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Back to Basics: 3 Must-Have Appliances for the Student Kitchen

Congratulations! As lovely as the luxuries of home may have been, you’ve now gone off! You’ve spread your wings! You’re… a college student! Unfortunately, this newfound freedom means you’re also free to shop and cook for yourself, which, let’s be honest, is kind of a bummer after 18 years of your parents doing it for you.

To start, it’s not very helpful that the average post-secondary student is never exactly rolling in money, so funding a kitchen of your own can seem like a difficult task. However, with just three appliances, you can take your cooking to new heights even after a long day of studying.

Microwave Oven

Ah, the microwave: the student’s best friend. Back in 1945, a whole lot of work was being done on radiation, but in one of the more innocent experiments, engineer Percy Spencer happened to walk by a heat wave he had generated that melted the chocolate bar in his pocket. Spencer unwittingly created the quick-and-easy kitchen staple we all know and love.

While convenient, we often take this impressive technology for granted and use microwaves for totally monotonous meals: heating up last night’s leftovers, making popcorn, or nuking a frozen dinner. While you’re studying hard, surely you can spare a little ingenuity for some of the other clever ways that you can use a microwave, right? From making some quick scrambled eggs to even whipping up a Jambalaya, your microwave doesn’t need to be the bastion of unhealthy eating that it’s often portrayed as.

Air Fryer

First bursting onto the food scene a few years ago, air fryers quickly became a kitchen fad, much like sourdough baking was in 2020. While I was sceptical about air fryers a couple of years ago, I am humble enough to admit that I was wrong. The fact that there isn’t one of these in everyone’s kitchen is, quite frankly, alarming to me now.

I’ve found having my own mini convection oven incredibly useful and versatile. You can use it to quickly fry or crisp up just about anything – vegetables, fries, bacon, you name it. The best part about an air fryer, though, is that it strips away the need to fry in oil, meaning that even on a student budget, you can still indulge in some crispy, crunchy favourites, only without as much of the grease.


Let’s be honest, you all saw this one coming. Can a kitchen really be called a kitchen without one of these? I left this one for last because having access to a stovetop is very much dependent on where you get placed in res. However, having a stovetop can be incredibly useful for a student learning the ropes of cooking as it allows for much more versatility, and most of your post-college cooking is likely to be done on one of these. Pan-frying, searing, boiling, and poaching all become options once you have access to a stove, lending itself to be used to create meals that have a little more verve (like, I don’t know… soup?) when compared to chucking something in a microwave.

While student foodies would love to have a fully stocked kitchen, they are limited by the confines of both space and salary when starting college… I know I was. But with these three appliances you can enjoy what you eat without relying on bland cafeteria food. What appliances can you not do without?

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Tayla Blaire

Tayla Blaire is a South African writer, teacher, epicurean, and (most importantly) mother to all cats. Tayla has been thinking (and subsequently writing) about food since she was a tiny tot after her mother taught her that measuring ingredients was for the weak. If you’re interested to see what Tayla has whipped up recently, check out her Instagram profile @tayla.blaire to see the recipes that she has lovingly filmed in her very own too-small kitchen.

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