25 Essentials for an At-the-Ready Kitchen Kit

Whether you're in the process of moving or renovating, or are spending time away from home, find out which 25 pieces should be in your traveling mess kit.

My friend just finished renovating his apartment. He's all moved in, but his stuff isn't yet; it’s still in storage.

Next time, I thought, using an unfortunate technique known as hindsight, wouldn't it be good to pack a separate emergency mess kit, just for use until everything is unpacked? A few essential cooking tools might help break up the days and nights of consecutive delivery pizza, Chinese takeout meals and bologna sandwiches. I kept the list spare enough that you’d retain the desire to unpack, yet diverse enough to cover the bases for cooking. Choose smallish items. Pack them into a plastic box that can also serve as a dishpan and you’re set for the next time you renovate, or move, or spend time in a vacation house furnished only with a butter knife and a salt shaker.

Here are the 25 things. Just add food.

For Eating:

Plate (one per person)

Bowl (one per person)

Fork (metal is nicer than plastic)

Knife (for spreading)

Spoon (for eating)

Mug (for hot things and soups)

Glass (because it’s depressing to drink cold things from a mug)

Napkin (slurp)

For P repping:

Big knife (your chef’s knife)

Small knife (your paring knife)

Cutting board (a thin plastic one is fine; try for at least 12 by 16 inches)

Whisk (for eggs, sauces, batters, dressings; not strictly necessary but nice)

Wooden spoon (for stirring, scraping, serving)

Chopsticks (use instead of a whisk, or tongs)

Mixing bowl (for mixing things, for serving salads; something of medium size)

Can opener (nothing opens cans like a can opener; using an army knife is a pain)

For Cooking:

Pot with a lid (something medium size: small enough to heat water, large enough to cook pasta)

Pan (choose your favorite one)

Steamer (for vegetables, dumplings, seafood)

Strainer (for pasta, grains, rinsing things)

Sheet pan (for roasting things like vegetables, nachos and chickens)

Spatula (for eggs, for flipping, for scraping pans)

Some way to make coffee (or tea, or not, if you are not an addict)

For Cleaning:

Dishtowel (two if you are feeling deluxe — keep them dry and use them instead of hot pads)

Sponge (because of cleaning)

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