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The College Kitchen

College is around the corner and you’re packing the final items in your suitcases, boxes, and bags. You know a full kitchen in your apartment can save money with homemade meals, which begs the question, what do you really need in your kitchen? Here is a list of the 10 most essential items you’ll want handy to get you started.

1. Plates/bowls/cups/silverware

Disposable cups, bowls, plates, and cutlery are convenient, but your budget may say otherwise. Bring some permanent, washable accessories to alleviate the need for extra trips to the store. Washing instead of replenishing every other week can save money while providing slightly more sophistication as a newfound college student. It’s also handy to have at least one good paring knife for slicing meats and veggies for more intensive preparations.

2. Pots/Pans

You’ve likely already noticed how essential a good pot and pan can be for practically any meal. If not, pick some up for pastas, rice, chicken, grilled veggies, meats, soups, and plenty more to help wean off the Top Ramen for a change. Your microwave is helpful, but a thoughtfully prepared meal can help college feel just like home.

3. Toaster

A basic toaster can provide timely convenience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner snacks on the go. A toasted bagel sandwich can compliment any hectic schedule, or even some eggo waffles for a quick breakfast before class. Don’t underestimate this helpful appliance found for cheap at any local grocery store as you furnish your new pad.

4. Mixing bowl

Often forgotten but frequently needed, mixing bowls provide the means for preparing meals, storing movie night popcorn, or mixing salads for larger gatherings. You might even find it useful to sit idly by your bedside in case of “after party” emergencies—better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!

5. Cake pan or casserole dish/cookie sheet

From the adventurous to the simple meals, a casserole dish and cookie sheet can accommodate dozens of preparations. Want to throw some frozen fries in the oven? Whip out the cookie sheet and aluminum foil. Looking for some lasagna for the evening? Time for the casserole dish. These essentials are more commonly used than you may think, so keep them close and accessible when the occasion calls.

6. Mixing spoon/Spatula

The proper bowls and containers are a need of their own, but when it comes to mixing or extracting, spoons and spatulas can save time, money, and food. Avoid using metal eating utensils on pots and pans, as they can scratch non-stick surfaces and damage cutlery. Using mixing spoons and spatulas for the right task can make your cooking experience faster and more enjoyable without added struggles.

7. Oven mitts/pot holder

Why hunt for a rag or towel to remove hot accessories when you can have an oven mitt or pot holder on hand? Many are equipped with loops to attach to your oven for added convenience, so consider the extra $4.99 purchase to prevent burns and damage to yourself or countertops. You’re more likely to receive your security deposit without unnecessary kitchen catastrophes.

8. Washcloth/hand towel

Cleanup is easier with the right washcloth or hand towel in the kitchen. Frequently wipe and clean countertops, tables, and desks throughout your daily routines. You may be a college student, but cleanliness can speak volumes when entertaining guests.

9. Garbage can

The receptacle we use the most; garbage cans don’t actually come with houses or apartments—shocker—but obtaining one is as simple as the $19.99 price tag practically anywhere you look. Consider stainless steel for its simplified sanitization compared to any material on the market, which won’t cost a significant amount more.

10. Salt and pepper

Start small with your spice collection and stick to the salt and pepper. These two spices can amp practically any homecooked or frozen meal. Seasoning vegetables, potatoes, eggs, chicken, hamburger meat, or essentially any common foods can be enhanced with a little salt and pepper. Purchasing bulk amounts allows you to refill containers at far cheaper costs than purchasing individual shakers throughout the year.

If you have roommates, have a chat before move-in day to coordinate what appliances, accessories, and utensils you’re each bringing. A kitchen with 6 toasters isn’t just unnecessary, it can clutter your living space faster than the freshman-15.

A kitchen can accommodate dozens of conveniences depending on how you plan to cook, clean, or prepare. Your wallet doesn’t have to suffer the added costs of expensive cookware if you plan accordingly. Start small and work your way up with your college kitchen; you may find cooking at home more enjoyable than you ever imagined.

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