We’re in the kitchen today. That’s right, what kind of kitchen stuff should you be taking to university? I have to admit I actually really struggled to write this because as a keen cook there’s a lot of kitchen things that are necessities to me but luxuries to most students. So as always, take this “list” as a guide rather than definitive.
One thing I don’t agree with is waiting til you get there to see what your housemates bring, then team up. Fine in later years when you’re living with friends, but the majority of people I know would have rather gone hungry than share equipment with people they lived with in halls. Myself included…the provided white chopping board was black by Christmas.
Knives were the things I was most worried about heading to university – I needed good ones, but didn’t want to buy the earth. Luckily the summer before university I was treated to the most lovely holiday in Switzerland, and whilst I was there bought four Victorinox knives for the equivalent of about £2. Bargain, though I was terribly nervous about them in my suitcase flying home! Turns out they are amazing quality, so so sharp (I sliced a chunk out of my finger in second year, wasn’t pretty), and they haven’t deteriorated at all. I know take them home every holiday as I can’t bear to be without them…As a minimum, get a sharp straight bladed knife, and one with a serrated edge.
You definitely don’t need to spend a fortune here. Get a cheap flat baking tray, and a dish (pyrex or ceramic) that is the right size for a single portion. As a guide – if its lasagne sheet size, it’s about right. I love, love, love my Le Cruset dish, but they don’t come cheap. That said it looks brand new still (was an 18th present), as a quick soak means any burnt things come straight off. And trust me, I’ve burnt things…
Crockery & Cutlery
I’m of the belief that whilst you don’t need that many plates etc, it’s probably easier and cheaper to go and buy the cheapest, most basic dinner set you can buy. The one is Wilkinson’s is about £7 and I don’t think you could buy the things separately for less than that. In addition, I’d grab a big mug (you’ll need it when you have deadlines!) and a large soup bowl. Cutlery-wise, go as cheap as possible. But buy a few of everything. And lots of teaspoons, I lose about four a term…
At a minimum, get a frying pan (mine doubles up as a wok too), a large saucepan, and a small saucepan. The saucepans should ideally have lids, and all should reallyyyy be non-stick. You’ll thank me for it!
I would advise against buying many electricals until you’re there, as many will be provided. My kitchen had a kettle and microwave (however dirty they may have been), and a decent grill setting on the oven. Electricals weren’t allowed in rooms, to the point we were ‘supposed’ to straighten hair in the kitchen… One thing I would suggest is some weighing scales – particularly if you are starting out cooking as you’ll need practise before guestimating ingredients such as rice and pasta.
Oooh, a list!
- Cheese grater
- Wooden/silicone spoon
- “Fish slice” – sounds fancy, but in reality you probably have one at one. The wide flat thing used for scrapping off food that’s stuck to a tray?
- Tin opener – I am actually really impressed with the quality of the £4 one from Wilkinsons
- Pizza wheel – because cutting it with a knife just isn’t the same
- Potato masher
- Decent scissors
If you’re going to be doing a bit of baking at university, I’d suggest a few little extras. Measuring cups and spoons are a lifesaver for me, as they are great for speeding up recipes. A couple of different trays and tins will expand your baking repertoire, and I’d also consider stocking up on cupcake cases and ingredients such as vanilla extract. And chocolate. Lots of chocolate. Peanut butter too.
Woo, another list!
- Tea towels
- Oven gloves – though I’m from a family who just uses tea towels. That said, oven gloves look pretty…
- Pan stand – most worktops aren’t heatproof
- Chopping board – plastic is cheapest, though I’m desperate for a wooden one!
- Plastic boxes/sturdy freezer bags – great for freezing portions of food in.
- Pyrex jug
- Mixing bowl – also quite handy for times when you’re feeling a bit queasy apparently!
- From the food shop – kitchen towel, cling film, plastic food bags, tin foil
- Cleaning things – washing up liquid, clothes, disinfectant, scrubbing brush
Ah, luxuries. Go wild here. My luxury of choice from the kitchen would be a mini-food-chopper. Seriously, when you can’t be bothered to chop up onions, its the best. I’d also love a blender for making soups.
Have I forgotten anything important? What do you recommend for a student’s kitchen?