Cooking on a budget: Tips for when you just can’t afford every pot and pan

Having complications with your kitchenware? If you're anything like me, half the instruments you need to cook seem to be missing from your "all-inclusive college starter kit" just when you need them. Use these alternatives when you can't find the tools you need.

1. Do the mashed potato!

Have you finally gotten around to buying potatoes to make some delicious cheddar-bacon mash or garlic butter herb purée? Everyone loves potatoes, but not as much when they realize they'll have to mash them by hand with one small fork. Instead, start with a large sturdy spoon and layer forks and spoons facing out around the handle. Use a rubber band to tie them all together and the many points will mash your spuds in half the time!

2. When life gives you lemons.

Squish them with a teaspoon! If you've ever tried to wring out a lemon, you know it's much easier to use a juicer. But since most of us broke 20-somethings don't have one, simply rotate a teaspoon around the inside of a lemon half.

3. Sweet sensations.

Sometimes you just need to eat chocolate; or, if you're daring, chocolate-dipped anything. For an easy way to melt chocolate without burning it, such as for syrup or fondue, throw a heatproof bowl – thick glass, stainless steel or cast iron – into a slightly smaller saucepan full of boiling water. Just make sure the bowl is easy to remove so you can get to your delicious melted chocolate before it gets cold!

4. Revolving vegetables.

Please listen to your mom on this one and wash your fresh lettuce before you throw it in a salad. Don't have a salad spinner and don't want to waste a million paper towels? Use one of those mesh bags they sell onions or potatoes in to dry the lettuce by placing it inside the bag, securing the opening, and spinning around like a maniac outside your house.