When I moved into my first solo apartment, in Astoria, Queens, I was an over-worked graduate student who knew how to cook quesadillas, pasta, and the occasional sautéed vegetable. I owned a plastic coffee maker, a baking sheet, and saucepan and only one other pan. I had no idea where to start when it came to stocking my kitchen with the appropriate tools to make cooking not just simple, but enjoyable. I figured that buying even the most basic kitchen accessories would be expensive, so I, for three years, I stuck to using ice trays that cracked when I tried to take out the cubes and took measurements from a mug instead of a measuring cup. I hadn’t even heard of a cast iron pan until I finished school. Eventually, I gave into adulthood, and bought a real measuring cup, a jug for cold water, a spatula, and a whole laundry list of other inexpensive, straightforward products that vastly improved my home life with their multi-purpose functionality. Don’t let this sad situation befall your loved ones. This holiday season, give them the gift of knowledge—the knowledge that decking out your kitchen in the must-have tools for any burgeoning home cook doesn’t take a fortune. Save them from the embarrassment I suffered for so long, living with a barren, lifeless kitchen. Here are 20 beautiful, practical, kitchen accessories to complete any kitchen—all for under $20. —Elisabeth Sherman

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