For those who can cook, going off to university is a milestone of moving away from home and spreading one’s wings. For the rest of us, it’s a cleverly disguised death sentence for slow starvation. Whether you’re ready or not, living on your own means cooking for yourself. This uncharted territory can be especially scary for individuals like myself who spent highschool married to their microwave; so if I can make the leap, you can too. This is the fool-proof guide to what you absolutely need for your college/uni kitchen.
Big tip: don’t waste your time or money buying expensive knife sets. Chances are, you’ll probably only end up using two or three of the knives in the set. Seriously, which ordinary college kid even needs a Cheese Knife or Spatula Spreader? Instead, opt for investing in a good ol’ multi-purpose Chef’s Knife and Paring Knife.
Whether it’s a hunk of steak or lump of potatoes, the Chef’s knife is the go-to tool for all your cutting, dicing, and slicing needs.
The paring knife is great for cutting and peeling smaller objects like fruit or veggies.
2. Cutting Board
If you’re not an avid chef, a plastic cutting board will be your best bet to making food prep and clean-up effortless. The plastic surface is durable, light, and can be disinfected easily. Cross-contamination is a real thing (!!!) so make sure to get two cutting boards: one for your raw meats, poultry, fish, etc and one for everything else.
3. Measuring Tools
The key to cooking as a beginner is to actually follow the recipe, which includes listening to the cookbook or YouTube video’s specific measurements. I know we all think we’re salt bae and can sprinkle and add a little bit of this or that into our food, but honestly, the measurements are there for your benefit. Even seasoned chefs need exact measurements for things like baking (seriously, baking’s a science!).
Liquid and solid measurements are different so make sure you get yourself a Pyrex for your liquids. My mom got her Pyrex over 10 years ago and we still use it to this day.
4. Cookware Set
The classic pot and pan duo are the only real staples when it comes to cookware. A good pot will be your best friend when it comes to making pasta, sauces, rice, soups, etc, while the pan covers everything else. With that said, it never hurts to have some extra pots on hand, especially if you’re planning on cooking a full course meal.
5. Mixing Bowls
Making a salad? Mixing batter for a cake recipe? Marinating your me- never mind. Mixing bowls are the answer to all problems. Get a set of stainless steel bowls, they’re practically indestructible.
Don’t be the schmuck who tries to pour out boiling hot pasta water without one, trust me you’ll regret it. A colander is an unsung hero that can be used for rinsing vegetables, draining canned goods, and even steaming vegetables.
7. Baking Sheet
I’ll give anyone $10 who can go their entire four years of Uni without craving cookies, fries, and roasted veggies; basically anything that requires a baking sheet.
8. Can Opener
Quick recipes always seem to include canned goods like tuna, chickpeas, and Campbell’s. You never realize how much you use can openers until you can’t find one, or in my case, have a rusted one that’s useless. Be safe, go for a stainless steel one.
9. Aluminium Foil
Everyone knows that aluminium foil can be used to cover your food and line your baking sheets. But they are also perfect for no clean-up foil packet dinners and tinfoil hat team building (jk).
With all the hype around meal planning, homemade lunches are cool again. Store your food with good quality and microwave friendly tupperware.
Is an explanation even necessary? There seems to be an unspoken rule that every millennial who cares an ounce about healthy eating has one. On a serious note, the Nutribullet is the solution for almost anything you can think of. Small kitchen? The Nutribullet is tiny. Want a smoothie? Now you can make it at home. Feeling fancy and want to make pesto? Purée away in your Nutribullet! I bought mine refurbished for only $50.
Money might not be able to buy you happiness but it can buy you a kettle that will give hot water on demand for when your soul needs tea, hot chocolate, or a classy cup of ramen.
Here are some extra gadgets that are really useful in the kitchen. Although these things are nice to have, they won’t make or break your meal prep process if they’re out of your budget.