In order to foster community, I, Tyler Klein, have developed a Kitchen Manifesto. From each budget according to it’s means and to each hall according to its food-related needs. Or something like that. The first step is stocking your kitchen.
The way I like to go about stocking a kitchen is to start out getting some basic items cheap and then to slowly collect the rest of the supplies I want. A few basic items I get as soon as I can:
- Cookie sheets
- Some kind of cake pan (probably either a 9 X 13 or several 8 or 9 inch so you can make a lot of cake at once and feed everyone)
- Cutting boards
- A whisk, ladle, spatula, and a rubber spatula
- A can opener
- A good kitchen knife
- At least one large bowl
- At least one pot
- At least one frying pan
- Oven mitts
- At least one dish drying rack (real important) and scrubbing devices
Once you have these items, you and your residents are set to make a ton of different things and have a functional kitchen. Woo! Pat yourself on the back, you are a dorm kitchen hero.
Here are a few items you may want to collect over time for a Maximally Awesome Kitchen
- A few extra nice pots and pans
- Bowls and Plates
- A Strainer
- An electric water heater (this is one of my FAVORITE kitchen items)
- A grater
- A micro-plane zester
- Possibly: A blender, a mixer, a toaster, a rice maker, a coffee making device
PART TWO: WHERE TO GET THINGS FOR MAXIMUM CHEAPNESS
- THE DOLLAR STORE: You can get the cookie sheets, cake pans, oven mitts, as well as other useful items like mugs, plates, saran wrap/tin foil and other things, from the dollar store. Seriously, for $10 dollars you can have 2 cookie sheets, 4 cake pans, saran wrap, aluminum foil, and 2 oven mitts. Or whatever you want. Heck yes. They might not be the best cookie sheets, but you can worry about getting nice ones later, after you have a functional kitchen.
- IKEA: I bought my cutting boards, can opener, a set of dish rags, and a ladle/whisk/spatula/etc. set from IKEA, as well as some cheap plastic plates and cups and a dish rack. They also have cheap plants for your room or the common room.
- COSTCO: If your staff team also wants kitchen supplies, it might be worth checking Costco out to see if you can invest in buying a large set from Costco for cheap
- LOCAL CHEAP GROCERY STORE: In Oregon, we have Freddies, where I bought a big kitchen knife, some smaller ones, a two frying pan set for $12, and a big bowl.
- GOODWILL: Goodwill and Goodwill Outlets (in Oregon/Seattle, “the Bins”) are a great place to get assorted things from mugs to pans to toasters. They are AWESOME for silverware as well.
- THE OTHER KIND OF GOODWILL: The kind that comes from your heart. Use your own dishes to get your kitchen started. Pots, pans, etc…Don’t put out anything that you love though. You might get hurt, and we all know that the love one has for their kitchen appliances runs very deep.
- END OF THE YEAR: Every year, at the end of the year, residents leave a TON of dishes behind. Collect these, hoard them, hug them tight. It is like RA Christmas, especially in the sense that, at the end of the day, it involves a terrifying amount of cleaning of disgusting dishes.
- THE FLOWER OF CREATIVITY: You can use flower vases as containers for ladles/spatulas/whisks, you can make glasses from wine bottles….get creative, yo’
- COMMUNAL POOLING: Make a rule that items kept in the kitchen are for communal use, possibly with a few understandings and boundaries. You can also have a designated “personal items” cabinet and say that items not in that cabinet will be considered available for respectful use by others.
Another note–personalize your dishes whenever possible. People don’t steal a lot of dishes–certainly not on purpose. But dishes do get borrowed a lot, and your collected dishes may end up on other floors, in various rooms, even in other buildings. The solution is two-fold–have very distinctive dishes, and keep an inventory of dishes (just scrawl it quickly down, better yet type it, with the item, number of, and any distinctive features). Dishes can be made distinct by etching them if they are glass or metal, writing on them with a sharpie, painting them, or marking them with a particular color of duct tape.
My final suggestion, and this is the most powerful one, is more of a lifestyle change. Pass your collected kitchen supplies down when you leave. This way, over time, we can all have wonderfully stocked kitchens. It is one of the best legacies you can leave for your hall. Talk to your AD about storing kitchen items over the summer.
Stay tuned for part 2, where Sisyphus the RA tries to break the vicious cycle of dishes (AKA how to run a clean and harmonious kitchen without having to do dishes for your dirty residents). Have a good day, comrade!