Cooking at home is the most effective way to minimize your food budget. Almost every meal you cook at home will be less expensive (and often quicker) than a similar meal out on the town. Doing it consistently will not only save you money consistently, but it’ll build up your skills in the kitchen.
The only problem? The setup cost is usually quite stiff. You do need quite a number of items. Fortunately, you don’t need quite as much as you think, and most of the stuff you do need is cheap. Here’s the equipment I’d get for a basic kitchen.
An oven and stove top and a refrigerator These are the basic appliances you’ll need to even attempt cooking at home. Without them, this article is moot. If your apartment/home comes with them, just use the ones already there until they wear out. If you must buy new, buy durable. Do the research, check out Consumer Reports, and follow their recommendations.
Basic flatware and eating dishes Don’t sweat this a bit. Go to your local department store and go for the low-end stuff for now. Later on, if you want to “upgrade” to something “classy” (meaning spending far more for essentially the same functionality of an item), go for it. Just don’t waste your money right out of the chute on hundreds of dollars of flatware.
A cutting board Get the cheapest one possible – probably a rectangular chunk of plastic for a buck or two. The entire purpose is to keep your knife from damaging your countertop.
A vegetable peeler This is one of the very few kitchen “gadgets” that’s worth its salt. Although you can peel potatoes, zucchini, squash, and so forth with a knife, a vegetable peeler is incredibly efficient at its task. You can use a knife and/or a box grater in place of this item, but it’s very inexpensive (any old one will do) and the efficiency it adds to many food preparations (especially in a vegetable-heavy diet) is immense.
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