The 8 Best Kitchen Essentials for Your First Apartment: Kitchen Checklist For New Homes

Kitchen Essentials

Setting up a well stocked kitchen can take time, but you don’t have to do it all in one go. That’s why we have outlined the 8 best essential kitchen items and must haves for your first apartment. With these cooking essentials your kitchen will be ready from day one to make delicious dishes! You want to start with the essentials first and keep adding as you see fit. Whether you cook frequently or use the kitchen for the basics there are a few must haves for your apartment. Below is the kitchen checklist for new homes. Let’s get cookin’

1. Plates and Bowls

Dishes should be one of the first things needed in a kitchen. They embody the notion of kitchen essentials. If you have a color scheme in mind then get dishes of a certain color or with a design. A simple design is recommended and if you have no preferences for a design then go with all white. Buying a set of 4 or 6 is recommended since the set will come with plates, dessert plates, bowls, and dishes. This takes the hassle out of buying things separately and making sure they match.

A blue dinnerware set of 4 from Gisbon Elite Dinnerware Set is simple yet elegant. It provides a sense of class while providing the essentials for dishes. These are a great starter set that will last you for a while. The manufacture provides different colors if blue does not match your decor.

They are dishwasher safe and include 16 pieces: 4 plates, 4 dessert plates, 4 bowls, and 4 mugs. They have great reviews on Amazon with over 6,000 reviews. It’s a great set for the price and quality.

However if you are not in the market for stoneware dishware that do have the tendency to chip we recommend Corelle. Corelle has been a household name for years and their quality continues to this day and age. Their dishes are chip resistant and very sturdy. Easy to take care of and dishwasher safe.

This 18-piece set has 6 plates, 6 snack plates, and 6 bowls. It has a very simple blue design along the edge which fits into all homes. Many reviews talk about how durable the plates are even with young children around. So if you are clumsy or would rather have more durable dishware we recommend taking a look at this set.

Unfortunately, this set does not come with mugs so you will have to get them separately. Given the quality of the dishes we still believe this is a great value and worth the money.

2. Chef’s Knife

A kitchen is not complete without a proper knife. An 8″ chef’s knife is standard for all kitchens due it’s versatility and usefulness. While 8″ may seem quite large it will feel right at home after using it for a while. When it comes to knives there are a ton of choices all ranging from different budgets and materials of construction. For this essential you want to make sure you don’t go with too cheap of an option otherwise the knife will get dull fast and cheaply made knives might even start to rust. We have provided a great starter knife that is inexpensive, but provides great value.

We recommend the Victorinox Fibrox Pro Chef’s Knife due its quality and price. It has a non-slip grip even when wet and the blade is made from stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about it rusting like cheap knives. This is the same company that makes Swiss Army knives so it is a reliable manufacturer.

This knife is quite sharp out of the box so handle with care. It will meet all your meat and vegetables needs due to the sturdy handle which provides good balance while cutting. Don’t forget to get a cutting board along with the knife!

3. Non-Stick Pan

Non-stick pans are ideal for first time cooks and even experienced cooks. They are easy to use and easy to maintain. Just make sure not to use metal utensils in the pan so you don’t wear away the coating. Non-stick pans provide a forgiving environment to cook new foods or foods that easily stick. This is definitely a kitchen essential for your first apartment due to the versatility.

A 12 inch pan is a good size that fits any occasion and is a great stater pan. You want to buy a skillet with a lid as it provides more flexibility in cooking.

We recommend buying a 12-inch Cuisinart Skillet with lid. This is the proper size and has great reviews. Hard anodized construction heats quickly and spreads heat evenly. It is also oven safe up to 500 degrees F which is an added bonus.

While it says the pan is metal utensil safe it is always a good idea to use a wooden spatula or at least plastic utensils to prolong the life of your non-stick pan.

4. Cooking Pot

To go along with your new skillet you will want at least 1 cooking pot. If you are planning to start of with one pot we recommend getting a medium sized pot. This way it is big enough to boil pasta or cook sauces without worrying about spilling. You want to make sure you get a good quality pot so it doesn’t get ruined quickly. Be careful of cheap stainless steel pots as many of them begin to rust after a few uses due to the low quality material of construction.

If you don’t want to have a big pot then we recommend you get the Utopia 2 Quart Saucepan. This is big enough to make enough pasta for 2 people and to make a small to medium amount of sauce. It’s also nonstick which makes it easier to use and clean.

This pot is relatively cheap and is a great addition if you already have a bigger pot. Sometimes you don’t want to use a big pot if you are just making food for the night.

If you do want a bigger pot then we recommend Cooks Standard 6-Quart Stainless Steel Stockpot with Lid. This is a great pot to make large dishes like soup. It’s stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about any non stick material flaking off in the long run. It’s durable and will last you a life time as long as you take care of it.

The pot is also oven safe up to 500 degrees F and the lid is oven safe to 350 degrees F. It is dishwasher safe and can be used for induction heating. Having a big pot is a plus as you can have a lot for leftovers and eat it over the week. Being stainless steel you can have peace of mind storing your food in here over a long span of time.

5. Storage Containers/ Tupperware

If you love to have leftovers from cooking or eating out then you definitely want to have good tupperware. We recommend using glass tupperware as they are higher quality and will last longer. They are a bit more expensive, but they are worth the cost in the long run. Glass storage containers are safe if you plan to microwave your food as you don’t have to worry about plastic leeching into the food.

We recommend you get the Bayco Glass Food Storage Containers set of 12. This includes 12 lids as well so it has 24 pieces total. It is BPA free and the lids are water and air tight so your food stays fresher longer. You also don’t have to worry about the container leaking. This is definitely a necessity and a must if you plan to meal prep for the week.

It comes with a variety of different sizes so you can be flexible in how you store your food. The one downside is that these containers are heavier than plastic ones, but for the quality and durability it is worth the weight difference. If you are moving into your first apartment expect a lot of leftovers in the first few days as you get take out due to long days of unpacking. Having this kitchen essential could save you a few bucks by eating leftovers!

6. Tongs

You might be thinking tongs?! Honestly once you have one you will start seeing how often you use it. It’s a necessity if you want to turn anything in the oven or even a small toaster over. Even if you are cooking something in the skillet like chicken breast then tongs are the best and easiest things to use to flip your food. Sure you can try to use a fork or spatula, but then you risk splashing oil and other cooking juices on you or the counter top. Tongs allow you to keep your hands safe and control how you move your food.

It is better to get tongs that are metal so you don’t have to worry about the silicone or plastic melting even if they are rated for higher temperatures. It’s also convenient to have tongs of varying sizes so you can choose the right one for the job. That is why recommend DRAGONN Premium Set of 12-inch and 9-inch Stainless-Steel Locking Kitchen Tongs. They are made from stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about them melting and they have silicon grips for your fingers.

These tongs are very inexpensive and we think it would become a kitchen favorite. Also a must have if you plan to BBQ in the summer!


A colander is essential in a kitchen. Whether you are trying to drain cooked pasta or washing vegetables a colander can make life easier. They are an inexpensive addition to the kitchen that makes a big difference.

We recommend this Easy Grip Micro-Perforated 5-Quart Colander. It is made out of 18/8 stainless steel so you don’t have to worry about rusting.

We especially like the micro perforation as it gives it a better workmanship to prevent pasta or leaves from escaping and getting clogged in the drain. There is nothing worse then unclogging the drain due to some leafy veggies that escaped. This is a simple yet useful colander. Give it a shot!

8. Kitchen Towels

No kitchen is complete without kitchen towels. If you are setting up your first apartment then you want to have towels hanging near the oven or the sink. They come in handy in case you need to dry your hands after using the sink or if you need to wipe the counter down. Always better to get towels made from cotton for durability and quality.

These COTTON CRAFT 8 Pack 100% Ringspun 2 Ply Cotton towels will get the job done. They come in different colors and are made from cotton for optimal absorption. They are lint free and a great value. With a pack of 8 you will have plenty of towels to run through before needing to wash them.

They have good reviews and a lot of them talk about the good value and good construction of the towel. In addition these towels are great for embroidery. The waffle weaves add a nice touch even if you are like us and don’t plan to embroider the towels.

Best Kitchen Essentials Overall

In a nutshell we have covered the 8 best kitchen essentials for all homes. Without the items above your first apartment move might be more stressful than it needs to be. Make sure you have the basics and work your way to more fancier items and gadgets. Sometimes it takes time to fully equip a kitchen and it can be expensive. That is why it’s important to buy good quality items so they last long and make your life easier. If you want more ideas for essentials then check out our article on The Best First Apartment Checklist: All The Essentials and Must Haves or if you want a checklist to keep track of the essentials check out our checklists. f you have any suggestions or comments please leave them below!