College starter kit?

Actually, this could apply wider than college, but… My son will move to a shared apartment or house in the Fall and he’s been experimenting with cooking in anticipation of this life change.

I’d like to gather a kit of cooking tools for him and wonder if there’s something I’m not mindful of. So far, I think:

Chef’s knife
Skillet (stainless)
Smaller skillet (nonstick)
Stock pot
Good pepper mill

What are your kitchen essentials when restricted in space, time and money?

Timely thread, Bada. My nephew did his degree at a university within commuting distance but, in September, will be starting his master’s course a couple of hundred miles away. I’d thought we’d buy him a “starter kit”, so I’m interested to see what suggestions are made here. Obviously depends on what might be supplied as part of his student accommodation - but I’m assuming that we’ll be starting from zero. I know IKEA does budget range packs of crockery and glassware and wonder if they do similar for the “tools of the trade”.

Non-stick pans and decent knives were already on my list.

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Cheap plastic cutting board (s)

Disposable containers for left overs. I love those things. When I don’t feel like cleaning I just throw them out lol.

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Whisks and spatulas, wooden spoons, measuring cups and spoons, smaller pots in the 1-4 qt range, cookie sheets or sheet pans, mixing/prep bowls in various sizes, Tupperware for leftovers, a baking pan or two if he’s ever going to make brownies or a birthday cake (even if from a box), paring knife, bread knife.


My dorm room never had an oven! Nice list.

Will there be an oven?

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My niece appreciated the big How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman, with its emphasis on learning to be creative with the basic recipes.


Funny that this morning I gave him exactly that book from my collection! I did say that I don’t think it’s great with “ethnic” foods and a little soft on spices, but a solid book.

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What kinds of things does he like to eat, and thus most interested in cooking?

If he has access to outdoor space, a grill will make him very popular. He can cook and socialize at the same time. I think he has to be realistic about how often he can cook, given schoolwork and social life. It is a big change and there is a huge demand on his time.

I like the ideas of containers. Cook a big batch, freeze. Unfreeze to eat when busy and don’t feel like cooking.


Grill is probably out, but containers is among the many good ideas. I realize I left out mixing bowls, too.

As to what he likes to eat, he’s all over the place, like his Dad.

Ziplock bags, variety of sizes. They take up less space than plastic containers, stack well in frig and freezerand great on the go…so, in addition to a few containers…ziplock bags.

Spray oil is easier to deal with than bottled oil if good deal of cooking is expected.

Our son used a blender quite alot. My niece tells me, a Kerig for food stuffs that require boiled water…plus kcups and a rented microwave are typical.

Manual can opener.

I read it as the son will be moving out of the dorms and sharing a house with other students. Hopefully that would include an oven!

I have a 4 piece pasta pot that has a strainer and steamer basket with a glass top - saves you from having to get a colander and separate stock pot and stacks together so saves space.


I’d have loved a small rice cooker.


Most important to me at that point in time (and who am i kidding to this very day) was the coffee situation!
A simple non-glass french press would be my vote.
+1 for a small rice cooker

Probably a good idea to co-ordinate with future roommates so they don’t end up with three toasters and no can opener.

A big spoon
some tongs
Silicone spatula,
different colored plastic cutting boards (ie yellow= poultry, green = produce)
Paring knife
Oxo can opener (only one I haven’t managed to break)
Ice cube trays

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Thinking back many years - a gift card to a local market so I could afford something nice to cook!


Pancake turner
Potholder/oven mitt
Meat thermometer (handy for someone not yet used to meat cooking times)

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A can opener on top of what others have already suggested.

A copper bowl, a whisk, and a soufflé dish. :wink:

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Your handwritten recipes of their favorite dishes.

My kiddo is 28 and I still send him care packages with everything but the fresh ingredients and a handwritten recipe. I have one now for Spaghetti and Meat Sauce just about ready to go.