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First Apartment Grocery List - Kitchen Essentials

November 11, 2019

You’ve spent countless hours planning, packing, and unpacking, and you’ve officially moved into your new apartment. You deserve a snack… but you quickly realize that you need to go shopping. Your fridge is completely empty!  

A fresh start also means that you’ll need to stock up your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets from scratch. It’s easy to forget about all of those cooking essentials that we use on a daily basis.

Arm yourself with this grocery list with all of the essentials you need for your new home. It’ll help you find most of what you’ll need to get your new kitchen up and running. There’s nothing better than a well-stocked pantry when you’re adjusting to life in your new apartment. 

Grocery Shopping List for a New Apartment

You may not want to make a major grocery shopping trip after the hard work of unpacking every item in your apartment. We get it. 

That said, try to avoid ordering take-out on your first night in. A trip to the grocery store will be the perfect chance for you to grab some items that’ll make multiple meals (and help you save a few calories in the process). 

Here’s what to grab for your first week in your new home:

The Essentials

Start with the basics. You'll pretty much grab these items whenever you grocery shop, so get them out of the way first.

  • Protein — Chicken, fish, beef, eggs, tofu, tempeh
  • Grains — Rice, quinoa
  • Milk
  • Cereal
  • Lunch Meats
  • Bread
  • Oats — Granola, granola bars, oatmeal, etc
  • Coffee
  • Tea

Canned Foods

Canned foods are a major essential item. They can last for years and serve as great additions to meals. 

Beans, tomato sauce, and tuna are grocery staples that every home should have (unless you hate them)! Here are the top canned foods to pick up during your first grocery trip:

  • Chicken Broth
  • Canned Beans
  • Lentils
  • Tomato Paste
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Tomatoes 
  • Salsa
  • Olives
  • Tuna
  • Corn
  • Soups

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Below are a few of the staple fruits and vegetables you'll find in almost every kitchen. Just remember, these can go bad quick. So don't overdo it on your first grocery shopping trip.

  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Berries — Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Apples 
  • Onions
  • Fresh garlic (not a vegetable, but you’ll find it in the produce section)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Peppers

Spices and Herbs

Spices add a punch of flavor to a meal and last forever. Whether you like to cook spicy Thai food or want to grill a steak, you'll need a variety of spices if you cook frequently. Here’s what to grab while you’re at the store:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Ground ginger
  • Garlic powder
  • Dry basil
  • Onion powder
  • Rosemary
  • Oregano
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin

Baking Essentials

Whether you bake daily or just on the holidays, these bakings essentials should always have a place in your pantry. There’s nothing worse than not being able to make chocolate chip cookies because you don’t have flour or chocolate chips. 

One of the best things about these essentials is that they don’t go bad quickly. For that reason, they’ll suit a pro baker or an occasional baker just the same. Here are your baking essentials:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder 
  • White sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Butter (salted or unsalted)
  • Yeast
  • Vegetable oil
  • Chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts
  • Shortening

Condiments and Sauces

Like spices, condiments and sauces add extra flavor to your meals. From summer barbecues to the egg salad sandwiches you carry for lunch, condiments are top essentials. Here’s what to grab in the condiments section:

  • Ketchup
  • Mayo
  • Mustard 
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Hot sauce
  • Syrup
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly/Fruit preserves
  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressing

Frozen Foods

For all of us who like to eat healthy, frozen foods are truly a gift. They allow fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to stay fresh longer. Stocking up on frozen items will allow you to plan meals in advance. Here’s what you should pick up!

  • Meat — Chicken, pork, beef, fish
  • Frozen fruit
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Ice cream
  • Ice

Home Essentials

We are simple creatures. Food often takes precedence over other home supplies that we need. 

Let’s face it — picking up a frozen pizza is much more fun than sifting through dryer sheets. However, it’s important to not forget the basics when you’re at the store. Here’s what you should stock up on while you’re there.

  • Paper towels
  • Dish soap or dishwasher liquid
  • Hand soap
  • Laundry supplies — detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener
  • Toiletries — razors, shaving cream, floss, toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, menstrual products, body wash, and conditioner
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Filtered water pitcher (if you're fridge doesn't have a water dispenser.
  • Ice trays

Final Thoughts

With all of these kitchen and pantry items in tow, you’ll be set for delicious homemade cooking. Many of these items have a relatively long shelf life, so they’ll be on hand when you need them. 

These basic components of many recipes will come in handy as you navigate life in your new rental. Don’t be afraid to add items to this list, especially if they’re crucial to pulling off your favorite dish. Happy eating!

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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