When Peter Thornhill moved out of his fraternity and into a rented house, he needed to stock up on just about everything to outfit his kitchen.
He enjoys cooking and makes meals four or five times a week, so the process has been fun.
"This Christmas, for me, was a very merry culinary Christmas," says Thornhill, who graduated Sunday from Kansas University. "I'll go into Bed, Bath & Beyond and pretty much go in the kitchen section and start drooling over things."
Now that Thornhill is leaving KU and entering the working world, he's looking to upgrade his college-era kitchen items and create a kitchen of his own.
It can be a daunting task, with hundreds of appliances, utensils, pots, pans and gadgets on the market.
"I guess it would depend on the level of the person's skill in the kitchen," says Geri Riekhof, owner of The Bay Leaf, 725 Mass., a local kitchen shop. "Some people, all they need is a microwave. But if you're interested in cooking good food that you prepare yourself, there are under 10 things that are necessities."
Riekhof's must-have list:
¢ Two knives - one for chopping and another for paring.
¢ A cutting board made of composite materials, which are easier to keep clean.
¢ A nonstick frying pan, for sauteing or making omelets.
¢ A 6-quart stock pot for pasta, soups or chili.
¢ A set of utensils, including a spatula and a whisk.
¢ One or two pieces of bakeware for making casseroles and other foods.
¢ A few different sizes of mixing bowls.
"If you're talking about the bare bones, those items are probably necessities," Riekhof says. "But you can do a lot with them."
Susan Krumm, extension agent in family and consumer sciences for K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, would add a few items to her must-have list:
¢ A set of measuring cups and spoons.
¢ A vegetable peeler.
¢ A can opener.
¢ Cooling racks.
Krumm, whose job includes helping low-income residents set up kitchens, suggests investing in quality knives and pots and pans. But she says many of the other items can be hand-me-downs from family or purchased cheaply.
"It's absolutely fine - especially with Pyrex or any of your oven-proof dishes - to go to garage sales and get those," Krumm says. "Lots of these things you can pick up at garage sales or on sale."
Riekhof says another way to save money is to buy only the individual pots and pans or knives you actually will use, instead of investing in an entire set.
"The danger in going out and buying sets of things is oftentimes you'll spend money on things you'll never use or don't need," he says. "It's better to sit back and analyze what you do."
Sarah Tucker has been keeping an eye out for sale items lately.
She recently finished her sophomore year at KU, her first year to live away from the dorms. She's been buying two sets of kitchen items - one for now, and a nicer set for after she graduates.
"If you have the money, set aside nicer things and deal with more disposable things now," she says.
Tucker agrees on most of the must-have items suggested by Krumm and Riekhof. She adds another appliance: a George Foreman Grill.
"I use that about every day," Tucker says. "It's great. It was a high school graduation gift."
Sometimes, the problem isn't a lack of kitchen gadgets. It's having too many.
That's what faced Brett Stoppel and Holly Krebs when they moved in together three years ago. They had two sets of kitchen items and had to consolidate.
"It was a fair amount of hand-me-down stuff," Krebs says. "I feel like we got rid of the things that were six items serving one purpose and now have things that are one item that serves six purposes."
The couple - who recently married - only have one real regret. They tossed Stoppel's juicer.
They have no second thoughts about discarding the cornbread pan that was shaped like stalks of corn. Or the blender that once mixed margaritas.
"Past college, we didn't think we needed the blender anymore," Krebs says. "Now we drink wine instead of margaritas."
But they drink the wine out of regular glasses.
"We threw out our wine glasses," Krebs says.
Adds Stoppel: "We didn't think we'd ever need them."