The Guide to College Kitchen Essentials

Among the many challenges of college, learning to cook or prepare food for yourself is one that tends to sneak up on people. One minute you’re living in the dorms hitting the nearby buffet, and the next minute you’re living off-campus trying to figure out what utensils or items you need to fix dinner.

While we can’t help you work through the cookbook, we can help breakdown what you will likely need in your kitchen and what each item is used for!

Spatulas

  • A metal spatula will help you flip things like eggs, pancakes and cookies while still keeping it all intact.
  • A rubber spatula will help you with heavy doughs and scraping that last heap of peanut butter out of the jar. This one is shaped like an egg so you can get the ideal image of what you’re trying to cook.

Spoons

  • A slotted spoon will help when making soups and pastas, so you can have the perfect mix between noodles, the broth/sauce and whatever else you’ve added to the dish.
  • A wooden spoon will help you stir the pot, but won’t burn your hands! Additionally, the wooden material won’t affect the taste of your dish like a metal spoon or be a melt-risk like a plastic one.

Knives

  • A chef’s knife is used for both slicing and dicing a wide variety of common ingredients that fall under the fruit, vegetable, meat or fish categories. This knife is the most important and versatile one you will own.
  • Paring knives are important because they do the job of a chef’s knife on a smaller scale. They are used for slicing and mincing smaller ingredients like strawberries and shallots.
  • A serrated bread knife is important for getting a clean, useful cut of bread. While they are mainly used for bread, serrated knives are extremely useful for safely sawing through foods with waxy surfaces like watermelons or tomatoes. Here is a great option for an entire set of knives in a great variety of colors.
  • With all these knives, you’ll also need a cutting board. A plastic cutting board is cheap and safe and won’t dull your knives out like a glass one. Cutting boards protect both knives and counters and make it easier to transport prepared ingredients to the next destination. This set of plastic cutting boards are pre-marked with the type of ingredient you should be preparing on each mat.

Utensil Drawer

  • A Y-shaped vegetable peeler does the same job as a regular vegetable peeler, but more. It can peel, not only your basic carrot or cucumber, but also harder-to-peel foods like mangoes and different kinds of squash.
  • A can opener might not be the first thing that comes to mind for a college kitchen, but when you need a quick meal, a can opener will make it easier to whip up some black beans, a pre-made soup, or any other canned food item.
  • Locking tongs will toss a salad, flip meat that is cooking on the grill or in a pan, and make it easier and safer to saute vegetables. These tongs can really lend you a hand … because they’re shaped like them.
  • An instant read thermometer is important if you plan on cooking any meats or fish. If meat or fish is not brought to the appropriate temperature, you can run the risk of foodborne illnesses such as salmonella.
  • It is important to have measuring cups for both wet and dry ingredients. Especially when baking, being able to measure out how much of each ingredient you are using is certainly useful. These measuring cups are shaped like fish so your baking will go swimmingly.
  • Measuring spoons are good for spices and ingredients that will always be used in smaller amounts. Try finding ones that fit in the spice containers you typically use.
  • A whisk is important for a variety of processes in baking, but also for making delicious, fluffy eggs in the morning.

Other Important Items

  • A salad spinner will remove excess water out of lettuce, pasta and fruits! It is really useful for making sure your produce is fresh and clean. Salad spinners can also be used for a variety of less conventional things like washing clothes!
  • A wire mesh colander is necessary for draining the excessive water out of a cooked pot of pasta. One with handles or legs will hold the colander up so that the noodles aren’t sitting in their own water at the bottom of the sink (yuck).
  • A rimmed baking sheet is especially useful for creating one-pan meals like the one in this blog post. It will also help prevent any spillage of cookies off the pan!
  • A skillet is necessary for sauteeing veggies, making an egg scramble and a variety of other recipes.

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