Packing for college is exciting! The tough part is deciding what to bring and what to leave behind. Clothes, shower caddies and bedding take priority. But what about cooking gear?
If you plan to make your own meals from time to time, consider taking a look at the list of cooking items I’ve listed below. With this core group of cooking utensils you’ll be able to make good food whether you’re living in a small apartment or sharing a kitchen with hundreds of other students on your dormitory floor.
And before you say “nay” to cooking gear, keep in mind that the monotony of campus food sets in about halfway through the year.
1. The Essentials
Can Opener. Easily forgotten until you get back from your first grocery run with a bag full of canned goods and realize you have no way to open them.
Cutting Board (bring two). Use one for cutting fruits, vegetables and breads. Keep the other for trimming meats and slicing cheese.
A Knife Set. A paring knife for cutting fruits and berries. A serrated knife for slicing bread or a smooth-skinned tomato. And, a sharp chef’s knife for the majority of your chopping, dicing and slicing.
Box Grater. You can buy pre-shredded cheese but it’ll cost you. A box grater’s large and fine grating surfaces are great for cheese, vegetables, chocolate and more. The super-fine grating surface will prepare fresh ginger for stir-fries, and the slicing surface yields perfect slices of cucumber, zucchini, cheese and more.
Salad Spinner. Plan on making healthy salads? A salad spinner will save you loads of time drying washed lettuce leaves and significantly reduce the amount of paper towels you would otherwise use to dry them. The basket insert also doubles as a colander to drain cooked pasta. Versatile and fun to spin!
Mixing Bowl. Handy for mixing sauces, marinades and batters. It can also be used as salad, pasta or punch bowl.
2. Kitchen Utensils for Measuring
Measuring Spoons and Cups. You’ll need these if you plan to bake late night brownies, weekend muffins or follow a recipe without winging it.
Ice Cream Scoop – Not just for ice cream. If you’re among the growing number of student bakers, it’s great for portioning muffin and cupcake batter into the muffin pan.
3. To Cook the Food
Baking Sheets. Bring two that are the same size. Double them to prevent the bottoms of cookies, chicken fingers or crescent rolls from burning.
Large Pot. For the mounds of pasta you’ll cook.
Non-Stick Skillet. Easy to clean after the cooking is done. Spend a few extra dollars to get one with a heavy weighted bottom. If it feels overly light when you pick it up, it’s likely made from a cheap material that’ll create hot spots in the pan and burn your food.
Spatula. For flipping food in the skillet and for removing stuck-on food from the bottom of a pot or pan. To use it as a cleaning device, hold the handle so the back of it is facing up. This will invert the front edge of the spatula and make it easier to scrape food off a pan. Works like a charm!