In college, I was more into cupcake baking than actual cooking. So my list of college kitchen essentials looked a little different back then.
We had a communal kitchen in the dorms, complete with a stove, oven and fridge. Instead of college kitchen essentials like the ones I’m sharing in this post, I used to grab my hand mixer and piping gear to whip these fancy cupcakes together!
My point is, if I found time to cover the communal kitchen in powdered sugar (instead of studying) you can probably sneak in an hour a two per week to cook some healthy meals for yourself. Self-care is very important in college.
Here are all the college kitchen essentials I would have used if I actually taught myself how to cook instead of how to bake in school.
Small appliances for any college kitchen situation
In most dorm or college apartments, you don’t have much more than a microwave. I remember we were not allowed to have a toaster oven in the dorm building, but we were allowed to have kettles, microwaves and mini-fridges. That was a huge help.
Eggs are cheap, nutritious and easy to make without a stove. All you need is this egg cooker and you can poach ’em, boil ’em or have yourself an omelet.
Maybe smoothies are more your speed. This single-serving blender is perfect because it’s light, easy to clean and doesn’t take up a lot of space. You can grab fruit from the dining hall and have all the smoothies you want!
This kettle is good for more than just a cup of green tea to get you through your study sessions. You can make rice, noodles and pasta with this bad boy too!
If you can swing it, this is an investment you won’t regret. All of your late-night leftovers (pizza, nachos, quesadillas, fries etc) will taste even better if you reheat them in a toaster oven. There’s A LOT you can cook in a toaster oven. You’ll forget that you even need a stove at all!
Don’t let the lack of a kitchen in your dorm or apartment hold you back! If you love cooking and your building allows it, get a single burner. They’re easy to store and you can use them like a regular stove.
Slow cookers are a cheap and easy way to get meal prep done without a full kitchen. This is a piece of equipment that’s built to last beyond your college years too! In no time you’ll learn how to make amazing, super flavorful dishes almost hands-free with the help of a slowcooker.
Hack your microwave
Maybe all you have is a microwave. Don’t worry! You can still cook some healthy, delicious meals.
Don’t be that guy. Keep your food off the microwave walls, yeah?
Can’t swing the egg cooker we listed earlier? That’s okay. You can still make a fancy omelet in your dorm microwave with this fancy little microwave omelet maker.
No access to a stove OR kettles for hot water? We got you. You can use this microwave noodle bowl to cook your favorite pasta and noodle dishes, which are so comforting after a long day of classes.
I will never forget discovering mug cakes in college. I wish I had a cute mug like this with a recipe on it to enjoy them in! If there’s ONE item to get on this list of college kitchen essentials, it’s this one. Mugs are always useful.
Space can be really tight in dorm rooms. Any equipment that multitasks, like these plates that could also be bowls, is worth the investment.
Essentials for college meal prep and food storage
If you’re cooking meals or meal prepping as a student, having the proper gear to carry food around all day is CRUCIAL. You don’t want to deal with any spilled meals in your bag while running around campus, right? That would be a nightmare.
I can say that I confidently put these in my bag all the time, right next to my laptop, with no fear that they’ll leak. And they NEVER do (as long as everything is snapped into place of course). I love plastic containers because they’re light and easy to travel with, which is super important if you’re on campus all day!
If you want to snack in style, go for this bento box. Yes, it’s pricey but it will last you YEARS. It’s safer and more environmentally friendly than plastic, but note that you can’t put this in the microwave.
Got a lot of stuff in your bag? I feel you. If your priority is saving space, go for these collapsible meal prep containers made of silicon. I used to use these in school all the time and loved them.
If you’re sharing a fridge with roommates, you might not have a lot of room to store your meal preps. This is where investing in a micro-fridge can be the best move. Plus, it acts as an extra surface for you to put stuff on, maybe it can double as your night table? (I’m half kidding).
Make taking food to class stress (and mess)-free
In college, I did a lot of eating on the go, and I’m sure you do too. I wish I had these tools to make it easier. Some of these can also significantly reduce how much waste you create if that’s important to you too!
Have you ever picked up a meal or brought a meal prep somewhere, only to realize you don’t have anything to eat it with? How embarrassing. Next time, be prepared and pick up one of these reusable travel utensil sets!
Lunchbags don’t have to cramp your style. I love the sporty and sleek look of this Adidas lunch bag that also comes in other colors!
And if you prioritize function over fashion, grab this awesome compact lunch bag to store your food and snacks for the whole day.
If you know you’re leaving your apartment in the morning and won’t get home until way late, using ice packs is a good idea to keep your meals cool all day long.
I could probably fill a book of good things to say about Stasher bags (not sponsored, just love them). They’re easy to clean, easy to snack out of and you can even cook scrambled eggs in them! If you’re looking to reduce waste, these are for you. You’ll never have to buy a Ziploc bag again.
Soups and chilis are the easiest types of meals to prep and cook (and freeze) for the week. So if you’re a soup/stew/chili person, this thermos is a must.
I hope you found this list of college kitchen essentials helpful! If you did, go ahead and SAVE it for later!
College is stressful enough, and finding a food system and routine that nourishes you without adding MORE stress is key. I didn’t figure it out until senior year and my hope for you is that you figure it out sooner than me in your college career.