How to Equip a New Apartment Kitchen: The Top Kitchen Essentials You Need

Moving into your first apartment is such a fun time. Making sure you have everything you need, can be difficult.

There is nothing worse than settling in, getting ready to make some food, and not having something that you need.

Don’t let that happen to you!

Here are things to add to your kitchen essentials checklist, and why you need them:

Garbage Can

One thing almost everyone forgets they need when moving into an apartment is a garbage can! Something you use every single day but you don’t think about when stocking your kitchen. And don’t forget the bag!

You can also look into a compost bin to compost your food scraps to use in a garden! A lot of cities also have companies that will pick up your compost to use for various gardening.

Oven Mitts

You are an adult now, you may no longer use your shirt or a towel to take hot things out of the oven. Oven mitts are a necessity.

A quality oven mitt is not something to take for granted. Make sure the one you choose is a thick one that can withstand a lot of heat, and preferably has a silicone anti-slip grip.

Cutting Boards

You will need at least two cutting boards, one for meat and one for produce. Mixing the two would be detrimental, especially if you don’t wash it in between uses. No one wants to be exposed to salmonella.

Knife Set

A good set of knives, preferably in a knife block. It is extremely hard to cook for yourself if you don’t have a good set of knives. You can’t even cut an apple without a sharp knife.

Keep them clean and sharp. A good knife set will last you the rest of your life if you take care of it.

Bottle Opener/Corkscrew

Chances are, you’ve thought about this already. You don’t want to have some people over and go to open a bottle of wine and not have a corkscrew!

Baking Sheet

One medium-size baking sheet would be good for one person who cooks occasionally. If you cook often, you might want a bigger one or more.

You will use your baking sheet a lot. Getting a silicone mat or using parchment paper when you use it will preserve the sheet and make it easier to clean.

Non-Stick Frying Pan

At least one frying pan will do. Or get a non-stick frying pan set and then you can use two at a time if you ever need to.

Non-stick will make it easier to clean. Make sure you read the care instructions. Some frying pans need to be cleaned when they are cold, some can only be cleaned with a cloth and other various ways. If you opt for a cast iron skillet, they have very important care instructions, be sure to research them.


You can use a non-stick saucepan for almost anything… not just sauce! Making some pasta? Mashed potatoes? Heating up some leftovers? Saucepans are extremely versatile!

Having at least one saucepan is a good idea, and more if you cook often or make more complicated meals. If you do cook often you might also want to invest in a stock-pot for making soups, stews, and any other bulk cooking items.

Measuring Cups & Spoons

Even if you don’t think you’ll use measuring cups or measuring spoons, get them anyways. One day you will need to measure something and you will be glad that you bought them.

Mixing Bowl

Almost every store that carries home items will have sets of mixing bowls. These can be used for anything from baking cakes to holding the three bags of popcorn you made for movie night.


Whisks are one of the staple kitchen utensils you need to have. From making eggs to making whipped cream, you will use your whisk more than you would anticipate.

There are quite a few different kinds of whisks. Go with a basic whisk, unless you have specific things you need them for. A generic metal balloon whisk will work for almost anything you need a whisk for.


There are two kinds of spatulas you need. One, the kind you will use to flip burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches. And the second is a silicone spatula for baking, making eggs, and scraping the sides of the bowl when you make brownies.

Wooden Spoon

Your wooden spoon can be used in a variety of ways. Make sure you get a good one, and you learn how to take care of it.

A basic wooden spoon will work, but there are different kinds for all of your cooking needs.


If you’re ever going to make pasta of any kind, you’re going to need a strainer. You can also use your strainer to wash your produce before you put it away.

Kitchen Towel

A specific set of towels for your kitchen is important! You always want to have one to dry your hands after washing them, and one to wipe things up with.

Having 3-5 is optimal. Using a clean towel every day is a good idea to keep away food-borne bacteria.

Dish Soap

Don’t forget your dish soap!

You may have a dishwasher, but there will always be pans and dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher.

Get a good quality dish soap, like joy dish soap. Make sure your dish soap actually removed grime and grease that is also gentle on your hands.


A kitchen sponge is a necessity. If you want to go eco-friendly, look into dish brush sets!

A sponge will still be good for certain cleaning needs, but using them to wash dishes is kind of gross. They are a breeding ground for bacteria. If you do use a sponge for washing your dishes, make sure you sanitize your sponge between uses.

Dish Drying Rack

Something to put your dishes on when they’re drying might seem like a silly expense. But when your favorite coffee mug falls off the counter and breaks, you will be sad. You can find drying racks pretty cheap, make sure they have a non-stick bottom and are easy to wash.

Coffee Maker

How anyone lives without a coffee maker is beyond me. Since you’re living on your own now, you can take your time in the morning to make your coffee. Buy a french press a brew excellent coffee in an eco-friendly way!


Thinking you can live without a toaster is a mistake a lot of first-time apartment renters make. In a pinch, you can use your oven to toast something, but that takes a lot longer than popping something in the toaster.


Ideally, your apartment would have a microwave already. If they don’t – you’re going to need one.

Other Kitchen Essentials

You’re also going to need to ger things to eat with and drink out of. Plates of various sizes, preferably a dinner size plate and then a smaller size. Bowls for cereal, soup, and possibly large ones for pasta and salads.

Make sure your plates and bowls are dishwasher and microwave safe to avoid any fire hazards.

Look for a silverware set that comes with forks, spoons, and butter knives. A matching set isn’t essential, but it’s nice to have.

You will need glasses or cups, whichever kind you prefer. And mugs for coffee and tea. Pint glasses and wine glasses for entertaining are always a good idea as well.

Food Essentials

Now that you have all the kitchen essentials added to your list, let’s see what food essentials you’re going to want to have on hand.

There are many pantry staples that it is a good idea to have around. Rice, pasta, oats, canned veggies, and beans are very useful.

For baking needs, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and vanilla are good to have. And any alternatives if you have dietary restrictions.

Spices such as salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, parsley, oregano, ginger, dill, and anything else you use frequently.

Everything else you can buy as needed, assuming you grocery shop frequently.

Also, you should always have ice cream in your freezer… for emergencies.

Time to Shop!

Making sure you have all the kitchen essentials you need can be a daunting task, but you do want to make sure you have everything before you need it. There is nothing worse than running to the store mid-meal prep for something that you should always have.

Make a checklist, grab a coffee, and head to your favorite store. It’s shopping time.

Check out our other blog posts for all the cooking and home ideas you’ll ever need.