Kitchen Essentials You Need To Start With

It’s an unmistakable fact that moving is expensive, especially the first time you get your own place. Beyond key pieces of furniture, setting up your kitchen is where you will probably spend the most money. When I first moved out, it felt like I was constantly finding I didn’t have the one utensil I needed when I was cooking for the first few months.

I love buying things for the kitchen so by the time I get my own place, I should be set. So I’ve created a list of what I believe are the essential basics you need to get your own kitchen started.


An easy place to start with is dinnerware and drinkware. You need cups to drink from, and plates and silverware to eat (even if it’s just pre-made food that needs heating up). I like to get things in sets of 4 or 6 – it gives you a couple of days worth of usage before having to wash, or enough settings if you have people over. If you’re tight on space, you could just forgo plates and stick to large bowls.

  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Silverware
  • Cups and/or mugs


Cookware can get pretty expensive, but it is an investment as you can have the same pots and pans for years if you take care of them. You can also take in your cooking habits to prioritize what you buy first. For example, if you don’t bake, you can skip things like cake or muffin pans. Pots and skillets are probably at the top of the list since they are one of the most used items when cooking.

  • Pots (small, medium, and large)
  • Skillets (small, medium, and large)
  • Baking pan/Casserole dish
  • Baking sheet
  • Muffin pan
  • Kettle

Utensils/Prep Tools

It’s very easy to accumulate a lot of kitchen utensils, especially when you can find some really great ones that are budget friendly. Depending on the item, you can have several different style options and knowing what to pick can be daunting. Depending on your cooking habits, you might find some utensils are more useful than others. Knowing your typically day-to-day cooking routine will help you prioritize what to get first.

  • Knives (at minimum, a paring knife and chef’s knife)
  • Kitchen shears
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Cutting board
  • Pizza cutter
  • Measuring cup and spoons
  • Spatula
  • (Slotted) Spoons
  • Colander
  • Can opener


Another category that is an investment, and one that requires a little research. There are some ridiculous priced appliances out there, but some of the cheaper options can be just as good. This category can really reflect lifestyle – I personally wouldn’t get a blender right away, but if you drink smoothies daily, it would be essential.

  • Refrigerator (if you kitchen doesn’t have one included)
  • Microwave (if your kitchen doesn’t have one included)
  • Toaster
  • Kettle (if you don’t like the traditional type)


This last category is a bit of housekeeping one. Depending on the size of your kitchen, the type of storage you use will be extremely helpful in organizing the space. This is a category that you can really play around with styling.

  • Dish clothes and towels
  • Oven mitt
  • Potholders
  • Utensil holder
  • Spoon rest
  • Drawer organize (for silverware)
  • Spice rack
  • Tupperware
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap

Only the start…

And there is my (current) list of kitchen essentials to get started with. Even while creating this list, I kept thinking of things after the fact. I will admit, the appliance category is very light, but I don’t really use appliances for prep work on a daily or even weekly basis. It’s a category that is not much of a priority for me. I did consider not putting refrigerator on the list, but I’ve toured apartments that did not come with one, which for me, is a deal breaker.

What would you consider a kitchen essential?