Food must-haves for those going back to college

by April Lisante
Posted 8/6/20

El Quetzal manager Lindsey Kiska shows off the shop’s fabulous stock of mugs. by April Lisante Last week, I watched my oldest daughter leave for college. As she pulled out of the driveway to start …

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Food must-haves for those going back to college

El Quetzal manager Lindsey Kiska shows off the shop’s fabulous stock of mugs.

Last week, I watched my oldest daughter leave for college.

As she pulled out of the driveway to start her 1,200-mile drive for her junior year in Miami, I smiled and waved, then closed the door and cried. For a few days.

Since her hurried quarantine exodus from Florida and her arrival here back in March, we have had some amazing family time, time I never would have had at this stage in her life.

Long walks, talks and, as I’ve written in a previous column, dinners together as a family. Once a mother’s dream, these events became daily realities for me. Being in sort of a bubble here meant she experienced the comforts of home, and she photographed many a dinner for Instagram, excited each day to have home cooked meals.

This month, many parents will be saying goodbye to their college-bound children after four months together. While I am excited for her life to pick up where it left off and for her to be with friends again, I watched her go with a mix of sadness and fear of the unknown on my end. And for the young adults, I have no doubt it will be jarring to leave the bubble and return to life on their own.

So, I sent her back with things that will remind her of home. Candles, her favorite blankets and a bunch of foods and kitchen items to ease the transition. Not surprisingly, when she arrived in Miami, some of the first photos I received were of her decorated kitchen, her wait on a lengthy Trader Joe’s line, and, a few hours after that, her stocked pantry.

Since this is a food column, I thought it fitting to curate some ways you can send your child back to school with a little taste of home, comforting treats that will hold them over until they can be back for Thanksgiving. The holiday is only 105 days away, but who’s counting?

  • One of the must-have appliances for college students is the smoothie maker/juicer. I ended up trying a lot of spirulina-inspired juices during quarantine thanks to my daughter, and I ended up sending her back with her own smoothie maker. Kitchen Kapers (8530 Germantown Ave., 215-242-2866 and carries the Breville Boss To Go Sport, which lets students make individual smoothies, then flip the blending container, pop on a top, and run to class. ($159.95)
  • Tie-dye is really in again, and Kapers has two must-have dorm items. The Rainbow Dreamfarm kitchen tool set ($9.95) is a cool way to infuse color in the kitchen, and the Hippie Hops 16-oz. tie-dye silicone cup is good for many different types of beverages.
  • Ok, so I am not the best at sending care packages to my daughter, but I recently found, and I think I will be using it this year. The prices vary, but you can send Jim’s Steaks, Pat’s King of Steaks, or John’s Roast Pork, as well as Tastykakes and Bassett’s Ice Cream overnight.
  • Kilian Hardware (8450 Germantown Ave., 215-247-0945) is a quick stop for microwaves, toasters, crockpots and coffee makers, but they also have pots and pans for college kitchens. Pans come in sets of two or individually, for about $20 and up.
  • El Quetzal (8427 Germantown Ave., 215-247-6588) always has unique items that you can’t find anywhere else. I’m always into their tea selections, most specifically their tea collection boxes for about $9.95. But they also have some cool mugs featuring everything from art to superheroes and cartoons. ($15.95.)
  • One of the coolest ways to remember home comes from Threadwell (8432 Germantown Ave., 267-385-5206), which embosses wooden cutting boards with the 19118 zip code ($38 to $104). They also carry cooler bags that can be customized with initials and school colors ($40). The large cooler comes in a smaller lunch box size for $30. Other details can be customized, including images like lacrosse sticks, crew oars, names and colors. The sky’s the limit.
  • One of my recent discoveries is Potluck Findings (379 W. Glenside Ave., 215-885-3921) in Glenside. This eclectic store gives hand-me-down furniture a new life with excellent paint and hardware. It is a treasure trove for unique kitchen pantries and storage pieces that refreshingly, you don’t have to put together with a 50-page manual. I did that last year in Miami. Never again.