Keeping a stocked kitchen key to successful transition to apartment life

The transition in college life for students moving from 10 x 12 dorm rooms to their own places may provide new freedoms in cooking in the years ahead.

Students may rejoice that days of microwaved Easy Mac are coming to an end, and it will soon be time for real authentic macaroni and cheese boiled on a stovetop.

Yet, after the initial excitement of having a personal kitchen subsides, students may wonder how they actually intend to fill their new kitchens. By following a few easy tips, the job of stocking and using one’s kitchen can be a fun, roommate-bonding experience.

One of the basic questions is whether the new apartment includes appliances, such as a fridge, stove, microwave and other kitchen furnishings. A talk with future roommates now can prevent problems later.

Michaela Fisch, freshman in LAS, recommended talking with one’s roommates before moving in and also sharing responsibilities.

“(My roommates and I) all talked before. Someone was getting the bowls, and I bought the pots and pans. It’s definitely good to coordinate what you want,” Fisch said.

Dry and liquid measuring cups, pots and pans, measuring spoons and bowls are some of the basic supplies for every kitchen, according to Bethni Gill, nutritionist at McKinley Health Center. Other key supplies include rubber spatulas, baking dishes and storage containers for leftovers.

For preparing food, it is important to have multiple cutting boards, one for fruits and vegetables and another separate one for meats.

Baking soda, one for the refrigerator and one for the freezer, is necessary for keeping one’s kitchen clean. One should also have hand soap that is separate from dish soap.

Ann Chung, junior in LAS, recommended having towels for one’s kitchen. Towels and dishrags should both be changed out every day and laundered in a hot water washing machine cycle.

Gill recommended students buy Crock-Pots and George Foreman Grills for handling simple cooking needs.

If space is an issue, it is advised to not bring too many large appliances. Deciding which items are necessary depends on one’s personal preference, Gill said. For instance, while a coffee maker is not essential, it may be helpful in saving time and money in the long run, Gill said.

“They could be helpful if you get a timed one that goes off in the morning, so you can just run out the door,” she said.

Gill advised making a weekly meal plan and having it ready before grocery shopping. She recommended students figure out what they already have in their cabinets, and write down what they need to buy from the grocery store.

“One of the biggest things I also recommend is to make a shopping list before you go, to keep from splurging on items that are just there,” Gill said.

Gill also advised eating before shopping so you are not hungry, which will prevent you from buying things out of hunger.

In one’s weekly meal plan, it is also important to remember that one can have leftovers, and does not have to cook every night. One should make enough for leftovers to be used for meals the next day.

By creating a plan for meals and grocery store shopping list, it will cut down on time spent brainstorming what to make, and time spent at the grocery store. It will also cut down on money spent on impulse purchases as well as food wasted from passing its expiration date.

Gill recommended that roommates should shop together for groceries and remember to pick up basics such as fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, cereal, granola bars, meat, pasta and bread.

For fruits and vegetables, Gill advised to go with frozen or canned because they last longer and are cheaper, especially in the wintertime, than fresh fruits and vegetables.

There are also many staples that are essential for the college life experience. Macaroni and cheese is one key college food staple, in Fisch’s opinion. Other essential foods include frozen pizza, ice cream, coffee, canned soup and ramen noodles.

To save money on groceries, Fisch recommended using coupons. Buying in bulk is another financially smart idea; however, space and storage is an important factor to keep in mind.

Whether one’s cooking will consist of elegant sauteed chicken with a chardonnay sauce, or the comforting Hot Pocket and a bottle of Gatorade, having a fully stocked kitchen will make college life easier to handle. Once the preparation and organizing is complete, one can begin the exciting adventure of college cooking.