What Kitchen Gadgets Should You Bring to Your College Dorm?
My oldest daughter is about to head off to college. It is her first year, and we are trying to figure out what kitchen items, tools, and gadgets she might need to help her transition.
It's been 40 years since I've been in college so I'm curious how different her needs are compared to mine back then and how different today's gadgets are. So I checked in with my daughter and a couple of her friends who are already in college to see what they had to say.
Living in a Dorm
This is my daughter's first year. She will be living in a dorm and so will not be doing much, if any, cooking in her room. I expect most of her main meals to be in the cafeteria or in some local food establishment that accepts her school's "flex" dollars.
Since she is not permitted to bring "Heating/Open Coil Appliances like hot plates, toasters or toaster ovens," I'm looking for those smaller items she may want to bring to make her a little more comfortable when she's busy studying.
I'm also assuming she will not be eating every meal in the cafeteria, and some days will start with breakfast in her room or an occasional lunch of leftovers or heated-up canned soup. So what will she need to make her life a little easier?
My first suggestion is to check with your kid's school to find out what is and is not allowed in their dorm rooms. Schools get very upset when you bring stuff that can potentially burn the dorm down. For example, my daughter cannot bring "exposed heating elements, like toasters, convection ovens, hot plates."
The easiest way to find out what's allowed and what isn't is to do a search online. If you search for "items you cannot bring to [your school's name] dorm," you'll find many articles describing what you can and cannot bring.
Bed Bath & Beyond
I found out last weekend that Bed Bath & Beyond has a very cool concept called Pack and Hold where you plug in the state your school is in and then the name of the school. BB&B then provides you with a list of what you can and cannot bring to your dorm. I'm not just talking about kitchen items but bedding, bathroom, laundry, cleaning, electronics, audio, and general room decor.
Not only can you see what you can and cannot bring, but you can also walk around the store, scan the items you want to purchase, and they will be waiting for you boxed and ready to go at the Bed Bath & Beyond closest to your campus. You don't even pay for the items until you pick them up, so you can always remove things if you change your mind. There was nothing like this when I was in school, but then again, there was no BB&B at the time. Heck, there was no Internet at the time.
You can do this shopping at the store or if you prefer, at home on the computer. That is a very cool idea.
Find Out What The School Provides
Two of the most important kitchen-related items my daughter would like to have in her dorm are a mini refrigerator and a microwave oven. Both these items are available to rent directly from the school and she can split the cost of them with her roommate.
These are two large items you don't need to be duplicated in a small dorm room, so it's great the school provides access to them. I can't wait to see what kind of shape they are in, and hope the previous user was not a biochemical engineer.
My Daughter's Wish List
Electric Tea Kettle
The one item my daughter most wants for her dorm room is an electric plug in tea kettle so she can make hot water for tea, coffee, instant soup or Ramen noodles. There are many good brands and models out there but she and my wife decided on the Chef'sChoice International 1.5-Quart Cordless Electric Glass Kettle that can be found at Amazon or Bed Bath & Beyond.
According to Amazon, the "Chef'sChoice Cordless Electric Glass Kettle saves time and is effortless. In advanced design, the heating element is concealed so water will never come in contact, eliminating any build-up. Made of brushed stainless steel and glass, the kettle has 1500 watts of power.
The Chef's Choice 680 Cordless Electric Glass Kettle holds 1.7 liters or 1-¾ quarts of water and boils water faster than the microwave or stovetop. The 360-degree Chef's Choice 680 Cordless Electric Glass Kettle lifts from the corded base for easy filling, pouring, and serving.
There's an automatic shut-off and boil-dry safety protection, along with a convenient water level gauge built into the handle. The cord wraps neatly into the base for easy storage. It has a 1-year limited household warranty."
Big Travel Mug
If you take your coffee or tea to class or eat Ramen noodles on the go, you'll need a big mug, and a travel mug with a cover is even better to get across campus without any spills. I suppose your child can pick one up in the school's bookstore with the school's logo, but I found one that looks promising.
If you haven't heard of Hydro Flask yet, you will soon. One of my kids brought this company and its assortment of flasks to my attention, and we picked up a couple of their water bottles. The company says it will keep "coffee and tea steaming hot for up to 6 hours, or your cold beverage icy cold for up to 24 hours."
We haven't tested the cold for 24 hours, but I've seen ice cubes last in the mug for a least 12 hours.
Hydro Flasks come in all shapes and sizes. If you go to their website, you'll see flasks for water, coffee, beer, and food; each one comes in various sizes. I even saw a 64-ounce Growler.
According to Amazon, here are some of Hydro Flask's Coffee Mug features:
• 12 oz option is designed to fit under most coffee brewing systems and is perfect for kids' hot cocoa
• Same sizes as coffee shop sizes for less paper cup waste
• Wide Mouth Opening
• TempShield(TM) Protected Double Wall Vacuum Insulated
• Keeps Hot for up to 6 Hours, Keeps Cold for up to 24 Hours
• Durable, sweat-free powder coat finish (except for the Stainless option)
• 18/8 Stainless Steel
• Lifetime Warranty
• Compatible Lids: Flex Cap, Wide Mouth Straw Lid, and Wide Mouth Flat Cap
Cup of Joe
My daughter isn't a big coffee drinker (yet), but she does like her occasional cup of coffee, iced coffee, or Starbucks' mocha cappuccino. When she gets to college, she will up her coffee consumption and enjoy a cup or two in the morning. So what's the best solution for her coffee needs?
I recently purchased 32-Ounce FORLIFE Cafe Style Coffee/Tea Press for making coffee at home and love it so I may need to get one for my daughter. She can use it with the Chef's Choice 680 Cordless Electric Glass Kettle that boils water to make a nice cup of coffee in her room.
Now if your daughter or son is a gourmet coffee drinker, you could purchase them a mini coffee grinder so they can grind fresh coffee beans every day and make a cup of coffee that might attract the entire dorm floor roommates to their room. One of my favorite burr grinders is the Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder, which may be too large for the dorm room and a little pricey.
Another choice might be the KRUPS F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder at around $20. It's not a burr grinder but a blade grinder but is highly rated, compact, and much easier on the pocketbook.
A Cool Glass of Water
“Water is the driving force in nature.” ― Leonardo da Vinci
“You can't trust water: Even a straight stick turns crooked in it.” ― W.C. Fields
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him participate in synchronized diving.” ― Cuthbert Soup,
One of the healthiest things you can do for your body is to drink plenty of water. Depending on where your child goes to school, water may not taste the same as it does from your home faucet, so we are sending our daughter to school with a water filter pitcher. Even if the school's water is perfectly safe, and I'm assuming it is, it may be highly chlorinated or taste a little funky.
One water filter I like for a college campus dorm is the Brita 5 Cup Metro Water Pitcher. For years we used the 10-cup version of this pitcher, but I've read 5-cup size can fit into many of those mini-refrigerators kids rent for their room.
A fork, spoon, and knife may not be something you think you need to send your kid to college with, but I do. I know they could grab some silverware from the cafeteria, but I'm not about to promote that.
I could send them a bunch of plastic utensils, too, but who wants to spend a semester eating off plastic? Besides, this attractive Camping Cutlery Utensils Set of Military Grade Stainless Steel Fork, Spoon and Knife is only $9 bucks, and if you get the double set so she can share with her roommate, you're only out $16.
What Are You Sending Your Children to College With?
These are just some of what I'm sending my daughter to college with for her dorm room, but I'm guessing there are many more cool and useful items I could add to this collection. If you have some ideas for tools, gadgets, or appliances you think might be helpful, please send them to me in the comments section below.