College students don’t exactly have kitchens loaded with the newest and shiniest gadgets - espresso machines and KitchenAid mixers will just have to wait. There are, however many recipes requiring a specific type of gadget that is used for a specific purpose, and you will use it only in specific cases. Good luck finding multiple uses for a sifter and a whisk, because I’m out of ideas.

Rather than holding off on making recipes that require such special tools, why not get a little creative and find a substitute? I’ve compiled a list of 8 tried and true substitutes for some of the most commonly uncommon tools out there.


Sifting flour and dry ingredients make for perfect breads, cakes, and more. But sifters aren't really versatile with other cooking techniques, so it can feel pointless to have one if you're not a baking guru. Instead of buying a sifter, you can use a strainer. Simply dump portions of flour through the strainer and gently tap it to ensure the flour is going through the smallest holes. A whisk can also work too- just put your flour in a bowl and whisk away.

Rolling pins

Jumping on this baking bandwagon, many college students don't have a need for a rolling pin, sans the special occasions every so often. If you don't have a rolling pin, beer bottles, wine bottles, or tall glasses can do the trick just as easily. And recycling them afterwards makes for one less thing to clean.


milk, cream, tea, coffee
Kimberly Kao

Many foods calling for a whisk can easily be whisked with a fork (like these eggs), but when having a whisk is really necessary, use a deep bowl with either two forks or a pair of chopsticks. Tilt the bowl 45 degrees and beat vigorously with your makeshift whisk.

Springform Pan

butter, pastry, sweet, dairy product, cheesecake, cake, cream, pie
Jocelyn Hsu

In order to make the perfect cheesecake, you almost have to have one of these pans. They might be good for little else, though. Save your money and line a circular cake pan with enough foil for you to be able to lift the cake from the pan (this might require a bit of practice). Now you can stick to your versatile cake pans, which makes cakes that are great for eating straight out of the pan too #noshame.

Cupcake pan

Love cupcakes? Hate the one-hit wonder pan? It's pretty easy to make your own cupcakes by placing mason jar lids upright and put cupcake liners on top. Voila, no need to invest $12 when you have creativity on your side (it's also a great way to store your cupcakes if you still have the mason jar).

Can opener

Kimberlee Bochek

Canned food may be a college staple, but what if you forgot to buy a can opener while apartment shopping? What if you just don't want to buy one? Check out this badass tutorial of how to open a can with a spoon


Grating carrots, cheese, or whatever you fancy is not longer a labor of love. Just stick the ingredient into a food processor and pulse it a few times until the consistency is just right. 

Slow cooker

Slow cooking has been a trend in recent times, and for a good reason. If you want to try your hand at this form of cooking but aren't yet ready to commit, try a dutch oven, casserole, or very heavy pot for similar results. Just remember to set the cooking temperature lower and check on it every so often, so as not to cause any fires.

Cooking can be tough, and is even more so when having to wander into uncharted territory. I'm all about food hacks and substitutes, especially when it saves so much money the would otherwise go to my unhealthy baking habit. Nevertheless, if there's a will, there's definitely a way. Don't underestimate the potential of your kitchen.