Ham Fried Rice with Spinach

ham fried rice with spinach

This recipe is part of a series of posts especially for college students and first-time cooks, made using only items from the College Pantry and equipment from the College Kitchen.

Fried rice is normally a side dish, but this one is hearty enough to stand alone, which makes it really good for first time cooks – one pan, a few minutes, and you’re done. It’s also a great introduction to the fact that what you can whip up at home is often much tastier (and also cheaper) than what you can have delivered to your door in a white paper box. Admittedly, there are nights when letting someone else make your dinner sounds really nice, but it’s best if those nights are the exception rather than the rule.

 ham fried rice with spinach

Fried rice works best with leftover, chilled rice because it will hold it’s shape and texture better than fresh, hot rice. Maybe you have some leftover brown rice from making burrito bowls? Or maybe in a moment of weakness you ordered some takeout and have a leftover carton of brick-ified white rice in your fridge, inching its way toward nastiness? This is the perfect way to use it up.

Ham Fried Rice with Spinach

-a few teaspoons of neutral oil
-1 small onion, (or half a large one) diced
-2-3 slices deli ham, sliced into strips or diced into cubes
-2 eggs, whipped together in a small bowl with a fork until homogenous
-1 clove garlic, minced
-2 cups leftover rice (white or brown)
-a handful of frozen spinach
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 tsp sesame oil

1. In your biggest nonstick pan, heat neutral oil over medium heat and cooked diced onion until translucent.
2. Add ham to the pan and cook until the ham is lightly browned on the edges. Move the onions and ham to the sides of the pan and add another tiny bit of oil to the now-cleared center of the pan.
3. Scramble your eggs in the middle of the pan. The eggs will cook quickly, so stir them constantly until they are thoroughly cooked.
4. As soon as the eggs are cooked, add your garlic and rice. Stir everything together and let it heat through.
5. Add spinach straight from the freezer and cook until the spinach is thawed and heated.
6. Add soy sauce and sesame oil and stir to make sure everything is incorporated. Taste and add more soy sauce in place of salt if you like.
7. You should probably top it with sriracha.

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The Homemade Burrito Bowl

homemade burrito bowl

This recipe is part of a series of posts especially for college students and first-time cooks, made using only items from the College Pantry and equipment from the College Kitchen.

Who doesn’t love a burrito bowl? Personally, I could eat burrito bowls three times a week and not be mad about it. This particular burrito bowl is especially awesome because it’s cheap, quick to put together, nutritious, and (obviously) delicious.

The success of this dish depends on the beans. My favorite is pinto, but black beans would definitely work. I know it’s hard to get excited about beans but trust me, these bring a lot of flavor. Oh, and I snuck in some spinach because you need it, and I know it’s not conventional but it isn’t very intrusive either and really, you need it.

burrito bowl

Rice and beans are staff-of-life level foods, with brown rice packing in extra fiber and combining with the beans to make a complete protein. Spinach brings iron, vitamin k, vitamin a, folate, and we could actually be here all day.

It’s kind of a cliche in the foodosphere, but good advice is good advice: you should put an egg on it. For taste reasons mostly (yaaaaahm), but they’re also very protein-y and contain choline and lutein which are good for brains and eyes, both of which make college easier.

homemade burrito bowl

The Homemade Burrito Bowl

-1 1/2 cups brown rice (or white, prepared however you like)
-2 pats of butter (one for rice, one for cooking onion)
-1 teaspoon of salt (for the rice)
-2 cans beans (black or pinto, lazily drained)
-1 onion, diced
-1 clove of garlic, minced
-1 tsp cumin
-salt and pepper to taste (for beans)
-a handful of frozen spinach
-shredded cheddar cheese
-your favorite salsa
-an over-easy egg (optional)

1. Make brown rice according to Alton Brown’s baked rice recipe. It takes an hour, but it’s the only way I’ve found to get brown rice to taste good and have a nice texture. It is so worth it.

2. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, cook onion in butter until it’s translucent. Check out my knife skills tutorial if you need a good onion-dicing method. Add minced garlic, cumin, and both cans of beans (I say lazily drained because you need a little bit of the liquid). Let the beans heat over medium until their liquid begins to bubble, and reduce to low.

3. Add frozen spinach and heat until the spinach is warmed through. Season beans with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Pile rice into bowls, top with beans, cheese, salsa, and an egg (if you want extra protein). Hot sauce, avocado chunks, or sour cream would also be tasty.

Leftover rice and beans keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, or you can freeze them (in ziploc freezer bags) for a few months. Re-heat rice in the microwave, and reheat beans in a pot over low heat. If you have trouble getting a solid block of frozen beans out of their plastic bag, run it under hot water until the outside layer softens.

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College Chili

college chili

This recipe is part of a series of posts especially for college students and first-time cooks, made using only items from the College Pantry and equipment from the College Kitchen.

There are few more complete and satisfying meals-in-a-bowl than good-old chili. I think chili is a lot more wholesome than people give it credit for too. Yes, it’s spicy, it’s hearty “man” food, and it goes really well with chips or on top of hot dogs. But when you consider chili’s basic parts: tomatoes, onions, beans, spices, and ground meat (well-drained of fat) I don’t really think it’s very naughty. Plus, chili is cheap to put together and it freezes really well, which makes it a good meal for college kids to master. I’m not a college student anymore, but if I were making chili for my family I wouldn’t do anything differently. Ok, depending on the company I might add a bell pepper for extra vegetation. But that’s it.

For your first time making this, I recommend pre-chopping your onions and garlic and getting your spices pre-measured and set aside in a bowl, cans opened and at the ready. The more you do to prepare, the less stressful the cooking process will be.


College Chili

-a few teaspoons of neutral oil (like peanut)
-1 onion, diced
-1 lb. ground beef or turkey
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-3-4 Tbsp chili powder (Some chili powders are stronger than others. Start with 3 Tbsp and if it isn’t too spicy, add the 4th.)
-1 Tbsp ground cumin
-2 cans pinto beans, lazily drained (No rinsing or any of that nonsense. Leaving a little bit of the liquid will actually give the chili a better consistency)
-1 28 oz (big) can of crushed tomatoes, fire roasted if possible, or plain (not drained)
-2-3 tsp honey (trust me)
-salt, to taste (At least a teaspoon, probably more, maybe even double. If you want to be really chef-y about it, season lightly in stages, and taste along the way. You might not even have to add more at the end. But always always taste.)

1. In your largest pot, heat a few teaspoons of neutral oil over medium heat. Saute diced onions until they are translucent. Go look at my knife skills tutorial if you need a good onion-dicing method.

2. When the onions are translucent, push them to the sides of the pot and plop the ground beef or turkey in the middle of the ring of onions you’ve created. The center of the pot will be the hottest, and you want to allow the meat to get a little bit browned. Break up the meat with a wooden spoon or spatula until it’s as chunky as you like it.

3. When the meat is all brown and cooked through, you can mix the onions in and drain off the fat by tipping the pot slightly to one side and using a spoon to scoop out the fat. Try to get most of it out, but if you can’t get the last little bit, don’t worry about it.

4. When your meat is drained, add your minced garlic, chili powder, and cumin and stir them into the meat and onions.

5. Add your beans and tomatoes and bring the pot to a bubble (still over medium heat). Once you see it bubbling, turn the heat to low and let it simmer for at least 20 minutes (up to an hour, as long as you check on it and stir it now and then to keep the chili from burning to the bottom of the pot) while you go study or text your friends to come over and help you eat chili.

6. Taste the chili. It will probably be under-seasoned. Add honey and salt and taste it again. Better, right?

7. Serve your chili with grated cheese (which you probably already have!) and if you’ve planned ahead a bit, maybe some tortilla chips and sour cream or sliced avocado?


This recipe makes about 5-6 servings of chili, so if that’s more than you and your friends can put away in one night, portion out the leftovers in plastic storage containers and keep it in the fridge (for 2-3 days) or put it in ziploc bags, date it, and store it in the freezer for up to a month. If you store it in the fridge, you can re-heat it in the microwave. If you freeze it, re-heat it slowly in a medium-sized pot over low heat.

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The College Pantry

The college pantry

Welcome to your first independent, functional kitchen!  We’ve talked about the gear, you know the rules, now it’s time to stock the larder. But let’s be strategic about it. For your very first pantry we need to keep things minimal and manageable, but smart and versatile. We need foods that will last a long time, because study groups and parties will pop up, and responsibly-planned dinners will be overruled. We also need foods that are real, inexpensive, nutritious, and easy to prepare. It’s a tall order, but it can definitely be done.

This proposed plan revolves around complex carbs, affordable proteins, frozen fruits and veggies (they last the longest), and a powerhouse list of flavor-enhancers. This is not a diet plan, and I don’t recommend eating the foods on this list exclusively (I’d be tired of it after a month or so), but it’s a really solid starting point that you can return to a few times a week to keep your food expenses in check. I’ve also developed a list of easy, tasty recipes that can be made using only the items on this list, which is really nice for those days when you’re out of cash and you have to rustle something up on the fly.

Because I love you, I went to the trouble of pricing out the entire list at Whole Foods in Annapolis so you could have an idea of what a worst-case scenario total cost might be. Whatever products Whole Foods didn’t have (or that I added to the list later), I priced at Wegmans.

So, without further ado, your 30-item basic pantry setup:

The Carbs:

1. Rice – I recommend brown rice cooked using this method in a small, deep-sided baking dish or oven-safe pot (that means all-metal construction, no plastic handles that will melt in the oven). White rice is ok too, but not quite as healthy. Cook white rice according to the package, with maybe a tiny bit less water than called for. WF: brown rice $5.50/5 lb bag (which should last you a long while)

2. Canned beans – I like pinto beans best, but lentils and black beans are also awesome. WF: pintos $1.30/can, get 4 or so

3. Whole wheat bread – I feel like a sandwich is the quintessential fast and easy college meal. Store your bread in the fridge and it will last for weeks without growing green spots. WF: $3.90/loaf

4. Whole wheat pasta – Quinoa pasta is another good option. I’m trying to keep you away from white starches, but if you like regular pasta best, I get it. Weg: $2.50 per 1lb box

5. Rolled oats – Oatmeal is a perfect go-to when you’re craving a sweet-ish breakfast, and it plays well with add-ins. WF: $2.00/lb

Affordable Proteins:

6. Eggs – These are the ultimate affordable protein, and they cook faster than anything. WF $2.60/dozen (cage free)

7. Ground beef or turkey – Ground meat is always the cheapest. I’d recommend switching it up between beef and turkey. Turkey is lower in fat but beef has lots of iron. Store them in the freezer for months. WF: 6.00/lb of 85/15 ground beef

8. Ham – Ham is probably the most versatile sandwich meat on the planet. It works for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as a side, in a sandwich, or chopped up in a pot of beans. WF: $5.00 per half pound of black forest ham at the deli

9. Almond butter – More expensive than peanut butter, but also a lot more versatile because the flavor of almonds is a little less distinct. It’s high in calories, but full of good fats and protein. I find that most brands need an extra pinch of salt to taste their best, even in sweet applications. WF: $7.00 per jar

10. Almond milk – I like the vanilla flavored, unsweetened kind best, on cereal or in oatmeal. I have an overnight oats recipe coming up that this stuff works really well in, and it requires zero cooking. Regular milk also works, but doesn’t last quite as long and isn’t quite as good for you. Weg: $3.00 per half-gallon

11. Cheese – This is halfway between protein source and flavor-enhancer, and worth keeping around because it’s versatile and lasts a good month in the fridge. I like bricks to grate myself, but since you are in college I will give you a temporary pass to buy pre-shredded. Cheddar is the most versatile of all. WF: $2.40 per small brick

Frozen fruits and veggies:

12. Broccoli – Cheap, healthy, super versatile, and liked by most. WF: $1.70 per bag

13. Loose-leaf spinach – Frozen spinach in a bag is easier to use than the kind that’s frozen into a brick. You can use a little at a time, seal it back up and put it in the freezer for later use. The flavor is inoffensive too, so you can work it into lots of meals for a shot of nutrition when you need it. Weg: $1.30 per bag

14. Frozen blueberries – These are probably the most antioxidant-packed berries around.  They’re also delicious and especially awesome in cereal or oatmeal. WF: $4.00 per bag

The flavor enhancers:

15. Onions – Onions are “cured” after they’re pulled out of the ground to toughen up their papery skins and make them shelf-stable for up to a month. I wouldn’t make chili, beans, or any soup without them. WF: $2.00 per lb (an onion is about half a pound)

16. Garlic – Same deal as onions: lasts forever on the shelf, totally awesome flavor (especially for asian dishes) and super cheap. WF: $6.00 per lb (never buy a pound of garlic at once, you’ll spend about $1.30 for two bulbs)

17. Sandwich condiments – Get your favorites. I recommend mayo and mustard for a classic ham and cheese sandwich. Both last forever in the fridge. WF: mayo $3.30 mustard $3.50

18. Fine sea salt in a big shaker – Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell big blue cans of sea salt for about two dollars. I like the flavor of sea salt or kosher salt better than iodized salt, and you’re too young to be worried about re-filling a matching set of salt and pepper shakers anyway. WF: $2.oo

19. Black pepper with a built in grinder – Fresh-ground is best, but grinders are a pain to refill. Do yourself a favor and buy pepper with a built in grinder. WF: $3.50

20. Cumin – Beans and cumin are best friends. Plus you need cumin for my upcoming college chili and burrito bowl recipes, which are awesome. WF: $3.00

21. Chili Powder – Big flavor, mandatory for chili, mandatory for college. WF: $4.00

22. Honey – One of the healthiest sweeteners you can buy, versatile, lasts forever. WF: $4.00 per bottle

23. Salsa – Rice + beans + salsa = dinner. Canned and jarred tomatoes are also full of vitamin C which means no scurvy for you. WF: $2.70 per jar

24. Soy sauce – Super flavorful, essential for my ham fried rice and one-pot beef and broccoli noodle recipes. Weg: $2.20 per bottle

25. Sesame oil – Secret weapon for asian recipes. Weg $4.00 per bottle

26. Hot sauce – I recommend Cholula and Sriracha. Why not get both? WF: Cholula $3.50 Sriracha $3.00

27. Crushed tomatoes – I prefer fire-roasted, but plain is also ok. Steer clear of basil-flavored tomatoes for maximum versatility (basil is distinctly Italian). Necessary for chili, or add onion and butter and you have a simple, delicious sauce for pastaWF: $3.30 per large can, get two

28. Butter – Can be stored in the fridge or freezer, delicious on toast or to cook with. WF: $3.50 per lb

29. Neutral oil – I prefer peanut oil. For those recipes where you need very high heat or where butter would be too heavy.  Weg peanut oil $5.00 per 32 oz bottle

30. “Better than Bouillon” flavor base – This is the Cadillac of flavor bases. Add water and you’ve got broth. Add noodles, a poached egg, frozen spinach, soy sauce and sesame oil, and that’s an awesome soup. I use chicken flavored bullion the most, but vegetable bullion is similarly versatile. It’s really good added to rice cooking water too! WF: $6.00 per jar


Total if you buy everything in one trip, at Whole Foods (which won’t happen more than once): $115.20

There’s a lot you can do with this pantry that doesn’t really require a recipe. For example, you could make:

-Toast and eggs, in any iteration. Scrambled egg sandwich, over-easy with hot sauce, omelet with cheese – the possibilities are abundant. And if you think you don’t like eggs, it might be because you don’t like the way your mom makes them. Experiment with different egg preparations because the flavor changes massively with each one.

-Step it up with a fritatta – add cheese, ham, and broccoli or spinach to your eggs

-Toast with almond butter and honey (don’t forget a pinch of salt)

-Oatmeal with almond butter and honey

-Grilled cheese sandwich

-Ham and cheese sandwich

-Rice and beans with salsa (and cheese! and a fried egg!)

Pasta with simple tomato sauce. Add garlic and italian seasoning (and parmesan cheese) for a more traditional plate of spaghetti.


Coming up next, five awesome recipes you can make with just the stuff on the list, including:

College Chili

The Homemade Burrito Bowl

Ham Fried Rice with Spinach

One Pot Beef and Broccoli Noodles

Overnight Blueberry Almond Butter Oatmeal

Stay tuned!

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Kitchen Rules for College Students

kitchen rules for college students

After you equip your first college kitchen, you’ll need to figure out how to manage it. With the lovely independence of choosing your every meal comes the responsibility of having to clean up after yourself, which is no small thing. I learned most of these rules the hard way. Hopefully, you will be smarter.

Wash your own dishes – With roommates, it’s easy for dishes to pile up to the point of nastiness. Make a general rule that everyone will wash whatever dishes they dirty up and load them in the dishwasher if you have one. If you don’t have a dishwasher, wash them and dry them and put them away. It will not be easier or more pleasant later.

Don’t leave a sink of dirty dishes overnight – Not only should you wash your own dishes, you should do it every day. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink overnight, unless you want to start some new exotic bacterial cultures for a cheese making experiment (you shouldn’t, btw). Seriously, nothing stinks up a kitchen faster than a sink full of dirty dishes left overnight. Just no.

If the dishwasher is full, start it – It takes two seconds to load detergent and push start. If you don’t do it, without complaining (too much), you can’t call yourself an adult. Of note: dishwashing detergent and dish soap are not interchangeable. Dish soap is for hand-washing your dishes, detergent goes in the dishwasher. Putting dish soap in the washer can cause major sudsy over-flowage and basically ruin your day.

Don’t leave cooked food or raw meat out at room temperature – There’s this range of temperatures called the “danger zone” where bacterias in food like to reproduce and wreak havoc on the guts of those who consume them. Keep food safe by heating it above 140F or chilling it below 40F. Food can stay in the “danger zone” for up to two hours before you run the risk of making people throw up. Raw fruits and veggies that are sold in bins at the supermarket are safe to be kept at room-temp for a few days, but those that get misted need to be kept in the fridge. Baked goods that aren’t too egg-heavy are ok on the counter for a day or two (cheesecakes need to stay in the fridge, cookies can hang on the counter). Canned and packaged things can stay in a regular old cupboard, unless they say “refrigerate after opening”.

Never prep vegetables on the same surface as raw meat – Meat is one of the more dangerous foods to handle (how exciting!). When it’s raw, it can harbor bacteria like salmonella, which are killed if they are cooked. Vegetables aren’t always cooked before they’re eaten, so cutting chicken and making a salad one after the other on the same cutting board is like dressing your veggies with asiago-peppercorn food poisoning. Hardcore antibiotics for dessert!

Take out the trash – I don’t care if it’s Josh’s turn. Overflowing garbage is the best way to invite mice and ants into your apartment. Not cute or sanitary. Get it done.

Label your food – You’re probably not in the financial position to provide sustenance for everyone in the apartment, so if you want to keep track of what you’ve bought and intend to use, grab a sharpie and write your name on it SO big, nobody will be able to say they didn’t know whose it was. In extreme klepto situations (it happens), you may hide your food. Just don’t forget where you put it.

Don’t eat someone else’s food without asking. A text will do. If you do eat someone else’s food, replace it quickly – This is just the golden rule here. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want done to yourself. If you need to use a teaspoon of your roommate’s baking soda to finish your cookies, text them (or walk over to them if convenient) and ask. They probably won’t mind, but at least they won’t flip out on you when there isn’t enough soda left for them to bake their cake. Next time, you get to buy.

Share sometimes – But really, you can’t bake cookies and fill the place with lovely smells only to hoard them for yourself. Nobody needs a full batch of baked goods anyway. Share. Maybe you’ll get some friends from it.

Above all, don’t be a douche – It’s inevitable that even if your cohabiters agree to this list of rules, they will be broken. Try to be gracious about it, and if you end up doing more than your share of kitchen cleaning, congratulate yourself silently (10 points for Gryffindor!). The status of the kitchen is not worth any tears or slammed doors or boyfriend stealing. You don’t need to be everyone’s mom, and you don’t need to be a doormat, but you don’t need to be a jerk either. Use tact and grace. You has it. How very adulty of you!

Up next: the collegiate pantry. Let’s go grocery shopping!

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The College Kitchen

collegiate kitchen

Oh, college. So many of my rosiest memories and closest friends come from my time spent in college. The lack of supervision! The cute boys! Classes that start at 11:00! Independence at it’s very finest, and also scariest, simply because everything is so new.

I’ve mentioned before how difficult it was to register for house gear as a newlywed, because I had no idea what went in to running a house. Well, college was even worse. I spent my first year of college in dorms, where house-running was the least of my concerns. My sophomore year, however, I moved off-campus to an apartment with four other girls, and none of us had much of any experience cooking or cleaning up after ourselves or being adults in any real way. We ate cup noodles a lot and had a stack of brightly colored plastic plates that got sort of warped in the dish washer, which (along with our decorative construction paper wall of obscene/absurd quotes) did nothing to make us feel like we were capable of taking care of ourselves. Going from living at home to the first phase of adulthood is a really empowering transition, but it can be ROUGH. Especially if you feel frustrated by the act of having to feed yourself, and end up spending all your money at Denny’s because it’s the only place open at your preferred dinner time.

I’ve spent some time thinking about what is absolutely necessary and what is absolutely not when you’re putting together and using your first-ever college kitchen. I’ve also got some thoughts on what you should be eating and how to manage shopping and cooking for yourself now that you’re on you’re own, which I will get into later.


Here is my list of kitchen essentials for the utterly uninitiated  – those who are starting from absolute scratch. I’ve tried to focus here on maximum mileage with minimum cost and quality that’s both passable and functional. I’ve also linked to my favorite things, for reference. Most are from Ikea because the prices are consistently low, the quality is solid, and there’s one in most college towns – but Home Goods and TJ Maxx and Target also carry decent stuff. If you turn out to be the next Thomas Keller, you may re-assess this setup, but for now, this is what you need to feed yourself.

1.  A Decent Knife – Feeding yourself is actually a slightly hazardous responsibility, like driving, or wielding a pen. A good, sharp knife will actually make you less likely to hurt yourself while cooking. Sharpness means you will use less brute force when you’re making cuts, and make fewer spastic movements when you get your knife through that onion. Don’t feel like you need to splurge, because really good knives need professional sharpening, and we both know that’s never happening. Don’t spend more than 40 bucks.

2. A Large Pot – A decent pot that’s heavy and has a thick layer of metal on the bottom will last forever, and make cooking big, hearty dishes like chili and beef stew possible. They’re also necessary for boiling pasta, potatoes, and feeding a group instead of a one. Ikea’s 365 collection is solid and cheap. Go for at least 5qt volume, bigger if you intend to feed big groups.

3. A Medium-Sized Pot – You need one for making smaller batches of things like oatmeal, re-heating soup, making gravy, etc.

4. A Frying Pan – If you ever want to cook an egg or pan-fry a piece of chicken, you will need a pan. You can even use them to make toast. That’s right, if you have a frying pan, you don’t need a toaster. I recommend nonstick here, because learning how to keep food from sticking takes a little time, so don’t touch it with metal spatulas unless you like teflon in your food. Plastic, silicone, or wood utensils only.

5. A Roasting Pan – This is a multi-purpose vessel that you can use to roast vegetables, bake brownies, or make lasagna. Go for at least 9×13 in size.

6. Mixing Bowls/Serving Bowls – Things need mixing, and sometimes a cereal bowl won’t cut it. Bonus points if the bowls also look ok on a dinner table, maybe with salad inside?

7. Colander/Pasta Insert – Wash vegetables, drain pasta, it’s handy.

8. A Knife Sharpener – For keeping that decent knife decently sharp. When you grow up and get a real, fancy knife you will have to get rid of this and give your babies to professionals for sharpening. But for now, decently sharp is better than not sharp.

9. Big, Plastic Cutting Boards – Get one for meat and one for veggies and mark them as such. It’s best if they can also fit in the dishwasher.

10. A Grater – For hash browns, cheese, carrots, onions, and anything you don’t feel like chopping up small.

11. A Can Opener – Try opening a can without one.

12. A Ladle, A Spatula, And A Big Spoon – For serving, flipping, and slopping.

13. A Rubber Scraper – To reach the dregs of the peanut butter jar.

14. Measuring Cups and Spoons – If you want to follow a recipe, ever, you’ll probably need these.

15. Food Storage Containers – Leftovers! How economical of you.

16. Bowls and Plates – Gotta eat off of something.

17. Glasses – Not every drink comes in a can.

18. Mugs (with handles) – Because a hot drink in a glass is hard to hold and it looks weird.

19. Silverware – Trust me.

20. Dishwashing Brush – For washing dishes, or at least knocking the crud off of them before they get thrown in the dishwasher.

21. Pot Holders – I would advise against removing anything from a hot oven without one.

22. Aluminum Foil and Plastic Wrap – Foil-lined roasting pans don’t have to be scrubbed. Plastic wrap covers leftovers and avocado halves (and the like) for later usage.

23. Ziploc Bags – Did you know you can freeze leftover soup in a bag? You can. Brand-name, freezer bags only if you intend to test their water-tightness. Pretty please.

24. Paper Towels – These things aren’t great for the environment, but you can’t be trusted to wash your sheets more than once a semester. No way do you get the responsibility of kitchen towels.

collegiate kitchen

Extra credit:
A Bread Knife – Those serrated edges make bread slicing easy, also tomatoes!
Wooden Spoons – Multi purpose, won’t scratch teflon, doubles as a serving spoon for some foods.
A Whisk – Nothing blends things together like a whisk.
A Rimmed Baking Sheet (aka cookie sheet, half sheet pan, or jelly roll pan) – Honestly, they’re way better for roasting veggies than a roasting pan. Cookies do well on them too.
Tongs – Cooks call these their “hands” because they are that awesomely versatile. Especially for grilling and flipping meat.

And that’s it. As you get more comfortable in the kitchen, you will find more things to add. But you can fake your way through most recipes if your kitchen is equipped with these. And if you split the cost of some things with roomies, you can get set up for not too much money. Up next, the rules of fledgling adulthood: kitchen edition.

What cooking advice/tools would you give yourself if you could go back in time and drop yourself a little culinary wisdom?

  1. I could have saved myself an embarrassing incident if I'd had a sharp knife in college. It involved a cute boy and a tomato, but that is all I will tell.

    carrie — October 8, 2014
    1. Dull knives are evil and cause pain to all who use them. It's proven. You have my sympathy!

      courtney — October 10, 2014
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