Culinary independence is one of the big thrills of moving off campus. You have visions of yourself cooking up a storm — Bolognese today, crêpes tomorrow — but all those pots and pans can add up. We’ve narrowed it down to a list of absolute must-have appliances for your new college kitchen.

The Tools

  • Knife [$15, Target]: While you might dream of owning that complete $70 knife set, a simple chef’s knife will do for most of your kitchen endeavors. Opt for a 9-inch stainless steel blade with a non-porous handle.
  • Spatula [$8, Macy’s]: This must-have utensil is perfect for making eggs and flipping burgers. Choose a silicone one with a heat-resistant handle.
  • Cutting board [$10, Bed Bath & Beyond]: Choose a cutting board that’s non-porous, non-absorbent and preferably antimicrobial. Refrain from the heavier bamboo cutting boards, as they’re pricier and tend to be harder to sanitize, especially without a dishwasher.
  • Whisk [$8, Target]: A whisk can replace most of the things a KitchenAid mixer can do, like whipping cream and mixing butter and sugar.
  • Can opener [$14, Kohl’s]: Because that chicken noodle soup isn’t going to open itself.

The Stove

  • Colander [$10, Macy’s]: You’re in college. You eat pasta — sometimes for four meals straight, and that’s okay. Invest in a colander (around 4 to 5 quarts) to make those spaghetti and canned sauce days a little easier.
  • Medium frying pan [$25, Sears]: A 12-inch frying pan is perfect for anything from scrambling eggs to making sauces to stir-frying. Choose non-stick pan for more versatility, but if you plan on being fancy (i.e. frittatas for days), then invest in a heavy-bottomed, stainless steel frying pan.
  • Medium saucepan [$17, Sears]: Perfect for heating soups, simmering sauce or boiling pasta. Choose a 6-quart pot for all-purpose functionality, and opt for the non-stick variety, which cleans more easily.

The Oven

  • Baking sheets [$10, Walmart]: Usually two half-sheet baking pans are sufficient for a batch of cookies. Go for aluminum pans, which are durable and conduct heat well, making your treats that much better.
  • 9×13 baking pan [$9, Target]: A glass pan is a kitchen staple whether you’re making roasts, brownies or casseroles. You can opt for a metal, baking pan, although they can be more difficult to clean.
  • Mixing bowls [$8-12, Bed Bath & Beyond]: Buy both large and small aluminum bowls for wet and dry ingredients when baking. Mixing bowls are also great for tossing salads or serving food.