The kitchen of a college apartment can be a wild place. Some refrigerators are well stocked, with all food groups represented, while others hold nothing but take-out boxes and condiments. Some students keep herb gardens in sunny windows, while others have overflowing sinks of dirty dishes. Some take pride in epicurean adventures, while others keep it simple with a box of mac and cheese. For those students who are new to having a kitchen of their own, a little guidance can be helpful.
Virginia Woolf once wrote in A Room of Ones Own, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” For many collegiettes, “dining well” translates to whatever we can whip up in between classes. Luckily, with the right tools, dining well can be convenient, nutritious and delicious. So before you cancel that meal plan, consider this list of essentials for your kitchen.
1. Toaster Oven
You can prepare so many different meals in this awesome appliance. The little guy heats up faster than the real oven, and is way less intimidating if you are new to cooking. The toaster oven toasts bagels and bread of course, but you can also make sweet potato fries, pita-bread pizzas, and hot sandwiches in it. When leftovers, the toaster oven makes meals crispier, and it doesn’t leave cold spots throughout food, like the microwave sometimes does.
Here is a list of healthy and easy toaster oven recipes:
The blender is another handy appliance, with which you can make endless combinations of smoothies, soups, dips, sauces, and of course, refreshing margaritas. All it takes is a few complementary ingredients and the press of a button. Blenders are very useful for using up the produce that you might not have time to cook before going bad. As society becomes more wellness focused, everyone seems to be drinking a fresh fruit and vegetable juice or smoothie. The juicer takes up a lot of space in our small kitchens and is difficult to clean, with its many intricate parts. Juicers are also usually quite expensive. Blenders are relatively less expensive and so easy to clean after use.
Here is a great site for healthy soup recipes that you can make with your blender:
3. Water Filter
The importance of hydration can never be overemphasized. Usually, common ailments like headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue throughout the day can be traced back to dehydration. Today, really focus on drinking eight glasses of water and notice how much more vibrant you feel. Unfortunately, drinking water straight from the tap exposes you to thousands of disease causing contaminants, and water bottled in plastic is harmful to both the consumer and the environment. Therefore, every kitchen needs a good water filter. There are filters that attach to the faucet and water pitcher filters that fit in the refrigerator. Both are between $10 and $30, and are very necessary to hydrate and stay healthy while avoiding harmful and disease causing chemicals.
4. Coffee or Espresso Maker
Popping into your favorite coffee shop may seem like a necessary morning ritual, but we all know that cash spent there adds up. It is hard to find a good cup of black coffee for under $2 these days! Not to mention, there is the looming the temptation of pastries to accompany your caffeinated beverage. That morning ritual is costing you a-latte. So having a coffee machine at home is absolutely a must for every kitchen. A favorite for many students is the Keurig Single Cup Coffee Brewer, which brews one perfect cup of coffee, and is very easy to use. While the machine can be a bit of an investment, it lasts for years and will save you money over time. Another option is a stovetop espresso pot. It costs only about 30$ and will make enough shots of espresso to last you all day. You can brew some in the morning, have a double shot to start your day, and keep the rest in the refrigerator to chill until the afternoon. Then, you can make an iced latte for an after class pick-me-up. It is more cost effective and just as delicious to be your own barista for a change!