Believe it or not, I’ve noticed the difference in my kitchen from choosing the right set. Things are neater. I never feel like I’m short on equipment. I’m more inclined to cook more involved recipes.
- Material: Two obvious choices are Pyrex-type glass and stainless steel. I prefer stainless steel because it’s cheaper and thin is fine for everyday use. I keep one Pyrex glass bowl around, though I’m not sure why.
- Sizes: I own 3/4-, 3-, 5-, and 8-quart bowls. The 3/4-quart bowls are great for vinaigrettes and rendered fats. I highly recommend these. The 3- and 5-quart bowls are all-purpose bowls (at least for the scale on which I’m cooking). The trade-off is between mixing space and dishwasher space. I really like having them both. The 8 quart is great for tossing salad or pasta. While dishwasher-safe, it’s a pain to clean. It’s the first one I’d send to the attic if I needed more space.
- Quantity: I cook dinner for three around six times per week. Three each of the 3/4-, 3-, and 5-quart bowls and one of the 8-quart bowls is enough. I wish I’d bought double the 3/4-quart bowls and maybe one more each of the 3- and 5-quart bowls. If I had to sell the 8-quart to buy the extra, I would.
- Storage space: To minimize storage space, buy a set of bowls that nest nicely. What I mean is that smaller bowls should fit inside larger quantity bowls. Sometimes a lower-capacity bowl won’t fit inside higher-capacity bowl because the widths and depths are incompatible. An easy way to make sure your bowls nest is to buy them all from from the same manufacturer.