Essential Kitchen Items for College Grads

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Graduation is such an exciting time, and for many former co-eds, it's a chance to try out a new city, pursue dream jobs, and rent an off-campus apartment. It also may mean stocking and maintaining a "real" kitchen . . . at least one that's used for more than steeping ramen noodles and unpacking fast food bags. We've rounded up 10 kitchen items that are essential to any postcollegiate kitchen (hint, hint, gift givers).

  • Essential Tools: Every kitchen needs a basic assortment of tools - and a convenient way to store them - which is why this OXO Good Grips 15-piece set ($100) makes so much sense. The collection includes a grater, can opener, whisk, slotted spoon, and 10 more indispensable tools slipped into a stainless container to keep them within arm's reach.
  • Basic Cookware: Cookware may seem like a kitchen no-brainer, but it's also one of the more expensive and overwhelming kitchen items for a new cook. Look for sets that provide a few standard-sized skillets and saucepans as well as a stockpot. This Cuisinart 11-piece set ($200) even includes a three-quart saute pan. While nonstick may seem like a good choice for beginners, we like stainless because it's durable, easy to clean, and oven-safe.
  • An All-Around Cookbook: We all have that one cookbook that taught us how to boil water or spurred us on to culinary greatness. Share your fave with your favorite grad to get them off to a great start. We love Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything ($35).
  • Chef's Knife: Sawing through meat and vegetables with a dull, hand-me-down knife doesn't need to be a rite of passage. Save your grad's cutting arm with this Victorinox eight-inch chef's knife ($40). With a sharpener-friendly blade and easy-to-grip Fibrox handle, it's as low maintenance as it is safe.
  • Pot Holders: You don't know you need them til you need them. A pretty set of pot holders ($12 each) will save a new apartment dweller from burnt dinners, scorched dish towels, and unnecessary medical bills.


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  • Measuring Cups: Experienced cooks are comfortable adding a pinch of this and a dash of that to achieve their desired result. But for the kitchen newbie, measuring cups are vital! There are plenty of ingenious designs to choose from, but we like classic Pyrex ($6-$10) for its durability and versatility.
  • Single-Serve Coffee Maker: Those morning stops at Starbucks really add up for entry-level salaries, so help your grad out with a quick pick-me-up solution. The Keurig B40 coffee maker ($165) churns out a single cup in seconds, and many premium coffee brands sell premeasured coffee and tea pods for less than $1 per cup.
  • Spices: Every chef can pinpoint a handful of go-to spices to which they turn time and again in the kitchen. Share your wisdom with a new cook by giving them a fun yet functional spice rack ($15) and filling it with your favorite seasonings.
  • Cutting Boards: Help a grad recoup his security deposit with a set of cutting boards. These colorfully tabbed boards from Joseph Joseph ($70) indicate each surface's use (raw meat, cooked foods, fish, and vegetables) and keep those knife gouges out of the formica.
  • Baking Sheets: You don't have to be a baker to love rimmed baking sheets: sure, these kitchen workhorses can bake up a batch of delicious cookies, but they can also roast vegetables, toast nuts and grains, and cook thinner cuts of meat to perfection. This set of two from Sur La Table ($50) comes in a versatile size and resists warping.


Related Content:
11 Essential Recipes For Graduates
5 Cocktails to Toast Your College Grad and 5 For Coeds-to-Be
Come Party With Me: Graduation - Desserts


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