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I don’t know about you, but I get enjoyment out of making packing lists. The key is to start early. When you plan ahead for packing, you eliminate all the stress that results from procrastination. Whether your next semester of college is three months away or much sooner, put together a packing list ASAP. Doing so will leave you enough time to purchase any necessary items, and to enjoy the summer. After all, do you really wanna spend your break stressing over bed sheets? I didn’t think so. 

Now that we’ve covered when to pack, the biggest question is what to pack. If you’re anything like me, you’ve already planned out how you’ll decorate your bedroom. Chances are you’ve hit up Dormify in the past week, searching for the right posters to adorn your cinder block walls. And what dorm room is complete without some iteration of fairy lights? Dorm decor is definitely one of the most exciting parts about heading back to campus — but what about the boring stuff we often put off until the last minute? I’m talking about kitchen supplies — something I always neglect to prepare for. To avoid having to steal your roommate’s pots and pans, stock up on kitchen essentials that’ll turn your dorm meals gourmet.


If you’re running late to class and need a quick snack, you’ll be thankful you own a blender. Whether you’re using it for smoothies or margs, a blender is a must-have for any college dorm. Even better, you can get a portable blender from Amazon for those on-the-go days.

Portable Blender, MoKo, $36

Scrub Daddy

Or Scrub Mommy. Whichever member of the Scrub family you choose, you’re in good hands. These babies can take stains out of anything — even when you accidentally burn your pasta sauce into your bowl. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience.)

Scrub Daddy, The Smile Shop, $4

Mini Fridge

Even if your dorm comes equipped with a refrigerator, it’s always good to bring a mini fridge to school. Maybe you have roommates who like to steal your food, or maybe you want some extra space for drinks. Whatever the case, make sure you add a mini fridge to your packing list. My roommates swear by Frigidaire from Target — cute and affordable.

6-Can Mini Retro Beverage Fridge, Frigidaire, $31

Dish Towels

The more dish towels you pack, the better. These things get soiled so easily, and they’re cheap enough to buy in bulk. Or, if you wanna save a buck or two, you can always throw your towels in the wash. Don’t forget your dish soap, too!

Good Vibes Only Tea Towels, QIYUHOY, $9

Air Fryer

While air fryers aren’t a must, they’re definitely good to have around. They’ll come especially in handy when you’re craving a late night snack of mozzarella sticks and fries. For all my pink lovers out there, try this one from Macy’s.

2-Quart Electric Air Fryer, Bella, $41

Electric Kettle

Some schools might not approve of electric kettles, but if you’re one of the lucky ones (or if you’re sneaky enough), you should totally cop one. Electric kettles, like the Ovente Electric Kettle from Amazon, are the perfect product for all my fellow tea lovers.

Electric Kettle, Ovente, $12

Quick Snacks

Snacks are one of — if not the most — crucial element to any kitchen. That said, you should load up on snacks before coming to campus. Trader Joe’s has you covered in this department — I’ll always endorse their Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips ($3), Soft & Juicy Mango ($2), and Dark Chocolate Drizzled Plantain Chips ($3). Of course, you can’t go wrong with Cheez-Its or Oreos, either.

Chili & Lime-Flavored Rolled Corn Tortilla Chips, Trader Joe’s, $3

Instant Eats

Now that you’ve got your snacks, it’s time to start thinking about some easy meals. Again, Trader Joe’s has your back here, with frozen products like Cheese Filled Fiocchetti with Pink Sauce ($4) and Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice ($4) guaranteed to satisfy. If you’re in the mood for something warm and cozy, try a six-pack of Tasty Bite’s Mexican Protein Bowl ($30). For a quick breakfast, most grocery stores offer a range of frozen açaí bowls. Oatmeal, ramen, and instant mac and cheese are some other food options you can always rely on.

Butter Chicken With Basmati Rice, Trader Joe’s, $5

Coffee Supplies

I have coffee to thank for getting me through all four years of college. To feed your love (and need) for caffeine, make sure you bring your favorite coffee to school, whether it be instant packets, K-cups, single serve bags, or ready-to-drink cans. Pack your mugs, portable cups, metal straws, and milk foamer to enrich your coffee-drinking experience.

Fluffy Lamb Vanilla Cold Brew Singles, Chamberlain Coffee, $15

Pots & Pans

Pots and pans should be at the very top of any college packing list. They don’t need to be fancy — as long as they can cook a meal, they’re good. Check Marshalls or Home Goods for cheaper options, or check out Amazon for value packs, like this Granitestone five-piece set.

Stackmaster 5-Piece Mini Cookware Set, Granitestone, $40


Unless you wanna eat your mac and cheese with your hands (no judgment), you should definitely buy some utensils. Forks, spoons, and knives are always a must, but you should also make room for spatulas, whisks, and larger knives and spoons on your list.

20-Piece Gold Silverware Set, Shell And Turtle, $16

Microwavable Plates & Bowls

Listen here: I’ve been using the same four bowls and plates from Target since freshman year. I’m now a senior, and my plates and bowls remain in perfect shape. Plus, they’re less than $1 each and are microwave- and dishwasher-safe. That’s what I call a win.

10.5″ Plastic Dinner Plate, Room Essentials, $1

Food Storage Set

Once again, Target comes in clutch with affordable kitchenware. You can score a 20-pack food storage set for only $29, perfect for when you wanna steal from the dining hall.

20-Piece Plastic Food Storage Container Set, Snapware, $24

Cocktail Shaker

If anything on this list screams “college,” it’s a cheap cocktail shaker. You’ll definitely get good use out of this — trust me. Even if you don’t drink, you can always use a shaker for mocktails.

Cocktail Shaker Bar Set, BNYD, $7

Jill Schuck

Trinity '23

Jill Schuck is currently a senior at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. There, she majors in creative writing and minors in rhetoric and media studies, with hopes of working in publishing. Aside from reading and writing, Jill enjoys traveling, practicing self-care, and spending too much money on matcha.