How to kit out a student kitchen

Student cooking doesn't have to stop at spag bol. A few key tools will ensure the most basic student digs can cater a decent dinner.

Knives and forks

When it comes to cooking, students don't always get the best press. Aren't they all munching on toasties in front of Homes Under the Hammer? But let's face it, a cupboard full of broken pots and pans and a couple of electric rings would leave the most experienced of cooks feeling uninspired.

Being packed off to uni with the right kit is bound to raise spirits as well as keep the scurvy at bay. Communal cooking is a great way of finding a sense of home as well as saving money. Here's what we couldn't live without…


WokThe wok
Stir-fries are a bit of a lifeline for the student posse; they are fast, cheap and tend to contain a few vegetables too. Invest in a big enough wok and they are a great way of feeding a crowd. You should be able to find a good deal on woks at most major supermarkets.



Feeling flush?

Non-stick frying pan
Treat it well and a non-stick pan can be a friend for life, it's brilliant for cheap, speedy dishes like omelette and pancakes and should lessen cooking disasters for the new chef. That said, if a helpful housemate takes to your new pan with a wire brush things could turn ugly, so it might be worth keeping it under lock and key.

Budget busting

Frying panStandard frying pan

A standard pan should see you through university life (and beyond) in one piece. Use a bit of extra oil and any potential sticky situations should be avoided. If you buy a reasonably-sized pan you can also use it in place of a wok.

Slow cooking

Slow cookers might seem a bit more The Good Life than The Young Ones but they're a great way of eating well on a budget. With a slow cooker by your side you'll be able to turn the cheapest cuts of meat into something spectacular, and with minimum preparation time too.

Slow cooker
Feeling flush?

There are lots of pros to buying a slow cooker, for starters they are energy efficient (read bill-saving) and if you set your timer before leaving the house, you can arrive home from lectures to a freshly cooked hot meal, it'll feel just like home. Our product round up, Holly Brooke-Smith found that medium and small cookers provided a more reliable heat distribution, while you should be able to pick up a good-sized model for around £50.

Budget busting

You can pick up a small slow cooker for as cheap as £19.99, but if that's too much you can simply use a heavy based stew or casserole pot. We'd really recommend scouring your local charity shops too as there are some fantastic cooking pot bargains to be had.


KnivesOther essentials

One good knife - will make the world of difference to your cooking experience if you can invest or 'borrow' one from home.

Chopping board - a cheap and colourful selection of plastic boards is a good idea for hygiene, as it makes it very easy to differentiate between meat/fish/vegetable boards.

Fish slices - brilliant when it comes to the art of keeping an omelette in one piece, as well as transporting fish of course.

Double-sided oven glove - because it is best to be on the safe side (especially if you are operating in a hung over daze).

Can opener - savers brands of beans etc tend to still be lacking the pull ring tab, so if you are shopping on a budget one of these is essential.

Microwave - it may not be the stuff of Masterchef, but when it comes to cheap and a fast meals, like porridge and jacket potatoes, the microwave definitely has its uses.

Tupperware container - great for helping you store leftover food safely, as well as transporting money-saving packed lunches.

Hand blender - you should be able to pick up a supermarket economy one of these for about £6 - fantastic for whizzing together a quick smoothie or soup for one.

Bottle opener - goes without saying.

That's the equipment sorted. Now you just need to work out what to cook!

What kitchen equipment could you not have lived without? We'd love to hear your thoughts…

Comments, questions and tips

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12th Nov, 2015
I'd suggest ditching the slow-cooker for a combined electric pressure cooker and slow-cooker (you can also saute with the lid off so it's also a large saucepan) - there are various models (I have an Instant Pot IP-Duo60 6 litre) ranging from basic to ones with timer and presets for specific foods (e.g. soup, stew, stock, poultry, chilli). They tend to come with a steamer basker and/or a trivet so you can use it as a steamer too (and store them inside when not in use). Having multi-purpose kit saves space and is usually cheaper than buying the appliances separately. You can also buy multi-cookers that slow-cook, cook rice, steam etc. but don't pressure cook; I had one as a student - handy in a tiny space.
Nishrin Rieza
28th Jan, 2015
nice tips. And I also agree with Daisy@Cheaperseeker. Too many utensils.
16th Sep, 2014
Agree with Daisy@Cheaperseeker - loads of cutlery - I did buy new in first year but it's better to just buy a load from the charity shop as you are never going to leave with your full set. Paper/Plastic bowls - if you are considering feeding a crowd, no-one wants to get stuck washing up or having to serve chili from mugs... 2 Saucepans, again if you can find some in decent condition in a charity shop or on sale super cheap somewhere go for it, as chances are you will find at least one of them hidden in a cupboard, half full of food because someone came in at 3am and fancied pasta
Daisy@Cheaperseeker's picture
17th Apr, 2014
So many knives, forks and spoons.
27th Oct, 2013
I've got a 3L slow cooker and bought a plug-in timer for it. It's cheaper than forking out for a cooker with a built in timer and just as good.
20th Jun, 2013
Something I find to be crucial in the kitchen is a colander. Makes draining/rinsing things such as pasta (an obvious student staple) or salad much easier.
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