Category Archives: Essential Equipment

Essential Appliances: The Fantastic Five

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!mixer

  • Countertop or immersion blenderhand 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.

    Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender, $34.95
    KitchenAid KSB1570 5-Speed Countertop Blender, $99

  • Rice cookerrice 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.)

    Aroma Digital Rice Cooker & Food Steamer, $29.99
    Black & Decker 6-Cup Rice Cooker, $16.19

  • Slow cookerslow 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!

    Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Slow Cooker, $29.99
    Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Slow Cooker, $18.49

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.

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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?

Essential Staples

Want to cook for yourself? Start with the staplespantry staples
Every cook needs a well-stocked kitchen. Staples are your kitchen basics, the items you invest in and automatically restock when they run out. With these essential items on hand, you’ll always be able to whip up a meal quickly!

Not sure where to begin? Check out the list
Below are some of my ideas for kitchen staples (but feel free to create your own list by adding/removing items based on your lifestyle and preferences). The staples are divided into three categories: Ingredient Staples, Staple Herbs & Spices, and Staple Supplies.

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Staple Ingredients

  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • vegetable oil
  • cooking oil spray
  • all-purpose flour
  • baking powder
  • baking soda
  • eggs
  • milk
  • butter
  • balsamic vinegar
  • honey
  • sugar
  • fresh garlic and onions
  • chicken broth
  • tomato paste
  • rice

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Staple Herbs & Spices

  • oregano
  • basil
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • dill
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla extract

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Staple Supplies

  • aluminum foil
  • plastic wrap
  • parchment paper
  • ziplock bags
  • paper towels

Ready to get started? Always keep your bases covered
There’s nothing worse than starting a new recipe, only to discover that you’re missing the most basic ingredient or supply item. Before pulling out the cookbook, make sure the staples listed above are in your pantry. With this arsenal of supplies on hand, you’ll be equipped to tackle most cooking situations.

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Hey, college cooks! Wanna read more about stocking up on kitchen staples?
Check out the links below:

Well-Stocked Pantry: A Pantry Essential List
12 Healthy and Essential Pantry Staples
Pantry Staples: Five Essential Vinegars for Every Kitchen