Welcome to college! Welcome to living on your own. No more mother and father looking over your shoulder and making sure you’re okay. Sure, now you’re free to do what you want – party, drink, smoke, have sex, basically whatever you want when you want. But, what about eating? Food is an essential part of survival and is a daily necessity. Sure some of you say you know how to cook for yourself. You’ve watched your mom or dad cook a thing or two or even done some of it on your own. But my guess is that the majority of you have relied on ingredients, supplies, and equipment that were provided for you and not things that you got yourself, things that you took for granted. Think about it – you walk into your kitchen at home and what do you see? A kitchen that isn’t yours chalked full of tools, and not to mention, a fridge stocked with food you didn’t purchase. What happens when you have none of that for you? Where do you start?
ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY COOKING GEAR
- Knives. A decent set of kitchen knifes. Now you don’t have to splurge and get a whole set, a relatively decent chef’s knife and a paring knife can do just about everything you need. By chef’s knife I mean a big 6-7 inch long blade. Don’t be afraid of a big knife, bigger and sharper knifes have a less chance of you cutting yourself –that is if your not an idiot. A paring knife is a smaller knife that can trim, peel, and pretty much do anything thing except chopping. Chef’s knife is very versatile, but its main use is for chopping. A serrated knife is good as well but not always necessary (pretty much just for cutting bread and things of that nature). If you’re living in a house with friends, split these it’ll be cheaper and you’ll all end up using these.
- Cutting boards. These are extremely necessary for keeping those knives you just bought in premium condition. Cutting boards protect your knives from getting chipped or cracked on non-cuttable surfaces. It goes without saying then, the better you protect your knives, the less chance you have to replace them any time soon. How many cutting boards, and what material (plastic, wood, glass) it is made of is completely your choice. I recommend two plastic boards, they are the cheapest and easiest to clean.
- Small Sauté Pan. You’re going to want one relatively small sauté pan. This should be about 5 or 6 inches in diameter, relatively speaking but it is a personal preference. I personally prefer Teflon non-stick pans – makes clean a lot easier. (Warning: do not use metal utensils with Teflon pan because the metal will make the Teflon come off and that shit will give you cancer- just saying)
- Large Sauté Pan. This one should be about 10-12 inches in diameter just for cooking on a larger scale or just bigger things in general. This is the pan you’ll probably want to cook your proteins in or just anything that’s a larger size. Again, I like the Teflon but your choice.
- Small pot. Something around a 1 quart sauce pot with a cover. This is solid for making sauces or heating up some can soups or even making a small amount of rice or pasta.
- Larger pot. This one should be about 5 quarts or so, again with a cover.
- Baking pan. Like a baking sheet. You really only need one of these – like a cookie sheet but to be honest you’re more than likely not going to bake cookies on it. It will be pretty versatile for anything of your baking needs like heating up frozen food, making pre-made meals in the oven, or cooking shit in the oven. Put tin foil/aluminum foil on first before baking or clean up will be a bitch.
- Colander. The item that everyone overlooks. Plastic is fine and these can be extremely cheap
- Spatulas. You all know what a spatula is. You’re going to want at least one to flip pancakes, make grilled cheese etc. They’re very useful in the kitchen for a multitude of things. Metal or plastic whatever you prefer. But again, metal and Teflon DO NOT mix. Another really useful one is a flexible rubber spatula. If you ever make a cake, brownies, pancakes from a mix, this is a necessity. No one wants half their cake batter still stuck in the bowl.
- Wooden spoon. Get one. That’s all.
- Whisk. You need one of these for mixing anything.
- Measuring cups. Pretty self-spoken.
- Measuring spoons. Again, pretty self-spoken.
- Can opener. I know most of you are more familiar with the pop-off tops, but not all canned goods have that. So a can opener; Know it, love it, be friends with it. Clamp it on and twist, simple as that.
- Tongs. Very helpful item – I use them for everything. Turning things over, pulling things out, basically anything you don’t want to burn yourself with. Think of them as an extension of your hands, only, they can’t get burned.
- Mixing bowl. Can get these in sets – helpful to mix just about anything and keeping things organized. Glass, metal or plastic whatever you prefer.
- Sponges. You’re going to need a handful whether you have dishwasher or not. They get gross fast and you have to clean your shit up.
NOTE - All of these things can be found on their own, but there are many sets that you can buy together which I personally recommend especially because it will be cheaper
HELPFUL BUT NOT ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY
- Vegetable peeler. Sure you can get one they’re relatively cheap, won’t break the bank but if you have the paring knife you can use that for peeling it’s a much more versatile tool.
- Blender/food processor. Again, very helpful but they can be expensive. If you want to splurge and buy one by all means go for it. It can make things a hell of a lot easier, but anything you can do with these appliances you can do with a knife, cutting board, whisk and bowl.
- Oven mitts. Yeah, they seem necessary but there are many other options like a shirt or towel that work just as well.
- Liquid measuring cups. If you have dry measuring cups you don’t really need a liquid one. They’re the same amount of volume just a different shape.
- Toaster or microwave. You don’t really need these but they are extremely useful. Anything you can put in the toaster or the microwave can be thrown on the stove in a pan or in the oven on a sheet. But hey, it’s your money.
- Grater. Like a cheese grater- still have that knife and cutting board? Chop things up real small and you can survive.
- Cooking thermometer. Once you start cooking you’ll know when things are done. You may want one if you really want to check if meats are cooked, but when in doubt just cut into it.
Once you have the kitchen ready to go it’s time for food. Stock the fridge, freezer and cabinets. See College Pantry Staples.