9 items to have in your kitchen by the time you're 30

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The postcollegiate years are prime time for eating out and ordering in—life is busy, work is hard, and going out on the town with more than just a campus food card is exciting. But as you edge closer to 30, you should start getting your house in check, especially when it comes to matters of the kitchen. Exploring domesticity just before you hit the big 3-0 can be exciting, liberating even, so long as you know what you need to get started. Assuming that you own the basics like pots and pans, mixing bowls, and a toaster, these are the nine essential items to add.

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9 items to have in your kitchen by the time you're 30

Cast-Iron Cookware

Cast iron isn’t just for Westerns—this versatile and durable material is ideal for frying and searing and can be tossed straight into the oven for baking. You can make just about anything in it, but here’s a pro tip: Next time you make a roast, sear the meat on all sides in your cast-iron skillet on the stove, then put the whole thing in the oven to finish cooking. ​

Le Creuset Signature Skillet, from $120, lecreuset.com

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A Knife Set

It may sound like a no-brainer, but there comes a point when that one use-it-for-everything sharp knife just won’t cut it anymore (pun intended). Proper knives in a range of sizes and shapes really do make prep and cooking so much easier. You don’t need a 25-piece block—a paring knife, bread knife, and chef’s knife will get you through just about anything.

Wüsthof Classic Ikon 3-piece Knife Starter Set, $290, williams-sonoma.com

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An Apron

Time to get into character: Not only will a nice apron protect your clothes, but it’ll also make you look like you know what you’re doing in the kitchen. Spills and splashes will occur, especially when you’re just starting to learn to cook, so play it safe and cover up. ​

Merci by Merci canyon red pre-washed linen apron, $30, merci-merci.com

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A Food Processor

This is a secret workhorse of your kitchen. It can truly do it all: make juice, knead dough, grind nuts, or puree veggies. ​

Cuisinart Elemental 11-cup food processor, $150, surlatable.com

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A Slow Cooker

For those who don’t have time to cook every night, a slow cooker is a great tool for making easy meals that yield loads of leftovers: Think soups, stews, and much more. Plus, they’re surprisingly affordable and super easy to clean, as most models are dishwasher-safe. ​

Crock-Pot 2-quart manual slow cooker, $10, target.com

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A Pretty Cutting Board

Stop chopping on a paper towel on your nice new countertop. It’s time to find a sturdy cutting board—end-grain wood is the most durable—that will not only protect your knives, but will look beautiful enough that you might want to leave it out. ​

Tree to Green cypress wood cutting boards, from $80, abchome.com

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A Roasting Pan

Inevitably, if you’re taking time to teach yourself how to prepare your own meals, you’ll want to show off your newfound skills to friends and family. Roasting a whole chicken, pork loin, or even the Thanksgiving turkey is a great way to entertain, and having a pan large enough for the task is key. 

Mauviel M’Héritage copper roasting pan with rack, $270, food52.com

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More Than One Kind of Wine Glass

More Than One Kind of Wine Glass At this point, you probably have a set of one-size-fits-all wine glasses. But at this point, it’s time to up your game a bit and have the proper glasses for the proper wine. No, it’s not necessary to have a set of eight glasses for every grape varietal, but a set of red wine glasses and a set of white wine glasses is a good place to start. 

Marquis by Waterford vintage full body red and classic white wine, set of 12, $99, waterford.com

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One Nonessential

Congratulations. You have all of the essentials, and now it’s time to have some fun by adding a cool gadget to your kitchen arsenal. Are you really into baking? Buy that Cuisinart stand mixer. Into healthy eating? Buy a spiralizer and make some zoodles to replace pasta. Do you love fish? Try cooking your next fillet on a salt block for extra flavor. 

The Meadow Himalayan Salt Block, $16, themeadow.com

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