A week before my freshman day of move-ins, my entire house was in disarray. I didn’t want to forget anything I would need for the upcoming semester, and I’m not much of list-maker; instead, I pack by manically pacing around my house, looking at every object and trying to imagine if it would be of use. I ended up forgetting a stapler and only remembered when I went to turn in my first paper, but the point is that I am not a very organized packer.
It’s also a six-hour flight from my home to my university, so I tried to fit everything–bedding, toiletries, clothes, school supplies, etc.–in only two suitcases to reduce baggage fees. Gotta save for the student loans where ya can. I knew my dorm was equipped with a kitchen, but there was no way I would be able to bring a full set of kitchen supplies. Instead, I brought the most versatile fixture I own–a pot.
A pot is the easiest tool a college student can start with on the road to self-sufficiency. Boiling water is one of the simplest parts of cooking, so there is very low chance of burning something, starting a fire, setting off your smoke detector, and ultimately annoying everyone on your floor, which is not something that anyone should have to experience on their first week. Pots are essential for making the cheapest and simplest dorm foods, such as pasta and ramen. If you want to get fancy with your noodles, you can add cheese, eggs, or vegetables straight to the pot, no excess cutting boards or silverware required. After you finish cooking, run to the nearest dining hall and borrow some disposable plastic utensils. When you get back, everything should have cooled down enough so that your pot can double as a bowl! Wow, so convenient and versatile.
For dessert, clean out your pot and turn it into a giant fondue bowl, great for parties and sleepovers! You can melt AWAKE chocolate right into it, mixing flavors and dipping popsicles, marshmallows, pretzels, or whatever else gets you to the freshman fifteen the fastest. Pro tip when melting bars: if the chocolate starts to dry out and you want it to be runnier, add milk and not water! Water causes the chocolate to seize up and will cause it to solidify even more. It is also possible to burn chocolate. I learned that the hard way, and again, don’t set off the fire alarm!
For students who want to do more than just boil water and melt chocolate, you can also use your pot as a very deep frying pan. Eggs, sausage, toast, bacon, and maybe even steaks if you want to impress any cute floormates. And for those who would like to try, I can verify that chocolate covered bacon does make a tasty snack.
So, no matter how experimental, unqualified, or advanced of a chef you are, if you can only bring one thing to your dorm kitchen, bring a pot.