The gift-giving season is here, and you have a very important question to answer. What kind of gift giver do you want to be? The kind who gives out yet more “things” that lose their luster shortly after being unwrapped? Or the kind who doles out gifts that can help change a person’s life?
The life-changing option can seem daunting, maybe even impossible—but I assure you, it isn’t. The only thing to consider is this: What’s the one thing any of us can do that will have the biggest impact on our overall well being?
Without a doubt, the one thing that heads us toward optimal health is…cooking meals at home. So why not invest in gifts that will help someone in your life make that shift?
Kitchen basics are a great place to start, but walking into a home goods store can be super intimidating. Think floor to ceiling walls covered with gadgets of all shapes and sizes. It’s easy for novices to leave such places with all sorts of stuff they’ll never use. Even worse, it can make them think that cooking at home is complicated.
Do a little research, and put together a gift basket that will make the novice cooks in your life believe in themselves. You can include as much of whatever you want to include, but make sure the gift basket includes these items:
Chef’s knife – A quality chef’s knife can make chopping, slicing, and dicing seem like a treat rather than a chore, and it doesn’t have to cost a ton of money. Poor-quality knives don’t cut very well, which can make us think we’re doing something wrong. But a knife that cuts through most anything as if it were butter? That will boost the confidence of any budding cook.
Cutting board – Doing prep work on a nice cutting board is a good idea too. You could go with one of the big ol’ cutting boards the professionals use on TV, but you don’t have to when less expensive bamboo is such a nice alternative. They come in a variety of sizes, so it should be easy to find one that will fit in your giftee’s kitchen.
Spatula – Whether I’m stirring scrambled eggs as they cook in the pan or scraping every last bit of homemade nut butter out of the food processor, I use a spatula at least once a day. Pick out a couple of them in fun colors, and you’ll be decorating the aspiring chef’s kitchen at the same time.
Skillet – Absolutely indispensable, make sure to add a basic 12-inch skillet to the gift bag so the new cook can whip up a wide range of food from the get-go. I love cast iron, but it could be intimidating for someone just starting out in the kitchen. Cast iron is heavy and needs special care when cleaning. Given that, a stainless steel option may be the best option.
Stoneware – Nontoxic stoneware is perfect for your giftee’s first batch of chocolate chip cookies or roasted root vegetables. You’d have to be delirious not to crave a fresh batch of either one of these on occasion.
Your time – Finally, you can include a personal note offering to teach the new cook how to make a favorite dish or even just master some of the basics, like those scrambled eggs I mentioned or a baked whole chicken. If you don’t live close enough to offer in-person lessons, include one of these titles:
The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook for Children by Suzanne Gross and Sally Fallon Morell. Don’t let the title fool you—this cookbook offers simple instructions that will help newbies of any age. You can write a silly note suggesting the future chef get in-touch with his or her “kitchen inner child.”
Men in Kitchens by Nick Armstrong, Patrick Earvolino, and Michael Adams. This is the perfect offering for any dad, husband, boyfriend, or brother who wants to start learning how to make healthy, mouth-watering meals for friends and family. This expanded second edition makes such a great gift for new cooks thanks to the “Kitchen Savvy” section, which covers must-learn techniques and must-have equipment, all in one place.
But why stop here? Aside from these kitchen essentials, you can add all sorts of fun stuff to your gift basket. Think about the tools you reach for regularly—whisk, microplane, garlic press, hot pads. Even a 5-quart saucepan. You’re only limited by the amount of money in your budget.
I always get a kick out of giving really personal gifts to the people I care about. Giving a present that can change a life is money well spent.