A new year of university is upon us and I am reminded of my university days. Actually… I’m reminded of drinking out of recycled pasta sauce jars and using a swiss army knife as every kitchen implement. University was a time to improvise with what I had and avoid spending money on expensive kitchen supplies.
So if you have to live somewhere far from home where you’ll be cooking for yourself, this guide to starting your own basic kitchen is for you. (These are just recommendations – figure out what works for you).
The first step to setting up your kitchen will be deciding whether you’ll be cooking for just one, or whether you’ll need to have dishes available for guests. If you’re having guests, make sure that you can accommodate their needs for a plate/bowl/cutlery.
The following is a list of some recommended kitchen implements. If you’re lucky, you can find many of these second-hand at a fraction of their retail price.
Pots and Pans
- A high-sided frying pan with lid. I’m all about making chili, fried eggs, and stir-fry, so this is the most important dish in my kitchen. These are great because you can use them for frying and for simmering larger dishes like a stir-fry.
- A regular-sized saucepan. This will come in handy for heating soup, mac and cheese, or perhaps more elaborate meals of your choosing.
- Pizza pan. This is for pizzas, cookies, melting cheese on bread, or whatever your studied-out brain desires.
- A medium-sized covered microwave/oven safe dish. This is great for heating up cans of beans, making small lasagnas, or reheating leftovers.
- Optional extras: a real frying pan, baking sheet, crockpot, or rice cooker.
- A cutting board. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
- A quality bread knife and pairing knife.
- Can opener.
- A spatula. You can do most things with a fork, but a spatula is darn handy.
- Dish soap and scrubbers.
- Dish cloth, absorbent towel, and oven mitts.
- Optional: measuring cups and spoons, other utensils (pizza cutter, serving spoon, ladle, you name it), other knives, cheese grater, or Tupperware containers.
Dishware and Cutlery
- Enough plates and bowls for you and potential guests.
- Cutlery for yourself and guests.
- Travel mug and water bottle.
*Try finding dishes at a yard sale, from family members, at goodwill, or on craigslist/kijiji – as long as they are in good condition, these can be cleaned up.
When it comes to filling up your cupboards, I recommend checking out Budget Bytes basics checklist. My basic seasonings and cupboard fillers would be something like:
- Salt & pepper
- My favourite spreads: peanut butter and honey
- Vegetable/olive oils
- My favourite spices: basil, cayenne pepper, and crushed chili peppers
- Potatoes (they’ll last longer if you put them in a brown paper bag in a cool, dark cupboard)
- Rice and dry pasta
- Pasta sauce
- Cans of beans and soup (for quick meals)
Obviously there are plenty of other foods that I eat, but these are my basics.
I hope that this guide was a helpful look at you absolute basic kitchen – if you think of any additional necessities, please add them in the comments.