Things every college kitchen should have

By Samantha Boyle, Managing Editor for Reporting

Before college, I was never big into cooking or really knew how to cook, for that matter. While I may not be Gordon Ramsay —  yet — I have learned to enjoy my time in the kitchen and have put out some pretty decent dishes, if I do say so myself. After three and a half years of furnishing my own kitchen, I found some cool and fun devices I think are essential for any kitchen. I use the term essential pretty loosely, and I must admit some of the products aren’t necessities, but they’re certainly fun.

Rice cooker

One of the first meals I learned how to make was stir fry, usually with rice, sometimes with pasta. Stir fry was a staple for my sophomore and junior years and I mastered the sauce and the veggies, but never the rice. It wasn’t until my roommates brought home a rice cooker that my life was changed. Perhaps I’m alone in this, but I didn’t realize the true power of a rice cooker until I came face to face with its rice. Rice is cheap, healthy and a staple in a lot of college students’ lives, so I think it’s 100% a need for any kitchen.

Lots of Tupperware

Growing up, I hated leftovers. All throughout college, I love them. If I’m ever home for a weekend, cooking with a friend or anything in between, I’m bringing Tupperware. These little containers have seen it all and are always there for me when I have no idea what to cook. My mom has collected Tupperware for as long as I can remember. I used to be confused why she would keep it all until she started sending me back to school with stacks of leftovers. I’m so thankful for them now.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

Random cans of vegetables

Call me crazy, but I love canned veggies! Anytime I go to the store, I stand in the canned food aisle longer than any other aisle and I stock up. I buy at least two cans of chickpeas whenever I’m at a grocery store and am starting to consistently buy diced tomatoes and tomato paste as well. Simply having these items somewhere in my kitchen at all times has saved me many times before, and knowing always have them is a little comforting as well. If you have foods you eat or use consistently, it may be useful to start buying them on a regular basis.

Reusable K-Cup

I love coffee, and I don’t know many people who don’t. Almost everyone I know has some sort of Keurig in their dorm, apartment or house. You don’t even have to like coffee to own a Keurig. They’re great for teas, hot chocolates and cider as well. K-Cups are expensive, though. Recently, I’ve found just buying ground coffee and a reusable K-Cup is the ultimate solution. Coffee grounds are way cheaper, and the reusable cup is a great investment that will save you money down the line. I will say this practice has not stopped me from spending money at Starbucks or other coffee shops, but that’s something I’m working on!

Soda Stream

Soda water is not for everyone. But if it is for you, you are missing out if you don’t have Soda Stream. Before I got one of these, I was buying sparkling water all the time and wasting my money at the gas station when I just need a quick fix of Perrier. I was gifted a Soda Stream for my birthday a couple of years ago, and it is my favorite thing that I own. If you don’t like sparkling water, you can make soda with it insted. I love my Soda Stream, and I don’t think I will ever go back.

Vegetable or fruit containers in the shape of said foods

When I talk about these, you may think it’s not a necessity. However, I fully believe it is. I went to the store a while back, and you know what I saw? I saw a container in the shape of an avocado, an onion, a pepper, a lemon and so many other foods. I bought so many of these, and I love them more than anything — except my Soda Stream. While they may be a silly little purchase, they keep me organized and my fridge fun.


Maybe you also don’t think decorations are a necessity for a kitchen, but you know what they say: It’s the little things! Having posters, paintings or art around you while cooking makes it just that much better. I found a food pyramid poster at a second-hand shop and hung it up in our kitchen for a fun look. The same way you decorate a bedroom, you should decorate a kitchen. I think college is the perfect time to experiment with decorating, and why not do so with your kitchen?

Samantha is a senior in Media. 

[email protected]