12 Dorm Kitchen Essentials That Every Freshman Needs

In other words: The kitchen gear you need when you've hit your Cup Noodle quota for the week.

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July 29, 2022

Few milestones are as liberating as the one where you move out of your childhood home and into your college dorm room. This day may be your first taste of freedom. And, as you will soon find out, your newfound freedom tastes much like copious amounts of late-night takeout, ramen noodles and tubs of sprinkle-clad animal crackers. You will make it somewhere between 5-12 days before you start craving home-cooked meals. You know, the kind with nutrients and protein and little-to-no rainbow sprinkles? Yes, that kind of meal.

Now, I know this sounds bleak, but don't worry. This pivotal time frame is where your independence turns into personal growth. And by that, I mean: you learn how to make oatmeal and eggs using nothing but an electric kettle and fill your mini fridge with nutrient-dense vegetables to counterbalance the sodium-steeped flavor packets and hippopotamus cookies.

Below, I'm dishing on the top college dorm kitchen essentials to add to your school shopping list. Read on to find appliances like that magical kettle mentioned above, budget-friendly food storage and more to help you prepare tasty meals and stay well-fed throughout the year.

$289.99

Some dorm rooms include a mini refrigerator, while others don’t. If you’re part of the latter, this top-rated Amazon find is a failproof pick. The RCA fridge features a compact freezer on top and a roomy refrigerator below. The refrigerator boasts pull-out glass shelving and a drawer compartment to store vegetables and produce. A can dispenser rack and two-liter bottle holders add function to the fridge door.

Buy It
$99.99

College is the catalyst that will transform your affection for coffee into a deep, unwavering commitment that you’ll hold dear for the rest of your adult life. Between cramming for exams and running on little-to-no sleep after a big weekend on campus — a dorm room cup o’ joe will be your saving grace on more occasions than one. Enter: The Keurig K-Slim ICED Single Serve Coffeemaker. This compact design allows you to indulge in your cravings for hot and cold coffee beverages without taking up too much space. Bonus: Investing in a coffee maker from the start will save you tons of money by the end of your second semester.

Buy It
$36.10 $33

Electric kettles are one of the few approved kitchen appliances and you should take full advantage. Yes, even if you’re not a tea drinker. Electric kettles enable you to boil water, opening opportunities to make meals, snacks and more. Use the Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Portable Electric Kettle to make boiled eggs, pasta, rice, oatmeal and even popcorn without leaving the comfort of your dorm.

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$36.76

Mini refrigerators never have water dispensers, and tap water is always touch-and-go based on your university locale. The solution? The Brita Water Filter Pitcher. This tried-and-true kitchen essential is single-handedly responsible for my hydration throughout college. You will love it because it takes up far less space than plastic water bottles, is environmentally friendly and offers the most refreshing water on campus.

Buy It
$34

Streamline your dish-drying set-up with the Umbra U-Dry Peg Drying Mat. The mat adds modern flair to your otherwise least-favorite chore. Each mat features a dish rack for vertical drying, pegs for drinking glasses and bowls, and a microfiber mat to absorb excess moisture. And once your dishes are put back in their place, roll and stow the Umbra mat for another day.

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$54.78

Make the most of your dorm with this kitchen on wheels from Wayfair. The mesh rolling cart features three tiered shelves to hold pantry goods, glassware and cooking tools. Organize each tier to serve a specific purpose (think: snacks and canned goods, coffee items, cookware) to maintain tidiness throughout the semester.

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Organization is the key to maintaining a sense of calm in otherwise chaotic college dorms. Capture peacefulness in your college casa with this compact multi-level organizer. The layered design is the perfect parking spot for utensils, spices, condiments and more in one designated corner of your room. Perhaps the most enticing part about this space-saving design is knowing that you will use it well beyond your first year.

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$13

On the off-chance that you’re not eating something by hand (looking at you, ramen noodles!), this silverware set will come in clutch. The 13-piece bundle includes four dinner forks, four dinner knives, four dinner spoons and a tidy caddy to corral the lot and store by the sink.

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$3 (Set of 2)

Take your snacks to class or the library with handy reusable storage bags. The BPA-free baggie features a zip closure to keep your carrots or candy secure while on the go. The bags come in four trendy colors, including mint green and maroon and let’s face it: that price is unmatched.

Buy It
$32

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a mini fridge equipped with an ice maker, but not to fret! The Lékué Ice Box will ensure your beverages are crisp and refreshing throughout the year. (And earn some brownie points with your roommate, too.) The dorm-friendly ice box features a platinum silicone lid that doubles as a unique ice form and blocks odors from entering the base. The box comes in a black or white finish and stores up to 132 ice cubes at once, making it easy to share with your roomie.

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$10 (Set of 3)

Three glass food storage containers for the price of one? Yes, please. This three-pack will come in handy for storing leftovers and keeping produce fresh during the week. Plus, the glass design is microwave safe allowing you to heat your food du jour in a snap. Choose between blue, pink or mint green lids to complement your existing dorm kitchen essentials.

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Don’t let a year sans stove stand between you and your love of pasta. This quick pasta cooker enables you to make all the homemade pasta dishes your heart desires right in the microwave. You only need two things to make it happen: water and pasta. Combine the two ingredients in the cooker base, stick it in the microwave, and buon appetito!

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