Setting Up Your First Kitchen

Maybe you are lucky enough to have your own apartment when you start college. Or maybe you have just moved into your first apartment on your own. Either way, you will need some basic kitchen tools. This is an easy checklist to help get started!

Pots and Pans

  • Cast Iron Skillet  (read more) 
  • Large Nonstick Skillet (with lid)
  • Small Nonstick Skillet (with lid)
  • Medium Saucepan (with lid)
  • Large Stock Pot


  • Rectangular Casserole Dish 
  • Loaf Pan
  • Cookie Sheet with Rack
  • Pie Plate
  • Muffin Pan
  • Mixing Bowls (with lids)

Tools and Utensils

  • One GOOD chopping knife (see notes below)
  • Cutting Boards (I prefer wood or bamboo)
  • Meat Thermometer 
  • Potato Peeler
  • Can Opener
  • Kitchen Scissors
  • Microplane
  • Box Grater
  • Colander
  • Pyrex Measuring Cups
  • Standard Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Spatula
  • Ladle
  • Whisk
  • Large Serving Spoon
  • Large Slotted Spoon
  • Tongs
  • Silicone Basting Brush
  • Ramekins
  • Bag Clips
  • Cooking Twine


  • Microwave
  • Toaster Oven
  • Blender
  • Immersion Hand Blender

Items to Save Up For


A Good Chopping Knife is a Friend for Life

Choosing a good knife is a tricky thing, especially on a budget. Until you can upgrade, I recommend buying an Asian Vegetable Cleaver. You can find them inexpensively at an Asian Market or through Amazon. The knife pictured below is a Mercer Culinary Asian Collection Nakiri Vegetable Knife.

(photo from mercerculinary,com)

Ode to the French Dutch Oven

I treasure my Dutch Oven and once you can afford one you will too!  Why use a dutch oven in the first place?  It does so many things!  You can braise meat better than a slow cooker.  You can use it as a deep fryer or as a stockpot for soups and stews.  I have even baked sourdough bread in mine. 

They come in a variety of sizes and are pretty heavy.  You can choose one that is cast iron or you can buy a brand with an interior porcelain coating (which I prefer).  Both require a bit of care. You should never put it in the dishwasher.  Cast iron can be cheaper,  but also requires a bit more work to keep it seasoned (see my notes here). For Dutch Ovens with an interior coating, never use an abrasive scouring pad to clean it.  This can damage the interior porcelain coating and ruin it for good. 

If you do take care of it and purchase a reputable brand, it can last a lifetime or at least long enough to pass down to someone else.  

Le Creuset Dutch Oven (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Ah the KitchenAid

Like the Dutch Oven, a KitchenAid is a multi-talented workhorse. The Kitchenaid stand mixer has been around since the ’20s and is still popular with professional chefs. It can knead dough, mix cakes, make pasta and these days, work as a food processor to chop and spiralize vegetables.  The base mixer runs in the neighborhood of $300 dollars with a plethora of additional attachments starting at $20 and going up to about $300 depending on the attachment.  Whether you consider yourself to be a baker or a savory chef, the KitchenAid can just about do it all.  It is well built, incredibly durable and worth every penny.  Start saving!

White KitchenAid Mixer (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

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