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Apr 20, 2008 06:19 PM

Essential Kitchen for a College Grad?

I'll be graduating from college soon and am trying to figure out everything I'll need to setup my life in the real world so people can get me useful gifts instead of watches. I would love to pick up cooking and thus am trying to plan for my first kitchen.

I came across an article on - - that details everything a college grad should have in their first kitchen. How accurate do you think this article is? Is there anything I won't need or anything else you'd suggest?


Top Chef, here I come...

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  1. Someone is bound to refer you to this article in the NY Times:

    It's reasonably complete, for a basic kitchen, though it's missing some things I'd consider essential. It contains no measuring cups, for instance, nor does it contain a pie pan. I'd also want a digital scale. I'd also pass on the wooden spoons, and get silicone ones. (and silicone spatulas, too, and silicone tipped tongs (they don't scratch, and grip better). If you're hoping to get some of this as gifts, you might spec nicer looking brands, but what's there will work fine.

    1. The gradspot articule makes too big a leap.. talking about a chef's knife then jumping to a stand mixer? If you get married and want to fill the registry, or its your hearts content to bake, a stand mixer might make sense, but earlier on, it expensive, heavy (which means a pain if you are moving a lot, as younger types tend to do).

      The NY times article cited below was good and made some very valid points - using a restaurant supply house, for example.

      My advice depends on how generous your friends might be, and how sure you are that you might like cooking to the point where you are getting elabroate. And if you want to set up a basic kitchen, gift cards give you the freedom to choose over time what to buy.

      The two choices - the big ones - you'll have to wrestle with is to start with an okay chef's knife, or go for the good one early ($30-40 versus $90+). I am not a big santoku fan - they can cut delicate things, because a true santoku is a thinner blade, which I worry about damaging on hard things. Second, what sort of pots do you start with - you can go all out and end up with something like All-Clad, which is pricey, but are foundation pieces, or pick up a decent KitchenAid or Rachel Ray set that would do you fine for a long while.

      Things like a food processor are very nice, but they are more pricey, so maybe they are the next level of things that you buy. I terms of electrics, a food processor, maybe blender, a hand mixer, those are the biggies.. after that, an immersion blender, perhaps..

      I had put this list together a while back - it covers most things, but I wouldn't buy it all at once.. Make a good grilled cheese sandwich before you start doing bechamel sauces, so to speak..

      A Good chef's knife and paring knife.. and a steel to hone them
      A 12" cast iron skillet
      A non-stick skillet (for eggs and stuff..
      A stainless set - stockpot, some saucepans, skillets..
      A dutch oven or something you can braise in
      A hand mixer
      An immersion blender
      A good instant read thermometer
      A whisk or two
      A roasting pan
      A set of Pyrex mixing bowls
      Pyrex bakeware - 13x9, loaf pans, etc.
      Pyrex pie plate
      A set of good mearsuring spoons and cups
      Pyrex liquid measuing cups - I like 2 cup and 4 cup sizes
      A Microplane grater
      A box grater
      A Standing Mixer (Big, and more useful for baking)
      A Food Processor (bigger one)
      A fine-mesh strainer
      A colander
      A rubber spatula or spoonula
      Serrated Peeler
      2 9" non-nesting non-stick cake pans
      A springform pan
      A kitchen scale - digital, should handle oz's and grams
      2 good half-sheet pans and cooling racks can fit inside them
      A funnel
      A mandoline or v-slicer (for really thin stuff)

      1. You might also want to pick up a good foundation cookbook or two.. I am sure there are threads on this. I like the Best Recipe, but I am sure there are a lot of basic cover-lots-of-topics cookbooks out there. And you can ask for basic dried herbs and spices (btw, add a Pepper mill to my list above) - just buy small amounts of the basic ones (black peppers, basil, cayenne, etc) and keep them somewhere cool, or something unique like a nice olive oil or vinegar, as a gift..

        1. I think your article is pretty good.

          Some comments.

          I find a toaster oven more useful than a regular toaster.

          Also, an electric kettle instead of a stove-top kettle is worth thinking about.

          Since you'll probably be moving around a bit, I would forego the heavy Pyrex and cast iron pieces for now.

          I'm partial to heavy aluminum for baking sheets, etc. Cleans up easily and lightweight.

          If you don't have anything, a "starter set" of utensils isn't such a bad idea. For pots and pans I'd probably buy individual pieces, ( A large and small skillet, and a 1-2 and 6 quart saucepan).

          1. 9 years ago i left home to study abroad here in the States. from then a boy who knew nothing about cooking and now capable of producing food that people would pay decent money for, i understand the anticipation to be able to crank out quality food.
            to start to cook at home, what u need is really minimal:
            this is my 2 cents:
            -1 chef knife, 8 or 10 inch
            -1 paring knife
            -1 steel.
            -1 utility knife / santoku, 6 - 8 inch (optional)
            -1 serrated bread knife (optional)
            - don't bother spending a lot on these. u can get good ones after you have learned how to use/care for knives. just go to your local kitchen supply place for dexter russels or check out your local marshalls.

            -1 set of plates, bowls, silverware, etc
            -1 8-10 quart stock pot
            - a few sauce pans and fry pans
            - linen n things used to have great deals for small sets. check out dealsites like

            spatula, tong, and wooden spoons.
            a steel bowl or two, 1-2 sheet pans
            a peeler
            - get it at your local kitchen supply store.

            a decent amount of tupperware. u can use it for prep or for food storage.

            u can pick up more stuff along the way when the need arises. do try to resist the urge of picking up unnecessary items though, or u will end up with the money gone in exchange for a roomful of junk in no time.

            best of luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: trymonlam

              Check out both TJ Maxx and Marshalls. I find great stuff there at inexpensive prices all the time.