The Daily Twenties Guide to Kitchen Basics

Okay, so you need to get your kitchen together ASAP. Maybe you just signed a lease on your first ever apartment. Or maybe it just hit you that your roommate’s parents have been generously furnishing your kitchen this whole time…. and your roommate is moving out. Cool. We got you. This is The Daily Twenties’ list of the 25 most basic items you’ll need to cook for yourself and maybe a roommate or two… if you’re nice like that. Disclaimer— this list only covers the basics. If you’re the Mario Batali of undiscovered culinary talent, you might want to check out this next level kitchen essentials list. Otherwise, read on.


Ben Henderson


1. A catch-all cookware set

A skillet, sauce pan, and large pot are all you should need to get started. It’s usually a better deal when you buy all those items as part of a set, though. Look for an 8-12 piece set somewhere like Amazon, Macy’s, or Costco— those three have the best sales on cookware.

2. Flatware

This one is a no-brainer. You need utensils to consume food (well, at least to consume food in a socially acceptable manner). Consider buying set with 20 pieces or so. You might be just one person, but you eat at least three times per day…. and, how often do you plan to wash your dishes? Thought so.

3. Dinnerware set

Buy more than you think you’ll need— between two and four bowls, plates, cups, mugs, etc. should set you up nicely. Also, it looks organized and impressive when your dishes match.

4. Oven mitts

Sh&%! will get hot when you cook it. That’s a fact. You’re going to need something to protect your hands when you grab baking dishes out of the oven and hot pans off the stove.

5. Tongs

Pretty much the most useful cooking utensil ever invented. Use these to rotate meat or veg on the grill or stovetop, toss salads, and sauté almost anything.

6. Spatula

You’ll use this with anything you throw in a pan to cook— meat, eggs, veg, you name it. Make sure to get a wooden or silicone spatula if you have nonstick pans (otherwise you’ll scratch the surface of your cookware).

7. Stirring spoon

Same idea as the spatula, but you’ll need this one specifically for sauces and soups.


Janice Cullivan


8. Chef’s knife

One chef’s knife will set you up to chop, slice, and dice pretty much everything— fruit, veg, meat, fish, herbs— the list goes on and on.

9. Paring knife

Because slicing your finger open is a totally amateur move in the kitchen… you’ll want to use something smaller and easier to handle than a chef’s knife to cut things like cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and the like.

10. Mixing bowl

The title is pretty self explanatory. Use this for making dough, combining pasta with sauce, tossing salads, and anything else you need to mix.

11. Colander

If your pasta consumption habits are anything like mine, you’ll need this just for its pasta-draining capabilities. It’s also great for washing vegetables and rinsing legumes, like chickpeas and black beans.

12. Can opener

Have you ever been can opener-less when you needed to open a can? Yeah, it suddenly feels like you’re in the stone age— which is a ridiculous and easily avoidable scenario.

13. Bottle opener/corkscrew

Maybe you have a bottle opener on your keychain. It’s okay. I’m not judging. You’ll still want one of these to open wine bottles and give to your guests if they need to open their beer (unless you’d like to pass around your keys).


Rubbermaid Products


14. Glassware set

Glassware is the most responsible, sophisticated way to store your leftovers. It’s microwave and dishwasher safe, doesn’t absorb any flavor or odor from your food, and makes you look like you generally have your life together. It’s more expensive than plastic up front, but it will last you way longer.

15. Cutting board

Bamboo is the choice move here. It lasts longer than other materials, doesn’t contain chemicals (like plastic often does), and won’t dull your knives.

16. Measuring cup

Even if you’re not a baker, you can’t really replicate any recipe without a measuring cup. Not even oatmeal. Get a glass one with a lip for pouring. That way, it’ll be useful for both liquid and dry ingredients.

17. Measuring spoons

If you like to go rogue in the kitchen and have never looked at a cookbook in your life, then this might not be a necessary item for you. Otherwise, these should come in handy when you need to precisely follow a recipe.

18. 8×8 baking dish

Contrary to the name, it’s not just for baked goods. You can use this for anything you want to bake in the oven— lasagne, enchiladas, roasted vegetables, chicken, fish, etc.





19. Baking sheet

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, this is different from the baking dish. You’ll need it to make cookies and anything you want to get crispy or flakey, like roast carrots or broiled fish.

20. Whisk

Trust me on this, whisks are superior to spoons for mixing eggs, brownie batter, salad dressings, and more.

21. Cheese grater

Any purchase in the name of cheese is a good investment. You can buy grated cheese from the store, but it will severely limit your selection and it usually costs more.

22. Ice cube tray

Unless you have a fancy freezer with a built-in ice machine…

23. Kitchen towels

Paper towels are great, but they’re not exactly friendly to the environment or good for your wallet. And let’s be honest— at some point in your at-home culinary career, you will spill something.

24. Natural cleaner

Don’t use Windex or Clorox to clean your counter. At some point, you or someone you love will make, drop, or place a sandwich on that counter— and you shouldn’t have to worry about traces of harsh chemicals in that scenario.




25. Dish soap

Get one for hand washing your dishes and another for running your dishwasher, if you have one. Do not make the mistake of using dish soap in your dishwasher… turning your kitchen into a bubble bath might be hilarious in concept, but is actually a pain in the a$$ to clean up (unfortunately, I would know).


10 Essentials to Take Your Kitchen from College to Adult

As my college graduation approached, I felt a glow of self-satisfaction from all of my accomplishments. Between giving up Sunday Funday as a weekly ritual and furnishing my apartment beyond its former Bob-Marley-poster-aesthetic, I was a grown up. Most crucial to my new adult persona— I could cook. One year of cable and an obsession with Food Network had given me that ability, and I was fully prepared demonstrate it. When my parents came up for my graduation, I would cook them a totally impressive, highly sophisticated dinner.

That was my vision, at least. I’ll tell you the reality: total chaos. First, my basil pesto leaked out of my roommate’s blender, making an oily mess on the counter. “It’s missing the rubber thingy,” she later informed me… thanks for that, Jamie. Then I burned myself removing chicken from the oven with salad fork (yep, no tongs). Finally, due to a lack of serveware, I had to present my beautiful creation… in plastic tupperware. Awesome.

Hell's Kitchen food fox cooking gordon ramsay

The above incident is why I want to share how I finally got my s$%! together in the kitchen. Below is a list of my “kitchen heroes,” tools I rely on multiple times per week or even daily. They not only prevent me from turning into a hot mess when I entertain, but improve my daily life too. If you’ve collected the basics (toaster oven, microwave, a few useful pans, etc.), but still feel like your kitchen does not reflect your shiny, new adultness… read on!

Chef’s knife

Don’t sprain your wrist trying to chop a carrot with your dull, $10 knife. Invest in a chef’s knife that’s properly weighted, super sharp, and made to last. It will make you not only more efficient, but also appear to have a set of badass knife skills. Although I’ve linked to my favorite, go to a kitchen supply store and try before you buy— the right knife is all about individual preference.

Utensil crock

No more digging for your spatula at the very moment your omelet needs flipping or running for your slotted spoon as your pasta overcooks. It will all be right there by your stove, and you will feel organized as f*&! every time you reach for a cooking utensil.

Our crock of kitchen utensils, with a very shiny ladle frontmost.

Photo Credit:

Electric kettle

If you’re really busy (lazy) like me, you’ll appreciate how quickly an electric kettle can boil water— way, way faster than your stove. Thanks to my kettle, I now enjoy a flawless cup of pour over coffee every morning. From making a quick Cup Noodles (because somehow that didn’t get old in college) to boiling an egg, the uses go on and on.

Baking dish set

An attractive set of baking dishes will allow you to take your food right from oven to table and still make a great presentation. I use mine to make chicken, fish, veggies, and occasionally lasagne. For the sugar addicts— they’re also great for brownies and cakes. Buy a set with lids, so you can easily store leftovers.

Pyrex glassware

Pyrex has fewer chemicals than plastic, lasts forever, and doesn’t absorb any of the color or flavor from your food. It’s also oven-safe, so you can cook, store, and reheat your food all in the same container. No extra dishes, no extra work, no gross stains from your leftovers— instant life upgrade.

Good blender

For some reason, a lot of blenders are total crap. I once killed an almost-new blender while making hummus. Hummus! No offense, blender, but you had one job to do. Although it’s a splurge, I recommend a Ninja or a Vitamix. Both are made with better materials and much stronger motors than other blenders. Blendtec is another solid blender. It literally blends anything, look!


A mini-prep is a smaller, pared-down food processor. I use mine to chop veggies, blend pesto, and make salad dressing, sauces, and marinades. It’s way less trouble to set up, clean, and store than a full-sized food processor.

Stovetop espresso maker

Serving espresso to your dinner guests after the meal? Instant adult cred. Also, if you’ve never heard of affogato… you’re welcome.


Kitchen shears

You’re a busy adult now, so you don’t have time to wrestle with the plastic seal on the peanut butter jar or pluck the leaves off your parsley one by one. Kitchen shears will help you eliminate that kind of nonsense from your life.


A microplane is basically a super-fine grater that you can use for cheese and citrus alike. Hear me out on this one— adding lemon zest to pasta, chicken, fish, salad dressing, etc. is a pretty next-level move for the home cook. Bonus: impress a date by making a quick pasta and grating fresh Parmesan onto it, Italian restaurant style.
Img4_KitchenEssentialsPhoto Credit: sweetbeetandgreenbean

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