Cooking your own meals is a great way to save money in college. Unfortunately, most college dorms and college apartment kitchens are equipped with tiny kitchens, minimal counter space, and few to no appliances. If you’ve decided to cook for yourself this semester, you’ll need a few basic items.
Here are the 9 best college cooking appliances that’ll fit your budget and counter space.
1. Countertop Grill
Perfect for Your College Dorm: George Foreman 4-Serving Classic Plate Grill
A countertop grill is great for meal prep because it’s versatile and compact. Grill three to four chicken breasts, make quesadillas, or even grill paninis on it. The bonus of a grill like this is it comes with a tray to catch anything that comes off during cooking, making cleanup easy.
2. Skillet Pan
Perfect for Your College Dorm: T-Fal 5-Quart Nonstick Jumbo Pan
A good skillet pan is essential unless you plan on grilling or microwaving all of your meals. However, they do take up a lot of space, so you probably only need one. Getting a skillet pan with edges makes it easier to cook bulk-friendly meals like stir fries.. With this one, you could even cook soup without making a mess.
Perfect for Your College Dorm: Crock-Pot 7 Quart Oval Slow Cooker
I’m already on record as saying the Crock-Pot is the best of the best college cooking appliances. For under $40, you can cook the majority of your meals while you study or sleep. $40 is a little pricey, but Crock-Pots last forever. Chances are, you’ll be taking it with you wherever you go after you graduate. An Instant Pot is an amazing tool to have in your college kitchen, too, especially if you’re short on time. But they cost twice as much.
4. Cooking Spatulas
Perfect for Your College Dorm: 8-piece Non-Stick Silicone Spatula Set
You’ll wind up using a spatula for a lot of things you cook. Depending on how you live your life―and I’m not judging―it’s probably good to have a few extra spatulas on hand in case one goes missing or ends up being sacrificed for some type of on-the-fly drinking game.
Keep in mind that they are made of silicone, so they shouldn’t be left on hot surfaces for too long.
5. Small Microwave
Perfect for Your College Dorm: AmazonBasics Small Black Microwave
Having a microwave makes heating up meals easy. You probably don’t want to live out of yours, but it’s a good appliance to have in your dorm or kitchen. This one costs $75, which is a little expensive. You can probably find one at Target for under $50 or a secondhand one on Facebook marketplace for under $30. If you’re sharing an apartment or dorm, you could ask your roommate(s) to split the cost with you since you’ll all be using it.
Perfect for Your College Dorm: Black and Decker 3.2 Quart Black Mini-Fridge
Some of you won’t need this, but if you’re living true dorm life, it’s a must-have. Again, if a fridge doesn’t fit your budget, see if a housemate or buddy will split the cost with you. Then just can just share the space or designate shelves.
You can definitely find a smaller mini-fridge for less than $86―probably for around $40―but it won’t hold much more than beer. Not saying that’s a bad thing.
7. Electric Kettle
Perfect for Your College Dorm: Elite Gourmet Electric Glass Kettle
Whether you’re saving money by making coffee in your dorm or just want to your cook ramen faster, a good electric kettle is one of the few appliances that’s worth the counter space.
Perfect for Your College Dorm: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker Set
Speaking of coffee, lots of college students drink it. If you do, making your coffee in your dorm instead of buying Starbucks could save you $250 per semester.
This set costs $30, which is about the price of a drip coffee machine. We recommend it for two reasons:
- It saves space on your kitchen counter.
- It makes better tasting coffee than a drip coffee pot does.
Buy a cheap travel mug and you’re good to go.
9. Plastic Storage Containers
Perfect for Your College Dorm: Rubber Maid 8 Pack Plastic Storage Containers
Unless you’re whipping up your own homemade dipping sauces and vinaigrettes in your dorm, a standard meal size container will do just fine when it comes to buying Tupperware. The ones I recommended above are cheap and perfect for your meal preps.
If you’re anything like me, eight containers might not be enough. In a few months you’ll have two containers and ten lids somehow, with no clue what happened to the rest of them. Might want to order two packs.