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How To Set Up Your First Kitchen For Under $300

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

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

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.

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.

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!



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.

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.

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.

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.

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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