I loved to cook in high school, when I lived with my parents and their fully-stocked kitchen. However, when I came to college, I did not have a kitchen during my freshman year because I lived in the dorms and ate every single meal in the school cafeteria. After that first year, I move to an unfurnished apartment, and the real world of cooking came back with a vengeance: how does one survive in a kitchen that has absolutely nothing in it besides a stove?
I tried to survive off noodles that we cooked on the stove top in an aluminum pot that I got at a garage sale for $1.50, but that obviously lost its charm in about two days. So I started going to my local store to pick up some of the must-haves for my first kitchen. Here are some of the things that no college-kid-kitchen should go without:
Microwave. Many apartments come with a microwave, but if not, you are going to want one! Maybe you are thinking that you can cook everything in a stove. While this is mostly true, stoves takes much longer to cook your food than a microwave does. For example, a frozen dinner takes about three minutes in a microwave; in an oven, it takes closer to an hour. I don’t know about you, but when I come home from class and am starving, I want my food now, not later.
- Measuring cups and spoons. If you are cooking something from scratch, you definitely want to measure how much of each ingredient you are really using. Trust me, a batch of cookies that is accidentally made with a tablespoon of salt tastes much worse than one that is made with the single teaspoon that the recipe calls for.
- Toaster. What would you rather have for breakfast? Yummy, freshly toasted bagels or a cold piece of bread. Yep, enough said on this subject.
- Can opener. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is when you want green beans but you can’t open the metal can they come in? Take my word for it, you can’t bust these cans open against a rock, so don’t even try; just go get yourself a good can opener.
- Large pot and skillet. You can cook almost anything if you have a large pot and a large skillet. Try to find a heavy-bottomed one because these last longer and are more durable.
- Tupperware. It’s cheaper to cook a lot of stuff at once and then freeze it for later in a Tupperware container. Also, you can send food home with your friends if you have a group dinner in these handy containers, which will make you very popular among the starving college crowd.
- Large baking pan or casserole dish. Layered casseroles and baked goods do well in these pans. Plus, most things you can cook in a casserole dish or baking pan are easy to prepare and pretty tasty, if you follow the recipes.
- Cutting board. You are not likely to get most of your security deposit back if you leave knife marks all over the kitchen counters. Instead, get a cutting board or two to carve up your meats, breads, veggies, and everything else you cook.
- Ice trays. Nobody likes warm soda. If your freezer does not come with an ice-maker, buy some ice trays to keep your drinks cool.
- College-Friendly Cookbooks. Unless you are really good at coming up with quick, easy-to-make recipes, a cookbook that was designed for college students is a good idea. Check out these books for more ideas.