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Calling All Cooks: How I Stocked My First Kitchen

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Last month, I asked for your advice for stocking my first kitchen from scratch. Today, I'm sharing some of your best advice and the kitchen it helped create.


Last month, I moved into my first real kitchen and faced the daunting task of stocking the entire thing from scratch. Luckily, when I desperately cried out asked for your advice, you answered in droves. You voiced your opinions on the utility of cast iron pans, shared your advice for aquiring more counterspace, and recommended your favorite appliances (and denounced some altogether).

Countless trips to IKEA and a variety of cooking stores—including our own—later, my kitchen looks extremely different and (dare I say it?) complete. Here's some of your best advice and how I turned a small kitchen into a fully-functioning, smartly-stocked workspace:


Prep Space:

  • Your advice: Several people, including Tami, Victoria Maynard, and TheFritschKitchen emphasized the importance of getting an additional countertop or kitchen island with room for storage.
  • What I did: Because I don't have room for a dining table (the other side of the room contains a couch, coffee table, bookshelf, and small desk), I splurged and purchased a kitchen island from IKEA. It's sturdy enough for prepping dinner, large enough to act as a divider from the "living room" on the other side, and doubles as a dining table for my boyfriend and myself (we purchased additional folding chairs for when we have guests over). I also purchased a small rolling "pantry" cart for easy access to my most-used food items like olive oil and salt.

Storage Solutions:

  • Your advice: Some readers recommended that I make use of vertical space by hanging pots and pans and putting up a magnetic knife holder. Opinions differed on the best kind of spice storage—Kath said to "omit the rack" and get a box that slides in and out of cabinets, while Corrie recommeded magnetic spice containers that stick to the refrigerator, and ds14248 and Tami suggested wall-mounted spice racks and hanging pots for herbs.
  • What I did: While I found it was more useful to put the pans under my kitchen island (where there are two shelves of storage) than rig a hanging system, I did make quick use of the wall between the island and the stove and mounted pots of basil and thyme, a spice rack, and a magnetic knife rack right on the brick. The herbs promptly died—apparently they need sunlight?—but the spices and knives are right where I can reach them. I also used the space above the cabinets to store the majority of my cookbooks and other miscellaneous appliances, and brought over a footstool for easy access.
A magnetic knife rack, marble board, hanging potted herbs (R.I.P. thyme and basil), spice rack, and standing mixer.


  • Your advice: While many of you are purists and suggested not getting any appliances at all, several of you mentioned appliances that you can't live without—like a mini food processor and an immersion blender.
  • What I did: I said "yes" to almost all of the appliances you suggested, including a Magic Bullet that I've been using instead of a food processor, a toaster oven and electric tea kettle that both live in the kitchen island, and two incredibly thoughtful housewarming presents: a boysenberry-colored Kitchenaid stand mixer (from my mom) and a Cuisinart ice cream maker (from my boyfriend's mom).
I also got a cat, but that's a story for another post.

Tools and Cookware:

  • Your advice: While Karin Jonczak was adamant against purchasing a cast iron pan, several of you suggested a Dutch oven, Clayton said Pyrex bowls are a must, and Miriam provided a well thought-out list: "a skillet, pasta pot, and a saucepan or two, plus a baking sheet. Maybe a Pyrex baking dish if you're a casserole kind of person... And for God's sake, don't forget the cheese grater."
  • What I did: I forgot the cheese grater, but I bought several tools including a huge pot for making stock (because someday I'd like to be the type of person who makes stock), a cast iron Dutch oven, a small non-stick frying pan, and a large, high-rimmed stainless steel pan for everything else. I also purchased a marble board from our Shop for making crusts, a Kitchenaid knife set, wooden cutting boards, miscellaneous Pyrex bowls, and a casserole dish (for my favorite chicken thigh recipe), a spatula, measuring spoons, and lots and lots of dish towels

How'd I do? What else would you add? Tell us in the comments below!

Photos by Leslie Stephens

Tags: kitchen, first kitchen, calling all cooks