Transitioning to college can be exciting yet daunting. It’s a significant milestone towards independence and “adulting.” One of the things that a freshman must prepare is a checklist of what to bring. And because you will be living in a dorm, you also have to consider cooking supplies. Think of it like making a kitchen away from home.
We know what you’re thinking; breakfast bars, ramen noodles, coffee, and microwaveable dinners. However, you don’t have to limit yourself with these classic college “delicacies.” And you don’t have to live off from pizza delivery every day either.
You can save money and effort (yes, effort!) by doing the cooking yourself. You might be surprised by what you can pull off on a Thursday evening while having a break from a 3,000-word essay.
While you don’t have to bring a restaurant’s worth of devices and equipment, you can survive off with these 5 essentials:
You might have thought of just improvising for a can opener. But wouldn’t it be better if you don’t let out all your frustration in a can of soup? The best electric can opener on DiligentChef’s list has its own cord storage and knife sharpener. It also automatically shuts off without the need of poking out the lid with your finger.
You can also find electric can openers as small as a desktop mouse. They are battery-operated, and all you have to do is place the device on top of a can. With a press of a button, it will automatically stop after a full rotation.
All these “advantages” might seem unnecessary, but time is expensive in college. Multi-tasking is going to be your talent so why not make a simple task even simpler?
Cutlery with Chopping Board, Spatula, and Wooden Spoon
Of course, next to the can opener is your own cutlery. We can safely assume that knives are inarguably irreplaceable in this list. If you got an electric can opener, it would be a shame if you lack some basic knives. These basics include a chef’s knife and a paring knife.
The most versatile out of these two is the chef’s knife. You can use it virtually for any food preparation whether it’s slicing or chopping. A paring knife, on the other hand, would be handy for a safer and more precise cut when peeling fruits and veggies. However, if you don’t need to slice vegetables or meat, you can settle for a smaller serrated knife. You can make do with the first two that we mentioned, but a smaller knife would be more practical for cutting bread wouldn’t it?
We included in this section a chopping board, spatula, and a wooden spoon as well. A cutting board should always be included with knives. We’re sure that the people in your dorm will appreciate their smooth countertop. And let’s face it, it’s just gross to prepare food on just any surface. You can also bring at least two boards to avoid cross-contamination between meats and veggies.
A spatula is great for all your basic sauteing and even frying. More than just for flipping pancakes, you can use it to scrape your pans clean. And a wooden spoon, on the other hand, saves the sensitive surfaces of your pans from scratches as you mix your stews and soups.
Microwave (and Microwave-Safe Bowls/Cups)
It might seem contradicting to our introduction if we recommend you a microwave. However, a small unit that can fit you your bowl or mug would be a useful addition to your dorm kitchen. There will be days/nights that you would have no energy to prepare something that needs chopping or frying.
But other than microwaveable pastas or meals, you could make yourself a quick macaroni and cheese or even souffles (yes, microwave souffles) from scratch. If you have some leftovers, you can also turn them into a new dish using a bit of creativity!
You’re going to be using hot water a lot. Instead of going to a pricey coffee shop, you could quickly prepare yourself a fresh cup of coffee with an electric cattle. You could also use it for tea or hot chocolate, depending on the mood. And for those mornings where you wake up with less than an hour to prepare, grab a ramen cup and some water, and you’re good to go.
Frying Pan and Stock Pot
You don’t have to bring 10 different pans. A frying pan and stock pot can serve you for a variety of dishes. In the frying pan, you can fry eggs, do a quick vegetable stir fry, or even grill some fish. You could also use it to make a grilled cheese sandwich for those late-night cravings.
With the stock pot, on the other hand, you can make stews, soups, or even different one-pot recipes. If you want to skip a mountain of dishes, one-pot recipes are your best friend.
Other than these five, you can expand the list with the following:
You can build a stock and save time and effort if you have a fridge. A useful tip is to include some food items whenever you’re grocery shopping. It doesn’t have to last you for a month, but after some time, you will have a large stock to choose from.
Perishable goods such as meats, veggies, and fruits will also have a longer shelf life. This means you can save your body from food preservatives in instant foods. Speaking of which, why not make meal plans during your free time. This will save you time from having to make meals for every course. You might be amazed by how many food combinations you can come up with using only our 5 kitchen essentials.
Other than coffee and tea, you can use make yourself a quick smoothie from fruits and leafy greens. A single-serve blender is enough for those on-the-go portions. But other than shakes and smoothies, you can use a blender to cut time in making soups and salsas to complement your dishes.
Just because you’re far from home doesn’t mean that you shall skip hearty and healthy meals. A bit of time management and imagination can give you an enjoyable experience with dorm cooking.