15 best student kitchen essentials

If you're self-catering at uni, you'll need distinctive, durable and genuinely useful kit for cooking

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The Independent Online

Once freshers' week is over and you can’t stomach another take away pizza, your only option will be to unpack the pots and pans your parents dropped you off with and get cooking. The first hurdle though is remembering which set of silver Ikea cutlery is yours, followed by trying to find your white plate that looks suspiciously like the one in someone else’s cupboard. 

To stop any disputes and make living with your new flatmates a little easier, kit yourself out with some colourful kitchenware, so there’s no way it can get mistaken as someone else’s. We’ve selected the essentials you’ll need to take with you – bigger items like toasters and kettles are usually provided. Spend a little more on things like frying pans, pots and oven-proof dishes, so they’ll last you your whole university experience.  But cut costs on mugs and plates – you’re guaranteed to break the odd one at pre-drinks or while eating late night snacks.

1. Jamie Oliver by Tefal hard anodised frying pan: £40-58, John Lewis 

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Jamie Oliver has teamed up with manufacturer Tefal to create a range of kitchen tools that are built to last. So if you’re going to invest in one piece of kitchenware make it this frying pan – it will probably be the most well-used item in your cupboard. You can use it to whip up everything from stir fry to your morning bacon sandwich.  If you can’t splash the cash you could ask your parents and if they need a little persuading, tell them this one is hard anodised, meaning it’s more durable than most and will last for years.  It’s also easy to clean so you won’t waste time on the washing up. 

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2. Three piece aluminium saucepan set: £52, M&S

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This non-stick aluminium cookware (three pans in small, medium and large, all with lids) should last you the full three or four years.  And if you’re lucky enough to have access to a dishwasher, you can keep them spick and span with minimal effort.  If you’re not so lucky, we’d recommend using a soft sponge to wipe clean.

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3. Tropical Summer glass tumblers: £7.50 each, Sass & Belle

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We think London-based company Sass & Belle’s creation of summer tumblers are great for students. Their fun and distinctive patterns will keep them firmly in your possession and are ideal to use at parties.  Just be careful not to drop them, they’re made of glass.

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4. Two tone mug: £2, Wilkinson

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If you’re a tea lover, a couple of these two-tone mugs from Wilko should go in your shopping basket.  They also come in red, green and teal so you can build up a multi-coloured selection. And if you’re not a fan of this design, Wilko has plenty more options to pick from. 

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5. George Home 16 piece midas cutlery set: £20, Asda 

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Avoid silver when it comes to cutlery with this gold-coloured set from George. If you love a good dinner party, it’s also ideal for any Come Dine With Me-style dinners with flatmates, looking more expensive than it actually is. All pieces are easily wiped clean but not dishwasher proof - student halls don’t usually have that luxury anyway.

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6. Two tone stoneware 12 piece dinner set: £20, Tesco 

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Tesco has a great range of affordable dinner sets. Plates and bowls are the items you’ll use the most and will almost always be mixed in among the stack of washing up by the kitchen sink, so make sure there is something a little distinctive about them. If this two tone duck egg colour combo doesn’t excite you there are plenty of other options.

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7. Neoflam two pack marble chopping boards: £12, Sainsbury’s 

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Chopping boards are another kitchen essential for students and you can tick it off your to-buy list by purchasing this two-pack from Sainsbury’s. The marble colour will hide stains and scratches, meaning they won’t look old quickly and you can use one for meat and one for vegetables. 

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8. Multicolour knife set: £4 for three knives, Sainsbury’s 

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These multi-coloured knives will deal with all types of chopping needs. There’s one for fruit and vegetables, a slightly sharper one for slicing trickier items such as potatoes and a chef knife for meat. They all come with blade guards too, so you won’t slice your fingers getting them out the draw. The price will also keep the bank of mum and dad happy. 

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9. Hope and Willow gold pineapple bottle opener: £5.95, Notonthehighstreet.com 

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This fun bottle opener from family-run business Hope and Willow will certainly come in handy during freshers’ week. Its pineapple design makes it a bit different, so you’re bound to get a few compliments and they’re always the one item people forget.  It’s not too big either but bright enough to spot in the cutlery draw.  

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10. Total kitchen 20-piece utensil set: £30, Urban Outfitters

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This utensil set contains everything you need and more, from a pizza cutter and can opener to a grater and peeler, it has your essentials covered. And if you’re into baking, it also includes measuring cups and spoons. They’re easy to clean and dishwasher safe – you shouldn’t have any problems looking after this set.  

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11. Red cup shot glasses in four pack: £10, Asos

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A great way to break the ice with your new flatmates is to get these out and have a shot of something alcoholic (or non-boozy) to ease the nerves. In classic American red cup style, they’ll be a sure-fire party starter and they handily double up as egg cups for your hangover breakfast – just make sure you give them a rinse first.  

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12. Stack a boxes food storage containers: £4.19, Lakeland

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Every penny of your student loan counts, so save a few by keeping any leftovers safe in the fridge. These stackable boxes fit 400ml-worth of food in and are easy to store. The colourful lids mean you can spot them in the depths of the fridge or freezer and they’re microwave proof too. 

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13. Emma Bridgewater Enamel Roaster: £39, John Lewis 

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This oven proof dish is instantly recognisable as part of Emma Bridgewater’s Black Toast range. But if you’re not into kitchenware it also gives you a few handy hints on what to cook for dinner. It’s ideal for putting meat, vegetables or anything else you want to cook in, as well as for making dishes like lasagne. It’s also dishwasher safe. 

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14. Harlequin Savannah oven mitt: £14, John Lewis

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Don’t burn your hands trying to fish your dinner out the oven with a tea towel. Make sure you get an oven glove with a bit of padding to stop the heat going through. This elephant pattern mitt from print-design company Harlequin will add a bit of interest to your student kitchen and you’re new flatmates will probably want to borrow it too.

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15. Electro flask: £12, Urban Outfitters 

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Perfect for pre drinks at another flat, this hipflask will carry your beverage of choice without it leaking in your bag. It has a screw top cap and comes in a range of colours and designs.  

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Verdict

The Jamie Oliver by Tefal frying pan is a must have for any student, whilst the red cup shot glasses are a fun way to get a party started. 

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing

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