Equip Your First Kitchen for under $170

(Click to read part one)

5) Sheet tray/cookie sheet. Buying a solid sheet tray will allow you to begin baking cookies and other delicious desserts right at home. Also, if you purchase a wire rack that can sit on top of the baking sheet, this piece of equipment quickly doubles as a basic roasting pan. Tip: Line your tray with parchment paper when baking to make for an easy clean-up afterwards.

Make sure that the baking tray you buy will fit in your oven (commercial sheet trays are much wider than those for home use. A “half sheet tray” will fit in most home ovens). This sheet tray, made by Amco, is a solid, food-service grade piece of equipment at $15

Note: A wire roasting/cooling rack can be purchased for around $11 from Amazon.

6) Cutting board. Now that you have the knives, pots and pans, you need a surface in which to prepare your culinary creations. I personally prefer a wooden cutting board to the plastic variety. Whichever kind you choose, make sure to AVOID glass, stone, and very hard, composite cutting boards, as they will quickly dull and damage your new, shiny knives. Cutting boards, such as a genuine Boos Block can cost hundreds of dollars, but a cheap cutting board gets the same job done. This cutting board, by Farberware, is reversible with a groove on one side to catch any excess liquid. It is a good size and costs around $11
first kitchen
7) Wooden spoons. Finally, we have come to the all-important wooden spoon! It may be overlooked, but many chefs care for their wooden spoon for years and seem to have a strange, if not excessive emotional connection to them. A wooden spoon, either concave or flat, is an important tool for making sure that your food comes out of the pan unburned. Use your wooden spoon to stir around the edges and corners of the pot, the danger zones that are often left untouched by your traditional, square spatula. Also, stirring the bottom of a metal cooking vessel with a metal spoon or spatula could potential create off-flavors and colors in your finished product, and if using non-stick cookware, a wooden spoon will not damage the valuable non-stick coating. This may seem like a trivial piece of equipment to some, but like many chefs, I lovingly care for my wooden spoons and use them almost daily. Check out this set of three wooden utensils by Calphalon for $10

8.) Tongs: In the professional kitchen, there may be one tool that spends more time in the hands of the cooks than their knives; tongs. Flipping a steak, searing a roast, blanching vegetables, even lifting a hot saute pan or to finish plating, tongs do it all. A good pair of tongs will definitely come in handy, even in the home kitchen, while prepping, cooking, and serving. I prefer locking tongs so that they can be locked in the closed position to maximize storage space. 10”-12” should be fine. Anything longer becomes difficult to use. These tongs, made by Oxo, sold for $11, will become your best friend.

So, these are some basic, multi-purpose tools that will get you started in your new kitchen! Obviously, this list could go on for pages, especially since shopping for kitchen tools is a hobby of mine! It is important to remember that even though there may be some cheaper pieces of equipment out there, spending just a little bit more on a solidly made, reliable tool will more than make up the difference in price with years of use and a superior outcome when it comes to the most important thing in life, food!

Depending on how much money you are looking to spend on your kitchen, some of the items above could easily be upgraded. If you love hunting for a bargain, I strongly recommend checking out a professional restaurant supply store in your area. These stores sell kitchen equipment to professionals for prices far below those of the boutique kitchen stores at your local mall and are often of superior quality to the equipment at your local Wall-Mart. The best deals at the restaurant supply stores can be found in the used kitchen equipment. You’ll find pots, pans, spoons, ladles, knives, and more. Happy Hunting!

(Ed. Note. These kitchen items are all easily available online and will make perfect house warming gifts when your Aunt Doris asks what she can buy!)

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Author My First Apartment

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Sam is originally from Boston, MA. He studied ecology and Spanish language during his undergraduate degree at Hampshire College (Amherst, MA). He then went on to train as a chef at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park, NY) and earn an introductory certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers in San Francisco in 2013. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain and works as a culinary tour operator, wine educator, and food/travel writer for several outlets including My First Apartment. You can check out his blog at Zucker and Spice Travel.

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar Jeffery Pardue

    You should have included Electric Kettles as they heat water quickly for instant coffee, tea, oatmeal, potatoes, etc… Also K-Cup machines do basically the same thing but the K-Cup pods are more pricey per-box. Also for people who like having strong coffee should use a Coffee percolator either stove top or electric plug in. I think electronic coffee percolators are easier than stove top.

  2. Avatar Tina

    Great article, but I wish you went into more detail about tongs. There are so many variations – metal, rubber-edged, I’ve even seen some weird ones that just have open circles instead of the frilled edge(?).

  3. Avatar Jer

    Solid list! Only thing I’d add is a good pair of culinary shears/scissors (Cuisinart are good), because they work nicely for cutting herbs and more. They’re my “lazy tool”, ha.