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What are the College apartment cookware needs?

I'm going back to college and I got an apartment on campus. both me and my roommates are like 'how do we stock the kitchen.' I'm probably going to use it the most. The big essential I came up with is a knife and a cutting board, but even with that I really don't know all that much about cooking cutlery. Can anyone educate me and if you where in my shoes what would you get?

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  1. At least one good knife (I won't presume to tell you what will be good for you - my fav is a stamped, non-brand, german-steel 6-in blade) and a cutting board or 3 is definitely a good starting point. After that, you'll want a mid-sized pot - smaller ones are handy if you don't plan on cooking for other folks or each other, plus you save room. You'll also need a pan, probably 10" will do you. A sillicone spatular will round out that list nicely.

    But that's the (uber) minimalist kitchen - even Bittman's minimalist list had more, I think. After the few items listed, you'll have to consider what you're going to be cooking. Doing lots of beef or things that need turning? You might want tongs. Or maybe a whisk for eggs and whipping cream. Or maybe a separate [super cheap] nonstick pan if you really like eggs. A bigger dutch oven if you plan on doing stews. A bread knife if you're eating lots of bread. A good peeler if you're planning on doing lots of that. An electric kettle if you use boiling water a lot. The list is endless, but start with the few items I mentioned. Most college students, I'd wager, won't have that much time to do much fancy cooking, and you can always buy more stuff when you need it.

    1. When I saw the title of this post, my first thought was, "A good chef's knife and a decent cutting board."

      I'm a huge fan of the Henckel Pro-S series knives but many specialty kitchen stores will let you handle the knives before you buy. Find one that works for you and buy the best one you can. I used to think I didn't enjoy cooking until I got a good knife. It makes all the difference in the world.

      For cutting boards, I use bamboo for all of my fruits and veggies and poly (soft-ish, not the hard, almost glassy kind) for all my meats because it is dishwasher safe. At least one of each would be important for me.

      A heavy-bottomed sauce pan, a frying pan, a saute pan and a stock pot would also top my list. A few bowls in varying sizes would be handy.

      For utensils, I could make do with a spatula, ladle, slotted spoon, tongs, and a whisk. Add in a rubber spatula for scraping, a veggie peeler, a silicon basting/pastry brush and an instant-read thermometer and you're set.

      That's my quick and dirty list.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

        I like your list. I'd add in a can opener, a bottle opener, and a coffee maker (they are college students, after all!).

      2. I would first ask your folks (and your friends') if they have stuff lying around that you guys could have- it's a good way to figure out what you want or need. if you're getting everything new- i would stick to things that can either go in a dishwasher (if you have one) or sit in the sink for a few days (this seems to happen in college!)

        i would get:
        - a set of corelle dishes and glasses, I still have a set that's over 20 years old that goes in the microwave, is lightweight and nearly unbreakable.
        - 2 non stick frying pans- the cheapest avaiable, 1 8 inch and one 12ish inches
        - a big saucepan or stock pot (6-8 quarts) for making larger dishes or pasta- there are plenty of inexpensive options available. should be stainless
        - a medium sized "everyday pan" could be a saute pan or one with curves sides. i would say stainless
        - a colander (washing fruits and veggies, draining pasta)
        - a handful of wooden spoons
        - 1 chef's knife (6 or 8 inches) and 2-3 paring knives. Forschner's are reasonbly inexpensive and very good

        i would really start with inexpenive stuff that you sould be devastated if they break or get lost. you have many moves ahead of you and the stuff you start with now not make it through all of them...

        1 Reply
        1. re: qwerty78

          This is a great list -- esp the Corelle ware and the Forschner knife.

          I would add a few spatulas,appropriate for the cookware, a casserole dish and a few jelly roll pans. I recommend heavy plastic rather than wooden spoons -- college households do way too much soaking in the sink for wooden spoons to survive.

          When you have a shared household, it is very wise NOT to invest in the best you can afford. When you do, you have an emotional investment, too, and you are furious with the roommate who uses your Henkel knife to turn a screw or scrapes the eggs out of your non-stick pan with a metal fork. (I guess worst would be to scrape the pan with the knife...)

          Life is much more pleasant if you can send the clueless roommate to the store and tell them what $20 replacement to buy.

          1. Beyond the basics, a rice cooker can be very nice at school. Our daughter found a new one, still in the box, at Goodwill. One good thing to come of it was rice, red lentils, and couple of spoonfuls from a jar of Patak's Curry Paste.
            You put the food and liquid in, turn it on and walk away. Tasty, inexpensive, and your meal cooks itself in under 30 minutes. There are so many possibilities for flavors, etc.
            If you do get one, please be sure it doesn't just have on & off settings, but also switches itself to Warm when it's finished cooking. If you don't have the space, by all means skip this, but if you do get one I think you could love it. She does.
            Enjoy your apartment!

            2 Replies
            1. re: fern

              My son cooked with his rice cooker practically every day he was in college.

              1. re: pikawicca

                If he has recipes/ideas to share, I'm sure our daughter would be delighted to have them. She was going to spend this summer at home getting more comfortable in the kitchen but so far has spent it all working and complaining of having nothing to do. She's not so bored that she wants to prepare supper, however.