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May 19, 2010 12:20 PM

Must-haves for a grad student's kitchen? Here's what I've gathered so far...

I'm headed to grad school in the fall and because I lived with my parents through college to save money, this will be my first kitchen of my own.

I've been trying to round up extra/older kitchen tools and gadgets at home that no one is using, but for the items I do spend money on, I want them to be of good quality. I'm willing to spend a little extra if I know that something might be able to last me for a long time.

So far, I've been able collect these items from some parent-approved home scavenging:
4 Cup Cuisinart food processor
Liquid Measuring Cup
Dry Measuring Cups
Handheld Grater
Pastry Brush
Handheld Mixer
Vegetable Peeler
Mortar and Pestle
Flour Sifter
Two Steak Knives
Cooling Rack
6 qt. Le Crueset Dutch Oven (broken knob)

I was also able to buy a Wusthof Classic set on sale for $220. I set included: 8" Bread Knife, 8" Chef's Knife, 5" Santoku Knife, 5" Serrated Utility Knife, 3.5" Paring Knife, Kitchen Sheers and a sharpener. I've been reading more and more how I only need a paring, chef's and serrated knife and that anything else is just superfluous, but I still feel good about my purchase.

I also bought a 12" Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillet. I got a 6" skillet too since I'll be making breakfast for one quite a bit, but I'm debating on whether to return it for an 8" or 10" skillet.

I'm seriously considering purchasing a Tramontina cookware set from Walmart. America's Test Kitchen said it was a best buy at $200 and it includes: 10'' saute pan, 12" saute pan, 2-qt. covered sauce pan, 4-qt. covered sauce pan, 5-qt. covered Dutch oven, 12-qt. covered stock pot.

Here's what I figure I still need to get:
Electric Kettle (I drink a lot of tea)
2 heavy duty Cookie/Jelly Roll Sheets
Roaster/Casserole Pan
Cake Pan
Mixing Bowls
Cutting Board
Dry Measuring Spoon Set
Spoons (Metal/Wood and Slotted/Unslotted)
Towels and Mitts

Any thoughts or suggestions? Am I including something silly or forgetting something important? And are there any brands that you all would consider best buys for someone in my situation?

And my parents are encouraging me to get a crock pot so I can make meals while in class... I've never used a crock pot before really and I'm uncertain as to whether I'd really use one if I got it. Anybody care to share their crock pot experiences?


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  1. Electronic scale; bench scraper(s)--the plastic ones with a curved side and a straight side are indispensible; flour shaker; parchment paper;

    1. First, I would replace the LC knob. You can get a stainless steel one at Williams Sonoma for $10.

      I think a 6" is a perfect breakfast size. I have a 10" and it's either too big or too small.

      $200 isn't a lot of money for the amount in that set, but I think you'll have a lot of redundant pieces (which is a concern if you are short on storage). For example, I don't think you need two saute pans, and you certainly don't need their dutch oven if you have the LC.

      You have collected A LOT of stuff. I am going to assume you bake heavily, otherwise you have amassed quite a bit. That is, a sieve sifts flour. A roaster is great for a turkey, but will you be roasting a turkey often? You can roast veggies on the cookie sheets. If you get a large enough oven-safe saute pan, you can use that for roasting meat as well. If, indeed, you bake enough to warrant a flour sifter and cake pan, don't forget the rolling pin and angled spatula to spread icing. Whisks: one large and one small. I *might* add a set of pyrex or stoneware casseroles (as opposed to a roasting pan) that can be used for baking and food presentation.

      The rest depends upon what you like to cook (and eat). Do you want chopsticks? A crepe pan?

      1. Wow--you've amassed quite an array of stuff! Regarding your crockpot question, I went through grad school without one and I never missed it. And I threw dinner parties (a coterie of us had an informal dinner club, too).

        One thing I would suggest is looking at your storage space. How large is the apartment you'll be living in. You want space not only for cookware, dishes, utensils, but also food! Will you have enough room to set up a small pantry? Also, are you living by yourself or with roommates? Roommates may have stuff that needs storage, too. I'd look into your available storage space before getting more stuff.

        1. I take everything back. If you are going to graduate school and your name "lobLaw" is any indication, the only think you'll really need to do is to set up a cocktail bar.

          1. An inexpensive coffee grinder. The cuisinart is overkill when you need like 2 tablespoons of chopped peanuts for pad thai or a quicker grinding of spices than the mortar and pestle would take.

            I'd also pick up an entry level toaster or toaster oven. Good for stretching another day's use out of bread that's starting to get old, and the toaster overn is good for reheating leftover pizza.