College /// Culture x

With these handy tools, you’ll easily be able to cook like a pro on the cheap.

So, you’ve finally moved out of your parents’ house and into an apartment of your own. Obtaining a new level of independence can be overwhelming for young people, especially when thinking about maintaining a budget and keeping up to date on paying the bills, while also attempting to maintain a GPA of 3.0 or above.

The concept of stocking the cupboards with healthy foods and fancy kitchen gadgets is probably the last thing on most students’ minds, which is why many college students exist on Ramen noodles and takeout.

Thankfully, feeding yourself doesn’t have to be overwhelming. While it may be tempting to order takeout every night or just eat at the university cafeteria all the time, it’s not impossible to balance frugality as well as to avoid putting on the pesky freshman 15. To manage this, students must reconcile with the fact that they’re going to have to learn to cook.

Studies show that Millennials are opting to cook at home now more than ever. The popularity of websites like Tasty, Munchies and Delish on social media have made the art of cooking more accessible than in the past.

The benefits of cooking at home are undeniable; it has been proven people who eschew dining out in favor of cooking at home more often are less prone to obesity and other associated illnesses.

In order to become an effective and proficient home cook, one needs to have a bit of equipment. Even the novice chef needs a small arsenal of handy cooking gear at their disposal. The good news is that most of the essentials can be procured relatively cheaply. Here are six kitchen gadgets every novice chef needs.

1. Crock-Pot

This kitchen gadget is the crème de la crème of them all. The crock-pot has an extraordinary ability to turn a mediocre cook into a gourmet chef.

The instructions for a decent majority of crock-pot recipes literally involve throwing all the ingredients into the ceramic crock and leaving it alone for eight hours. When the cook lifts the lid, the meal inside is perfectly cooked, despite how little effort was put into it.

This is why the crock-pot is such a great thing for college students to have on hand. Students can throw a few simple ingredients into the pot and go about their day, attending classes, study groups or working a shift at a part-time job, all while their dinner cooks itself.

Equally beneficial, crock-pots bring out the natural flavors in foods, so it’s often unnecessary to add oils and fats to the recipes, meaning that many foods cooked in crock-pots are extremely healthy. Crock-pots are easy to find in any department store or on Amazon for as little as $30; they are often a lifesaver for busy people.

2. Food Processor

It’s difficult not to see the usefulness of a food processor. While most cooks could potentially do just fine without a food processor, this kitchen gadget is so immensely helpful that it seems like a no-brainer.

Food processors enable the chef to chop or pulverize ingredients with ease. So, if you’re tired of shedding tears for your onions, it’s easy to simply pulse them in the food processor.

However, it is far more than a glorified vegetable chopper; possessing a food processor opens a whole new world of uncharted territory for the chef, that is both exciting and healthful.

Pesto, homemade hummus and gluten-free flour are not out of reach if you own a food processor. These healthy, homemade alternatives simultaneously save money and spare your waistline. Food processors are also affordable, making them an accessible essential in any collection of kitchen appliances.

3. Hand Mixer

This one isn’t necessarily vital but it is super cool to have. If you ever want to impress the dean at your college or your new boss, tasty, baked goods are a surefire way to go. There are a ton of awesome dessert recipes available online and a decent percentage of them require the use of a hand mixer.

Hand mixers also enable you to whisk heavy whipping cream into a fluffy whipped cream and to create stiff peaks in egg whites, which are both impossible feats to achieve by hand.

Whipped egg whites are favorable for more than just meringue and other desserts, they can also be used to make healthy, zero carb cloud bread. At approximately $15 for a decent one, a hand mixer makes a useful and affordable addition to any new chef’s kitchen.

4. Cheese Grater

This kitchen gadget’s usefulness often gets overlooked. Shredding your own cheese in lieu of buying pre-shredded varieties has several benefits. Not only is it cheaper, but it’s also additive free. In a recent news report, it was stated that some varieties of shredded cheese contained cellulose, which is essentially wood pulp; no one wants that lurking around in their food.

Cheese graters can be used for more than shredding cheese, however. Grating vegetables is another benefit to owning a cheese grater. Hand grated cauliflower, for example, has a much better consistency for cauliflower rice than its food processed cousin. Cheese graters are simply a cheap essential every kitchen requires.

5. Colander

As we go down the list, the kitchen gadgets will become more obvious. A colander is simply something no cook can live without, novice or otherwise. Also called “pasta strainers,” you’ve probably seen this device in your parent’s kitchen.

Making homemade pasta, mac and cheese, potatoes, etc. are simply impossible without the aid of a colander unless you want to give yourself some impressive, second-degree burns.

Kitchen gadgets such as these are so obviously necessary, they can be easily forgotten about; their necessity only remembered the first time the student makes Kraft mac and cheese. Consider this a reminder.

6. Can Opener

Duh, right? Most people would be surprised how often this item gets overlooked on the first grocery haul after moving into that new apartment. The advice here is to stick with this motto: simpler is better.

Electric can openers are a waste of time and space in your kitchen. They’re expensive and they break. Go for the OG metal can opener. It will be the only one you ever need to buy.

Being a college student doesn’t mean you are resigned to eating turkey chili from a frisbee like April Ludgate and Andy Dwyer from Parks and Rec. Becoming a good cook is well within your reach, you simply need a bit of preparation.

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