Mark Bittman contends that $200 can equip a basic kitchen that will be adequate for just about any task, and $300 can equip one quite well. For the most part, I agree. By shopping at restaurant supply stores, you can get solid equipment for reasonable prices. Good news if you're just starting out or need to replace a lot. At the end he lists some items you can do without, and he's again, probably right. But I love my KitchenAid stand mixer and wouldn't want to do without it. In fact, I own that and I don't own a food processor.
In a similar vein, last December I did a little test pitting a restaurant supply frying pan against an All-Clad pan. The results, Are Expensive Pans Necessarily Better? were posted to Serious Eats.