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First Apartment Grocery List - Kitchen Essentials

If you just moved into a new apartment, you have plenty of grocery shopping to do. Use our first apartment grocery list to snag all your kitchen essentials.

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. 

What Groceries Do You Need When You First Move?

New Apartment Grocery List Essentials

  • Protein — Chicken, fish, beef, eggs, tofu, tempeh
  • Grains — Rice, quinoa
  • Milk - Almond, oat, soy, and/or cow's 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

canned food

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

fresh fruits

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

The Ultimate First Apartment Grocery List

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 food aisle

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

Still Haven't Found Your Dream Apartment Yet?

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!

Still looking for your next apartment? Take our quiz to get matched in your area and price point!

First Apartment Grocery List FAQs

How Do You Budget Groceries for a First Apartment?

  • Decide how much you can spend up front based on your other bills. Here's a budgeting guide to help you figure that out.
  • Divide that amount by four to give you four weeks per month (keep in mind that some months, you may make five trips, so plan accordingly).
  • There's no "correct" amount to spend on groceries. Depending on where you live, $75-$100 per week is a good budget for a single individual.
  • Scope out prices online by using grocery store apps. You can often schedule groceries for pickup, which will allow you to view pricing in advance and keep you from overspending.
  • Use a budgeting app to keep you on track.

What is an Apartment Pantry?

A pantry is a room or cupboard where you can stock kitchen supplies, usually food, food storage, and small appliances. Not all apartments feature pantries, and when they do, they are usually closet-sized. However, it's not impossible to find apartments with a full-sized, walk-in pantries.

What is a Realistic Monthly Grocery Budget?

A single person can spend as little as $250 on groceries and up to $500 (or more) depending on where they shop, where they live, and what kind of food they choose to purchase.

Is $300 a Month Enough Food for One Person?

Yes, $300 a month is enough food for one person. It is on the lower end of a reasonable monthly budget, so make sure to plan out your grocery trips carefully. Look for coupons, shop around different stores for deals, and consider checking out dollar stores for certain items.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Justin Chaplin
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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