Healthy meals are hard to come by in college, so send your kid off to school with these affordable tools that make it fun and easy to cook instead of ordering takeout every night.

By Sari Kamp
Updated August 08, 2018
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College is filled with friends, parties, and studying, so finding the time—or motivation—to cook a healthy meal can be a challenge. As a college student myself, I know this struggle first hand. Cooking in dorms can be done (hello, microwave!), but it's difficult, messy, and not always worth the effort. However, a lot of colleges now have apartment-style living, or even let students live in off-campus apartments after a year or two in a dorm.

If your child is going to have access to a kitchen, it's tempting for him or her use it just for things like boxed macaroni and cheese (which can be spiced up many ways!) and frozen pizza. Lucky for you, the kitchen tools below can encourage your kid to think outside the box. They might even be tempted to prepare easy, healthy meals on the regular.



Not only is this a great salad spinner that makes washing and drying lettuce and herbs a breeze, it can double as a container for the salad your budding chef will make! By locking the top, it becomes a perfect leftovers container, and extra moisture will drip down so your veggies don’t wilt.



One of the easiest ways to add flavor to any kind of food is lemon or lime juice. A squeeze of lime mixed in with mashed avocado - guacamole! A drizzle of lemon on a chicken breast - roasted lemon chicken! When people learn how easy it is to add flavor, cooking becomes much less intimidating.

Hamilton Beach


Slow cookers are one of the easiest ways to get a well-rounded healthy meal on the table. Plop a bunch of ingredients in it in the morning, and voilá, vegetarian chili at dinner time (or any of these other slow cooker recipes). This 4-quart option is big enough to have leftovers for the next day, but small enough that it doesn’t take up too much space.

To buy: $34.99,

Simply Organic


A pinch of cayenne or a shake of cumin can give a dish everything it needs to go from bland to beautiful. This starter spice kit has all the flavor-packed jars you reach for at home, but in sizes that won’t take up room and won’t end up 99% full at the end of the year when it’s time to clean out. Your child can experiment with different combos and learn what they like (and how much heat they can stand)!

To buy: $26.66,



One of the reasons so many people avoid cooking is the time commitment. They will say that chopping takes too long, or the pot of water takes forever to boil. A garlic press makes what would normally be a much longer process take only seconds. Garlic is one of the easiest ways to add flavor to food, and this tool makes it crazy easy to add.

To buy: $15.99,



Blenders can be used to make so many things - soups, sauces, milkshakes, smoothies - which is why they are one of the best tools a college student can have. Sure, they can be used to whip up a batch of frozen margaritas, but they can also make green smoothies in the mornings (balance, people!). This option is great because instead of having a traditional container where ingredients go, it has a detachable cup that can be used on the go!

To buy: $49.99,