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Between buying school supplies and dorm room decor, you probably haven’t given much thought to kitchen essentials. Besides, you won’t have an oven or stove, and there’s a cafeteria on campus. Why do you need cutlery and appliances? Well, in the name of having a balanced diet — and expanding your cooking skills — it’s important to stock up on a few basic tools and accessories. You can’t survive on ramen, alone, you know.
1. Kitchen Cart
Most dorm rooms lack kitchen cabinets or anything that resembles a pantry, which means you’ll have to find somewhere else to store all your food and dishware. This is where a rolling cart can come in handy. Look for one with multiple levels and a butcher block top if you’re also short on counter space. Use drawer organizers to arrange and separate items and keep the cart over by your microwave for easy access.
2. Mason Jars
Boost your kitchen’s style and sustainability factor with clear glass mason jars. These attractive containers can keep cereal, candy and other snacks fresh. Plus, they’re an ideal place for storing dry ingredients like flour, sugar and baking soda. Locate items quickly and easily when you store the jars on your kitchen cart or a few floating shelves.
3. Coffee Maker
Unless you’re into energy drinks, coffee will quite literally fuel your college career. However, frequenting the cafe can get expensive fast. Luckily, you don’t have to drain your bank account to stay energized. All you need is a quality drip coffee maker. Brew your own cup of joe right in your dorm with hot-plate style makers, single-serve Keurigs (Amazon) and machines that grind your beans for you.
4. Travel Cups
Of course, you’ll have to take your coffee to go because you’ll be walking all over campus to attend classes. This is where having a travel mug comes in handy. Look for thermoses with airtight lids that you can toss in your pack without having to worry about spills. Then, get yourself a water bottle and an extra travel cup for cold drinks like iced coffee.
5. Toaster Oven
If you don’t have an oven, how are you supposed to make pizza, baked mac and cheese or your mom’s famous homemade casserole? Well, it turns out you can do all that and more in a toaster oven. Sure, you might have to make smaller portions, but this appliance is a must-have if you want to crisp or bake anything. Watch it work double duty as you cook up everything from toast to salmon.
Students who have one or two roommates might choose to share one large fridge to store all their food. However, if you run out of room — or want a private snack stash — a mini-fridge is a must. Choose a classic design like this traditional mini fridge from Amazon, or look for a retro model like this Amazon thermoelectric cooler to add a bit of style to your dorm. Most feature a top door freezer for storing ice cream, popsicles and microwaveable meals.
7. Cutting Board
Serious meal prep involves lots of slicing and dicing, so you’ll need a quality cutting board. While the granite and marble boards may look pretty, they’re incredibly hard and can quickly dull your knives. Therefore, it’s best to invest in a wood or epicurean cutting board. Tight budget? Get a few plastic boards while you save for something nicer.
8. Bag Clips
Sure, you could stock up on healthy snacks like apples and celery but, let’s be honest, chips are crunchier. And you’ll probably work your way through a few bags at once, which is why bag clips are essential. Never let your potato crisps or veggie straws go stale again with these handy clamps. The best part is they’re super affordable, so adding them to your must-have list is a no-brainer.
9. Beeswax Wraps
Plastic wrap and tin foil take up a ton of space in a dorm room kitchen. Plus, these materials are disposable and non-recyclable, which means you’ll generate more waste every time you use them. Take a more sustainable route and stock up on beeswax wraps. This eco-friendly alternative is organic, compostable, biodegradable and reusable for up to a year. Cut the wraps to suit your needs and use them to keep food fresher longer.
It might be tempting to use disposable cutlery while you’re in college and on the go. However, plastic silverware is terrible for the environment because the vast majority never gets recycled. Instead, disposable forks, knives and spoons end up in landfills and animal habitats. Luckily, you can minimize waste, save money and help the planet by investing in a set of reusable silverware. Look for a four-person stainless steel collection that you can continue to use well after graduation.
Stocking Up on Essentials
Before you stock up on kitchen essentials, remember to visit your dorm and take a few measurements. Can you fit a minifridge in that corner? Where will you put the toaster oven? Once you survey the space, you can make a personalized list so you only buy what you need. Happy shopping!