For me, having an efficient workspace is the most important part to getting into cooking. Everything needs to be easily accessible and practical, otherwise you might get frustrated and stop cooking all together. Two of the most important parts of my setup is my massive cutting board and sharp knife. These two things are essential. My dad made me this epic maple cutting board custom to my kitchen, but you can buy big cutting boards everywhere. It’s key because when you are chopping a bunch of veggies you can have them all neatly piled and still have room to cut. Then you can add the ingredients to the pan one by one in the optimal order based on cook time. There are plenty of good knives out there for around $100 and up. I use my 8 inch Shun chef’s knife for mostly everything, and to me that’s all you really need (except maybe a paring knife). Some people might like a 10 inch, but I’m not prepping massive amounts of food so i think it is excessive and bulky, but to each their own. Just get something that feels right in your hand (but first lookup proper knife holding technique). A metal dough knife is perfect for scraping the board clean when your done. Yes, it is an investment if you buy both, but the way I look at it is that it’s definitely money well spent if it helps you cook more. The more healthy meals you cook for yourself, the less you spend on going out to eat and the healthier you become. Minimum of $200 is way cheaper than heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc. later on in life. Plus, a quality knife and board will last you your entire life. No joke. These two things will never fail if you take care of them.