What essential appliances does your kitchen need? Whether you’re setting up a kitchen for the first time, or looking to get back down to the basics, I believe that there are five basic appliances every college cook should have. Most of these tools can be purchased on Amazon.com, but a terrific and cost-effective resource for basic kitchen tools is a restaurant supply store. And don’t sweat over brand names: just buy the best quality you can afford!
- Hand-held mixer
Sure, you can mix by hand, but having an electric mixer makes your cooking and baking endeavors much easier. And unless you do a lot (and I mean, a lot) of baking, in which case a stand mixer would be a good call, a hand-held mixer should be all you need to get the job done smoothly every time.
Cuisinart HM-70 Power Advantage 7-Speed Hand Mixer, $48.59
Black & Decker 6-Speed, 250 watt Mixer, $19.94
- Countertop or immersion blender
Powerful countertop blenders (like Vitamix or BlendTec) are fantastic mulit-tasking machines for making smoothies, pureeing big batches of soups and sauces, grinding grains into flour, mixing drinks, etc. But if you’re looking for a less hefty option, lighter immersion blenders are very convenient as well.
- Toaster oven
A simple toaster will toast bread slices for you. But a toaster oven not only toasts, it bakes, cooks, roasts and broils. No need to heat up your big oven!
- Rice cooker
This handy little appliance may be used to cook rice or pasta, as well as other grains like oatmeal. A rice cooker may also cook beans, or double as a slow cooker or steamer. (Note: be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the cooker, and adjust recipe portions as needed to the size of your particular appliance.)
- Slow cooker
If a recipe calls for cooking at low temperatures for long periods of time, it’s usually a cue to pull out your trusty slow cooker. This appliance, perfect for making chilis and stews, allows food to simmer so that it comes out tender and moist. The best part is, you can toss the ingredients in and let them cook away while you go do something else (like write that essay on Tertullian ethics that’s due at midnight). Slow cookers are sizable, however, so only invest in this appliance if you want the convenience and have the space. If space is lacking, no worries: you can use a soup pot instead!
Do you need anything else? Well, if you have the space and are willing to make the investment, you might also consider: a microwave (to “heat and eat”), a coffeemaker or electric teapot (to boil water for coffee, tea or hot chocolate), and a food processor (to undertake more sophisticated cooking endeavors, although a blender will work well for all the recipes on this blog). But for the average college student, the five basic appliances outlined above are enough to help you prepare A+ meals nearly every time.
Hey, college cooks! Want more tips on essential kitchen appliances?
Check out the links below:
5 Small Appliances You Can Live Without
10 Best Uses for the Toaster Oven
5 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Buying a KitchenAid (Or Any Stand Mixer)
Which Is Better: A Microwave or More Countertop Space?