For many students, university provides the first experience of complete freedom in the kitchen – from choosing recipes and cooking alone to buying their own kitchen equipment. This can be quite a daunting task, but never fear! Exeposé Lifestyle writers are here to recommend their chosen essentials of any student kitchen:
The humble microwave
What appliance could possibly beat the microwave? Not only is it quick, it is also arguably the most versatile appliance the market has to offer. It cooks, it heats, it defrosts, it grills – taking a mere fraction of the time its counterparts could possibly hope for!
As far as student life goes, I’d say there is nothing more practical. Whilst the cost is a bit of a setback, the benefits one might hope to reap quickly surpass the loss to your bank account (or indeed overdraft..!)
What indeed are these benefits, one might ask?
- Porridge, eggs, coffee (whether it’s the one which went cold whilst you were having a shower, or you’re heating up the milk cappuccino style!), Domino’s, curry (because we all know it tastes better the morning after).
- Ready meals, chicken nuggets (it’s safe – promise!), cooking vegetables, baked potatoes, and reportedly pasta – though this is an uncharted territory for myself.
Even if there were no other appliances, one could easily survive off a microwave. So if you haven’t already, why not splash out on what may prove the most useful asset to your academic career?
The wooden spoon/spatula
While a wooden utensil is often overlooked in favour of the more flexible rubber ones or the more precise metal ones, their usefulness cannot be overstated. You can use wooden utensils on any type of pan without scratching it, and unlike ones made of synthetic materials there’s no chance of melting them and letting off noxious fumes! They are perfect for making soups, sauces, pasta, rice, porridge, and basically anything that needs a bit of attention on the hob!
The toastie machine
As students the key criteria for any kitchen gadget is that it must be cheap, easy and quick. A toastie machine wins on all these fronts. A sandwich toaster allows you to make hot food in minutes with minimal effort – you can even use pretty much any ingredients.
Preheat it, get some bread, butter or oil the outsides, stick some stuff on it, put it in the machine – wait and hey presto! Good for breakfast, brunch, lunch, a snack or after a night out it can’t be beaten. They don’t even need much cleaning.
At about £10 these machines are very cheap. There are also no real rules about what can or can’t go in it (although some bread may be advantageous). As such toasties can be as healthy as you want. Possible ingredients include banana, peanut butter, cinnamon, tomato, pesto, cheese, halloumi and chicken. This means you can have the classic ham and cheese, try to come up with a killer combination Heston Blumenthal would be proud of or create a Frankenstein-like experiment on bread with your leftovers because you can’t be bothered to walk to the Co-op or Tesco.
This surely makes the toastie machine a student kitchen essential.
Every kitchen needs a George (Foreman)
George is bae.
No, I’m not talking about that silver fox George Clooney – he’s already taken. George Foreman is where it’s at, ladies and gentlemen – the George Foreman grill to be exact.
Before I got my hands on George, life was lacklustre. The old me had to resort to using a humble toastie maker, or a frying pan to whip up quick student snacks, fighting flatmates for space in the kitchen.
Then bae saved me.
Seriously, though, I’m a genuine believer that every student needs one of these mini, two portion portable grills. All you have to do is plug them in, and then voila, you’re sorted. Griddle some chicken breasts Nando’s style, make the perfect grilled cheese, toast naan bread – whatever your need, George has it covered. If you’re in catered this year, with only a sad microwave for company on the weekends, George is ideal. Less hassle, more flavour – plus, grilling is super healthy, and George reduces the fat. Better for you than frying, and way less washing up.
So, go get your hands on a George – not mine, he’s most definitely a keeper. But, there’s plenty to go around – prep your fridges, dust off your recipe books and welcome the newest addition to your student kitchen.
The Pyrex baking tray
This is the go-to for all tray bakes, casseroles, and roasted meat or veg dishes. The surface is easy to clean, mostly nonstick, and doesn’t stain. It’s also incredibly durable, meaning that a cheap Wilko investment will last you years. If you’re feeding one, 20cm by 20cm should be big enough, but if you’re into communal dinners it might be worth getting a larger one (many recipes call for a 20cm by 30cm dish).