Great chefs can make a five-course meal from the contents of a convenience store, over a Sterno can.
Those of us who aren't great chefs can benefit bigtime from certain specific tools. Here's what I need at my station at work:
A freshly sharpened chef's knife. If you can't sharpen a knife, learn. Your cutting will improve remarkably.
A knife sharpener. It's really not that hard - I taught myself how to use one.
A bread knife. I won't use anything else for bread or tomatoes
A cast-iron skillet. Okay, I don't use this at work, but I could - it's a thick, heavy pan that's ridiculously easy to clean and loves cooking anything that releases fat. It has no hot spots, so cooking is even all over, and I can take it off the heat to finish meats or keep things warm. You can fry in it, you can bake in it, you can even make soup in it (though I wouldn't.).
Tongs. Tongs are your heatproof pincers of food manipulation. The Food Whore loves them. Unless you can flip a piece of frying steak with your bare hands, rock some tongs. In a pinch, I've disassembled a mango with tongs, and if I've got tongs, I don't use my fingers or a knife to open packaged goods that have antitampering foil across the top.
Silicone oven mitts. Really. I'm working on kitchen hands, but until I get them, I'm using a thick towel to pull things from the oven. Silicone mitts would give me no fear because you can grab anything while wearing them and they go up high enough to protect arms from my biggest yet unrealized fear- that door snapping closed on me in mid-reach.