Millennial Guide: Kitchen Essentials You Can't Afford to Skimp On, and Ones You Should

Millennial Guide: Kitchen Essentials You Can't Afford to Skimp On, and Ones You Should

Magen Sanders

Magen SandersOct 09, 20186 min read

Growing up is hard, we know. Especially when you have to feed yourself. From the ramen days of the dorm to your first real-world apartment there wasn’t much in the way of learning how to cook for yourself let alone what you need in your kitchen to do so. Shopping online for products for your new kitchen is one of the best options. From comparing prices and reviews you can find what is worth your limited hard-earned cash and what isn’t. Checking out Gadgets and Basics from Tastemade can help get an idea of what you may want and this extensive list will make sure of it.


Between all the “as seen on tv” gadgets and fancy doo-dads they use on Food Network, how do you know what tools in the kitchen are worth the splurge and which ones can wait until you have mastered the oven? First off, you need the basics. While you may have heard the phrase “don’t have a pot to piss in” you can’t do without this first item.

pots and pans

Pots and Pans

Getting an initial set of pots and pans is a must, how else are you going to boil water for the boatloads of quinoa pasta you will live on? However, get only what you need. You can always add to your collection later. We suggest forgoing the big 16-piece set with lids and all the accouterment your parents my have in their pantry. Instead, opt for the following

  • small saucepan
  • stockpot (for the pasta)
  • small frying pan
  • large frying pan
  • saute pan (if you want to splurge and are feeling a bit fancy)

Some large sets contain extras like 3 different frying pans, 2 saucepans and a stock put and griddles. Be honest with yourself, do you even know what a griddle is and how to cook with it? Buying piece by piece helps you control where your money is going so you can invest in the necessities first and slowly increase your pot and pan collection over time as you find the need and find more money in your account. We suggest investing in quality pans that will last from the get-go. While some cheaper sets run only $60, they may not last the year. Instead, invest that $60 in the 4-5 items that will last you well into that second or third apartment.

If you are ready to rip the band-aid and make the investment now, find a set of GOOD pans like this GreenPan Valencia Pro 11-piece set. It might be a hard pill to swallow at first, but if you cook right and take care of these pans they will outlast that cheap-o set you got at the neighborhood store. It has everything you need plus the strength and durability to stay with you through a kitchen experiment or two. Not sure what you need? Take the quiz to find out!


Yes, you are living on your own now. No that doesn’t mean you can eat with your hands or the extra chopsticks from take-out. It is time to invest in a set of forks. Knives and spoons. You don’t need to go register or anything but find a simple set of good metal stuff. No plastic please, this is an adult apartment. Simple fork, knife, spoon sets will do, right now there is no need to differentiate between salad and dinner forks, soup and teaspoons. It’s all the same when you use them for the few things you learned how to cook.



Along with eating utensils, you will need the right tools. Knives can be expensive if you are looking for the good ones. However, before you invest in a $200 Wustoff chef’s knife, get some knives that can get the job done while you learn to chop. Instead, opt for a utility knife that can be used for all your cutting needs. This Kyocera ceramic utility knife can be used for everything you are capable of right now. Let’s walk before we run when it comes to cutting and chopping. Luckily these 4.5-inch blade does the trick and with a ceramic blade, it is sharp enough for a variety of uses.

Mixing bowls

These will be a life-saver! Not just for mixing but when you want to serve up food to your first house guest or just demolish that big bowl of pasta…..we mean salad. These take on a double-duty for mixing, tossing and serving!

cooking utensils


Next up we need some tools for the trade. A standard utensil set will do and has everything you need at the stove. Spoon, spatula, paddle, the works. We suggest adding a pair of tongs and a good spatula for flipping Sunday morning pancakes and you are golden. When it comes to things like whisks you can hold off. Scramble eggs with a fork, and just by already whipped, whipped cream. (You weren’t going to do it by hand anyway.)



While you might be using the stove a lot, let’s not forget about your new friend, the oven. Baking is going to be essential to life pretty soon, so you better get comfortable with it now and have the tools to use it. We suggest the following

  • baking dishes
  • muffin pan
  • cookie sheet
  • loaf pan

You can often find a good baking dish set like this 2-piece rectangular baking dish set for an affordable price. The 2 sizes give you options and utility and you can pick the color that goes with your newly Pinterest styled kitchen. Add a loaf pan for making mom’s meatloaf, banana breads and more and the bakeware pan essentials are a go.

We also suggest a solid cookie sheet. Used for more than just cookies this is a great option to roast veggies, making kale chips and yes, cookies. A muffin tin is also key when it comes to baking breakfast treats. Blueberry muffins, banana nut muffins, and easy on-the-go breakfast egg muffins.


While the bigger basics are covered we need to get down to the nitty-gritty. These are items a novice chef may not have considered when creating a list of things to get upon move-in. Luckily, we created the list for you.

  • cutting boards: we suggest a few sizes of dishwasher-safe boards like this Kitchen Series set in slate.
  • can opener
  • Bottle opener: Because #Adulting is hard
  • Potholders
  • cheese grater
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • colander: to drain the pasta of course


If you are feeling confident in your abilities and you are ready for the next step, we suggest these other small tools and even smaller kitchen appliances to show off your newly developed skills.

  • hand mixer
  • waffle iron
  • toaster
  • Blender
  • mini food processor: because you are not ready for the big boy yet
  • mini- crock pot
  • rice cooker

The best way to learn

Having the tools to cook is very different from learning exactly how. We suggest the ever-popular online videos and resources like Tastemade to find easy step by step recipes that any young adult can muster the courage to create. Learn basic skills and get inspired by international cuisine and impress your friends. Not looking to take on the responsibility just yet? Meal kits are growing in popularity as a way to get hands-on kitchen experience with pre-portioned, measured ingredients and simple instructions. Services like Plated and Blue Apron are a great place to start if you feel hesitant to pick up the pan.