College Kitchen Essentials

By Kaylor Jones

diverse hands prepare food around a cutting board in kitchen setting

In many cases, college is the first time students are responsible for regularly cooking for themselves, and small dorm kitchens aren’t always helpful as a new cooker learns how to navigate the culinary world. With space and time limited, breaking cooking down into its essential elements is important for easily prepping healthy, satisfying meals any day of the week. With the right equipment and ingredients under your belt, you’re well on the right track to becoming a veritable home cook.


You don’t need as much equipment as you think to make a filling meal. Aside from serving and eating utensils, invest in at least one good-quality pan and pot and a rimmed baking sheet that will fit in your oven. Half and quarter-sized sheet pans are a good place to start. Other necessities include a cutting board, a spatula and at least one sharp knife. A chef’s knife is a standard, multi-purpose cooking knife, measuring around eight inches long and one inch wide. For more delicate work, like hulling strawberries, a paring knife proves to be lighter and more maneuverable.

Once you master the basics, you may wish to expand your equipment with some optional extras (if you can spare the cabinet space). These may include a mini food processor for making hummus, smoothies homemade nut butter and a slow cooker so you can toss in some food before class and come home to a warm, flavorful meal.


A well-stocked pantry and fridge can be the deciding factor when it comes to making an easy weeknight meal. Look for healthy choices with a fairly stable shelf life. Dried fruits and nuts last a long time and make perfect snacks, while fresh fruits and veggies are indispensable parts of a healthy meal. Broccoli, squash and cauliflower can be roasted quickly and easily, and bananas, oranges and apples are great for breakfast on the go. Also stock up on canned goods like tomatoes and beans, as well as dried pastas and rice, which store well and bulk up any meal in a flash.

In addition, a strong spice cabinet is the key to making any meal taste more robust and well-rounded. Aside from the basics like salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, cayenne and Italian seasoning, try other spices like paprika, curry powder, ground ginger, nutmeg and turmeric to add heaps of flavor in a pinch.

With the right tools, anyone can become a proficient cook. All it takes is a little know-how and a well-stocked kitchen to get you well on your way to whipping up some A-plus meals without ever leaving your dorm room kitchen.

To learn more about how Grand Canyon University can help students get started on their journey to find their purpose, visit our website or click the Request Information button on this page.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.