How To Set Up Your First Kitchen For Under $300

You have plates, cups, and food. Now what?

Assuming you have the basics (oven, fridge, microwave, toaster) these are the items that will begin your journey to culinary glory:

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1. A chef’s knife

A chef’s knife is the most essential part of this list, and with good reason. It not only will do almost everything you need a knife to do, but also the more you use it the better your knife skills will get. They can be an investment (hellooo, Bob Kramer), but even a $50 knife is good enough to start you off. Just make sure the steel (or whatever else it is made from) runs through the handle.

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2. Knife sharpener

What’s the point of spending money on a good knife if you aren’t to keep it sharpened? You can get a decent sharpener for under $5, (or the one above for $16) so you have no excuse not to.

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3. Bread knife

You can find them for $7, so it’s not much of an investment to make sure that when you slice bread it doesn’t come out smushed.

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4. Paring knife

The paring knife is a must-have for doing the more delicate work that the chef’s knife makes more cumbersome, i.e. peeling fruit and carving pumpkins. You can get one for $6, so get to peeling!

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5. Can opener

A $10 can opener may seem steep, but consider the fact that the $3 one you bought will break in two months.

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6. Sheet trays

$17 for three non-stick trays is pretty good, considering you’ll probably ruin the first two trying to make cookies. But, hey, that’s the learning curve.

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7. Colander

When you’re young and money is tight, pasta is a great way to fill you up without breaking the bank. So you’ll be doing a lot of pasta-straining and a colander is essential to the process. Pick up a used one at a thrift store or buy a new one for $6.60.

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8. Stock pot

Speaking of pasta, you’ll need something to boil it in. Get one for $28.

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9. Sauté pan

This is like the chef’s knife of pans, in that a good one is better than five crappy ones. You can get a decent one for $20, which is a steal since it is stainless-steel (pun intended). Also, be on the lookout for cast-iron pans at thrift stores and garage sales; you can get major deals there.

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10. Saucepan

It can be $20 well spent for when you’re tired of pasta and want to warm a can of soup. Or try your hand at a Béarnaise sauce, same diff.

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11. Cutting boards

Give your kitchen counter and your plates a break and start chopping on a cutting board. Just remember to designate one for poultry, meat, and veggies, etc. And at $19 for three that is more than feasible.

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12. Instant read thermometer

$12 is never too much to pay to insure that your chicken isn’t underdone and possibly going to make your guests sick.

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13. Mandoline

Since your knife skills might not be the best just yet, a mandoline is a must for perfect slices of tomato for your BLT. Get one for $13 and begin slicing those veggies!

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14. Immersion blender

OK, I know this may seem non-essential, but you try making a velvety cream of tomato or butternut squash soup without one. Buying a cheaper one for $20 is not too much for perfection, since it can double as blender/food processor as well.

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15. Random other kitchen utensils.

Almost all of these, including measuring cups and spoons, can be found super cheap. Like, dollar store cheap. Pick up a few different things to play with, and see what you really need as a cook.

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16. Bon appétit!

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