The Top 10 Kitchen Essentials

You’re 18. You’re on your own the first time and you don’t know what you need to cook. Maybe you’re 21. You’ve just graduated from college and you’ve always had a fully stocked kitchen. Now you have a big apartment with an empty kitchen- what to fill it with? Or maybe you’re just getting married, and you wonder what the heck to put on your registry. What kind of thing will you actually use, and what things will hang out in the back of your cupboard, maybe only to be used once and forgotten about. Here are the top ten {groups of} items I think every starter kitchen NEEDS, above all of the doughnut pans, woks and grilled cheese makers you could ever own.

1. Sturdy pots. One stock pot, one to two saucepans, and a medium sized pot for cooking grains and beans.

Recommended brands: Cuisinart, Caphalon, Le Crueset

2. Three good pans. A nonstick sautee pan, one smaller omelet pan and a cast-iron skillet.

Recommended brands: See above.

3. Basic Bakeware. Two baking sheets, a muffin pan and two 8-or-9”cake pans.

Recommended brands: Any kitchen supply store will have decent picks for these.

4. Two glass pans: 88” and 913”.

Recommended brands: Pyrex, Anchor

5. Three good knives: a chef’s knife, a paring knife and a serrated knife.

Recommended Brands: Global, Henckel, Shun, MAC

6. Two really good, sturdy cutting boards- one bamboo, one plastic (for meat and fish)- or two sizes of bamboo if you’re a veggie.

Recommended brand: Totally bamboo

7. One set of spoons and spatulas- one heatproof spatula, a wooden spoon, a slotted spoon, a whisk and a flipper.

Recommended brands: OXO, Cuisinart, Williams Sonoma

8. One set of measuring cups, spoons and one liquid measure.

Recommended brands: OXO, any kitchen supply store

9. A sturdy set of glass or enamel mixing bowls.

Recommended brands: Pyrex, Crate & Barrel

10. Three appliances: a toaster, a high speed blender and a food processor.

Recommended brands: Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Vitamix (blender), Blendtec (blender)

With these basic items, and these items alone, you will be able to cook or bake nearly everything you need to- or want to. Thirty-two small-to-medium sized items, all of which you will be able to fit into a small apartment-sized kitchen with room to spare and grow (for all your other cooking and baking essentials, of course). As you buy new items, you’ll learn what other items in your kitchen you use on a regular basis, and which ones end up covered in dust for all of eternity. But these? I guarantee none of them will collect dust.

One suggestion I do have, is buy these items in good quality. Because if you make the investment now, all of them will last you a very long time. If you choose to cheap-out, chances are you’ll end up spending more money in the long run replacing them. There are places to save and places to spend in the kitchen, these guys are worth the extra bucks, I promise.

Do you have any kitchen starter items to add to the list? Anything you found particularly useful when you started out in your first kitchen?