What do you need? Not much to be honest. First year freshers often take so much stuff that never gets used. Take the minimum you need and save your money.
If you want to short circuit the process of choosing individual items you can purchase a student pack which provides you with a great start with little effort.
Cover off the basics. There’s always local shops near the uni, or uni accommodation a short drive or bus ride away if you need additional stuff. The best policy obviously is to take stuff from your kitchen at home if possible.
Knives, sharpeners, chopping boards
Two decent quality knives necessary – max. A short sharp veg knife and a longer one for larger veg or meat. This set by Joe Wicks for about a tenner may just do the trick. Keep them sharp – so you need a sharpener nothing fancy just a “steel” of some description. Sharp knives mean you don’t have to put a huge amount of effort into cutting stuff so your knife is less likely to slip.
Use a chopping board – trashed work surfaces can mean loss of your deposit…. Keep it clean – wash it in hot soapy water – raw meat and salad don’t go well together. If you can have two boards all the better.
Crocks, cutlery and utensils
2 plates, a couple of mugs, a couple of glasses. 2 lots of knives and forks, 2 bowls a wooden or silicon spoon and an egg slice. Nice to have… slotted spoon (one of those with holes – good for draining pasta and rice). Additional items include a can opener, peeler, bottle opener, scissors, corkscrew, heat proof measuring jug. These additional items are likely to be duplicated in a shared flat or house, they are also the first things that get lost.
A frying pan and a saucepan. Non stick means it’s easy to clean, it’s also easy to damage unless you use silicon or wooden spoons and slices. These spoons will minimise scratching the non stick surfaces – eating flecks of non stick coating is very off-putting!
Semi Luxury items
You definitely don’t need these, but just a couple of relatively inexpensive ideas….
- Small blender. You can buy these from about £20. Great for smoothies and milkshakes.This one is charged with a USB and the cup is transportable, great for an on the go snack or breakfast.
- Toastie maker. This can be really useful and enable you to make toasties (obviously) but also grill bacon, meat and fish, make waffles (with another liner included) and panini etc etc . Good when the grill in a shared kitchen becomes yuk with other peoples’ detritus then your own appliance makes sense. Costs from £25.00
- Temperature probe – great for being totally sure that chicken and your BBQ’d sausages are cooked, or the core temperature of your reheated lasagne is actually hot.
Food to Take
There is sometimes the opportunity to relieve your family of dry goods such as rice, pasta, tins of tomatoes and tins of fish etc just to give you that good start. If you’re buying the food check out one of your local budget supermarkets. It’s a really good idea to get some basics so that you’re not trying to get to know the uni, the town, accommodation and food shops all in one go. Get some food in before you leave home then that’s one less thing to worry about.
You will soon find the local shop for milk, tea etc, but be aware some little corner shops positioned near student accommodation are aiming for best profits from less experienced shoppers, so ask established students where the best deals are and the location of budget supermarkets and stores. The Student Union is good for this info. Uni shop is sometimes a great place for bargains as they often pass on good deals for the students.
Storing your food
Keeping your food in a shared kitchen can have it’s drawbacks. Shared fridges and other equipment can be a pain if one of your sharers is apt to “borrow” food. Using a permanent marker to label your food is a good plan, if only to stop someone from mixing up with what’s actually their’s and yours. A really good item to have is a potato bag which extends the time you can keep veg in the fridge. Stops potatoes from sprouting and softening. You can always have a baked potato available, anytime of the day or night! Pop a potato into the microwave for 10 minutes or so on high (15 minutes if it’s large), carefully remove from the microwave and add your fillings. An cheap instant meal if ever there was one!
A good tip when you’re buying fresh food as an individual is to split the items and freeze individually. This may seem a bit of fuss, however, when you’ve thrown out chicken pieces that are inedible, or bread that’s gone mouldy you’ll be pleased to have saved your money. Equally you’ll be glad to have food available for those “all nighters”. Sliced loaves are great as you freeze them as they are and with a bit of a tap break slices off, so you can have what you need as you go. If you do this and have a decent store of rice, pasta etc you’ll always have something in the kitchen to eat when it’s throwing it down with rain outside and you don’t want to go out. Enjoying food made by yourself means you can also enjoy takeouts with the others and not worry so much about a dwindling bank balance!
- Knives a veg knife and a longer knife for larger veg, meat and fish
- knife sharpener
- 2 plates
- 2 mugs
- 2 glasses
- 2 lots of knives and forks
- 2 bowls
- Frying pan and saucepan
- Wooden or silicon knife
- Slotted spoon (serving spoon with holes)
- Egg/fish slice
- Can opener
- Veg peeler
- Bottle opener
- Some staple store cupboard food
Nice to have…
- Small blender
- Toastie/waffle maker
- Temperature probe
- Potato bag