If you want to have fun in the kitchen, make sure you are working with good tools. By that, I mean make sure that your selection of knives is broader than a stamped kitchen knife and a couple of dull steak knives, and your pots and pans are not thin non-stick.
If you have these tools you can replace them over time. Don’t buy an expensive knife set, get good knives but get them one good knife at a time.
Here is a good Chef’s knife, for instance:
It is a Victorinox eight inch chef’s knife, it is very sharp and stays very sharp. The handle is dishwasher safe, but you should never wash a knife in the dishwasher, because the edge is fragile, and jostling against hard glass, porcelain and other metal objects will damage it. Refurbishing a knife edge requires grinding and polishing, which is work left to professionals. Maintaining the edge is easy. If you buy a good knife you need to buy a good steel also, or else your knife will dull over time, requiring it to be resharpened more often than necessary.
Your sharp knife will make all of the chopping and cutting so easy you will be amazed. A sharp knife is also safer than a dull one, even though that seems to go against common sense. If you have to push hard or saw to do any cutting then there is a lot more room for slippage, loss of control and fatigue. These things make losing control of your knife more likely.
You also need a good cutting board, and something to keep that cutting board from moving around when you cut. I use a piece of cabinet non-skid rubber under mine, but you can just dampen a paper towel and put that under your cutting board to keep it from moving. Don’t just cut on your counter top. Bad for knife and counter.
Your pans should include at least one cast iron skillet, a good HEAVY stock pot, and one or two different sizes of stainless steel skillets. I own one nonstick pan, it is a small omelet skillet for cooking breakfast eggs, and that is the only time I use it. Non stick is the greatest marketing scam since margarine. Nothing ever sticks to my Lodge cast iron skillet. The things that stick to my stainless skillets are things that I want to stick. When you are cooking pork chops or chicken, if the breading sticks, it is because of one of two things. Either you are turning the meat over too soon (just wait another couple of minutes before you turn them) or you didn’t put the breading on the correct way to make it adhere to the food. Most times, if you try to turn the food and it’s stuck to the pan, wait and try again and it will turn over just fine.
There is a process called ‘deglazing’ that cleans your skillet very nicely, very easily, and creates a wonderful sauce to put on your entree. Long story short, you take the meat out, drain the fat off, put a half cup or more of ANY liquid in the pan, and stir/scrape the brown stuck on material into the liquid. Do that until all of the brown is re dissolved and perhaps cook some of the water or liquid back off. When the sauce is as thick as you need it, put the meat back in it and turn off the heat. That stuff will rinse right off after dinner. No soaking required.
Also, get a sauce pan or two, but make them good heavy ones. A heavy sauce pan won’t scorch your sauces like a thin one will. They also will hold heat better when you are doing something like frying so that your oil won’t drop too far in temp when you add foods.
I also recommend a ‘Dutch Oven’. Get this one:
You will use this pan a lot, almost as much as your skillets. For one thing, it is a skillet when you need one, so that lots of your meals can be single-pot meals. Then you can braise or sauté in them if that is called for. The lid fits nice and tight so that you don’t lose lots of moisture from something like a roast that you are cooking in the oven.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a set of great tools that will make working in your kitchen fun and safer. Lots of changes, but you can just make one small change at a time.