The star chef reveals the keys to home cooking on a budget.

By Charlie Heller
Updated August 30, 2017
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In a recent interview, superstar British chef Jamie Oliver weighs in on everything from the simplest way to stock a pantry to the evolution of that least tasty pastry: gender roles. When his show The Naked Chef debuted in 1999, Oliver says, UK men wouldn't be caught dead in the kitchen, but his mop-haired presence on TV helped women tell their male partners (in his words): "What the f*ck are you talking about? He's like three years old. If he can do it then you can do it."

Nearly 20 years later, the now-42-year-old father of five is searching for "clarity" in a career that has seen him write over 20 books like Everyday Super Food and Jamie Oliver's Meals in Minutes: A Revolutionary Approach to Cooking Good Food Fast, despite dyslexia that kept him from finishing a novel until he was 38. He calls writing his most recent, 5 Ingredients - Quick and Easy Food Recipes a "master class in restraint," using the "magic number" to simplify the art of cooking for anyone.

Among the magic, Oliver offers a list of the most critical kitchen items for home cooks on a budget, as follows:

1. Olive Oil: Oliver recommends owning two kinds of this staple oil: one for cooking, and one for dressing. With so many kinds to choose from, it'll help to study up before you hit the store.

2. Red Wine Vinegar: One of the most popular vinegars, red wine vinegar works great for vinaigrettes, dressings, vinegar-based slaws, and marinades. Plus, you can make your own.

3. Salt and Pepper: No surprise here. But do you know why this basic seasoning is the most ubiquitous of all?

4. A Thick Cutting Board: A good cutting board can change your life, so make sure to treat it with the respect it deserves.

5. A Few Good Knives: Another life-changer, having the right knife won't just make cooking easier—it'll make it safer too. Take the time to research this one, as Oliver recommends keeping two or three around.

6. Restaurant-Sized Pans: Oliver swears he still cooks for his family every night, and recommends using these massive pans to "scale up your dishes both to serve more, and make more to save for later." They take up space, so just try be absolutely sure of what kind you need before you buy

And finally, Oliver adds, "if money really is the conversation ... just halve the amount of meat you buy," and "free up a sh*t load of cash."