So I have a lot of friends who are students in university already or just about to start. They all know me as ‘the one who cooks a lot’ and one of the questions they all ask me is this:
What am I doing with my life, you know fees are 9k a year now right?
Just kidding it’s usually along the lines of:
What should I buy for my kitchen?
Now, if you’re anything like me what you’ll do is instantly start comparing everything to what your mum has – creuset pot, a juicer, a smoothie maker, and no less than six frying pans. You think you’ll need it all! You worry the meagre amount you have is not nearly enough for the feasts you’ll create. The first thing I’d say is to be reasonable about how much you will cook and spend accordingly, and even then good equipment doesn’t have to cost the earth. My roasting tin was £2.99 and it serves me well, even if I did scrub off the non-stick the first time I used it.
Here’s what I have to cook with in my kitchen currently:
-One 5L stockpot (the newest addition)
-One (bent) frying pan
-One small knife
-One big knife
-One plastic chopping board
-Pestle and mortar
-Two big plastic spoons, one with slats in it
That’s it. Apart from eating utensils and bowls and things I literally don’t use anything else. Now, if you’re being really savvy you could cut some of those things out, particularly the baking things, and save on the rest. Be reasonable, are you really going to use these things after uni? (Says the girl who spend £80 on a knife). My mum swears that no matter how good the non-stick pan is it’ll wear out eventually so don’t spend money on a good one, buy a cheap one it’s only going to be three years.
Things you’ll really need (even if you don’t cook at all)
-A non-stick frying pan
-A big spoon
-Some sort of knife
-Some sort of chopping board
I’d argue that’s it. Those three things are the ones I use practically every day and I think every student should own regardless whether they are planning to cook or not. Everything else you can get by without or borrow off someone who has come much more prepared than you.
Extras (if you’re planning to cook a bit)
-Two knives of different sizes
-A large pot for soups and stocks
-A meat and a veg chopping board
-Pestle and mortar
Really you don’t need much. It’s handy to have a few saucepans so you don’t have to wash them constantly and it’s nice to have a different knife for chopping vegetables and chopping meat but in reality you can get by with the minimum with ease.
Now, onto the crap you really DON’T need.
Completely unnecessary things (and what you can subsidise them with)
1. Juicer/smoothie maker
Don’t even bother. You’ll use it once in that health kick phase one dim and dark Feburary and then never again. They’re awful to clean and when you handwash everything believe me you’ll try to avoid cleaning like the plague.
2. Rolling pin
Use a wine bottle/vodka bottle/water bottle. Literally anything that is cylindrical and can be filled with liquid is now a rolling pin.
3. Pizza tray
We have one of these in my house. It’s awful. It’s basically a circular roasting tray with holes in the bottom which mean it is utterly useless for making anything but home-made pizza. Don’t bother, just get yourself a good roasting tray. Same goes for anything with a specific usage like this.
4. Toastie maker
I may be controversial here but these things, although they do make good toasties, are a waste of time and space. Stick whatever you were going to put in there under the grill with something heavy on top – voila!
Again, weird considering I own one. But a sieve does exactly the same job and has more uses. Sieve over colander any day.
Phone. Use your phone.
7. Rice cooker
I really don’t understand this one. Unless you are cooking industrial amounts of rice you really shouldn’t need one of these. Normal rice cooks exactly the same as pasta.
This one is vague but it covers a lot of ground. Anything which calls itself a ‘gadget’ should be avoided. Anything you ‘might’ use should be avoided. Anything that does something ‘quick and easy’ that you could do with a knife should be avoided.
I could go on, I probably will go on at some time in the future, but this has been a quick guide to what any student (or any person starting their own kitchen) should start off with. As you go you’ll collect bits and pieces but to begin there’s really not a lot you’ll need.
So go cook!