As the college grads in your life head into the grown-up world of jobs and homes and nightly decisions on what to make for dinner, give them a gift that can help them on their way.
Help them progress from their ramen-noodle, boxed-mac-and-cheese, and take-out habits and give them the gift of cooking!
This mix of practical yet inspirational ideas will help set up your grad for basic cooking while also getting them excited about it.
Introductory cookbooks are a great place to start for both how-to’s and recipe inspiration. Hold off on advanced Julia Child stuff and opt for something like Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything,” or the classic “Joy of Cooking.” Throw in a set of measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a glass liquid measuring cup to get them going in the kitchen.
Most likely, your grad has only a few hand-me-down pots and pans to pack. Look for a mid-priced starter cookware set with the basics, or indulge them and splurge on a few high-quality essentials. A heavy-bottomed sauté pan, soup pot, or cast iron skillet are tools they’ll turn to again and again in the years to come.
3. Spice Rack
New cooks can get discouraged by having to buy loads of new spices they’ve never used before to make a recipe. It’s a pain in the butt and it can get really expensive. A pre-loaded spice rack is a great way to encourage recipe exploration, and give them supplies to make their food taste great. Maybe add in a pepper grinder to help them season with style.
4. Cooking Utensils
Don’t let your grad settle for dollar store plastic when it comes to basic utensils they use to make their meals. Treat your budding cook to a sturdy whisk, flexible metal spatula, silicon baking spatulas, wooden spoons, a microplane grater, vegetable peeler, can opener, and locking tongs. Include a countertop canister for easy access and to help maximize storage space in the kitchen.
Very few new cooks need a full set of knives at the beginning—just sharp ones! Select a solid chef’s and paring knife set to get them started. Make it a full gift by adding in a beautiful wooden cutting board that will also help the knives keep their edge longer.
6. Baking Gear
One top way people fall in love with cooking is through relaxed weekend baking projects. Think about getting your grad a set of nesting mixing bowls, muffin pans, cookie sheets, and a loaf pan will give them the incentive they need to get into the kitchen to bake up some treats.
7. Essential Electrics
You can never go wrong with basic appliances. Think toaster or toaster oven, blender, hand mixer, or mini food processor … any conveniences that are useful for day-to-day meal prep.
8. Specialty Gear
Maybe your grad already likes to cook or entertain. In that case, find cool gear to encourage them to get into it even more. For instance, you could give them an immersion blender to improve their sauce game, a pizza stone for do-it-yourself deliciousness, a waffle iron to make brunch for friends, or a cocktail shaker and glasses to host happy hour.
9. A Splurge Item
Do you really want to treat your grad to something special? You could give them an heirloom-quality big impact item like a five- or six-quart enamel Dutch oven, countertop stand mixer, or a full-sized food processor will be with them long past that first post-college apartment.
10. Gourmet Coffee
Early morning alarms for work every morning are probably the toughest transition of all for college grads! Upgrade their tiny dorm-sized coffee maker with a luxury espresso maker, or a trendy and pretty pour-over coffee carafe to use when entertaining.