I expect many of you are growing tired of how excited I am that I learned to cook for myself over this summer. But hey, learning to cook for yourself is a big growing moment in your young adult life. It’s another big step you’re taking towards independence. Plus, it’s fun to show off the your edible creations.

This summer, I subleased one of my friend’s apartments and so I was using her kitchen equipment and stuff to cook. However, as I began to cook more, I realized that there were several very important things missing. Say, for instance, a measuring cup. Or a pot with a lid. When using my kitchen at home, I took for granted things that my mother had collected over years and years of cooking. With this in mind, I thought it would be useful to make a quick list of things that I think are necessary to have in the kitchen if you are planning on feeding yourself.

  • Silverware– This includes your basic set of fork, spoons, and knives, but make sure you also have some sharper knives for cutting meat or veggies.
  • Plates (duh)
  • Glasses (duh again)
  • Pots with lids– Having the lids with pots makes for faster boiling water and sometimes recipes actually call for covered cooking (i.e. rice). Also, make sure you have a larger pot for when you are cooking larger things.
  • Skillet with a lid– Lids with skillets aren’t always necessary, but I’ve already cooked things that needed to cook in a covered skillet
  • Measuring cups– I use a Pyrex single measuring cup that measures up to two cups, but you could also buy a collection plastic measuring cups, each with different sizes.
  • Measuring spoons
  • Spatula– There are different kids of spatulas, so it depends on what you are planning on cooking. I’d recommend your basic plastic/metal spatula for everyone since you flip things on the stove or in the oven pretty regularly (chicken breasts, fish, etc). If you are baking things, a spatula with a rubber end is helpful to scrape batter out of a bowl
  • Stirring Utensil– Get something to stir your stuff on the stove. I like to have a wooden spoon and a specialized spaghetti stirrer.
  • Cookie Trays– Even if you’re not planning on baking cookies, trays are incredibly versatile and can be used for cooking lots of things, as long as you’re sure the juices aren’t going to overflow in the oven. If you’re cooking something larger, you’ll want to buy…
  • Baking Pan– I bought Pyrex baking pans in two sizes to use for baking chicken, oven-baked macaroni and cheese, and brownies (om nom)
  • Different Sized Bowls– You can use these as you mix ingredients together, and it’s a good idea to have several different sizes in case you need more or less room
  • Cutting Board– Don’t hurt your counters with sharp knives
  • Colander
  • Whisk–  This is more of an optional thing, but I bake sometimes and since I don’t have the money to shell out for a beautiful mixer, I mix my brownies and cupcakes by hand

What I found in the kitchen I was using this summer was that even though it didn’t have a lot of things that I considered a necessity, it did have a bunch of stuff that I thought was absolutely useless. I didn’t need 50 spatulas. I didn’t need an olive oil jar. So my suggestion would buy what you immediately know you need and use instead of just buying everything in the kitchen department. Your kitchen will be much more organized and useful if you just buy what you need instead of buying what you think maybe might use someday.

Clearly my list is biased, since this is what I use when I cook. For instance, many people include would include a crock pot, or wouldn’t include a baking pan. These are just things that I used nearly every week when I cooked. Hopefully this is helpful for you while you decide what things you need to get for your kitchen.

What must-have items are in your kitchen? What would you recommend every college chef buys? Let us know in the comments!