliances and cabinets, redo the workflow, move walls, etc.
Kitchen Makeovers For Any Budget includes four complete remodeling projects; each one deals with a particular aspect of demolition, design and/or accessorizing. The companion DVD focuses on the design, workflow and accessories available to maximize your space and provide convenient storage solutions.
BLACK & DECKER - KITCHEN REMODELING - THE B&D HOME IMPROVEMENT LIBRARY
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