Friday, 24 July 2009

Buying for university on a budget – the kitchen.

cottonblue See the full sized imagine by cottonblue@Flickr here.

It’s not easy.
With getting things for your kitchen, it can be very difficult to know what to buy and how much to spend on them. There’s one simple rule for this, and it’s becoming something of a mantra now – buy cheap, it’ll probably break or be stolen. It’s sad, but it’s true. Your flatmates will also use your stuff (without asking 80% of the time) and then not wash it (80% of the time), so it’s safer not to spend a lot of money.

Back to the lists.
If you can, find out what your kitchen will already have when you arrive. The standard is normally cookers/ovens, a fridge, maybe a freezer and maybe a microwave. My halls didn’t have a freezer or a microwave, but we picked a simple one up from Tesco for £30, which is only a few pounds each when split. For this post, I’m going to assume that your kitchen will have the four things I’ve listed above. This means that you’re without a kettle (which my uni provided, though we would have rather had the microwave), toaster, pots, plates, cutlery… everything!

Where to get everything?
This question has a pretty simple answer – supermarkets. You must all think that I don’t go anywhere else to buy things; you’d be half right. I’ve scoured the ASDA and Tesco websites, but that don’t have any of the items that you can get in store.

  • I bought a kettle, toaster and toasty makers and didn’t spend more than £6 or so on any of them – this was from ASDA.
  • Plates and bowls, I got from inStore for about £2 a piece – you’re gonna need at least two sets. I took three dinner plates, three side plates and three bowls. While my plates are mostly intact except for a chip or two, I only came home with one bowl in May. I’m not sure how that happened.
  • Glasses and cups. I don’t drink tea or coffee, but still took four mugs, which I got in a pack from ASDA for about £3. I came home with two, and we all must have raided our parents cupboards. We seemed to have a new set of mugs every week from the frequency they were broken. Glasses, I got in a box of 18 from ASDA Smartprice for about £5. I’ve came home with more glasses than I went with though…
  • Cutlery and utensils. You need everything, or at least everything you plan on using. There’s nothing worse than needing to flip a burger and finding you have no fish slice or tongs. Or you can home that someone else will have what you need. I took four sets of cutlery (forks, knives, dessert spoons and tea spoons), a wooden spoon or two, a serving spoon, a whisk, sharp knives and a grater.
  • Pots and pans were bought from ASDA for a couple of pounds each. I threw them all out. While I was perfecting my cooking skills and other people were using my pans they became burnt and unusable. For first year (or if you’re a bad cook) cheap pans are all you need. This year I’ll be buying better pans, knowing that I won’t burn things to the same frequency as last year. I took a large pan, a small pan and a frying pan. Try and avoid pans with metal handles – they burn you.
  • Baking tray. You’ll need one, but they can quickly become burned and ruined. I had a silver one which was not silver by the end of the year and just threw it out at the end of the year.

If possible, I would advise taking plastic items over china and glass, but I don’t want you too feel like you’re on a picnic all year. A few other useful little things to take would be a couple of plastic containers of various sizes, scissors, cling film and tin foil. I’ve probably missed things out, and it’s likely that you will too – but don’t panic! There’s a high chance someone else will have what you need and will be kind enough to let you borrow it.

You can buy everything above cheaply in ASDA, Tesco, IKEA and various other shops. But remember the mantra – buy cheap because you’re probably not going to have it in a year!

You can find the bedroom part of this post here.



  1. Some great tips there! What advice would you give over on avoiding arguments with people in your halls over food?

  2. I was lucky enough to have lockable cupboards and a fridge compartment, but no one really did lock them which did sometimes lead to a bit of a "who ate my bacon?" showdown. There's a few ways to avoid this though - a) lock everything away or keep everything in your room that you can; or b) write your name on everything. I didn't really have too much problem with people taking my things if they were desperate, as our nearest supermarket was a bus ride away, so it's possibly better to sit down at the start of the year and make an IOU and swapping agreement about food.

  3. the things on the picture look ever so pretty! great tips btw <3