I was tired of the dining hall within the first month of school. It was repetitive. I couldn't look at the salad bar one more time. I started buying food I could keep in my room and ended up making my own meals more and more. Of course, there are only so many meals you can make in the microwave.

Luckily, my dorm has kitchens, though not everyone has this luxury. My room also came with a mini-fridge, mini-freezer, and a microwave. I know, I am quite fortunate. However, there were still some things I was missing as I began my journey of dorm cooking. 

Below are my top picks for appliances and tools that can help you make meals in your dorm based off of my own experience and research. Keep in mind, to do this on a budget, not everything has to be the highest quality, just functional. 


A mini-fridge is a staple for any college student. Keep fruits, vegetables, milk, and leftovers in your room. My top researched pick is the MIDEA fridge that also has a freezer in it. It's a great size and is reported to be very reliable. 


A microwave is always good for those lazy days. Some innovative things to cook in the microwave include egg whites and mug cakes. Since my dorm room came with a microwave, my research points me towards this RCA microwave


My toaster was the first thing I bought when I realized the kitchens in my dorm didn't have toasters. I love my small, compact (and super cheap!) Hamilton Beach toaster. It fits perfectly in my closet when I'm not using it. Toast, bagels, freezer waffles, you name it. Breakfast is served.

Knife and Cutting Board

A knife and cutting board are another staple. I use mine almost daily to cut fruits, veggies, cheese, and meats. You can find them super small. I use this great Farberware set (one out of the pictured above).

Pyrex Dish

Pyrex dishes are extremely versatile: put them in the oven or microwave, use them as tupperware or mixing bowls, or use as a serving dish. The sets with lids are great as well as the measuring cup for another helpful tool. 

Coffee Machine

While not necessary for everyone, my coffee machine is one of my favorite things. I have an automatic Mr. Coffee machine that makes espresso and lattes. Fancy, right?

Frying Pan

I quickly realized the kitchens in my dorm did not have sufficient frying pans. I bought this non-stick pan and use it all of the time to make eggs, pancakes, and sautéed vegetables. 


This magical appliance makes smoothies, soups, and salsas in a matter of seconds. I highly recommend it as a birthday gift. 

After adding all of this up, it's still a solid sum of money. However, by buying the cheapest (yet still well-functioning) appliances and putting them to use, it's a worthwhile investment if you plan on making your own meals.