Ultimate Kitchen Essentials Shopping List for Freshers

By Abby Wilson

For all of those who have university this year, you’ve taken the bold step of packing your boxes and moving away from home. You’ve probably had quite a lot to think about already, but you’ve undoubtedly thought about the essentials that somehow managed to evade your very long packing list. I can almost guarantee there are some kitchen essentials on there, so you might need to buy some to replace the ones sitting back at your family home. So the two major questions on your mind might be: What do I need? And where do I get it from? So to make things slightly easier for you, here’s a quick shopping list of everything you could possibly need in your uni kitchen. Follow this guide and pop down to your local IKEA, Dunelm, TK Maxx, Wilko, or any supermarket, and you will find everything you will need to survive self-catered, university life, without the hefty price tag.


The first bit of advice, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality. Yes, with some things, it is better to spend slightly more, but with your uni kitchen essentials, there’s no need to splash out on expensive stuff, as the majority of items can be bought cheaply and will still do the job. IKEA is a good starting point, as you can find pretty much everything you would need, for good value and good quality. After all, who doesn’t love a trip to IKEA? You can spend the whole day there, hiding in wardrobes, testing out beds, eating meatballs, and you can even get everything off your kitchen essentials shopping list!


Now it’s almost guaranteed that something will get smashed at pre-drinks, or when eating after-SU snacks at 4am, so having more than 1 of every plate, both small and large, as well as bowls is probably a good idea. IKEA have lots of different dining sets, one of which contains 4 large plates, 4 side plates and 4 bowls, for only £9. With cutlery. Forget a good set of kitchen knives? It’s a good idea to get a good quality set, which can be found in IKEA, for £6 (3 pack). Forget the chopping boards too? You can probably get away with one, but IKEA do 2 for £2 if you wanted one for vegetables and one for meat. Realised that you’ve forgotten a baking tray for your chicken nuggets? Have you realised that you need an ovenproof dish for your budget friendly pasta bakes? Your best bet is searching in stores such as Dunelm or Wilko for wallet friendly options.


Shopping for glasses and mugs can actually be quite fun, with all the pretty designs and fancy styles but remember that these, alongside the plates and bowls, can easily get broken, so it’s best to head to a supermarket and get cheaper ones that can easily be replaced if they do get smashed. You’ll probably need 2 mugs, 2 tumblers, and if you’re a wine drinker perhaps a couple of wine glasses too.If you ever need to buy a new saucepan, frying pan, and wok (if necessary), it is a good idea to get good quality, slightly pricier ones, as these will then last you for the whole 3 years. Non-sticks pans are always good, and TK Maxx have good quality ones for decent prices. Generally speaking, utensils wise, these are the bare essentials to keep around: wooden spoon, slotted spoon, peeler, masher, tongs, spatula, strainer/colander, pizza slice (always comes in handy), bottle opener/corkscrew (again, an essential), cheese grater, measuring jug, microwavable bowls, scissors, can opener, garlic press. Tupperware pots are also a good idea, so you can reheat leftovers, or take your lunch to uni. You can get sets of Tupperware fairly cheap, or if you really wanted to save money, you could reuse takeaway boxes, as these are just as good when it comes to practicality.


Don’t forget: foil and cling film, oven gloves, fairy liquid, scourer/washing up brushes, sponges, anti-bacterial multi-surface cleaning wipes are all your friends; don’t skimp out and refuse to buy the washing up liquid when it runs out. Equally, if you’re fed up the of the same 4 meals on a cycle, have a look at some recipe books (TheWorks do lots of cheap student cookbooks to give you inspiration for when you get fed up of pizza and beans on toast!). If you like baking, it may be handy to get a whisk, scales, and a cake tin, but these are not essential. Additionally, if you’re into fitness and having a healthy diet, you might want to bring a blender, or an electric grill. You can pick up a Cookworks blender for £14.99 from Argos or a George Foreman for £12.99 in Aldi.


It can actually be quite exciting when doing your shopping, but do bear in mind that you don’t need fancy martini glasses or everything from the new Joseph Joseph range, as these can be expensive and aren’t essential. Equally remember your limited space in your kitchen as well, with only one or two cupboards to store all of your kitchen stuff, so try not to go too wild!