Dining

The Essential Kitchen Tools You Need for College

Skip the Brita and pack these 5 things instead
Dorm Room Kitchen Essentials to Pack for College
Photo: Getty Images

Back-to-school shopping is full of promise. This is the pencil you’re going to use when diligently taking notes. Here’s the blanket you’ll be lying on when you lock eyes with your crush across the quad.

Actually, those situations aren't likely to happen. What we can guarantee, though, are more than a few late-night ramen sessions and the need for coffee to bring you back to earth after a night out. Here are the dos and don’ts for your kitchen packing list as you head off to college.

What You Do Need:
Hot water maker: Make tea, pasta, instant coffee and more—basically, any “just-add-hot-water” item is fair game. You’ll be the most popular door on the dorm block when you’re hosting hot chocolate parties in the winter or hot toddy-fueled “study breaks.”

Chip clips: There will be many bags of chips in your future, because snacking feels better than doing homework (otherwise known as procrastin-eating). Bag clips shaped like adorable woodland creatures will give you incentive to put down the tortilla chips and (eventually) go back to the books.

Photo: Courtesy of Kikkerland via Amazon

Microwave: Unless your dorm room has a kitchen (in which case, go all out), you don’t need heavy-hitting appliances or tools. But microwave cooking is an art, bested only in usefulness by the art of making up philosophical theories in discussion sections. Cook a sweet potato and top it with marshmallows for a DIY Thanksgiving, or stick with classic ramen.

Tupperware containers: If you’ve maxed out on stealing plates from the dining hall, you can use these containers for study snacks, or to transport your oatmeal—which you made with your hot water maker, of course.

Sponge and dish soap: Even a mug filled with seemingly inoffensive tea can get gross, fast. A little bit of dish soap goes a long way, so embrace it.

What You Don’t Need:
Coffee machine: Rather than add another appliance to a small room, stick with instant coffee when you’re in a pinch, and save the fancy stuff for coffee shop power hours. If you must have it in your room, master the art of cold brew. It takes less effort and will keep you more caffeinated.

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Water filter: This will get so dusty from lack of use that even if there are impurities in the water, you’re far better off drinking straight from the tap. Chances are the water system at your school is just fine.

Bottle opener: Yes, I know. Just hold on. There are other items you can use to MacGyver your beer open, including your keys or laptop charger. Someone else is going to have one anyway, and it’ll give you a reason to talk to people rather than stand in a corner praying that your bottle’s a twist-off.

Toaster: Unless you really can’t forgo those between-meal toast cravings, it’s not a diverse enough appliance to justify the added space. Besides, if you have an iron, you can make all the toast and grilled cheese sandwiches you want.

Candy dispenser: Is this one obvious? (It wasn’t to the 17-year-old version of myself, who thought waving her hand and magically receiving M&M’s was the best thing ever.) Pro tip: Subbing Froot Loops for M&M’s isn’t a great idea.

Wild Card:
Slow cooker: I took one and though I only used it once (twice, if you count the time a friend borrowed it), the stewed apples I cooked made it all worth it. My room smelled like cinnamon for a week, and it acted as a small homey oasis in the craze of schoolwork and trying to make forever-friends. You’ll need a few extra tools (a paring knife; a cutting board), but for those who like to cook, it’s worth it.

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