The transition from living in a dorm room to an apartment can be a big shock. Suddenly, college students are expected to buy groceries, cook, and maintain their new spaces when previously, RAs and dining halls had largely taken care of it all. On top of school and everything else going on in your life, you should not have to worry about what your next meal is going to be. From personal experience, even as an avid cook, it is way too easy to not cook, order-in, or worse, skip a meal. That’s why being smart with the kitchen equipment you invest in is extremely important. If done right, it can make your life easier by maximizing kitchen space and providing you with the tools to make satisfying and energizing meals.

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Air Fryer 

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Air fryers might be the single greatest kitchen invention of all time. Rather than asking what you can do with an air fryer, you really should be asking what you can't.

Roast vegetables in just 10 minutes, cook salmon to perfection in less than 15 and even make cookies in only 5 minutes. The beauty of an air fryer is that it reduces energy and oil usage by circulating air inside the cooking chamber to crisp foods to perfection. In less than half the time, and with a fraction of the work required, you can make an easy, healthy, and filling meal.

With some air fryers selling for just $30, this piece of equipment is definitely worth the investment. Buy it for yourself, or split it with your roommates to get it for even cheaper.

Personal Blender

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I was obsessed with my Vitamix back home but it was too big and clunky to fit into my tiny kitchen. Needing some way to quench my smoothie addiction, I bought a Nutribullet. The magic of a personal blender is that it makes single-sized servings. You can make and drink it all in the same cup, and even take it with you on the go with no extra cleanup required.

A personal blender is perfect not just for a quick smoothie, but also can be used to make soups, pancake batter, sauces, or even some ~fun~ drinks. I love making these banana pancakes (the recipe takes less than 5 minutes) and this soup when I have leftover veggies and want something quick, warm, and filling.

You can get a quality blender for less than $25. Super-versatile with easy cleanup, a personal blender is a great addition to any college student’s kitchen.

Pots and Pans

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While an air fryer can do a lot, you will need a pot or pan for some things. I know, however, how overwhelming it can be to walk into the kitchen section at Bed Bath and Beyond and not know what to buy, or on the other hand, buy all the cute but completely unnecessary knick-knacks (why wouldn’t you need a banana slicer or pizza scissors). 

When it comes to the bigger pieces, all you really need is a 3-quart saucier and pan with a lid. 

A saucier is similar to a saucepan but its rounded corner and wider mouth makes it easier to stir, clean, and prevent food from burning – something often experienced with a saucepan. It is perfect for boiling pasta, veggies, and soups, and if you’re feeling fancy, desserts such as this custard. 

In addition to the saucy saucier, I also recommend a 10 to 12-inch frying pan. It's great for personal use as it's not too big to handle but also not too small where it doesn’t hold enough food. Use this pan to sautee some veggies, make this easy fried rice, grill up a quesadilla, or even quickly toast some bread (no need to buy a toaster!!) – the possibilities are endless. 

These pieces of equipment are perfect for first-time cooks and make it possible to prioritize your health while also crushing it in school. You don’t need to buy an ornate wok or a $500 Dutch oven to make a healthy and delicious meal!

Save the fancy stuff for later in life when you’re not procrastinating all your work with hours of TikTok.