Seven essential aspects to starting a kitchen

First apartment? Tools falling apart? Or just need something new and fresh? If you don't know where to start or need some ideas for your list, here's your most basic guide to starting a kitchen. Sure there's Amazon and Martha Stewart, but most of us don't need special tools like cherry pitters or avocado slicers — even though it's tempting.

The most essential part of a kitchen is the foundation — something to cook in, something to eat in and something to eat with. Everything else is simply fluff. Thus, this guide is a starting point in which you can cross off or add anything based on your budget.

For starters, I'm assuming that the apartment is already furnished with a microwave, a refrigerator, a stove and an oven. If your home doesn't have those things already, I'd consider investing in appliances before you start this list.

Skillet or pan

If you can afford both — great, but if it's your first kitchen, I'd consider picking one. I mean, I cook with both and didn't know the difference until recently. Hell, you could probably even use a wok if you really needed to.

Cooking food in pans is the easiest thing to do, IMHO. You can chef up some green beans, chicken and rice in the same pan and voila, that's dinner. Try for nonstick and different sizes if you can. And for all my aspiring chefs out there, a cast iron skillet is very fun to play around with.

Medium sized pot

Of course, additional small and large pots are also encouraged if possible, but a nice medium pot should be sufficient for a newbie kitchen. Pots, for me, are mainly to make easy pastas, soups and steamed veggies. Googling around will also find you some amazing one-pot recipes that are good for busy weeknights.

If you like prepping early and coming home to dinner, I'd suggest a slow cooker. Simply throw all your ingredients in and your food will be done in four to eight hours — hence the name. There are also tons of tasty slow cooker recipes online.

Dinnerware and silverware

This is our "something to eat in" — bowls, plates, cups, knives, spoons and forks. I included chopsticks in my essentials because I'm super true to my roots, but chopsticks can be essential to non-Chinese food eaters too. They're perfect in place of tongs and can also keep you from getting Cheeto fingers.

Don't forget about cups! Make sure to pick up some coffee mugs, travel mugs and water bottles too.

Chopping board and knives

If you have a clean table that you're not afraid to ruin, a chopping board can be put on hold, but knives are a must. I suggest getting a large size and a smaller size suited for different foods. Make sure they're sharp and don't dull easily or else you'll have to buy a sharpener — or a new knife — much sooner.

Spatulas, wooden spoons and other cooking utensils

How will you flip eggs, stir pasta sauce or stir cookie dough? Make sure you have a set of good, sturdy cooking utensils. Read reviews and stay away from cheap plastics that melt after a couple uses.

This category also wasn't on my immediate list because I'd just just silverware and chopsticks to stir everything, but a spatula was essential for me because I absolutely love sunny side eggs. Other cooking utensils can include whisks, tongs, rubber spatulas, pizza cutters and vegetable peelers.

Baking necessities

Baking isn't necessary for everyone, but I included it because it requires fewer skills than cooking stovetop — which may be challenging for some people. Baking is an easy way to make meals where you just toss some ingredients together and put it in the oven.

Baking necessities include measuring cups, mixing bowls, oven mitts, baking pans, baking dishes, pie dishes and muffin dishes. Buy more tools that can be multipurposed like a muffin dish — you can make breakfast bites and pizza treats along with your standard chocolate chip muffins.


Other kitchenware that don't really fit into neat categories include a coffee maker — or french press for me, bottle opener, tea kettle — I just use a big mug, dish drying rack, ice cube trays, colander, blender and toaster. Add whatever you think is best to the end of your list, but really think about if you need to spend the money.

I suggest buying in sets when you start this process — think Amazon or dorm websites — because it'll end up being a lot cheaper. Once you get everything in sets, then you can fill in the blanks with individual purchases. Happy shopping!
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