College Preparations for the Gluten-Free

With Sarah finishing up her high school academic work, I am turning my attention to preparing her for college. That means considering everything that will be required for her to cook and eat a gluten-free diet away from home.

I have no desire to reinvent the wheel, so I refer readers to – the home site for the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. If you go to the search box and type in “college,” you will be rewarded by 81 entries offering information on everything from

*reviews of the most (and the least) celiac-compatible colleges

*how-to with guidelines on making the transition from home to college

*first-hand blogs and accounts of making the actual transition

*NFCA surveys and results on gluten-free college living

*resources for the college student

*free webinars

You name it; the information exists. I found the following site very helpful:, because it is written by an actual college student who made and continues to make the transition and she has just celebrated her 100th post on her blog!

Here are a few of my own suggestions:

The first order of business is to get a letter from your child’s gastroenterologist clearly stating his or her dietary requirements as a medical necessity. You will need several copies of the letter for college records, the foodservice department, the college housing facility. As familiar as we are with celiac disease, it is just as unfamiliar and unknown to those who have no reason to be informed.

The second and most important piece of information you need to know is the actual configuration of the cooking facility in the dorm where your celiac child will live. Today there are several possible options. The most desirable is a separate kitchen with refrigeration, a range top, a microwave and storage. But other options exist such as shared kitchens (which pose storage and cross-contanimation problems), and there are also in-room cooking facilities with fridge, microwave, sink, etc.

Once you have determined exactly where your child will cook, then you need to make out a list of kitchen equipment for preparation and storage of gluten-free food.

Here is a list I created for Sarah listing the basic cooking and preparation supplies and equipment. The list can be tailored to individual needs; for example, if the student is a confirmed coffee or tea drinker. A blender is essential for smoothies, but a food processor can often be replaced by a heavy-duty immersion stick blender, so very helpful for pureeing hot soups and other foods in the cooking pot, and pureeing and chopping cold foods in a large bowl. Whenever possible purchase glass baking dishes because they can be used in both conventional and microwave ovens. And don’t forget to equip the new student with a file of easy-to-prepare gluten-free recipes!

yellow checklist


Coffee maker and coffee grinder

Hand mixer

Toaster or toaster oven

Heavy-duty blender

Food processor (at least 11-cup capacity)


Heavy-duty immersion blender


Baking pans and equipment:

Angel food cake pan

Half-sheet baking pan with rim

2 round cake pans (8- or 9-inches)

1 square baking pan (8 by 8-inches or 9 by 9-inches)

Round springform pan (8- or 9-inches)

1 muffin pan for 12 muffins


2 muffin pans for 6 muffins each

1 loaf pan (8 by 4 by 2 1/2 inches or 9 by 5 by 4 inches)

1 (9 by 12 by 2-inch) rectangular baking dish

1 large cooling rack

2 oven mitt hot pads

2 silicone or rubber baking mats

Set of mixing bowls (from 1 quart to 6 quarts)

Rolling pin


Pots and pans:

8-quart stock pot

8-inch frying pan

10-inch frying pan

12-inch sauté pan

Double boiler



8- to 10-inch chef’s knife

Paring knife

Serrated bread knife

Electric knife sharpener (dull knives are more dangerous than sharp)

1 set steak knives



1 set measuring spoons

1 set dry measuring cups with level tops

1-quart liquid measuring cup

Apple cutter

Can opener

Citrus juicer


Cutting board


Garlic press

Four-sided hand held grater

Ice cream scoop

Kitchen tongs

Long-handled fork

Melon baller

Pepper grinder

Potato masher

Salad spinner

Slotted spoon

Soup ladle

3 different-size silicone spatulas

Sponges for dishes and 3-M scrubbies for pots and pans

Set of metal mesh strainers of various sizes that are dishwasher safe

To-go coffee cup

Instant-read thermometer for meat and baked goods

Vegetable peeler

Collapsible vegetable steamer

Water bottles (dishwasher safe)

Wire whisk

3 wooden spoons of various sizes



Tea pot

Cream pitcher and sugar bowl

Water pitcher

Salad/dessert plates (one size does double duty)

Dinner plates

Coffee/tea mugs

Soup/cereal bowls (one 12-ounce bowl does double duty)

Salt shaker

Pepper mill (one that is nice enough for the table)

8 to 12-ounce water glasses

6-ounce juice glasses

Large serving spoons

1 set dining cutlery: salad/dessert forks, dinner forks, soup/cereal spoons, teaspoons, butter knives



Quart and gallon Ziploc bags (yes, I know these are not environmentally friendly, but they have no replacement. I encourage Sarah to reuse and recycle)

1 5-piece set OXO plastic pop storage containers (for cereal, dry goods)

1 roll aluminum foil

1 roll microwave-safe plastic wrap


In an upcoming blog post, as the time for actual college matriculation draws near, I will talk about shopping and groceries and stocking the gluten-free college pantry.



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