By Erin Hartigan
When setting up your first kitchen, it’s tempting to rush out and stock up on everything you could possibly ever need. But before you start filling your cart like a a “Supermarket Sweep” contestant, take some time to think about your needs. Stocking your kitchen is
somewhat like building your wardrobe. It’s probably best to invest in the quality basics—your little black dress, business suit and jeans—before picking out the frivolous accent pieces.
Don’t Do Starter Kits
First, avoid the allure of starter kits. Sure, they’re tempting—you get a mountainous collection of kitchenware for what seems like a bargain price—but there’s a reason they’re called “starter sets” and not, say, “five-star-chef-in-a-box.” Unless you really know the ins and outs of what you’re getting, you could end up with an economy-grade hodgepodge of products. Instead, invest in some nice essential kitchen accessories off the bat; you end up saving more in the long-term and enjoying your quality products from day one.
Where to Shop
Before you drop any dinero, hit up your parents and grandparents to see what odds and ends they want to get rid of—you'd be surprised how many plates can accumulate over time. From there, move on to the stores. If you’ve done your research and don’t need to see things in person to commit to a buy, Amazon is a dependable source for new and used products. A handy alternative is Ikea , the reliable go-to spot for inexpensive accessories for most anything you can dream of using in a first pad. And Ikea’s low-cost cousin Costco offers bulk items and membership benefits that definitely help you score some solid deals. If you want really top-grade products, don’t forget to check out restaurant supply stores, which often combine high quality with great sales.
In terms of what to buy, take care of things like your dishes, glasses, and flatware first. And unless you take very large bites, a few quality knives are also important. Your go-to knife will be a chef’s knife (preferably one with a blade that’s forged rather than filled). If you can afford one, Santoku blade makes precise slices on even the most delicate foods. In addition, a small paring knife is good for intricate cutting and fine chopping, while a serrated knife is indispensable for loaves of bread. You won’t get far without a cheese grater , but save money when it comes to the messy, wasteful garlic press and chop those cloves by hand. Speaking of chopping, don’t forget your cutting boards —while not as attractive as wood, plastic ones are easier to clean.
For cookware, a skillet comes in handy for sautéing and frying. A sturdy saucepan is also versatile for soups and, obviously, sauces. But don’t forget about your typical cooking tools like a spatula, whisk, measuring cups and spoons, oven mitt, hot plate (or “triv...