College students and new chefs need essential kitchenware to prepare basic, healthy meals. This is part 6 in a new series: College Cooking Crash Course. This series is written by Kyle, a student at Princeton University, and is designed for college students looking to learn the basics of making healthy, cost-effective, and delicious meals.
If you’re a college student who’s just learning to cook, or a new chef working with your first kitchen, you’re going to need a good set of kitchenware. There is some essential kitchenware for any cook, especially if you’re just starting off.
First, there are a few utensils that you’ll always want to keep handy when you’re cooking:
- A high-quality spatula: This is your go-to utensil for stirring, mixing, spreading, etc. I recommend getting one with a silicone end that can handle high heats and will last for years to come.
- Slotted spoon: Great for mixing, but also super useful for draining and straining foods such as poached eggs or green peas.
- Tongs: One of my favorite tools in the kitchen. These are perfect for flipping burgers, bacon, and really anything, as well as for stirring pasta, serving salads and more.
- Can opener: A must-have for opening canned beans, vegetables, fruits, etc. (I recommend the ZYLISS Lock N’ Lift Can Opener, pictured below).
- Vegetable peeler: Getting one of these will speed up your prep time by peeling potatoes, carrots, and more in a matter of seconds.
- Measuring spoons + cups: These always come in handy, especially when trying out recipes for the first time. Also essential for baking!
- Squeeze bottles: These are great for holding + your oils and sauces, and will give you way more control over your liquids than wide-mouthed containers do. I love to fill these up with olive oil and cooking oil so I can quickly add as much or as little oil as I need to my pans while cooking as necessary.
You’ll also want to make sure you get yourself a good set of pots and pans. At bare minimum, I’d recommend getting a medium-sized saucepan (for soups, sauces, poaching eggs), a large pot (for cooking pasta), and a medium-sized and a large-sized skillet (for all of your frying, sautéing, and searing needs). I’d also suggest investing in nonstick pots and pans if possible – you’ll be able to easily cook eggs, pancakes, and other delicate foods without worrying about them sticking to the bottom.
Lastly, two invaluable items for your kitchen are a steamer basket for easily cooking vegetables and a colander for draining pasta.
Bonus tip, especially for college students: buy a Panini Press! Not only is it great for making tasty paninis, it also serves as an excellent indoor grill for making burgers, cooking chicken, or searing steaks. And since you probably won’t have access to an actual grill, this can be a real lifesaver for satisfying all of your grilling needs.
If you’ve got all of this essential kitchenware, then you’ve got all you need to be a great chef! Any other equipment may be nice to have, but certainly not necessary for a new chef, especially one on a tight budget. Let me know what you all think in the comments below.
And if you like this College Cooking Crash Course post on Pasta, be sure to check out my other College Cooking Crash Course blog posts:
Disclosure: Circulon provided me with a complimentary set of pots and pans. I was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.