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Help outfit a completely bare kitchen!

Hello, Chowhound!

I have been lurking on this site for about a year but figured it was time I started posting.

My significant other and I have finally procured the apartment of our dreams in lovely Park Slope. However, both of us are fairly young, and although we have lived sans parents in various situations over the past few years, we have no kitchen tools or gadgets that we can bring along to our new place to help outfit our kitchen. Essentially, we are starting from scratch - we have a few sets of water glasses, but that is about it.

I thought I would be able to compile a basic list of what we would need, but looking through what is in my parents' kitchen has caused me to become a bit overwhelmed. Money is a bit tight right now, and we plan on adding things over time, including replacing cheaper things when we have the money.

I love to cook and bake, by the way, and have done a lot of both growing up, but have always had many tools at my disposal. I would like to continue doing so, and although I realize I might have to become a bit creative, (and I would love to hear about multi-purpose tools, or tools that double/triple as something else even if it's unorthodox!) I would like to have a cheaply, but somewhat well outfitted kitchen.

So, hounds, I would like to hear what you consider necessary tools to outfit a kitchen! Pots/pans (what type, and how many?) dishware/glasses (what type, how many?) kitchen gadgets, etc., and tips on where to get them cheaply, even if they only last for the next year or so (we are hoping to be able to replace with better quality by then). Also, if so inclined, a ranking from most important to least? Thanks for the help!

*Mods, I put this in Cookware, but I'm not sure if it's better suited for General Topics. Please adjust accordingly! Thanks!

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  1. Check out thrift stores in your area, many nice things available for excellent prices.....

    1. Without knowing what and how you like to cook it can be difficult to make appropriate recommendations. If you bake a lot, certain types of pans are required--such as muffin tin if you make muffins. As to regular cooking, if you do a lot of Asian then a wok and rice cooker might be basics. So starting by looking at what you cook can help to determine what you will use. And I second the thrift store suggestion. I've been wanting a new mini Cuisinart Food Processor for months and have haunted the thrift stores. Two weeks ago a brand new one, still in the box with everything appeared--$7.95--at least $30 in the store/online.

      1 Reply
      1. re: escondido123

        Good tip re: what I like to cook/bake! I rarely make muffins, so no muffins pans necessary, but I do make scones, biscuits, and cookies a lot, so looks like some baking/cookie sheets are in order. Also, loaf pans...I love quick bread.

        Thanks to everyone for input so far!

      2. I mainly use a toaster oven, a slow-cooker crockpot, two of my burners, and of course the microwave. For glasses and utensils I recommend a restaurant supply store.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Sharuf

          How does a restaurant supply store compare to Ikea? Have had a quick look through at Ikea, lots of cheap utensils and glasses and such, but don't know about quality. I am pretty sure there are a few restaurant supply stores relatively nearby...

          1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

            When I was commuting to Houston a lot I outfitted my entire unfurnished apartment for $3,000 $2,000 of which was spent at Ikea. I've never had a problem with anything I bought there. Frankly, if you want cheap and acceptably good, it is hard to go wrong with a combination of Ikea and Walmart. Walmart used to have a set of 4 Santoku knives blessed by Wolfgang Puck for $25 - just fine for a small apartment. Buying most of your stuff there, you can probably get by with a crockpot, a microwave and maybe (since you bake) a breadmaker or a little oven (convection oven?). Get stuff you don't hate cheaply and then upgrade at your leisure.

            1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

              Ikea is pretty decent -- and probably better than you can get elsewhere for the same money.

          2. Here's a link to my reply to a similar question, just about the pots and pans: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8460... The whole thread is worthwhile.

            Some excellent equipment can be obtained cheaply via thrifts, flea markets, online auction/flea sites, and friends and family members who are downsizing or upgrading. You certainly should not get a set of everything of one material. For baking sheets and many utensils, as well as basic durable dishes, restaurant supply stores are good.

            Here's my list of essential utensils:

            Chef's knife, cutting board, small utility or paring knife, peeler, grater (a box grater covers all needs, or get a microplane of the size(s) suited to your most frequent uses: large for soft cheeses, tomato, etc.; medium for hard cheeses, chocolate, ginger; fine for nutmeg).

            Mixing bowls (some glass or ceramic, a few stainless), 4-cup pyrex measuring cup, strainer (medium), colander, nesting prep bowls.

            Metal spring-loaded tongs, blunt spoon, slotted spoon, whisk, silicon spoonula, measuring spoons, stainless measuring cups, manual can opener, timer (unless one is built in to an existing appliance), oven thermometer.

            Small appliances: immersion blender, toaster. Coffee device (press or drip don't require an outlet).

            Dishes: Dinner plates (not too huge, for ease of storage and washing, i.e. 10.5" or smaller), soup/cereal bowls, salad/sandwich plates (7-8.5"). Fork, soup spoon, teaspoon, knife for each person. Coffee/tea cups/mugs. Glassware is totally dependent on what you drink and how many people you serve/entertain. Second tier: shallow wide rimmed bowls for pasta, stews, etc., a serving platter, and a serving bowl or two [mixing bowls can serve], serving utensils [cooking spoons can serve].

            Hope the list is helpful in assembling what you need to use and enjoy your new kitchen. Remember, you don't need everything at once.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ellabee

              I love this list!

              Any recommendations for brands regarding the immersion blender? It might be one of things I get a few months in, but would love to have one.

            2. <I love to cook and bake>

              Well, your cookware should be based on your cooking style, and no one knows this better than you. For example, if you like to do a lot of slow cooker, then a Dutch Oven or a large pot is essential for you, and you may need two. If you like to cook Chinese, then a wok is more important than a frying pan.

              For pot and pan, you will need at the very least one pot and one pan -- for large volume liquid based slow cooking and for fast quick oil assisted cooking. Of course, you will like want more than just one pot and one pan, but I am just trying to point out the very necessary.

              If you like a cheap set and yet high quality triply cookware, then nothing beat Tramontina from Walmart. You said you have lurked in this site for over a year, then you must have seen many praises for this line of cookware.


              This is only a good buy if and only if you like to cook with stainless steel surface cookware, so you have to ask yourself if you like this.

              A good kitchen knife is a must must must, but that deserve a separate post.

              A good cutting board of course.

              In term of gadgets, I think a coffee grinder is nice if you like to grind your own spices which I do. You will of course need a few food containers for storing sugar, flour, ...etc for baking.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I don't have any experience with stainless steel, what makes it so love/hate? I have read a few threads comparing stainless steel and nonstick, but they always seem to devolve into why nonstick is so terrible, and then arguments about how harmful the coating is. As much as I love cooking, I haven't devoted as much time as I probably should have to learning the pros and cons between different types of cookware as I've cooked throughout the years.

                Although I didn't venture much into the cookware section of Chow while I was lurking, I have read good things about stainless steel, but not so many things about why some dislike it. I have read about problems regarding sticking, but I would really prefer not to buy nonstick, which many offer as a solution to the sticking problem. However, I am afraid to spend money on stainless if it turns out I hate it! What do you love about your stainless?

                1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                  I have a mix of many cookware from stainless to carbon steel, from cast iron to clay...etc. What I like about stainless steel cladded cookware are that they are very nonreactive. You can use it at high temperature or low temperature, to fry or to simmer, stovetop or oven, hand washing or machine dishwashing...etc. It biggest drawback is that foods readily stick to the surface. There are techniques to minimize this, but there is certainly a learning curve -- whereas there is absolutely zero learning curve for Teflon nonstick cookware in comparison.

                  <I have read good things about stainless steel, but not so many things about why some dislike it>

                  I am sure you have heard of the phrase that "vote by their feet", "or "dollar voting". That is to say at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. At the end of the day, with all the passionate arguments silent and all the dust settled, significantly more consumers chose nonstick cookware over stainless steel cladded cookware. If stainless steel cladded cookware are so universally loved, then you would think there is little need for nonstick cookware. Basically, everyone who bought nonstick cookware sets are in fact saying that stainless steel cladded cookware are not for them.

                  Personally, I think stainless steel cladded cookware are good for many things especially for pots and saucepans. I prefer cast iron and carbon steel for fast cooking cookware like the frying pans or woks. However, my preference is not yours. You should choose cookware best for you, and not to be persuaded to buy something I like. I don't think you can really go wrong with stainless steel cladded pots or saucepans. Since the sticking problem of stainless steel mostly manifest in frying pans and saute pans...etc. Do you think you can go to your friend's house and try to saute or fry something in their stainless steel fry pans? Better yet if they can lend you theirs for a day or two.

                  P.S.: Get a good kitchen knife and a good cutting board if you have not. Many people buy $1000 worth of cookware, but use some crappy $10 kitchen knives.

              2. ANother in favor or checking out thrift stores or yard sales. I'd look for a rectangular/square Pyrex/Corning baking dish... lasagna, brownies, lots of things. Even if a little crusty from prior use... spray oven cleaner will fix that. Would also look for a "good" old cast iron skillet... Lodge or Griswold... NO made in China. Maybe buy 1-2 nice non-stick pans. I have to recommend Calphalon... becasue they have a GREAT return/replace policy. Bought 2 pices set at BB&B (I think) SEVERAL years ago... less than $50 for the 2. They were starting to be a little non-non-stick. Just sent them back... NO receipts... and got brand new replacements in a week or 2. A decent sized stock pot... for pasta, soup, chili, etc.

                For the little stuff... veggie peeler, spatulas, wooden spoons... I'd head right to the Dollar Store.

                Have made a few GREAT small appliance finds... Cuisinart food processor, KA stand and hand mixer, etc. Even if you don't find a higher end cast off... if it's clean and works, will fit the bill till you can upgrade.

                For things to actually buy... get a few good knives! A good size chef's knife, nice paring knife and something in middle (size-wise). Places like Home Goods are good for making nice finds.

                1 Reply
                1. re: kseiverd

                  Me, too -- I've seen some pretty nice stuff at Goodwill and Salvation Army -- ask the store staff if they know what days they put out new goods. (I've also given some pretty nice stuff to Goodwill and Salvation Army!)

                  ...and I have an entire block full of Wusthof knives that I picked up for a song at Marshall's, TJ Maxx, Ross, and Home Goods.

                2. Tramontina Try-Play from Walmart.com is a good place to start for reasonable quality pots and pans. Stainless steel can be a love or hate thing if you don't know how to cook in stainless steel. I started with a Sitram Professerie set from Ebay at a similar price point and it has served me well. Today, I would probably replace the Sitram with Tramontina FWIW.

                  Get a medium to large "plastic" cutting board from your local Wal-Mart. You need these to protect your knives and counter tops. While you are there, get a "3 piece" knife starter set with a parer, chef's knife, and bread knife.

                  Then you get into electrics. I love my KitchenAide mixer. You appear to be a baker so, watch for sales and discount coupons and save up for a the "right" mixer the first time instead of a bunch of inferior ones over time. This is worth waiting for.

                  Things a lot of people buy and ones I don't really use much:
                  Electric can opener - I've got one on the counter (clutter) and use my Swing-A-Way manual can opener all the time. Blenders are another waste of space and money for most people. Unless you consume a lot of smoothies or through parties with blender drinks, pass on this one too.

                  Sliverware - Wal-Mart again. They sell "loose" forks, knives, spoons that are really pretty good for what they are. Skip the thin cheap 4 packs for $1 and look for the 3 piece sets that are $1.50. These are much heavier and are actually very good for everyday use.

                  Hit the TJ-Max, Tuesday Morning's, etc. for Jelly Roll pans, cookie sheets, etc. Chicago Metallic available on-line makes some very good bakeware for minimal money if you buy from somewhere on-line with free or cheap shipping.

                  Finally, Oxo kitchen tools. Buy one of the "large" packs on sale for ~$40 that has measuring cups, big spoons, etc. in it for a well rounded set of gadgets. Add a few Oxo "silicone" spatula's (I love the pancake and regular models) for flipping eggs, french toast, pancakes, etc. and you will be well prepared for most normal cooking needs.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Sid Post

                    I forgot about Oxo tools - all solidly made. On the cutting board front, I'd skip plastic and buy a little bamboo board. Aesthetically more pleasing and better for other reasons. (mildly bactericidal and pretty knife friendly). People have mentioned checking out consignment stores. Another place to check is auctions - I got an entire set of cut crystal glasses (about 50 pieces) at auction for $17 (yes $17 for antique perfect srystal glasses).

                    1. re: kagemusha49

                      kagemusha, what do you mean by auctions? Do you mean online auctions, like ebay, or do you mean the type of auctions like estate sales?

                      Also, I'm not sure where to find estate sales, etc., if you do mean those, so tips on learning where those types of auctions are would be appreciated. Thanks! Those cut crystal glasses sound like they were some find!

                      1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                        I mean estate sales - usually there are small auction houses that have regular auctions and estate sales. I'd google auctions or estate sales for Brooklyn and neighboring towns and boroughs. The same day we got the glasses I also bid on a cardboard box because I glimpsed something like fur - for $7 we got a mink a sable and a leather jacket! It did not hurt that the auction occurred during a snowstorm! (hint - go to auctions during playoff games and bad weather).

                        BTW have you been to Osteria Convivium in Brooklyn? Not cheap but very good!

                  2. I vote for IKEA as the best place to get almost everything you will need. They also carry large butcher block desk/table tops which can be cut to make great cutting boards.

                    1. Baking stone, toaster oven, a kitchenaid mixer, sheet pan with a cooling rack, digital scale, ove gloves, crockpot. If you can, go to a restaurant supply store or GFS if you have them. Also, check amazon. They have really cheap kitchen stuff. I got a big like 13 pc Cuisinart set for $130. Don't forget small things like a colander, potato peeler, can opener, thermometer, spatulas, tongs, whisks.

                      Buy the best you can afford for the things you'll use the most. Skimp on the other stuff.

                      1. A few years ago, Mark Bittman wrote an article on outfitting a kitchen for under $300 by buying everything from restaurant supply stores. I might quibble with a few of his choices, and Ikea might still be a cheaper (and better) option for some items, but it's worth a read.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: Amp1

                          Just read through it! Amazing link, thank you! It'll be a wonderful guide. I will compare prices between Ikea and restaurant supply stores, but I am getting more and more confident that I can do this within my budget over the next few months.

                          1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                            How old are you Sara? Not trying to be intrusive but here's the thing. Your income will almost surely go up. Buy cheap stuff you don't absolutely hate and which won't make you sad to discard (or give away or sell) when you can afford to buy the good stuff. The truth is that a lot of the cheap stuff out there is almost as good as the expensive stuff - the manufacturers survive by exploiting that fact and selling premium stuff to folks with excess cash. That's why IKEA has made Ingvar Kamprad one of the richest people in the world as his store sells pretty darn good stuff (some of which lasts forever) to folks who aren't distracted by images - they have a pretty good cafeteria too!

                            1. re: kagemusha49

                              Early 20s, so hopefully my income will go up over the years! Thanks for the tip...all of the expensive things are packaged so nicely, but I'm sure you're right.

                              Also, just had Ikea food for the first time ever about a month ago...was pleasantly surprised at food quality, and the PRICE, oh, it was unbelievable!

                              1. re: SarachkaInBrooklyn

                                <Early 20s>


                                <was pleasantly surprised at food quality, and the PRICE, oh, it was unbelievable!>

                                Ikea sells foods? Man, I have not been to one forever.

                                Yes, there are many high quality inexpensive cookware, and conversely low quality expensive cookware. I would definitely go with the "First, do no harm" rule. In other words, if you are going to spend a lot of money, then make sure it is worthy.

                                Inexpensive cookware also give you a chance to try out different things which you won't able to otherwise. For example, you may not able to afford an expensive enameled Dutch Oven (think Le Creuset) and a expensive stainless steel saute pan (think All-Clad), but you can the cheaper versions of the two. By going the less expensive route, then you get to try the two different style of cookware, and find out what you like and don't like from them.

                        2. Other than the usual (Kitchenaid mixer, a good blender, a cast iron skillet, a quality chefs knife), make sure to buy a pair of Silpat sheets. Plop them on top of a cookie sheet, and you can bake cookies, scones, etc. that slide right off. Also, a Thermapen thermometer.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: sbp

                            all great things to have, but nothing (other than the chef's knife) would be in a starter kit.

                            The rest are things to lust over *IF* you really enjoy being in the kitchen. Not everyone does.

                          2. You NEED a fire extinguisher and first-aid kit.

                            Knife nicks, hot plates, spilt oil...trust me.

                            It never hurts to have a "wish list" of fancy items. To wit: I wanted a copper pan. I finally found one with a retail price of $300 at TJ Maxx--marked down to $10.

                            My local Tuesday Morning has Viking immersion blenders with all the attachments (chopper, whisk, beaters, etc.) for dirt cheap. Also picked up my Le Crueset there for $40, having bought it on a day when they were offering 50% off things on the clearance rack.

                            I wish I could tell you what you really need in your kitchen, but for me, I've found it by trial and error. So there was some wasted money. You just have to get in there and start cooking, and over time, you'll figure out what you want.

                            Except for the fire extinguisher and first aid kit. You really need them.

                            1. Hi everyone! I don't know if anyone who posted previously will see this, but I just wanted to report back since I first posted. I have unfortunately been extremely busy with work and other things, so the apartment stuff has been put on hold a bit, but that said, I have been able to scrounge together the following things simply by asking around (so no money spent yet)!

                              box grater
                              set of stainless steel mixing bowls
                              set of pyrex mixing bowls (that will probably double as serving bowls for now)
                              heavy-bottomed cast iron skillet
                              tea kettle
                              paring knife
                              knife sharpener

                              and a few other things I can't think of right now! I just wanted to thank everyone for their replies, and once I start looking at thrift stores and sales and such, I will report back some more.

                              1 Reply