On Saturday I went up to the UT campus and witnessed a bajillion freshman moving into their dorms. A year ago, I was doing the same: unpacking everything from the trunk of my car, meeting my new roommate, setting up my study corner. It was an incredibly exciting yet equally daunting task. The next May, I moved into my first apartment and had to tackle a new challenge: putting together a living space of my own. I let the boys take over most of the living room — soccer flags and concert posters line the walls, along with our collective library. My job was the kitchen.
In the next few months, most of my friends are either moving from home to the dorms (widdle freshman babies) or into a new apartment. I’ve compiled a list of kitchen necessities that my kitchen can’t function without. Feel free to add your own tips in the comment section!
Kitchen Appliances and Wares
–A coffee maker. My coffee maker was like a sister to me during the first year of college. Every morning I woke up to a pot of hot coffee, and about once every two weeks I had a study-write-coffee binge with anywhere from four to ten cups of coffee. Not the best habit to get into, but regardless, desperate times call for desperate measures, and college is definitely a desperate time.
–A food processor – for chopping, quick sauces like pesto, and hummus
–A blender – for post-workout smoothies, pasta sauces, and the occasional margarita night with the girls
–A good sharp knife set with a knife sharpener
–A George Foreman grill – one of the small ones, for making burgers, wraps, or quesadillas on the go.
–A sauce pot/saute pan. Obviously not necessary or feasible for a dorm room, but a necessity for an apartment
–Wooden spoons, slotted spoons, plastic spatula, rubber spatula
–A cookie sheet – for roasted vegetables, pizzas, and, of course, cookies!
–At least 2 cutting boards
–A can opener, vegetable peeler, and corkscrew – for when you need things opened, peeled, and drunk
–A cast iron skillet. I wouldn’t call this a necessity, but it certainly comes in handy.
–An electric hand mixer. You probably only need this if you like baking.
–Lots of tupperware
–Various sizes of mixing bowls – for baking and salads
–Basic staples: eggs, butter, potatoes, stock for soups, dried beans, pasta, rice, olive oil, vinegar of some sort, garlic, lettuce
–Baking supplies: baking powder, baking soda, flour, vanilla extract
–Spices: cinnamon, chili powder, cayenne pepper, garam masala, cumin, oregano, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, cocoa powder. Buy them bulk – it is so much cheaper. Never buy spice mixes (like taco seasoning) — make it yourself for much cheaper.
Good, quick, cheap meals:
–Pasta, of any sort: Always have various pastas on hand. Make sauces occasionally, then freeze them. Pesto and tomato sauce are great.
–Soup — Render some bacon fat by cutting up slices of bacon and sauteeing them, then sauteeing chopped vegetables, then sauteeing lentils, then add some stock, bring to a boil, and sautee. Add spices. Throw into a blender.
–Smuggle food from all-you-can-eat dining halls. Seriously. Everyone does it. You don’t have to be that guy that brings tupperware, but yoinking an apple for a snack later is totally acceptable.
–Plant your own food. If you have a porch/balcony, you should take advantage of it. Fresh herbs and various leafy greens do especially well in planters.
–Save glass containers – for storing food and for leftovers. See the picture at the end of this post.
–Don’t buy a cookbook; read food blogs for your recipes or use your college’s library.
–DO NOT BUY: Spice mixes (mentioned above), paper plates/cups, frozen meals, vinaigrette (olive oil + vinegar + dijon mustard + spices works just as well).