Just starting out on your own? There's a lot to think about. Wouldn't it be nice to have a list of kitchen essentials for your new placeso you have one less thing to worry about?

One idea to consider, for parents, is to collect these things with your children as they are getting near the age of departure. Buying a little here and a little there can save an all-at-once expense later.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

Measuring spoons and cups

These are relatively inexpensive, but I would suggest getting the kind with the raised increments on them rather than printed on. The print fades over time and you wind up guessing.

Wooden spoons

Properly cared for, these spoons will last for decades and are the best choice for many reasons. Also, they look lovely stuffed in a decorative vase or other container.


These are great to have around when you need to shred a small quantity of anything: cheese, carrots or cabbage.

Rolling pin

You can go fancy marble, but I love a good old-fashioned wooden rolling pin. For rolling cookie dough, pie crust, biscuits, or beating intruders.


Plastic or metal, these are used for pastas, canned fruits and veggies or anything that needs to be drained.

Mixing bowls

Small, medium and large. Can be plastic, glass, metal or, my preference, ceramic. Small for beating a couple of eggs, medium for mixing small batches, large for making bread, cookies or other larger recipes.


For beating eggs, gravies, sauces. Can be metal, plastic or silicon.


One plastic for pots and pans with protective coating, one metal for others.


One small for heating a can of veggies or soup, one larger for boiling potatoes or making stew.

Stock pot

For cooking larger amounts of pasta or making homemade soup or sauce.


A small one for frying eggs, onions and peppers or making crepes. A larger one for adding things to the onions and peppers or frying chicken. Also for making pancakes.


Don't have to tell you what this one is for, but if you will be using it for bagels, look for a thicker slot.


You can just start out with a little handheld for now and work your way up to a stand version if you plan on doing a lot of baking.


For chopping onions and nuts. You can start with one of those where you hit the top with your hand to manually chop. There are small electric models if you find you are doing a lot more.

Cookie sheet

You can opt for an inexpensive aluminum one, but they don't last quite as long as others. Think about getting one with protective coating and work your way up to stone which are amazing but a little more expensive.

Bread pan

You may not even be thinking about baking your own bread, but there are a lot of easy and fun quick breads (banana, cranberry, nut) you might want to try. Also, bread pans are great for making meatloaf.

Baking pans and casserole dishes

These will be for baking biscuits, casseroles, sweet rolls, and a slew of other things. One 9x9 inch and one 9x13 inch will serve you well.

Pie pan

Pie pans come in 8 and 9 inch rounds. Pies are delicious. That is all.

Muffin tin

For making muffins, cupcakes, or mini-meatloaves. You can start out with a six slot or go big with a 12 slot if you plan on baking more.


This is the one area you don't want to cheat yourself. Knives are the one thing that all good chefs carry with them everywhere. Buy good quality knives now or buy cheap ones over and over and over again.

Knife sharpener

Just a little round rolling version will do. It is important to keep your knives sharp. They are actually safer to use the sharper they are.

Pot holders and oven mitts

These come in a variety of materials. You can even weave your own on a little loom, buy the quilted variety or go silicone.


These have a multitude of uses from chopping to pureeing. If you plan on making lots of milkshakes and smoothies, consider buying one that has a spout.

Rice cooker

If you cook rice at all, this is worth the small expense, just on the frustration it will save you. You never have to guess and it cooks the rice perfectly every time. It can also be used for quinoa, brown rice and other grains. I've even made those little boxes of beans and rice in mine.

Rubber spatula

Indispensable little tool in the kitchen for scraping the sides of bowls and getting the last drop of anything out of a bowl or pan.

Kitchen timer

Many stoves and microwaves come with these, but if yours don't, invest in one of these. You'll thank me later.

Crock pot

Also known as a slow cooker, these are a must have if you work or go to school. Put a few simple ingredients in before you leave and come home to a hot meal. You can buy a small one to begin with.


For baking chicken, turkey or ham. These come in a variety of sizes, but a small one should suit you.

Cutting board

You can buy the little silicone ones and use one for veggies and one for meats, or make the lifelong investment in a good solid wood cutting board. Just remember that one side is for meat and the other for produce so you don't cross-contaminate. They also come in glass and Plexiglas.


These are relatively inexpensive and come in a variety of styles. You can buy a punched aluminum that you place above a saucepan of water, bamboo steamers that do the same or an electric steamer that is self-contained and runs on a timer. Steaming is the best way to prepare veggies as they retain their color and nutrients.


Some doo-dads that you can consider if budget allows and depending on your style of cooking: garlic press, pastry cutter, melon baller, ice cream scoop, egg separator, zester, cookie cutters, potato peeler, apple corer and mini-food processor.

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