The Cooking Bride's Guide to

Stocking a Kitchen on a Budget

Whether you are moving out on your own for the first time or about to share your life (and a household) with someone special, stocking a kitchen completely from scratch can be overwhelming and intimidating.

Below is a comprehensive list of kitchen basics that every household should have broken down by skill level.  Where applicable, I have even included my recommendation or what brand I use.  Below is a printer-friendly version to take with you to the store, or feel free to pin this for later so you remember where you saw it.

Guide to Stocking a Kitchen on a Budget

Please keep in mind, this is by no means meant to be a recommendation of the best of what’s available.  The Husband and I are a middle class family trying to make ends meet.  And as of right now, I don’t have a whole lot of corporations beating down my door to throw free merchandise at me.  Much of what I recommend below are budget-friendly items that get the job done.

Basic kitchen items

For those who don’t plan on using the kitchen for much more than cooking a frozen pizza or reheating a can of soup.

Manual Can Opener You never know when the power might go out and you need to open a can of pork and beans.  And really, how much effort does it take to open a can?
Slotted spoons  
Soup ladle  
Spatulas A large and small one for scraping sides and one for flipping.
Wooden mixing spoons They’re easier on you pans and won’t scratch.
One good general purpose cutting knife You don’t have to go out and buy the most expensive, but this is one item where it’s worth it to spend a little money.

Cutting boards At least two – one for cutting meat and one for cutting vegetables – to prevent cross contamination.
8-inch skillet If you are an infrequent cook, non-stick is probably the best way to go.

10-inch skillet If you are an infrequent cook, non-stick is probably the best way to go.

1.5-quart saucepan with lid For boiling water, heating up sauces and soups.

3.5 quart saucepan with lid For boiling more water, heating up sauces and soups.

8 quart stock pot with lid For boiling more water, heating up sauces and soups.

Colander A mesh colander will also work in a pinch if you need to sift something.
Mixing bowls in various sizes  
Coffee Maker  
Pizza wheel  
Cookie Sheets  
Basic kitchen timer  
Basting brush  
Oven mitts/pot holders


Beginner Cook

Those just learning to cook, but not confident enough yet to tackle a recipe with a lot of ingredients or steps.

Saute pan with lid Ideal for searing meat or making a quick sauce.  However, in a pinch you could use a skillet.

Slow cooker  
Electric hand mixer  
Box cheese grater  
Measuring spoons At least two sets, one for wet and one for dry ingredients.
Measuring cups At least two sets, one for wet and one for dry ingredients.
Vegetable peeler  
Broiler pan  
Kitchen shears  
Glass measuring cups  
Meat thermometer  
Casserole dishes One 9 x 12 x 2 and one 8 x 8 x 2.
Biscuit and / or cookie cutters  
Vegetable steamer basket


Intermediate Cook:

You have mastered most of the basic techniques and you’re moving on to more challenging dishes.

Roasting pan
Paring knife
Serrated knife
Cookie scoop
Bread pans
Cast iron skillet Provides more even cooking temperatures and great for frying. Many brands are now even selling preseasoned skillets.

Kitchen twine
Citrus reamer
Flour Sifter
Grease Strainer


Nice to have:

You don’t need any of these items to be a great cook, but they sure do make life a little easier.

Baking Stone Baking stones retain heat, heat more evenly, and are naturally non-stick.  Great for baking pizzas and cookies.

Juicer If you have a recipe that calls for a lot of freshly squeezed citrus juice, it can be very tedious and time consuming to do this by hand. A juicer can help speed up the process.

Immersion Blender  Great for blending soups and sauces right in the pot.
Waffle maker  
Electric griddle Provides more even heating and allows you to cook more items at one time.  Great for pancakes and grilled sandwiches.
Grill pan Get those lovely char lines on food without going outside to heat up the grill.  Do make note, however, these pans are not recommended for use on a ceramic cooktop because the increased surface area can cause the glass to crack.
Dutch oven  A heavy, thick bottomed pot that is good for braising and cooking items that need to cook low and slow for several hours.
Stand mixer  No more arms workouts.  Just set a stand mixer and let it do all the hard work for you.  Typical mixers come with a whisk, a dough hook, and a paddle attachment for mixing batter.  Kitchenaid mixers also come with all sorts of neat attachments,

Food processor Slice, dice, chop, grate and knead dough all at the push of a button.
Mini food processor  Great for quickly chopping a small amount.

Ice cream make It’s fun to concoct your own unique flavors of ice cream and homemade tastes so much better than store bought.

Instant-read thermometer Quickly and easily gauge the internal temperature of a dish.
Pressure cooker / canner A pressure cooker can cook food up to 70% faster that traditional cooking.  Not only does it save time, but slower cooking time preserves nutrients.  The cooker can also double as a canner if you are interested in preserving food.

Food mill Use it to mash potatoes without lumps and remove skins and seeds from cooked tomatoes and berries.

Electric knife Yes, you can carve a turkey with a traditional knife, but electric makes it so much easier.

All-in-one kitchen timer If you have multipe burners going and some thing in the oven, it’s nice to have one timer than can keep up with multipe times.

Stainless Steel Cookware Stainless steel will last much longer than non-stick and can be used over high heat.  Using non-stick over high heat will destroy the coating.


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