Leaving your parents’ home for college often means that you’ll be preparing all of your own meals for the first time. Not only will you have to go food shopping, but you’ll have to equip your kitchen with cookware and appliances. Do you find yourself wandering through the aisles of Target and Wal-mart, feeling completely overwhelmed by the sheer variety of cookware pieces available?
From student chefs getting recipe ideas by watching online cooking videos and the Food channel, to college students just wanting to make a decent dinner, these cookware items are essential to maximize your college eating experience. Don’t forget to bring our list with you on your first big kitchen shopping trip!
Mainstays 3-Piece Sauté Set, approx. $22
This set comes with pans of three different sizes. The smallest pan can be used to make a quick grilled cheese sandwich. To stir fry veggies, the medium-sized pan is perfect. If you ever wanted to host a potluck dinner with your classmates, the largest pan will do the trick. Each pan comes with a non-stick coating, and you can throw them in the dishwasher when you’re done cooking.
Black & Decker 3-in-1 Can Opener, approx. $18
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wrestled with a can of beans or corn trying to force it open with a manual can opener. Their electric counterparts make life easier, and are inexpensive too. I chose this three-in-one by Black & Decker because it’s extra tall, so big cans will fit, and it also comes with a bottle opener and knife sharpener.
Proctor Silex Nonstick 7 Piece Cookware Set, approx. $40
When I was in college, I made a lot of pasta. It’s easy to make, quick, and cheap. However, you do need two pots to do it; one for the sauce and another for the pasta. I recommend this cookware set because it comes with the three major sizes that you will need as a college student: one quart, two quart, and five quart. A bonus frying pan is thrown in, making a great backup to the Mainstays sauté set.
Farberware 14-Piece Professional Tool and Gadget Set, approx.$20
This basic tool kit has exactly what you need to make almost any type of meal. It’s got a whisk for scrambled eggs on Sunday mornings, measuring cups and spoons for a cake recipe, and a peeler for potato skins. It also comes with a slotted spoon, a slotted spatula, and a basted spoon, plus a backup manual can opener.
Vasconia 4-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker, $20
Even though beans from a can can be tasty, nothing beats the flavor of pressure-cooked beans made from scratch. Not only are they delicious, but your food expenses will drop when you incorporate beans into your diet. This pressure cooker by Vasconia is an inexpensive option to pressure cook your black beans, lentils, and whatever other type shows up in your recipe book.
Like beans, rice is another economical staple in meals around the world. Whether you’re preparing a Chinese stir fry or a Mexican dish, a rice cooker eliminates undercooked, crunchy rice and the overcooked soupy variety. This amazing design by Aroma also includes a vegetable steamer, so you can prepare a broccoli and carrot side – at the same time, with the same pot!