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Great Gifts for the College Dorm Cook

Updated on November 12, 2013

College Students: Give them the Gift of Cooking

What do you think your favorite college student is eating at school? Popcorn, Pizza & Take-Out? You are very likely correct. I know that was a big part of my diet when I first started college. Why not help them out a little & give them some easy ways to feed themselves something other than peanut butter sandwiches.

In this article I will be giving you a few ideas on what types of presents they are sure to appreciate - since this is one thing I know all college students can appreciate - FOOD!

Pretty Table Setting
Pretty Table Setting

College Dorm Room Cooking Tools

Don't forget the basics

So before they even start cooking, every dorm room should be stocked with the basic tools.

1. Cutlery set. Just a very basic set of four should be fine. I'm sure they have an array of plastic silverware in their dorm, but let's not contribute to the landfills. You can pick up a set for about $20. Make sure it has: Forks, Knives, Regular & Soup spoons. Nothing is worse than trying to eat soup with a teaspoon!

2. A basic kitchen tool set with serving utensils. Even in the dorm, your college student will appreciate having the following: Spatula, Serving Spoons & a Ladle.

3. Can Opener. This is a must have! Canned goods are easy to store in their room & are a staple of college living.

4. Plates & Napkins. If you are putting together a gift bag, these are great items to add in. Remember, your college student is likely to be low on funds. And you don't want them eating off their textbooks do you? Sometimes it's the simple things that are appreciated the most.

5. Cookbooks - OK this one sounds obvious but it's really important. A beginner cook is not going to know where to start. They need ideas! And even better - step by step instructions. Even experienced cooks need to use cookbooks to get ideas, try new recipes or decide what to do with all those potatoes they just bought on sale.

Some great recommendations for college cooking tools - Here are the items they shouldn't be without

Here are some of the ideas from the list above. These are all the basics no college dorm cook should be without. Have some fun with it & give them funky/colorful items. No need to have formal flatware, when they are cooking out of a hot pot!

Knack College Cookbook: Dorm Eating and Apartment Feasting (Knack: Make It easy)
Knack College Cookbook: Dorm Eating and Apartment Feasting (Knack: Make It easy)

What I love about this cookbook is it has lots of color photos AND step by step instructions.

Some of the chapters include: Dorm Classics - Real Meal Dinners & Killer Sides - Takeout Reinvented. Both are sure to please.

Emergency Zone Lexan 3pc Camping Utensil Set (1 Set)
Emergency Zone Lexan 3pc Camping Utensil Set (1 Set)

This set is perfectly portable since it comes with a key chain to keep them together. Think about when your student goes across the hall to eat with their friends. Do you think they have enough silverware for everyone? Probably not. This makes a really nice easy to travel with set that is perfect for the college dorm.

Norpro Grip-EZ Can Opener, Green
Norpro Grip-EZ Can Opener, Green

This Can Opener works well for a dorm. Very easy to use & it comes in either Red or Green, whichever suits their style.

Joseph Joseph ELGB0100CB Elevate Kitchen Utensil Tool Set Nylon Silicone Dishwasher Safe, 6-piece, Multicolored
Joseph Joseph ELGB0100CB Elevate Kitchen Utensil Tool Set Nylon Silicone Dishwasher Safe, 6-piece, Multicolored

Staying with the theme of fun & functional, these are idea for the student.

It has the following items:

Spatula - Handy to to serve up the pizza & flip grilled cheese.

Spaghetti Server - One of the easiest things to cook in the dorm room.

Ladle - Needed to serve up the soup, a college staple.

Slotted spoon - Use it to strain the veggies or ravioli

Solid Spoon - A must have to serve up all their guests!

Tricolor Pasta
Tricolor Pasta

College Dorm Appliances

Time for the student to start cooking

Here are the appliances that are small enough to fit in most dorm rooms. Every student needs at least one or maybe more from the below list.

1. Hot pot. No dorm would be complete without a hot pot. These are an essential item for every student. Easy to heat up spagetti, soups, raman noodles and even leftovers.

2. Electric kettle. Some hot pots can also double as an electric kettle. But if all you want to do is heat up water for tea, hot chocoloate or Lipton instant soup then an electric kettle is less expensive than the multi-purpose hot pots.

3. Rice Cooker. Rice cookers are great to use in the dorm room since they keep the rice warm after it's done, even when you forget to set your timer. That is a really important feature for a beginner cook. You can even make whole meals in many of the Rice Cooker/Steamer varieties.

4. Toaster Oven. Better than just a plain toaster, since you can toast your bagels PLUS reheat leftovers or bake potatoes. Personally I use my toaster oven more than my regular oven. It's a true multi-functional appliance.

5. More cookbooks! A great gift idea is to get a specific cookbook to go the appliance. For example - if you get them a toaster oven, make sure you get a cool book to go with it that has the recipes & step-by-step instructions. They will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

College Appliance Recommendations for the Dorm - Here is what you'll need

Now that we have covered the basic utensils, your starving college student will need to cook some food! Or at least warm it up... Here are some suggestions for the items on our list above.

Chef's Choice 675 International Cordless Electric Hot Pot
Chef's Choice 675 International Cordless Electric Hot Pot

I like this hot pot for 2 reasons.

1. It is cordless, so can be used anywhere in the room.

2. It has an automatic shut-off feature which is an excellent safety feature.

Proctor -Silex 1 Liter Electric Kettle
Proctor -Silex 1 Liter Electric Kettle

Here is a basic inexpensive kettle. But don't let the price fool you. Proctor Silex makes an excellent product. It heats water super quick & also has that automatic shut-off feature which is a must-have for the student.

Prep Solutions by Progressive Microwaveable Rice and Pasta Cooker, 17 Piece Set - 12 Cup Capacity
Prep Solutions by Progressive Microwaveable Rice and Pasta Cooker, 17 Piece Set - 12 Cup Capacity

I really love this set! You can make pasta, rice and/or vegetables AND it comes with measuring cups & spoons. You simply can't beat the value.

Cuisinart TOB-155 Toaster Oven Broiler, Stainless/Black
Cuisinart TOB-155 Toaster Oven Broiler, Stainless/Black

I have owned this toaster oven for the last several years. It doesn't get any better than this.

- Big enought to fit a frozen pizza.

- Bake function. Bake cookies or cook up some chicken/fish.

- Toaster option. I don't even own a regular toaster any longer, this works great and can toast up to 6 slices of bread, enough for the whole gang.

- Broil option - nice to just brown the top of some mac & cheese.

I really do love mine. The inside is 12 x 12. When cooking casseroles, I use a 9x9 square baking dish - works perfect with plenty of room on either side.

The Gourmet Toaster Oven: Simple and Sophisticated Meals for the Busy Cook
The Gourmet Toaster Oven: Simple and Sophisticated Meals for the Busy Cook

This cookbook is great since it has alot of recipes that serve just 1-2 people. It has great photos & recipes for everything from steak to mac & cheese.

Christmas Gift Bag
Christmas Gift Bag

Make a great gift bag for the college cook

Time to wrap it up!

Rather than getting just one present, consider putting a few items together in your own customized gift bag or basket. This is especially nice, if they need to pack the items in a suitcase. It's fun for them to open lots of presents & it's really easy.

Here's how:

1. Select a gift bag

2. Buy some diferent colored tissue paper

3. Pick 3 or 4 smaller items such as:

- College Cookbook

- Silverware

- Cutlery Set

- Pretty Napkins

- Can Opener

- Coasters

4. Gently wrap the items in different color tissue paper. You don't have to use tape or scissors or get too fussy with this, but using one or two different colors is a nice touch.

5. Put them in a gift bag.

6. Add a card

There you have it. A thoughtful present they are sure to appreciate.

College Student Cooking Skill Poll

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