I recently moved into a new apartment all by myself. Because it’s me, the most important area of the place is my kitchen. When looking at places, a sizable and functioning kitchen was high priority in making the choice of what unit to move into. I was very fortunate to find a place with a kitchen that goes beyond what most folks can find in Manhattan, but even small places can still make amazing things happen. Since I was moving out from a 9 year roommate situation, I discovered that there was plenty missing from my culinary arsenal. Moving gave me an amazing opportunity to evaluate what I owned, what I needed and what I didn’t. Now that I’ve settled in (it’s been 3 months of kitchen bliss), I have some tips on the top 10 things every apartment kitchen needs.
Some of these things are straight up necessities to do any sort of real cooking. Some are just tools that will give you no excuse to not cook to your heart’s delight. My KitchenAid mixer, for example, isn’t absolutely necessary, of course. However, having it makes it a million times easier for me to justify making something due to its versatility and ease.
Look below the video for a detailed list and links to purchase these items.
1. A Cast Iron Skillet
Having a collection of pots and pans is always great, but how much space you have can severely limit the size of your collection. (Pro tip: Get a set of pots that can nest inside each other and store them inside your oven when not in use) The one thing you ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE is a 10″ cast iron skillet. This baby will be your best friend in the kitchen. You can get one for cheap, they go from stove top to oven with no problem and you can use them for just about anything (especially my fast and easy Dutch Baby Recipe). All it takes is a little care to keep it seasoned and a skillet like this will last you a lifetime and cook you perfect bacon every time. BUY
2. Easily Accessible Power
While my new kitchen is spacious and lovely, it lacks a power outlet near my main prep area. I got the Ikea kitchen island that has proven to be very versatile. It’s got tons of storage below, a big prep surface on top and doubles as a table when I’m entertaining guests. Nothing puts a kink in your cooking process when you want to spread out and mix something when you don’t have an outlet handy. I solved this problem with a grounded extension cord that I routed to the island and make it even easier to access by sticking a 3M command hook, just under the countertop that I can hang the cord on. Now plugging in whatever gadget I need is as easy as reaching to my left. BUY
3. An Immersion Blender
How did I live so long without my immersion blender!?!?!?!?!? These babies are only $30-$40 and are true workhorses in the kitchen. From blending soup to making homemade humus, this compact tool makes blending your treats super easy. Cleanup is a cinch and you can store them anywhere. BUY
4. Rolling Cart
Oh, Ikea. What would I do without you? My kitchen has a slightly strange shape. This results in several areas that are kind of a waste. There’s not enough room to put a proper shelving unit or something, but there’s still potential. I solved the problem of never having enough cupboard space by creating a little rolling cart for all my baking supplies. This Råskog cart from Ikea does the trick, although there are plenty of options out there. Now, when I’m baking, I pull the cart right up to my Island and eliminate having to schlep flour, sugar and their friends back and forth from a cabinet to the counter. Click here to see a more complete breakdown of how I’ve stocked this handy tool. BUY
5. Countertop Mixer
Ok, I know what you’re saying…”I don’t have space for a giant KitchenAid!” That’s ok. They are now making more compact versions that are suited for the small kitchens of city-dwellers. Any size works, it’s the power you’re after. Mixing by hand can be a real pain in the butt. Having a mixer handy (however small) gives you more incentive to actually do some cooking. My baking has increased tenfold since getting my mixer. Why? Because now I can whip up a pan of lemon squares with almost no effort. Buy the size and price point that you can afford and make room for. Your wrists will thank you. BUY
6. Countertop Electric Steamer
I know this device can take up some room, but I’ve had this versatile gadget in my life for almost 10 years. A multi-tired countertop steamer can really do a lot of cooking. It steams vegetables, cooks rice, makes healthy oil free chicken and steams any seafood you can throw at it. It can really be a godsend if you’re cooking for a lot of people and you have one of those micro-ovens with not a lot of space. It is also great in the summer when you want to cook a healthy hot meal, but don’t want to heat up the kitchen with a lot of pots going. BUY
I have no stake in the company and I am not a paid spokesperson or anything, but I can say that my Sodastream machine is one of my absolute favorite gadgets in my kitchen. It gets used every day, it’s small and it saves you money and time. What could be better? I do use syrups occasionally to make my own drinks, but I really love just plain bubbly water. I find that it makes me drink more water, which can only be healthy. Not having to carry bottles and bottles of water from the grocery store up into my apartment is amazing. The cost savings are a real help and the machines are very compact. I keep a few bottles of tap water chilling in the fridge at all times and can have sparkling bubbly water or soda ready in less than a minute any time I want! (Pro Tip: For a more “adult” soda flavor, try using a drinking vinegar to flavor your water like this Thai basil stuff) BUY
8. Pasta Maker
I know this sounds like a crazy thing to include in a list of things you MUST have in your kitchen, but stay with me. From the moment you bite into your first taste of homemade pasta, you will agree with me entirely. People are scared of making pasta from scratch, but it’s actually very easy. Use a KitchenAid attachment with your mixer (see above) and it’s even easier. BUY Countertop Model | BUY KitchenAid Attachment
9. Citrus Press
Bottled lemon or lime juice has its place, but fresh squeezed is so much better. No need for a fancy electric citrus juicer, this handheld press gets the job done and you’ll use it all the time when you keep it in a handy location. Lemons and limes are cheap, so keep a bowl of them in your kitchen too and you’ll be amazed at how you can add a little kick to anything you do in the kitchen. BONUS: Here’s a great recipe for lemon squares that will knock your socks off! BUY
Bonus: Bluetooth Speaker
These days, portable bluetooth speakers are affordable and very high quality. I love to have mine in the kitchen to jam out to some tunes or listen to my favorite podcasts. Having some entertainment handy keeps you from getting bored in the kitchen and lets you stay longer to cook a delicious feast!
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