Back when Gen X was in college, there were far fewer pieces of kitchen equipment to help make delicious food in mere minutes and with limited space. No air fryers, no Instant Pots. All this petty complaining is to say, you young folk have it good and if you stock your dorm with the right gadgetry, you can eat like royalty during these first days and months away from the nest.
The best kitchen gear for a college dorm depends largely on what sort of eating you intend to do and how often you want to bypass the dining hall. But whatever the case, you probably won't have a home-cooked dinner waiting for you at 6 p.m. sharp anymore, young person, so the time to learn a few dorm cooking hacks is now, Here are some essential tools to get you started.
WHAT Frigidaire mini fridge
THE COST $221.99
AVAILABLE FROM walmart.com
If your dorm room doesn't already include a refrigerator-freezer, then you've got to get a mini version. It's a must. If your dorm room is currently your childhood bedroom or basement, it's still nice to have a dedicated place for snacks.
This retro-style 3.2-cubic-foot dry-erase fridge with neon markers is stylish and lets you write and erase lists and notes right on the fridge door — whether it's a warning to stop stealing your oat milk or a note to self about next week's Zoom class schedule.
WHAT Hamilton Beach single-serve coffee maker
THE COST $49.99
AVAILABLE FROM target.com
This should have been No. 1, really. You might try to schedule all your classes late in the day, but inevitably, there will be at least one 8 a.m. class that you have to take. Regular coffee makers have a 12-cup max capacity, and as ambitious as you are, that might be unnecessary. Plus, they're large and take up a lot of precious space.
Enter this top-rated model, which is slim, shiny and uses a mesh scoop filter so you can choose your preferred coffee grounds. The maker brews an 8-ounce cup in 90 seconds, but you're gonna want a 14-ounce travel mug's worth, and that only takes about two and a half minutes to fill up.
WHAT Bella digital air fryer
THE COST $29.99
AVAILABLE FROM bestbuy.com
With this little robot-looking oven, you can make crispy favorites like wings, fries, tots, mozzarella sticks and empanadas without any oil. The 2-quart size is perfect for a dorm and the digital presets include a 60-minute automatic shut-off for safety.
As a bonus, clean up is a breeze — just wash with a soft cloth and soapy water then rinse.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior editor David Watsky and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, vist cnet.com.