A Minimalist's Guide to Your First Kitchen


As some of you may know, Ries and I got married legally a year before our wedding. If that sounds kind of backwards, welcome to the Marine Corps. We wanted to make sure we were married before Ries was deployed to Afghanistan, so I moved down to Georgia on 20 July 2013, and we got married six days later.

He had been living in military housing since he graduated from college, and I had graduated only two months prior to our marriage. Between the two of us, we didn’t own any furniture. I had a couple hand-me-down pots and pans from my parents and professors, but we didn’t have any of the essentials.

Living together prior to getting married, or living alone (whether you’re pursuing a second degree or working) is becoming more and more common. Most of us don’t have the luxury of receiving KitchenAid mixers and other kitchen essentials as gifts from a massive wedding registry—we have to buy our own kitchen supplies.


So with that understanding in mind, I wanted to tell you what I actually use in my kitchen, so if you’re about to live on your own for the first time, you won’t go into debt worrying about buying things like an espresso machine or a panini press. (Modify this list based on your needs.)

I used The Knot’s Wedding Registry Checklist (which is really insane) and you will find my condensed list below. After being married almost six years and having a toddler, I can confidently say, “You don’t need all that stuff.” I still don’t have about half of the things on that list, and while there are some items I will likely add in the future out of convenience, most of them are absurd.


Kitchen Appliances

  • Tea Kettle (helpful to boil water even if you’re not a tea drinker)

  • French Press / Coffee Maker (We use a French press because we waste less and it’s easier to clean.)

  • Coffee Grinder (if you use a French press)

  • Toaster (If you’re not a bread eater, this isn’t a necessity.)


  • Blender / Food Processor (You don’t really need either of these unless you’re a smoothie king/queen or you’re really into making salsa.)

  • Hand mixer (If you plan to make baked goods or anything that would be too laborious to mix by hand.)

  • Slow cooker (Not everyone uses these, but they are convenient if you are trying to prepare a meal in advance.)


  • Medium Skillet (8 inches)

  • Large Skillet or Wok (12 inches)

  • Small Saucepan

  • Medium Saucepan

  • Stockpot

  • Medium Glass Casserole Dish (I line these with tin foil and cook meat or vegetables in them.)

  • Large Glass Casserole Dish (possibly optional)

  • Baking Sheet (If you don’t plan to make cookies, this is still good to cook vegetables.)

  • Set of Glass/Metal Mixing Bowls (Plastic gives me the heebie jeebies.)

Kitchen tools

  • Measuring Spoons

  • Measuring Cups

  • Glass Measuring Cup (for liquids)

  • Manual Juicer (for citrus fruits)

  • Spatulas (3-5 of the silicone ones)

  • Flat Spatulas (2 to flip vegetables, eggs, meat)

  • Slotted Spoon

  • Cooking Spoon

  • Whisk

  • Tongs

  • Cheese Grater

  • Potato Peeler

  • Can Opener

  • Kitchen Shears (scissors)

  • Ladle

  • Colander

  • Cutting Board

  • Paper Towel Holder

  • Trash Can

  • Apron (Grease is difficult to remove from clothing.)

  • Dishtowels

  • Oven Mitt

  • Pot Holders (2)

  • Bottle Opener / Wine Bottle Opener

  • Silverware Organizer


(Four items for a single person, 8-12 for a couple)

  • Dinner plate

  • Salad plate

  • Soup/Cereal Bowl

  • Cappuccino cups (I use these as small bowls) or ramekins

  • Mug (You’re bound to pick up mugs here and there, either as gifts or souvenirs. It’s not necessary to have matching mugs.)

  • Travel Mug (1)

  • Reusable Water Bottle (I buy Voss water in the glass bottles for $2.50 and reuse that bottle for months. If I misplace it, I’m not as upset as if I lost a nice $20 water bottle.)

  • Five piece flatware set

  • Steak Knives (2-4 for a single person, 4-6 for a couple)

  • Chef’s knife (1)

  • Serrated knife (1)

  • Short glasses

  • Tall glasses

  • Tupperware or Food Storage Containers (optional)


I hope this list has been helpful! I know how expensive and stressful it can be trying to figure out what you need for a kitchen, and I hope this list will help others who find themselves in a similar position to us when we first moved in together.