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The $100 Kitchen Essential List

setting up a kitchen is one of the fastest ways to feel like you are home.

This morning as I stood in my kitchen using my mixer to make a batch of cookies, I started thinking about how far I have come. I had none of the kitchen essentials, and I did not know where to start. My life has unquestionably gotten much better than when I first moved back to the US five years ago.

It is not easy moving your whole life in two suitcases and a hand luggage. Especially when you are moving from Ibadan in Nigeria to Boston, Massachusetts.  When I arrived I did not own any kitchen gadgets, I slowly had to buy everything that I needed to set myself up and get cooking.

I guess I am feeling a bit nostalgic because September 1st is Moving Day in Boston. People change apartments, and others get an apartment for the first time. If you are a young person, who is in college or just starting out in life or even just short on money, it is not exactly easy to go to a store and buy a whole new kitchen in one go. But, if you are financially conscious or you love cooking or both, setting up a kitchen is one of the fastest ways to feel like you are home.

Hundred Dollar Kitchen Essentials list featuring sharp knife, frying pan, cooking spoon, plates, cups/mugs, cutlery, kitchen towel, chopping board, pot, mixing bowl, blender

Knowing this, I wanted to help by creating a list of things to make the kitchen set-up process easy. I was looking at my kitchen things and asking myself what are the absolute essentials that I use a lot. Then I thought about the places that I buy kitchen stuff for on the cheap. After much thought and consideration, these are the essential things that every kitchen needs for cheap.

I think a hundred dollars is a generous budget for an initial kitchen equipment shopping. However, I also know that a hundred dollars can be a lot of money. If you have to prioritize the list, focus on the few items then work your way down the list. 

OXO Six Inch Santoku Knife

A good sharp knife is something I highly recommend you splurge on from the get-go. Knives are such a big part of the kitchen experience. Plus a good knife saves you from cuts in the kitchen. My preferred knife is an OXO Santoku Knife. It is relatively good quality for a decent price. When I checked on Amazon, it was less than fifteen dollars.

Plates are an absolute must. I would actually suggest buying bowls, to begin with. These are the ultimate multitaskers. You can have a soup in a bowl or your morning bowl of cereals. You can also have a salad or some grains. But you can’t do all that with a plate. A good and absolutely cheap place to get plates and bowls is the local dollar store. While you are there, browse the aisles and get yourself some cutlery. My local dollar store also does an amazing job of stocking cooking spoons, cups, and mugs. Just note that if you have to choose between a cup or a mug, pick a mug. Always choose items that can multitask.

Something else that is a must when you first get a kitchen is a good frying pan. When I am buying my first frying pan for a new space, I always buy an all metal one. This because an all-metal frying pan can work on the stove top and in the oven. So, before I owned baking trays and pan, I used to bake my chicken and my cakes in my frying pan.

The other hack I had for my kitchen was my Pyrex glass mixing bowl. It used to be the thing I baked my bread in for a long time. You can also do a yummy pasta bake in Pyrex glassware. Contrary to your imagination, Pyrex bowls can be affordable if you know where to look. An excellent place to buy pyrex bowls is Walmart. They sell them as individual pieces. 

A black classic 5-speed Oster Blender

If you are looking at my list and thinking that I have gone insane adding a blender to the shopping list, let me defend my process. Looking for a fancy blender? There is plenty on the market for you. If you are on a budget, there are plenty of options too. Oster makes these fantastic 5 Speed blenders in the under 20 dollar range. I actually found one for 16.99 dollars at Target when I was writing this post. I used one of this 5 Speed Oster blender heavily, for a couple of years.  You have to make sure you do your research before buying. To be honest, between Walmart, Target, Amazon and Best Buy, one of those stores absolutely will have it on a rock-bottom sale price. 

By the time you are done buying the essentials, you should be able to start making decent meals in your kitchen. As you explore more recipes and settle into your new home, you will find yourself acquiring the things you feel you need. I have one ask of you. Please don’t buy that equipment that only does one thing like juice a lemon. Prioritize buying things that multitask.

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