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Flying the nest?...What Will They Eat?

How to Choose Cookware for College Students

When the kids leave home there is so much to think of and one of the biggest worries is if they will manage to eat properly and not live on pizzas. A selection of cookware is a great gift for a College Student but which items will be best for them?

In College Dorms, space is a consideration so cookware that ‘nests’ is ideal as it doesn’t take up too much room. This is also helpful when transporting the Student to College and the car is already full to bursting!

Follow the Rules!

Many Colleges have rules or safety policies forbidding the use of counter-top electric ovens, hotplates, popcorn poppers (potentially annoying to other students – stick to the microwaveable kind), steam cookers and rice steamers. If you’re not sure what the policies are, check with the College first to avoid a wasted purchase.

While we’re talking about safety, it’s probably best to avoid pressure cookers – unless your child is completely confident in the use of one and it is allowed by the College.

Find Out What’s Available…

Don’t forget that many College Dorms may already have a basic kitchen in the building. This may or may not contain a refrigerator, a microwave, an oven and basic pots and pans. Even if the kitchen is well stocked, your child may prefer to have some amenities in their own room so communicate before you buy.

Avoid Double Ups

Other students may be bringing an assortment of Cookware, so it’s an idea to wait for a few weeks before buying items to avoid duplication. By that time, the students will have tired of takeaways and may work out a list of items that they will each provide.

The Basics…

Here are some items that would be easy to use, not take up too much space and would provide a good variety of cooking methods.

A Mini Grill

Grills such as the George Foreman Mini Grill are hugely popular and with good reason. Grilling is healthy as the fat drains away during the cooking process. They are versatile too and will enable your child to easily cook chicken breasts and burgers as well as waffles if an interchangeable grill plate is available.

Cleaning the grill after use is easy too – a big plus point for students! The grease trap is simply rinsed under a tap and wiped clean.

Check if the College allows a basic propane or charcoal grill. If not, there may be a fixed grill in a communal yard – great fun on a balmy night!

A Crock Pot

These are ideal as your child can fill it with meat and vegetables in the morning and come home to a lovely cooked meal. A great way to make friends as everyone will be coming to find where the delicious smell is coming from!

A Microwave

The easiest and most versatile appliance is a small microwave. Frozen meals, popcorn, even reheats of Mom's frozen pot roast sent on dry ice from home will go well in here. Whether or not your dorm dweller has one will depend n how big his room is and of course regulations.

Panini Grill

These long Italian toasted ‘sandwiches’ are very popular. A Panini grill is usually a counter-top sized grill, similar in size and the way it works to a waffle iron. Heat is applied on both sides, but unlike the waffle iron, the Panini grill usually has ridges which make ‘trendy’ brown bars on the top and bottom of the sandwich it grills. These are a healthy alternative to a toasted sandwich maker as no additional fat is required.

Electric Griddle

This is a flat electric plate that makes pancakes, grilled sandwiches, bacon, eggs, burgers, sausages as well as chops and chicken breasts. They are usually nonstick for easy cleanup. Do check if these are allowed as some Colleges class them as hotplates.

Cookware Sets for Students

You may like to consider an inexpensive cookware set, designed especially for College Students. Here are two examples:

1. Farberware Cook's View 14-Piece Cookware Set

This is a budget-priced ‘nestable’ cookware set with everything for basic meals. It includes four lidded saucepans in 1-, 1-1/2-, 2-, and 4-1/2-quart sizes and two non-stick skillets in 9- and 10-1/2-inch sizes. The set also contains a slotted spatula, a ladle, a slotted spoon, and a pasta fork.

2. Cuisinart Stowaway 8-Piece Stainless-Steel Cookware Set

This nestable set features removable handles and comes with a canvas bag for transporting.


Handy Check List

This includes the basic kitchen ‘tools’ that a student would need to cook simple and healthy meals.

A George Forman (or similar) mini Grill
Panini Grill
Electric Griddle
Sauté pan
Assorted Cooking sheets
Large sauce pan with lid
Basic set of knives including a paring knife and butcher knife.
Pizza pans and cutter
Blender for making smoothies
Tableware such as flatware and inexpensive set of dishes
Set of drinking glasses
Several Wooden spoons
Mixing bowls
Cooking Spatula
Set of measuring cups and measuring spoons
Can opener
Cheese grater
Peeler (if possible, take your child shopping for this and let them handle the different peelers that are available. Some are easier than others – and if your child is left handed, you may need to source one from a specialist shop. This would also apply to a can opener).

Optional extras

Colander (not essential as the saucepan lid can be used half off and on the pan)
Dutch Oven
12 quart stock pot

For a final touch, give your child a basic set of washing up items and a good cook book. There are many available just for students on a budget. And now try not to worry about them…that’s probably the hardest part!



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