College students are gearing up to go back to school. And that means shopping for gear that can provide some of the comforts of home. Consumer Reports has a bunch of products it's tested that are top grade for any dorm room or student apartment.
Headed back to campus? Navigating those back-to-school purchases can be overwhelming, but Jarred DiPaola and his dorm mates have it all figured out.
"Microwaveable food is delicious, so I recommend a microwave and mini-fridge, especially a mini-fridge with a freezer in it," DiPaola said.
Consumer Reports tests hundreds of appliances and can help.
"It's nice to have some of the comforts of home with you when you're on your own," Consumer Reports' Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman said.
A mini-fridge is a must. However, Consumer Reports has found that some compact fridges have trouble keeping their cool. But not one $220 Frigidaire. It's got a decent-sized freezer, too.
And then there's that must-have jolt of caffeine first thing in the morning. How about a coffee pod machine? This Nescafé Dolce Gusto from DeLonghi for $130 is top-rated.
"This machine was quick to brew that all important first cup of coffee, and pods are easier. There are no messy coffee grounds to clean up," Lehrman said.
And its compact size is a real "perk" for small spaces.
And this one's a little outside the box: a breakfast sandwich maker for hunger attacks, whenever they hit. Consumer Reports' Bernie Deitrick checked out a $30 Sandwich Maker from Hamilton Beach. All you do is build your ingredients, press a button, and minutes later, it makes a nice egg sandwich.
"It's really convenient. It's a little slower than using a stove, but it makes a great breakfast sandwich," Bernie Deitrick said.
Getting these small appliances can help get you set up like Jarred, so going away to college doesn't mean giving up all the comforts of home.
And don't forget the microwave. Consumer Reports recommends the $180 Panasonic Genius Prestige, Model NN-SD681S. But make sure you check the rules for your campus dorm to be sure they allow microwaves. Some colleges ban appliances or set wattage limits.