If you’re moving from a dorm to a student apartment, or moving out of your parents’ house for the first time, you’ll need to provide quite a few things for yourself that you may have taken for granted until now. Figuring out what all you need to set up your Houston apartment on your own can be a daunting task, so we’re here to help. Our previous blog post, Setting Up Your First Apartment: The Essentials, lists several items first-time apartment dwellers often forget to bring. First apartment kitchen essentials are briefly mentioned in that post, but so much goes into setting up a working kitchen that we couldn’t list it all in one paragraph. Here’s a more detailed list of things to think about for your first apartment kitchen:
Your Houston apartment will almost certainly come with major appliances, including a stove, an oven, and maybe a dishwasher. If you don’t have a dishwasher, be sure to pick up a dish drying rack, dish soap for hand washing, and whatever types of scrubbers you prefer. Your first apartment may come with a microwave, or you may need to provide your own, if you want one. Also think about which small appliances you like to use. Will you want a coffee maker, toaster, toaster oven, or blender? How about a rice cooker, crock pot, or electric kettle?
Durable Items: Dishes, Cookware, Utensils, Linens
If you plan to do anything more than simply heating up frozen, canned, or take-out food, you’ll need basic cooking equipment like pots, pans, knives, and utensils. This checklist from The Kitchn and this one from My First Apartment can help you sort out what all you’ll need. Neither of those lists includes dishes, silverware, or food storage options (like plastic or glass food containers, plastic wrap, plastic bags, or aluminum foil), but your kitchen certainly should. For dishes and silverware, think about how many people will be eating in your home at once. If it’s usually just you, you can get by with just a few plates, bowls, forks, and spoons. If you often entertain, you may want to pick up a small boxed set of dishes, or mix and match several sets of thrift store finds.
Filling your first apartment kitchen with food from scratch can be a bit tricky. It can be frustrating to have everything on hand for your favorite recipe or simple snack, except for one ingredient. Even if you don’t cook much, you’ll want to have your favorite sauces, seasonings, and simple food items on hand. A good pantry checklist can help you fill your first apartment with everything you need all at once. Try this Pantry Essentials Checklist from the Food Network Kitchen, or this Pantry Master List from About.com’s Frugal Living page.
Personalize Your List
Of course, all of these lists are just general guidelines to get you started. They may not include everything you need to create the foods you love from your ethnic heritage, your family’s special recipes, your special dietary requirements, or your personal favorites. Don’t buy anything you know you’ll never use, and don’t buy foods you don’t like or can’t digest. Make sure your list contains your favorite foods, and if you have favorite recipes, look them over and make sure you’ll have everything you need to create those dishes.
Go By Your Own Budget
Most people setting up their first apartments are on tighter budgets. If you can’t comfortably afford to set up your kitchen all in one go, take your time. Stocking up bit by bit over the first few months will let you look for great deals and avoid laying out a lot of money all at once. For durable items like dishes, cookware, utensils, linens, and appliances, ask friends and family if they have extras, visit thrift stores, and check Craigslist and Freecycle. For food, watch for sales and coupons. You may also want to plan your meals and buy only what you need for each week. Over time, you’ll collect everything you need for your own functional, personalized kitchen.