By Brooke Bobb
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 five essential items to add.
1. 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
Photo: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma
2. 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
Photo: Courtesy of meric-merci.com
3. 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
Cuisinart Elemental 11-cup food processor, $150, surlatable.com
5. 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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