If you had the opportunity to start with a clean slate in your kitchen and purchase only essential items, what would they be? Would your kitchen have in it exactly what it has now? Or would you do it differently?
A year ago, when we arrived in Australia, I did have this opportunity, and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Most of our kitchenware and tableware came from the thrift stores and the local buy/swap fb page; although I did get a new set of cast iron pans from the camping expo, and a few bakeware items came from a regular retail store.
The only item that I would have like to have was a food processor for weekly chopping of onions and grating of cheese. But that said, I didn't lose any fingers doing it manually, so it's not so much a necessity as much as a strong like.
Searching "kitchen essentials" on pinterest pointed me to some websites like this one: http://jeanetteshealthyliving.com/2012/08/essential-equipment-supplies-for-firstcollege-kitchen.html for the first time college kitchen set-up.
And this one: http://preppercentral.com/?p=2803 for the prepper/survivalist.
Certainly, there is a lot of overlap on these two lists. For my own kitchen, I would lean toward the stainless steel rather than plastic versions of utensils and other items.
We do have a pyrex coffee percolator here in Australia that I am taking back in my carry-on bag. I have such a weakness for everything pyrex and I only paid $3.50 for it a year ago. I know I could pick up another one in the US, but honestly I don't remember ever seeing one at the thrift stores there and this one is already paid for. So it's going.
Electric appliances will be saved up for and will be low on the list because if/when we do return to Australia, they'll be sold off anyway as the electrical systems in Aus and the US aren't the same.
So when we get to the US, I will start scanning the thrift stores and estate sales for:
cast iron cookware
mixing bowls (pyrex or stainless steel)
cooking utensils (large spoons, spatulas, whisk, etc.)
prep utensils (grater, peeler, etc.)
A toaster will be a necessity. I've burned many a slice of bread while attempting to toast it under the broiler. And we've had a toaster oven in the past which 95% of the time we just used as a toaster. For us, it's simpler to just use a toaster.
Please share your thoughts about a new kitchen set-up in the comments. Cheers!