8 Kitchen Items Every College Freshman Needs Before Leaving Home
You have watched your high schooler stay up all night working on their science projects, studying for exams, and writing endless papers, and now, you finally get to watch them walk across the stage and receive their diploma. Assuming they're attending college away from home, you'll want to equip them with the right tools to succeed on theri own—and that includes making sure your graduate has a few key introductory kitchen tools that they can use to start taking control of and responsibility for their dinner. Sure, they will have their fair share of pizza and ramen noodles, as part of following the unofficial collegiate diet, however, with some basic kitchenware, they can attempt to make their own “home-cooked” meals in communal kitchens for themselves and friends. These kitchen staples make for excellent, and often sentimental, graduation gifts, just don't be surprised by an influx of calls from your college freshman asking how to make all of your most famous dinners.
A Portable Mini Blender
A personal-size, portable blender can help your favorite young scholar make an easy smoothie before class in a matter of minutes. The compact size of this lightweight style of blender means that one could effortlessly transport the blender from their dorm room to the communal kitchen to whip up simple blender sauces, such as pesto, a no-cook tomato sauce, salsas, and chimichurri.
A Good (10-inch) Nonstick Skillet
Chances are if your soon-to-be college freshman hasn’t spent a lot of time in the kitchen prior to leaving for school, they’ll need a frying pan that will be forgiving to the inexperienced cook as they grow comfortable with preparing food on the stovetop. A nonstick skillet will be their best friend. Before long, they’ll be able to fry a perfect(ish) egg, make their own fried rice using leftovers, saute chicken, and more. The 10-inch pan is a perfect size because it’s not too big to store in your room, but plenty large enough to cook a few basic dishes to serve one or two. In order to keep the skillet in tip-top shape, maybe print this article on what NOT to do with a nonstick pan and include it as a part of your gift.
A Cooking Utensil Set
A basic utensil set may not be the pieces of cookware your grad will carry with them for the rest of their life, but it will come in handy when they need to flip or stir food… with something that isn’t the metal fork they plan to eat with. At the minimum, a utensil set should include a turner, a solid spoon, and a slotted spoon. Plastic or silicon are the easiest materials to find and clean. Most sets won’t include a wooden spoon, but you should consider purchasing one separately. Wooden spoons are just a handy, versatile utensil to have. You can find a super inexpensive one from IKEA that we love here.
A Stock Pot with a Lid
On the nights when spaghetti comes to the rescue for an easy dinner that they won’t have to think too hard about, having a stock pot will make it even easier to cook for their self and the roomies, too. The stock pot is extremely useful for efficiently making a number of college staples, like potatoes, pasta, stews, and soups.
A Cutting Board
A fairly lightweight cutting board will not only be a surface to chop and mince, but it’s also a portable counter, as the board can be used to gather ingredients and easily transfer them from dorm room to the communal kitchen. Trust me, you want to help the student in your life avoid the common rookie instinct to cut food on a plate or a few sheets of paper towels; it’s as dangerous as it is annoying.
A (8-inch) Chef’s Knife
One good knife is all you need to start off your college culinary journey with. An 8-inch chef’s knife is the ideal size to start with. The knife is big enough to chop vegetables and cut certain meats, but it’s also small enough for you to store safely in a tight space with the proper knife guard. The Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef's Knife sold on Amazon is an affordable knife that has over 5,000 rave reviews from customers that have purchased it. If your graduate will be living in campus housing their freshman year, be sure to double check what regulations their school may have concerning kitchen knives.
A Flatware Set
Depending on how they feel about doing the dishes, your grad may often opt for just using plastic flatware; however, (especially for the environmentally conscious) it won’t hurt to have a small flatware set that includes forks, spoons, and butter knives at the minimum. Most sets will include the additional teaspoon or salad/dessert fork as well. Hands down, Ikea is the best place to find budget flatware sets, with a few sets starting as low as $4.99.
A Sheet Pan
The sheet pan, or rimmed baking sheet, is one of the most versatile pieces of bakeware that exists. Use it to bake a frozen pizza, cookies, refrigerated biscuits, heat up frozen dinners, make oven “fried” wings, and any number of other easy dinners. Sheet pans tend to be a piece of kitchen equipment that people hold onto for the longest before replacing, as a decent quality one can withstand daily use.