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Survival Cookware for Living On Your Own

Updated on June 17, 2012

Whether you have just left the nest or have found yourself living on your own for the first time, you’re going to need a good basis for your kitchenware. You can’t keep eating out or sucking down those high sodium Ramen noodles every night. Here below are few pieces of kitchen equipment that might come in handy for you.

Kitchen Cookware


A nice 10” pan, preferably with a lid, will do just fine. It's probably wise to get stainless steel for starters and when you become more knowledgeable of what type of cookware you want later, you can worry about getting colors that match your kitchen later. Getting a colored pan now might go against what your tastes will be in the future. A really good non-stick stainless steel pan will last the test of times. A nice pan could cost about $12.

With a pan, you can make hamburgers, fry an egg and it's just deep enough to where you can fill it with oil and fry chicken. A pan can be used to cook a number of things. It’s a great piece of cookware to start off with.


A pot can enable you to cook veggies, boil noodles and boil an egg. For now getting a medium sized pot will do. If you can afford more than one, do so. If not that’s fine, you might have to do a little shuffling to accommodate cooking more than one thing but if you’re okay with that for now then there are no worries.

Deep Fryer

This is not a must-have but this comes in handy for frying chicken, fish, French fries and tater tots! This might be a little more expensive but well worth it. I was fortunate enough to inherit my mother’s cast iron one and it makes great fried fish and chicken. I’m not sure how much one costs but I think they’re kind of expensive. But if it’s something you can splurge on after purchasing a pan and pot, great!

Cookie Sheet

This is not for just baking cookies. You can use your cookie sheet for baking fish, chicken, chicken fingers or whatever else you need. All you need to do is get a piece of foil and size it how you need to. Bend its four edges upward and crimp the corners together to prevent oil leakage from the food. It should look like the bottom half of a box. Place whatever you are wanting to bake on the foil, cover that with another piece of foil and you’re cooking!

You have to make do with what you have, to get what you want. The cookie sheet is always there to provide support until you’re able to buy that nice glass baking dish later.


I know it’s cheaper to get the non-heavy duty foil but heavy duty foil is well worth it. With foil you can do all sorts of things. They can serve as a poor man's dish as I showed above. They can also be used as a surface to season your meat on, a catch all for peeling potatoes or serving as a cover on an un-topped dish. You can also use foil to place your freshly fried foods onto so the grease doesn’t get all over your countertops. Just place a napkin over the foil and let it soak up some of the excess oil.

Cake Pan(s)

You don’t need plural cake pans just yet if you’re not ready. But having at least one is beneficial for making cakes as well as cornbread. It might be a bit of a hassle at first to have to bake your cake layers one at a time but if you’re on a budget it’s okay. Why not just buy a cake anyway, you might ask. Because it’s cheaper to make your own.


Not sure how we made it in life before this handy invention. If you can buy one or get someone to buy you one as a housewarming gift that would be awesome! You do have an oven but we all know everything takes so much longer in the oven. A microwave is handy for all sorts of things. So get one if you can. These days they are priced a lot more reasonably.

Kitchen Aids

Here are a few miscellaneous things to help along with your cooking that you must have.

Tupperware- Helps you store what you have cooked in the fridge and can be placed in the freezer for future keeping.

Can Opener- Whether it be electric or hand operated it's a great tool to have.

Mixer- For helping you bake those cakes and brownies. It's cheaper to buy a handheld one for starters.

Measuring cups- You will be learning to cook, these will be important to have. You can either purchase a single measuring cup with the different levels of measurements labeled on it or you can purchase the scoop-like kind that comes with the individual cups.

Measuring spoons- This comes in handy for your tablespoon, teaspoon, ½ teaspoon types of measurements.

The Big Spoon – For stirring, scooping and tasting things of course.

Seasonings – Basics to have are at least salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder

Cooking spray- For avoiding your food sticking to your pots and pans. Yes, even if they’re non-stick. If you don’t have it a little butter will do the same task.

Cutting Board- The name speaks for itself. I prefer glass over wooden ones. There's less of a fear of cross contamination.

Expensive but Useful Cookware

These appliances are very useful in the kitchen but could be a little more expensive.

Crock Pot- Slow cooks meals leaving them tender and juicy.

Toaster Oven- A great smaller sub for the oven.

Cast Iron Deep Fryer- This comes in handy for frying chicken, fish, french fries and tater tots!

Hopefully these are helpful items for the cooking newbie. And for those that have been out of the nest for some time, feel free to let the newbies know what I may have forgotten. But remember these people that might be fresh out of college or leaving home for the first time. Please don't have them run out and get one of those fancy, multiple attachment Kitchen Aid mixers. However, donating one to me...I mean, them, would be nice though. Um...send it to me and I'll make sure I...I mean, they, get it. I promise!

For testing out your cookware try these simple recipes: Simple Recipes for Living On Your Own


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    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Good suggestion CookwareBliss. It would be a real money saver to get what you need from others until you get the set you want. Thanks for dropping in a comment! Have a great day!

    • CookwareBliss profile image

      CookwareBliss 6 years ago from Winneconne, WI

      For college students I suggest asking parents or relatives for gently used cookware, this is how I received my first set, and helped me save for my own set. If you don't have the luxury of hand-me-downs, try looking for sales or discounts. Comment provided by

    • NiaG profile image

      NiaG 6 years ago from Louisville, KY

      Nope they sure didn't. Ha! Thanks for sharing this. Hope it helps whomever you pass it to!

    • princesswithapen profile image

      princesswithapen 6 years ago


      Having lived alone for a while, I can truly relate to this hub. Pan + Pot + Microwave never went out of vogue, did it?

      Great hub and I am sharing it with friends.