Whether you’re getting you’re first place as a recent grad, moving in with your spouse, or just stepping up from a life of Foreman Grill’d chicken breasts, stocking your kitchen can be a treacherous task. You walk into Bed Bath & Beyond (or Williams-Sonoma, if you’re bourgie like that), and the next thing you know you’re the owner of some finger tongs and a machine that turns ice cream into spaghetti.

It’s easy to get derailed when shopping for kitchen tools, because fantasies about how you’re going to cook can blind you from the reality that most things you buy will eventually end up in the back of your closet. No, you don’t need a sous-vide machine. Nor do you need hyper-specific tools—strawberry pitter, avocado cutter—for tasks that could easily be achieved with some basic knife skills.

Truth is, you just need some tried-and-true standards to create an efficient, productive kitchen. We hit up a few experts to get recommendations for the best under-$50 tools to stock our kitchen with—reliable basics that will do the job, but won’t cause you to miss rent and be forced to live inside your portable tandoor oven.

The experts:

Chef James Briscione. Chef, Director of Culinary Development for the Institute of Culinary Education, and the co-author of Just Married & Cooking (Scribner ’11), which includes advice for couples on how to stock their first kitchens.
Beth Kirby. A writer, recipe developer, stylist, and photographer behind Local Milk, as well as its incredibly popular Pinterest board.
Chef Ray Dawson. Chef and Director of Culinary at The International Culinary Center in New York City.