Cooking in College

Starting college brings about a myriad of new experiences, from living with strangers and doing your own laundry to trying to balance partying with homework. More often than not, just like laundry, cooking becomes an insurmountable chore. It’s not uncommon for college students to sustain themselves almost exclusively with pizza and microwavable junk food – hence the popular concept of the “freshman 15.” However, with a little bit of forethought when packing or shopping for college, it is possible to have everything you need in order to make quick yet healthy meals. 

1. Pot and a pan

Whether the student shares a kitchen with their entire dormitory or just a few people, it is important to invest in a pot and a pan. While a set would be more useful, lack of storage space will often come into play, reducing the kitchen appliances down to bare essentials. A pot will be useful for boiling rice, pasta or potatoes, while a pan can be used to fry or saute vegetables and meat. 

2. Tupperware

Making food in bulk is wise for someone whose time is as precious as that of a college student. Making enough food for the next week makes excellent sense – if you have somewhere to keep it. Having several Tupperware containers of different sizes will allow for properly labeling and storing food in the community fridge.

3. One specialty appliance

Everyone has a specific food they turn to for convenience and taste. Having several appliances doesn’t make sense due to space constraints, but just one will allow the student to indulge in their favorite food. Whether it be a panini press, a quesadilla-maker, a rice cooker, a waffle iron, or a crock pot, it is a useful addition to the boring pot and pan. Additionally, roomates can share their appliances and have access to many different ones without having to own them. 

4. Casserole dish

A small casserole dish is remarkably versatile. It can be used for making a variety of casseroles – one of the easiest dishes to make, lasagna or juliennes. For those with a sweet tooth, a casserole dish can be used to make brownies and even cookies, in lieu of a cookie sheet. 

5. Utensils and miscellaneous 

Besides forks, spoons and a knife for eating, every kitchen should have a plastic, metal, or silicone spatula and stirring spoon. Other miscellaneous items depend on the eating habits of the student in question. Big fans of pasta should invest in a colander (a plastic collapsible colander will hardly take up any space), while those who make mashed potatoes on a regular basis would do well to bring a potato masher with them. And even if not, the great thing about having roommates who are in the same boat as you is that if you are missing something, someone else can probably help you out.