Stock up the kitchen – pots and pans

My set of pots and pans

I decided to write a post about how to stock up your kitchen. The inspiration came after watching some videos. I was amazed and frightened at the fact on how many things are being said to be necessary. Let’s be honest. All you need is glasses, cutlery, plates and some pots and pans. So let’s start with filling up our kitchen – with things that we actually need. Here are my guidelines, that serve me to not overload my kitchen with unnecessary stuff.

Pots and pans

The first thing you need to have in your kitchen is some pots and pans, since they allow you to cook a meal, even if it’s just eggs. Lets ask ourselves these questions:

  1. How often do I cook?
  2. How big is my family?
  3. Do I entertain?
  4. What’s the maximum number of people I want/can entertain at my place?
  5. Do I want to cook for a party or will I rather order catering?

For me the answers are as follows:

  1. Almost every day.
  2. 2 people + one cat.
  3. Yes I do.
  4. 6 people, 8 in the worst case
  5. I prefer cooking since I enjoy it, and I’m gluten intolerant so if I cook, I don’t have to worry about eating something that will hurt me.

Since maximum of people I will entertain is 6, 8 being the worst case scenario, I will scale my pots accordingly. I will need 1 big pot 5 – 6 L, with it I can actually cook a large meal that can feed 8 people (If I add some extra side dishes). I need 1 medium pot around 3-4 L so I can cook a meal that would last for couple of days for my family and in case of entertaining I can cook a nice amount of a side dish like potatoes. Then I need one pot that is 1 – 2 L to make a meal for 1 – 2 days for the two of us, and I need I pot / saucepan / saucier that is 1 – 1,5 L so I can make sauces or cook / heat smaller amounts.

My pots are now done. I don’t need any more that that.

What about pans?

I will need 2 pans only. One big one (28 cm) and one smaller one (24cm). I can include one extra small pan as a luxury item that will allow me to more easily fry one egg or make something in extra small batch. I do own 1 grill pan, but I could do without it. Still, it’s very useful and we do use it a lot.

And my pans are done as well.

Scaling the quantities

So this is all fine for two people plus cat. But what about larger families? To be completely honest – to scale this up for family of four all you need is ONE extra pot OR scale the largest pot from 5 L to 8 – 10 L. The most used pots in my maternal family of four were the medium pot of 3,5 L, and the big pot of 6 L . Sometimes Mum would use the pot of 8 L to cook something for (almost) entire week.

She did have one extra large pot of 12 L that was used EXACTLY 2 times per year. When she was really making a huge amount of sarma or jam. If you don’t plan on EVER making your own preserves, there’s no need for you to even own an extra large pot, unless you have an extra large family. For me I would like to have that large one (8 – 10 L) to make my preserves, but we don’t eat that huge amount of preserves, and we prefer to have smaller quantities of various preserves to large quantities of one preserve. For us, even if we grow to 4 + cat, these pots will be quite enough.

I guess some general guidelines would be:

big pot: maximum number of people you plan to entertain (6 for me)
middle pot : 3 + 1 for every extra person above 4 persons
small pot : p x 0.8
saucepan : p x 0.7

where p is number of people in your family

Now this is simple and cruel Maths. Only you know how much you eat, so you should also take that into consideration. We are not a family that ever ate much. We did have nice meals but not extra large meals. Maybe this can be a general guidance that can allow you to scale your meals. To be sure you scale them correctly, first buy the middle pot and start from there. Then you can actually see, how much more food you actually need to cook. And it will keep budget and meal size in check. Maybe our middle pot is your small pot. Who knows?

And when it comes to pans, you could scale them so you can make a meal by cooking one batch. Yes, you will cook several batches in your pan, not everything will be a one batch meal. And those with extra large families will always have to make meal in several batches.

Don’t stress about it

Don’t stress out about about any of the guidelines. Only you know what fits your family. Don’t buy extra pots and pans because someone said you should. I could live with one or two less, and I do live. At the moment of writing I don’t have that middle pot, although I really, really need it. It would be the most used pot. I had two cheap ones that I bought when we moved to Germany last year, but they are now re-purposed as garden containers. And we are constantly using the big pot instead. You can always make a smaller batch in a bigger pot. It does work. Trust me.

Most of the time I use the smaller pan (24 cm). So I could survive with it alone. But the grill pan and big pan are in use at least 2 times per week. Sometimes we need that extra pan because we are too tired or lazy to constantly wash that one pan. Also if we want to entertain then we do need that one extra pan. It makes prep time less stressful.


Quality of your pots and pans is really important. Don’t go into debt to buy them all, start small. At first you can buy just couple of pots and pans that can be lesser quality, and then as you use them up, buy the high quality ones – one by one. Find what you like and save for it. It’s worth it. High quality pots will last you for years to come, where low quality ones you will change like socks.

For instance, when we moved to Germany, I couldn’t carry my pots and pans with me. The company found us a small furnished apartment in which we could stay limited amount of time, just until we find a more permanent solution. So when we found new apartment, we bought a couple of pots and a couple of pans. Literally, we had two middle sized pots and one big and one very small pan. But we used those until recently. They managed to last about half a year. Since my pots and pans from Croatia arrived I don’t plan on buying any new pan any time soon. Only the middle pot that’s missing from the set. I bought my high quality pots one by one. When old low quality one was no longer usable, I replaced it with high quality one, if I needed it, and in that size.

Our pots and pans are stainless steel. I don’t buy the pans with non stick teflon/ceramic layer. I choose to buy something that is more safe for my family to use. Stainless steel pans are non stick when they reach the working temperature. Just don’t put anything on cold pan and it will be non-stick.

The same I found true of cast iron pans. When they are heated enough they are non stick. Cast iron ones also improve over time, as small layer of oil gets stuck on them and turns into their non stick layer.

I haven’t yet used copper pots and pans, so I can’t give you any advice about them. Just please, don’t buy aluminium ones.

If you buy high quality pots and pans and take good care of them, they will last you a life time.

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