A woman. That’s what every guy needs in his kitchen. A woman. [INSERT FART NOISE, MIC DROP, END ARTICLE]. Oh wait, you’re still reading. And since you’re still reading I can sense disapprove of my completely distasteful and sexist joke, and want me to actually tell you what every guy needs in his kitchen. Shit.

Everyone should be at least competent in the kitchen. Nothing fancy, just competent. No one is expected to be the next Guy Fieri. In fact, no one should ever be the next Guy Fieri. Actually, could you go ahead and get rid of the current Guy Fieri?

My point is that cooking for yourself can seem like a complex undertaking. But just having a couple of basic things in your kitchen ups your kitchen game many-fold. These are core, if-you-have-this-you-don’t-need-to-eat-Hot-Pockets-for-dinner essentials. They give you the ability to make a real-life meal from scratch, which, I kid you not, feels pretty friggin’ amazing.

I’m focusing on tools here, not ingredients. Assuming I can evade my bookie long enough, I’m sure I’ll be able to write a follow-up with ingredients. Jimmy, if you’re reading this, I totally have your money and am not avoiding you, so no need to break my fingers. Also, I don’t really think it’s my fault for not knowing what an over/under is.

Nonstick Pan

If you’re only going to get one pan, make it a 13” nonstick fry pan. At some point in almost every recipe you cook, you’ll be throwing something in this pan. The size affords you the versatility to cook big or small, and the non-stickiness means you won’t spend hours trying to scrub gunk out of it. Hell, you can even cook your pasta in it.


The tool, not the ingredient, you stoner! Go at least 4-quart in size, though I’d suggest you start with 4. The pot is for all the things that you can’t possibly cook in the pan (sauces and soups and whatnot). Between the 13” pan and a 4-quart pot, you essentially have your “What do I cook it in?” question answered.

Sheet Tray

Ya know, that flat metal thing you bake stuff on. I prefer to use mine for tots, ‘cause I have a refined palate and french fries simply will not satisfy me. Pro tip — with a ‘lil duct tape on the back they also make great shields for that last-minute knight costume on Halloween.


Tongs will help you in the before, during, and after of cooking. They’re basically metal versions of your hands. Toss things together. Flip things around while they’re cooking. Scratch that gnarly itch on your back (just be sure to clean ‘em before and after doing that).

Knife set/Cutting Board

If all you’re looking for is essentials then you definitely don’t need to drop $400 on a single knife (or more), especially when you can get a totally-adequate complete set for a fraction of that cost. And when you’re looking for a cutting board, go thick, wood, and large. It’ll give you plenty of space, keep your knives happy, and there’s less danger for that whole noxious fumes situation that happens when you place a hot pan on a plastic cutting board. You might want to get one for vegetables/fruits and one for meats; salmonella may sound tasty, but it’s not.

Utensil Set

While we’re on the “go ahead and get a set” line of thinking, grab a set of utensils. This’ll be your spoons, spatulas, and the like. Try to get silicone (easy to clean, easy to use) or wood (but not the spatula — go silicone for that regardless).

Kitchen Towels

Let’s be honest, cooking can be messy (especially if you’re starting out). But beyond that a kitchen towel is great for grabbing a hot pan, holding a cutting board in place (when damp), and popping people when they disturb you in the kitchen. An artist needs his space, dammit!