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The Well-Stocked Kitchen: A Kitchen-Ware Shopping List for Your First “Adult” Kitchen

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There isn’t anything like getting ready to move out of your parents’ home into your first place , or upgrading from a roommate-shared, student-budget apartment into a space you can truly call “yours”. It’s a chance to move on from those old pots and pans your parents have cooked in since THEY first moved out, a chance to find plates with a pattern that fit your own personality instead of the “whatever was cheapest at Wal-Mart” pattern.

I was a bit “late to launch”, as some might put it: at age 26, I moved out of my parents’ home and in with my boyfriend, into what was, for both of us, our “first apartment”. I had always enjoyed being around my parents, and didn’t feel the pressures others feel to get out and into my own place as soon as possible (and Vancouver having some of the highest rents around didn’t create too much of an appeal, either).

However, staying with my parents while going to school and working had further upsides: it gave me a lot of time to start stockpiling home and kitchen products for my “one day” home. I used to joke with my cousins that just like Mary and Laura Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Praries books that I used to love as a kid, I too had a “Hope Chest”, a trunk filed with home goods for the home you “hope” to have one day (except unlike theirs, my “trunk” was a Rubbermaid container). When I spotted quality home or kitchen products on sale, I would buy them and take them home to stash in my Rubbermaid bin (which eventually required an overflow area underneath my bed).

Even with years of home products stashed away, though, when it finally came time to move out, I found there were a lot of things I didn’t have, things that I needed in order to have the well-stocked kitchen I was used to. The first few months in our new place consisted of weekend and after-work trips to department stores, dollar stores, Ikea, and Canadian Tire for all those little items we hadn’t thought to buy but realized we needed while making a recipe.

The list below is the perfect guide for making sure you’re not stuck in the situation of being in your new place and being halfway through preparing spaghetti before realizing you don’t have a can opener and can’t open that can of tomato sauce.

I’ve included the basics you’d need for a kitchen that belongs to an adult foodie – one that loves to cook and doesn’t mind spending a bit of time preparing a knockout meal. I’ve also included some options for “next level upgrades” – versions of items that, while not necessary, will bring your cooking experience to a new, luxurious level. I’ve also included some of my favourite Amazon-available products to make it easy (you can stock your dream kitchen from the comfort of your living room!).

As a thank you for being part of the Urbanista At Home community, I’ve created an easy-to use, printable shopping list that includes extra tips and “category upgrade” suggestions – download and print your copy here: – The Well Stocked Kitchen

Well-Stocked Kitchen


  • Stainless steel fry pan (minimum 10 inch): Next level upgrade: minimum 12/13 inch size skillet (with a higher rim, for large stir fries)
  • PTFE-Free Non-stick fry pan, minimum 10inch: (Next level upgrade: cast iron fry pan – Lodge makes wonderful, USA-made cast iron fry pans, like this one here: Lodge L8SK3 10-1/4-Inch Logic Pre-Seasoned Skillet )
  • 1 stock pot/pasta pot (minimum 6 qt)
  • 1 3-4qt saucepot for rice/steamed veggies
  • 1 2-3qt saucepot for sauce, small meals

Tip: Try to get a pot set where there are lids for everything, or that the lids can be used on different pots. Buying a “universal” lid is also a good choice (this one fits quite a few different pots:Cook N Home 02425 Universal Lid, 10 to 12-Inch, Metallic ) .



  • Sauce ladle (Next level upgrade: addition of a soup ladle, for larger servings)
  • Large serving spoon & fork
  • Wooden spoon (Next level upgrade: 2 wooden spoons, one big and one small)
  • Metal turner/flipper
  • Nylon or wood heat-safe flipper (for use on non stick pans – the OXO Good Grips line is fantastic, like this one here)
  • Pasta server (pasta tongs or forked spoon. Glossy stainless steel can be both utilitarian and table-worthy, like this Cuisinart one.
  • Slotted spoon
  • Stainless steel cooking tongs (Next level upgrade: one long handled and one short handled pair)
  • Rubber/Silicon Spatula (Next level upgrade: 1 small, one large)
  • Whisk (I’ved used this OXO one for years and LOVE it: OXO Good Grips Good Grips Steel Balloon Whisk )
  • Silicone basting brush
  • Pincher tongs (Next level upgrade: silicone or heat-safe nylon coated, for non-stick use).



  • Can Opener (My favourite is this little Starfrit one!)
  • Apple Slicer/corer
  • Vegetable Peeler (Next level upgrade: julienne peeler, for making shredded veggies or zoodles).
  • Cheese grater (I am always amazed by the blade quality on Microplane products, and they make a *mean* box grater:Microplane 34002 Specialty Series Cube Grater, Black ).
  • Garlic press
  • Potato Masher (Next level upgrade: Potato Ricer)
  • Meat Thermometer (Next level upgrade: Instant read electric thermometer)
  • Kitchen Timer
  • Multi-size Stainless Steel Steamer insert (I like the stainless collapsible ones, like this: Norpro Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer )
  • Spice Rack (Next level upgrade: buy an unfilled rack and pick your own quality spices)
  • Salt and pepper shakers (Next level upgrade: salt and pepper mills)
  • Ice Cream Scoop
  • Ice Cube Tray



For suggestions, see our post on “the top 5 kitchen knives”!

  • Chef’s Knife (Next level upgrade: include a Santoku, or Chef’s Knife with granton edge)
  • Paring Knife (Next level upgrade: also include a peeling knife)
  • Bread knife (Next level upgrade: include a small serrated knife for smaller jobs and tomatoes)
  • Honing Steel (Next level upgrade: add a pull-through knife sharpener)
  • Kitchen Shears (Next level upgrade: Meat shears with a bone notch). Wusthof is an awesome brand that makes a wonderful pair of shears I use in my home, I highly recommend them!
  • Knife Storage (There are lots of different ways to store knives, but my fave is an “in drawer” system, where you can keep knives safely out of sight when not in use: In Drawer Knife Block )



  • Toaster
  • Microwave
  • Countertop kettle (or stovetop – try to get one without plastic inside,. Next level upgrade: Variable temperature kettle). We have this one at home and love it!
  • Blender
  • Hand-mixer or hand-blender (there are some awesome dual purpose hand blenders out there, like this Kitchenaid one, with its many attachments: Immersion Blender
  • Coffee Maker (Can also use a French Press, or pour-over coffee pot with a filter)



  • Dough/Pastry blender (not sure what this is? I’ve got this one and I love it: OXO Dough Blender and Cutter)
  • Heat resistant Silicone spatula (Next level upgrade: several sizes, perfect for small jars or large bowls).
  • Rolling pin (Next level upgrade: marble rolling pin, for keeping dough cold while rolling it)
  • Flour Sieve/Sifter (Can double-duty with a fine wire mesh colander)
  • Baking sheets (without non-stick is ideal, can use parchment paper for easy cleaning).
  • Loaf pan (Next level upgrade: Glass and metal loaf pans, one of each)
  • Lemon zester/grater (I raved about Microplane’s grater/zester products above, but they also make an awesome Lemon multi-tool, for zesting and making those cute little lemon peel curls: Microplane Ultimate Citrus Tool )
  • Parchment Paper (Next level upgrade: Silpat silicone baking liner)
  • Muffin tin (Next level upgrade: additional mini muffin tin)
  • 2 – 8 or 9 inch cake pans (Next level upgrade: add spring form cake pans)



4-6 Settings of:

  • Forks ( Next level upgrade: Different sized forks for salad, dinner, and dessert.)
  • Dinner Knives. (Next Level Upgrade: Additional Steak Knives)
  • Table Spoons. (Next Level Upgrade: different sized spoons for soup, cereal, and tea/dessert)
  • Dinner plates
  • Salad/dessert plates
  • Cereal/Soup bowls. (Next level upgrade: Rice and pasta bowls)

Tip: Dinnerware is often available in a set, which is a great way to buy a basic, everyday-use set of dishes that you don’t mind breaking. Amazon has a great, everyday-use set for cheap here.



  • Teapot (One that fits a loose-leaf infuser is a great way to enjoy loose leaf teas, and a glass teapot allows you to see how steeped it is – this one does both: Glass Teapot )
  • Creamer and Sugar Bowl
  • Water/Juice Jug
  • Coffee/Tea mugs. UPGRADE: tea/coffee cups with saucers.
  • 4-6 Water/Juice glasses
  • 4-6 Wine Glasses (Tip: You can get stemless wine glasses to “double-duty” as juice or water glasses, if you’re tight on cupboard storage space!) UPGRADE: white and red wine glasses.
  • Wine and beer bottle opener
  • Wine/Bottle Stopper



  • Cloth or Paper Napkins (Go cloth for maximum Eco-Kindness!)
  • Paper Towels
  • Paper Towel Holder (there are some great ones out there that make it easier to one-handedly rip only one piece off at a time!)
  • Wash Clothes
  • Tea Towels
  • Oven Mitts (There are some super cute styles out there, like these kitty cat ones!)
  • Apron (If you’re as messy in the kitchen as I am, this will be a life saver!)
  • Tea Cozy (Super Shameless Plug Time: You might or might not know that we have our very own Geeky Tea Cozy shop on  Etsy, Tea Geek Boutique!)



  • Steel Wool Scrubber (for those nasty, stuck-on burns)
  • Non-Stick-Friendly Scrubbie (I’m usually pretty skeptical of anything that says it’s the “World’s Best”, but these are pretty awesome!)
  • Wand-style dish cleaning brush
  • Dishbrush holder/strainer (if your sink is big enough, an in-sink caddy is a great way to keep the dishbrush from dripping on your counters)
  • Dish Soap/ Dishwasher Detergent
  • Dish Drying Rack
  • Cupboard Organizers/Shelves
  • Utensil/Cutlery Drawer Organizers ( for a one-size-fits-all approach, there are some cool expandable versions on the market, like this one).
  • Shelf Liners (if you are renting, these are a great way to keep scratches on the shelf to a minimum)
  • Kitchen Cleaning Products and Sprays
  • Broom and Dustpan
  • Sponge Mop & Bucket
  • Compost Bin and Liners
  • Under-the-sink Garbage Can* and garbage bags
  • Recycling Bins (*although they can get a bit pricey, there are some great combination garbage/recycling bins out there that save on space, like this one).



  • Multiple Sizes of Food Containers (for leftovers! I like them in glass, for safe reheating. Anchor makes a great set that comes with multiple sizes).
  • Reusable Water Bottles
  • Travel Mugs
  • Bulk Food Containers (for storing pastas, flours, etc. in your cupboards)
  • Food Wrap (ie aluminum foil or plastic wrap, or these awesome eco-friendly options made with Beeswax!)

Make your homeware shopping stylish with our downloadable, printable shopping checklist!



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