I Have My Own Kitchen…Now What?

So, the time has come. You’ve moved out of a tiny dorm into a more spacious suite or apartment, and now you have your very own kitchen. While the thought of not having to constantly eat school lunches is a huge blessing, you may feel a little intimidated with a whole kitchen. For some, venturing into the kitchen may seem like a daunting task, but once you get comfortable, you’ll be hooked. Now that you have more space and equipment, Ramen Noodles and Easy Mac will no longer have to be your two main food groups…and trust me, you won’t miss them. Of course, besides buying food to stock your fridge with, you’ll need to fill your drawers and cabinets with equipment so you aren’t forced to pull a “Cutthroat Kitchen” (Turn on The Food Network on Sundays at 10 PM. Trust me.) and use aluminum foil to make what you need.  Although there are tons, and I mean tons of pieces of fancy kitchen equipment with names that may scare you, I’ve made a list of basic things that will help you get started in the kitchen – and it won’t cost a fortune either. All of these kitchen tools can be found at Walmart, Target, or even department stores!


1. Measuring Cups and Spoons

Without any contest, this is the most useful thing that you can buy for your kitchen. Every recipe you follow will have clear instructions for how much of an ingredient you need, and it’s super important to stick to those guides. Plus, measuring out ¼ cup of sugar is much easier than pouring  sugar into your palm and guessing when it’s enough.

2. Rubber Spatulas

Whether you’re making cookies or scrambling eggs, you’ll need something to mix the ingredients with that won’t burn and won’t scratch the pan, which is why rubber spatulas are so useful! They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but try and find one with a larger end so you can use it to flip pancakes or put mac n’ cheese into your bowl.


3. Cutting Board

Having at least one cutting board will not only make cooking easier, but much safer too. A cutting board is a sturdy piece of wood (or plastic) that you can use a knife on without worrying about scratching your counter or having your food slide around. Plus, it is much more sanitary - just remember to thoroughly wash it after use and to use different sides for raw meats and for fruits and veggies.


4. Kitchen Knives

Citrus, tomato, Santoku, paring…what do these words have in common? They are all a type of knife, and there are so many because each one is designed for a specific use, as the names imply. But let’s be honest, you aren’t going to use a cheese knife to slice fancy French cheeses on a daily basis, so all you really need is one or two knives to get the job done. A Chef’s knife (below, pink) and/or a Slicing knife (below, purple) are two reliable knives to get you started on your kitchen collection. Tip: Never put sharp kitchen knives in the dishwasher – this causes the blade to dull.  A dull blade doesn’t cut, and that means money down the drain. Wash them by hand using warm water and they will last you much longer.


5. Mixing Bowls

This may seem obvious, but you don’t want to be all set to make something and then realize you don’t have a big enough bowl for it. Many recipes call for using a ‘large’ or ‘medium’ sized bowl to combine ingredients in, so getting a set of mixing bowls will get you several of different sizes and a much cleaner kitchen.


6. Nonstick Pot & Pan

Unfortunately, there’s been more than one time that I’ve been making something in a pan and it looks great…until I try to remove it from the pan. You would think that the food was super glued because it would not budge, but the gods of the kitchen world have graced us with a wonderful (and oh so helpful) solution: nonstick pans. These pans have a special coating that make them smooth and prevent things from sticking to them. Investing in one nonstick frying pan (as above) and one nonstick pot will let you do much more in the kitchen without worrying about ruining your meal.


7. Blender

I have too many good things to say about this appliance! A blender is the perfect multitasker in the kitchen – it’s quick, efficient, and it’s very easy to clean. Plus, you can make almost anything in your blender. A quick smoothie for breakfast, creamy soups, sauces, or even guacamole will now only take you a few minutes to make, and that’s just the beginning of the very long list of ‘blender friendly’ recipes.


8. Fire Extinguisher

No explanation necessary…experimenting and learning in the kitchen is fun, but it’s even more fun when you know that you can handle a situation in a safe way. After almost burning down the kitchen while making French fries in the oven (Yes, I know you’re judging me silently), my parents made me practice drills using the fire extinguisher, something that I should have done long ago. Read the instructions, keep it in an accessible place, and enjoy yourself in the kitchen!


Now that you have what you need, let’s get cooking!


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