Know anyone getting ready to move into their first apartment? Whether it’s a  recent college grad, newlyweds or maybe it’s you … outfitting the kitchen can be a daunting, albeit essential, task. And it can get expensive. The problem is that as long as that kitchen sits idle, someone will be spending a lot of money eating out.


For less than the cost of week’s worth of restaurant meals, I can show you how to set up a starter kitchen that will get that special someone in your life excited about cooking at home. Just keep in mind that these aren’t the highest quality items available. But for newly minted grads and couples, this will get them started cooking great cheap meals in the kitchen while they save to one day invest in higher quality cookware.

1. This 15-piece non stick cookware set from Cook N Home is a fabulous starter set, complete with four pots with lids, two skillets and a five-piece utensil set. As a bonus it comes in three colors, too. Quite amazing at less than $55.

2. When Kevin Mills moved into his first apartment, he soon realized he couldn’t live on just take-out food alone, so he called his mother, Nancy. She taught him to cook, and now the two of them have put together a collection of easy recipes (actually, they’re graded and most Very Easy or Easy, a few are Not So Easy) for inexperienced cooks, along with lots of “Mom tips” and “Mom warnings.” (Because Kevin’s girlfriend is a vegetarian, more than half the recipes are vegetarian.) “Help, My Apartment Has a Kitchen,” is fun and very useful! $12.

3. While not at all essential to any kitchen, this coffee mug sporting the Dr. Suess blessing of “Oh the Places You’ll Go!” is like a perpetual congratulatory message for someone who’s accomplished something remarkable. About $11.

4. Nothing is more essential than coffee. This Mr. Coffee coffee maker has no bells or whistles, but it’s a reliable workhorse that will make hundreds and hundreds of great cups of coffee for about $22.

5. Any kitchen is worth its salt has at least one pyrex baking dish. Make it this basic set of two (9×13 and 11×7) and dinner is sure to be on the table day after day. Priced, amazingly, at about $15 for both.

6. Oven mitts are essential and this silicon set get very high reviews. You don’t want to skimp on safety, especially with novices running the kitchen! This pair from Kitchen Elements is flexible, heat resistant to 425 F., and even machine washable. About $18.

7. No one should have to live without a slow cooker. This 3-quart Crockpot model is a basic starter model. The price of about $20 is very  reasonable because it reflects the lack of a digital timer. It uses manual operation, which means you turn it on and you turn it off. It’s the no brainer of slow cooking!

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