Outfitting a college apartment with kitchen items can add up fast. And if you’re living in a dorm, the lack of actual kitchen space can make things even trickier. No matter what types of budget or space constrictions you’re working with, you can still whip up some tasty meals during your college days. Use this list of affordable kitchen essentials to stock your college kitchen.
Let’s face it — getting a daily caffeine boost is a top priority for most college students. Whether you’re heading off to an 8 am class or fueling a midnight study session, you’ll want a trusty coffee maker at the ready. A French press is the way to go if you’re a college student looking to make your own cup of joe (or cup of tea). First and foremost, a standard French press is typically priced at a fraction of what an electric coffee maker would cost you. Another bonus is that a French press is easier to clean and takes up less space, which is especially important in cramped dorm rooms.
The microwave is the standard kitchen item for any college student – and for good reason. The fact that it makes everything from ramen noodles to popcorn in just minutes is ideal for busy students. Plus, it’s perfect for heating up all those leftovers (especially pizza from the night before). Today, lots of cookbooks for college students have handy tips for making fast microwave meals that are healthy, too. Most importantly, a microwave is the saving grace for students stuck in dorm rooms without a stove top or oven. To save on a microwave, buy a mini version or get a used model from a thrift shop.
If you’re living in a dorm room, having a mini fridge is an absolute must. Like microwaves, they can often be found at discounted prices by shopping for a used model at a thrift shop. Many students only use their mini fridge for one year, so there’s a good chance you can find one that’s still in good working condition. Whether you’re stocking it with some favorite drinks or stashing the aforementioned leftovers, a refrigerator is crucial for your college kitchen.
Keep in mind that the top of your fridge is also a great place for kitchen essentials storage. Place a nice dish towel or cloth on top and use it to keep your dishes and cutlery close at hand. You may even be able to stack your microwave or coffee maker on top of your fridge. Since space is often limited, keeping your college dorm organized is essential.
If you’re looking to experience the comfort foods of home without the hassle of actually cooking, a Crock Pot is for you. Many students don’t have a lot of extra time to cook, which is why a slow cooker (a.k.a. a Crock Pot) can be a lifesaver. You still get the satisfaction of a freshly made, warm meal without having to spend hours over the stove.
To make your meals, just dump in the ingredients, turn on your slow cooker and head off to class. By the time you return later in the day, your meal will be ready to go. From lasagna and enchiladas to homemade chicken noodle soup, there’s a long list of tasty comfort foods that can easily be made in a slow cooker. Again, mini versions and used slow cookers are a great way to save money on this kitchen essential.
Dishes & Cutlery
You’ll need dishes, forks, spoons, and knives in order to eat, obviously, but don’t waste your money on disposable paper plates. A college student on a budget can save big by investing in a few reusable dishes and cutlery options. The cheapest option is plastic, which is readily available and typically comes in lots of fun and vivid colors. But if you want something that will last more than a year or two, get real dishes and cutlery. A thrift shop will have lots of cheap options from which to choose.
Finally, don’t forget about keeping your kitchen clean. Once you start whipping up some homemade meals, you’ll realize that a few cleaning products will make it much easier to get your kitchen items ready for the next task. Get some dish towels, dish soap, and sponges or cloths for cleanup in the sink. You may also need a small drying rack and a cleaning spray to keep surfaces tidy. And don’t forget about the paper towels; they’re perfect for those unexpected spills as well as cheap and convenient napkins to use with meals.
A note for dorm room students: be sure to check about your dorm’s policies regarding kitchen appliances before making any purchases. Otherwise, set out to get these affordable kitchen essentials so you can enjoy some tasty meals this school year.