With accommodations in place and a roommate selected, it was time to prepare for the dorm experience. Knowing Grace was going to cook many of her meals but would be extremely limited in storage, we needed to be highly selective in what went into her portable kitchen.
Numerous trips were taken and many products considered. Eventually, we settled on several multi-purpose items that worked out quite well:
Cookware – A nonstick pan with a glass lid was the first dedicated gluten-free pan we bought for our celiac-safe meals at home and, having successfully produced chicken, scrambles, pilafs, sauces, and more we knew the pan offered maximum use in minimum space. The only other pan that went to the dorms was a saucepan with a straining lid – large enough to boil pasta and mac and cheese but not so large as to take up a ton of space, this ingenious pan’s lid rendered a colander unnecessary.
Measuring bowls and cups – Having a few bowls of varying sizes to mix, serve, or dump a mountain of popcorn into, came in handy. Selecting bowls that nest, and ones in shapes other than round, can help to maximize space. Collapsible Measuring cups bridged functionality with our space concern.
Storage containers – Rectangular containers are more space-efficient than round containers and ones that nest are even better when pressed for space. Consider this when selecting storage containers for dry goods as well as refrigerator containers.
Dishwashing wares – Towels, brushes, soap sponges all pack nicely into a small dish basin to tote everything down the hall to the kitchen. Had we known they existed then, you can bet we would have chosen a collapsible one!
Collapsible Container -Transporting cookware and ingredients for meal prep necessitated a larger tote. We purchased an InstaCrate which proved perfect for loading all items she would need to take with her to the kitchen when she cooked and has been used for other assorted purposes as well. When not in use, it tucks away easily too!
Pantry Items: This will vary depending on your tastes. For Grace, we built a starting larder of items we knew she’d need: oils, vinegar, spices, and seasonings as well as basics including quinoa, pasta, boxed mac & cheese, all gluten-free. At move-in, we packed the fridge and freezer with sauces, cheeses, and produce. And with that done, she was prepared to navigate her college dining experience.
TIPS & TAKEAWAYS:
Space-saving tip: Collapsible when possible! Collapsible colanders, measuring cups, prep bowls, and dish basins can be great options when space is limited.
Time will tell! Thoughtfully planning and laying in a starting supply will get things off on the right foot. Over time, some items may prove redundant and new items may prove vital. Like much in life, time will tell.