Congratulations! You’re moving into your first place and it’s time to start loading up on essentials. Figuring out the essentials for every room can be a bit overwhelming, so it’s best to take things one room at a time. The kitchen is a great place to start, since you’ll need to be nourished as you get settled in your new place.

From brûlée torches to dish drying racks, what exactly is considered “essential” in the kitchen? With hundreds of gadgets, tools, and appliances on the market it can be hard to make those decisions. Things like dishes and drinkware are the obvious choices, but there are plenty of others you’ll want to have on hand. 

Whether you’re a student moving into residence, or a young adult moving into your first apartment, this kitchen essentials checklist will help guide you through the process.

Cookware and bakeware essentials

You’ll need a variety of cookware and bakeware for different cooking methods. Don’t skip those cooking utensils, they’ll make your life easier!


Opt for heavier-gauge stainless steel. The heavy bottoms help to distribute heat for even cooking, and they tend to last longer. Make sure the pots are compatible with your heat source, too. Most pots work on gas and electric stoves, but induction requires magnetism, which means cookware made from aluminum, copper, or glass will not work.


If space is limited, you may not want a full set of pans. At a minimum, make sure you have one non-stick pan (great for cooking eggs) and one stainless steel pan for frying, searing, sautéing, and browning.

Baking sheets

A baking sheet is perfect for roasting vegetables or baking cookies. 

Casserole or baking dishes

A set of white porcelain casserole dishes will likely be all you ever need! They’re a great way to cook those one-dish meals like lasagna or casseroles.

Cooking utensils 

Make sure you have a wide range of utensils so you’re always equipped for whatever recipe you’re tackling. A spatula, whisk, wooden spoon, digital meat thermometer, flipper or turner, spaghetti spoon, ladle, kitchen shears, tongs, potato masher, garlic press, and rolling pin are the basic utensils you should have on hand.

Food prep, serving, and eating essentials

There’s nothing worse than trying to serve your grandmother’s famous spaghetti with a soup ladle! Stock your kitchen with everything you need to prep, serve and eat.

Oven mitts

The easiest to forget, but one of the most important in the kitchen. Invest in good quality mitts with a silicone grip; they tend to last longer and can easily be wiped clean if you accidentally dip your thumb into the lasagna.

Measuring cups, spoons, and scale

No matter how skilled you are in the kitchen you’ll never get accurate measurements without the proper utensils. Invest in some good quality liquid measuring cups, dry measuring cups (yes, they’re different!), measuring spoons, and a scale.


A colander makes draining pasta and washing veggies easy. You can find metal ones or even collapsible silicone versions for easy storage. 

Cutting boards

A polypropylene or plastic cutting board is a great option if you’re looking for something you can toss in the dishwasher. Wooden cutting boards require a little more maintenance (ie: cleaning immediately after each use), but they can last a long time.

Vegetable peeler

Peel your potatoes, carrots, and parsnips at lighting speed by using a vegetable peeler. Opt for a Y-shaped peeler instead of the traditional straight one for easier grip and handling.

Box grater

When it comes to a box grater, the more sides the better! Seven-in-one graters have sides for grating, shaving, slicing, zesting, and more all with one item, helping you save space.

Mixing bowls

From mixing salads and cake batter, to storing leftovers, a set of mixing bowls is a must. Glass is an excellent option because it doesn’t scratch, hold odors, or stain.

High-quality knives and sharpener

Without a sharp knife, food prep can be pretty difficult. You’ll never regret investing in a good, high-quality knife set. Find a set that includes, at minimum, a large chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a serrated knife. 

Aluminum foil, parchment paper, and plastic wrap

Aluminum foil can be used in the kitchen in more ways than you think, so it’s always good to have a few rolls on hand, and parchment paper makes clean-up a breeze as a disposable non-stick surface. Simply line your baking sheets or casserole dishes and you’ll be able to clean up in a beat. Plastic wrap is handy for covering bowls and dishes without lids or sealing food items to keep them fresh.

Bottle opener, can opener, and corkscrew

When you want to enjoy a glass of wine after a long day, make sure you have a bottle opener, corkscrew, and can opener on hand so you’re never left stranded. 


Coffee mugs are a must for morning pick-me-ups or espresso-sized mugs for afternoon energy boosts. Most sets of dishes come with matching mugs, or you can curate your own collection. 


An inexpensive trivet could very well save your expensive dining table. Purchase two or three trivets made of bamboo instead of cloth; they’re easy to keep clean and look nice too!

Miscellaneous essentials

Here are a few often forgotten about items that make your time in the kitchen more organized!

Glass storage containers with lids

If you find yourself with plenty of leftovers, glass food storage containers are a must! Dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, freezer, and oven-safe glass containers are great for lunches or storing meals. Plastic containers will also work, but glass tends to last longer and is easier to clean. Plus, plastic containers are porous and can collect smells, germs, and food over time, which means you’ll probably end up replacing them sooner than glass ones!

Bag clips

Never let a bag of chips go stale again! Make sure you have a few different sizes of bag clips to seal up those bags and keep food fresh. Clothespins will also work in a pinch—pun intended. 

Silverware organizer

A place for everything and everything in its place. Nobody wants to dig around a silverware drawer looking for the last spoon. A handy organizer keeps forks, knives, and spoons together and accessible.

Dish drying rack

One thing is certain in life…there will always be dirty dishes! Choose a dish drying rack that suits your style—from bamboo and metal, to over the sink.

Small appliance essentials

Let’s not forget about some of the kitchen appliances that do the heavy work in the kitchen.


Whether you choose electric or stove-top, every kitchen needs a kettle. If you do choose electric, remember to move it out from under your upper cabinets, you don’t want to steam off the finish!


From pastries to bagels, it’s hard to skip out on a toaster. A simple two-slice toaster will do the trick or you can opt for a four-slice toaster if you have a larger household. 

Coffee maker

For those who can’t start the morning without a cup of coffee—this one’s for you! Whether you are brewing a single or full pot, an automatic coffee maker is a must.


What would a list of essentials be without a few “nice-to-have” items? While these are in no way essential, they can make your time in the kitchen easier and more efficient.

Stock pot

If you often find yourself making big batches of soup or chili, a large stock pot will make life easier.

Slow cooker

A slow cooker is the ideal tool for busy individuals. Toss a variety of ingredients into the slow cooker before work or school and dinner is done when you get home.

Pressure cooker

Today’s pressure cookers are capable of a magnitude of things including browning, steaming, pressure cooking, rice cooking, and even yogurt making. Not to mention they can be your best friend when you’re strapped for time, often cooking an entire meal in less than 60 minutes.


If you’re up at the crack of dawn and making smoothies, then a blender is for you! It’s worthwhile to save up and purchase a premium blender with a heavy-duty motor if it’s something you’ll be using daily.

Food processor

Blender or food processor? That is the question. Why not both? While some of the functions are the same (ie: puree), a food processor allows you to chop foods for cooking or baking.

Toaster oven

Not to be confused with a toaster, a toaster oven is a handy countertop appliance that can quickly cook, bake, and toast scaled down versions of recipes. If you’re cooking for one, preparing a meal in a toaster oven is quick and simple.

Dutch oven

A good Dutch oven might be an investment, but there isn’t much you can’t cook it in. From braises and stews, to bread and holiday cider, this versatile cookware is a piece you’ll be thankful you own.

Cookbook holder

If you plan on doing a lot of cooking or baking, getting a cookbook holder or stand is worth it. Instead of trying to keep the book open with sticky hands, the recipe will be standing right in front of you for easy access!

Figuring out how to fully stock your kitchen with the appropriate cookware, bakeware, utensils, and tools does not have to be hard or frustrating. Follow the guide above and you’ll be tackling everything from burgers to Bundt cake in no time.


Posted by Teri-Lynn Jones on


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