Setting up a student kitchen is always a mixed bag. Flatmates come in with whatever they managed to scrounge from home, or with lovingly gifted appliances parents think will be put to use, and end up being traded in for a 24 pack of beer. Of course, resourceful students can make do with only a handful of utensils, but this list will help create a basic kitchen set that should last until you’re ready to upgrade.
Pots and Pans
Grab two non-stick pans, one the size of an omelette and one a bit bigger for preparing larger servings. A wok is also an excellent addition to standard pans and helps make stir-fries super easy. You’ll also need a large pot, in case someone decides to cook spaghetti bolognaise for the whole flat family, and a saucepan for everything else.
Bowls, cups, glasses, plates and cutlery. Buy enough of these so you have double as many people as you have in your flat. Remember to get teaspoons for teas, and a few serving bowls too. Purchase brand new, or search second hand stores in your area, which are usually excellent for cheap cutlery, mismatched plates, and glassware. Try to buy loose items, rather than sets so that you can add to the collection if they get lost or broken.
It’s smart to invest in more than one chopping board, especially if several people might be cooking a meal at the same time. If buying plastic, dedicate a colour specifically for meat and animal products to avoid any cross-contamination and potentially unsavoury situations.
Bottle openers are key for student flats, but it’s more than likely by the end of the year you’ll be able to open a bottle with a spatula, the corner of a table, even a well well-folded piece of paper. Bottle openers are items that tend to go missing at house parties so grab a couple and one with a magnet to stick to the fridge.
Opens cans. Cans with a pull tag are more expensive, can openers are not.
Instead of buying a cheap knife block full of differently shaped knives, invest in a couple of good chefs knives and a paring knife, which will make light work out of meats, vegetables and fruit. A cheap bread knife will do the trick for uncut loaves, but if buying from a bakery you can ask them to slice it for you.
Spatula, Potato Masher and Whisk
Not many things can replace these. Try mashing potatoes with a fork for instance and see how quickly you give up.
A Good, Basic Cookbook
This will teach you how to cook. Perfect a couple of dishes in here and you’ll have your flatmates loving you in no time. Consider practicing and perfecting these:
- The best spaghetti bolognaise you can find. Eggs — poached, boiled, scrambled, fried.
- Beer-can chicken — like a roast chicken, only better.
- Something fancy for date night, like chocolate mousse.
- A good curry.
Straight out of the home and away from your parent’s cooking, many students are learning from scratch how to make good dishes. To make it easier, ensure you have these four key items:
- A microwave — quick, simple and safe. You can throw basically any food in here and cook it quickly. Do not put any metal in your microwave though, you’ll create a brightly lit rave in the microwave that will prevent you from ever using it again.
- Rice cookers — take all the guesswork out of rice, which will be a main staple in the flat. Rice is cheap, easy to flavour, and when cooked well, delicious. Rice cookers also prevent the bottoms of pots burning black.
- Slow cookers — are genius. Put in your meat, some flavourings and liquid, turn it on and walk away. Your dinner will cook while you’re out at lectures or off on an adventure.
- Blenders — soups, smoothies and margaritas!
To ensure everything runs smoothly, the flat cleaning process should be designed to be as easy as possible. You’ll need a rubbish bin and some bin liners plus a selection of cleaning products, including dishwashing liquid, oven cleaner, and multipurpose spray. White vinegar and baking soda will work just as well. Importantly, you’ll need some way to decide who is cleaning the kitchen, putting out the rubbish, buying the cleaning products, and cooking. Whether you create a roster or pull straws it’s important that the whole flat is on board.