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How to Stock your First Kitchen in 8 Steps

Pregnant mother bringing groceries in canvas bags into kitchen with young son
Thomas Barwick/ Getty Images

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and equipping it for the first time can be an exciting (and daunting) process. You’ll need to plan how to stock those empty cabinets and drawers carefully. While it may be tempting to purchase all the kitchen gadgets, you don’t want your drawers to overflow with accessories you may only use a few times each year. Before you buy that bread cutter or hot dog slicer, let our kitchen essentials list guide you as you shop for the basics to build a useful and inviting space.

To make shopping manageable, break your kitchen essentials out into categories. Separating bakeware from cleaning supplies helps avoid feeling overwhelmed or buying duplicate items.

How to stock your kitchen in 8 simple steps

High Angle View Of white glass, fork, knife and plate on a colored table

Francesco Carta fotografo

Step 1: Stock up on tableware and cutlery

Whether you’re dining solo or hosting a dinner party, you’ll need these kitchen must haves to enjoy your meal. As you choose plates, bowls, and platters, avoid elaborate patterns or intense colors. This can make it difficult to replace a broken dish or add to your collection in the future. Stick to a minimalist look for flatware and serving utensils to keep them timeless.

What you’ll need for this step:

Linda Raymond/ Getty Images

Step 2: Thirsty? Raise your glass

Glassware is a key item on your kitchen checklist. From everyday glasses to party glassware, stocking your cabinet with a variety of types means you’ll be ready to quench any thirst. If you’re a fan of a morning caffeine boost, look for microwave-safe coffee mugs and teacups. Glassware that is dishwasher safe will save time and avoid no-fun hand washing.

What you’ll need for this step:

BRETT STEVENS/ Getty Images

Step 3: Food storage made simple

When you think about things you need in a kitchen, food storage may not be the first to come to mind. But leftovers need to be stored and refrigerated or frozen properly in food containers. Be sure to look for airtight options when stocking your pantry with dry goods and spices.

What you’ll need for this step:

A man cooking at night, stirring the stew pan. People who eat home-cooked meals on a regular basis tend to be happier and healthier.

Photographer, Basak Gurbuz Derman/ Getty Images

Step 4: Whip it up with cookware and bakeware

Set your meal plan in motion with these baking and cooking essentials. Customize your kitchen essentials based on the types of meals you typically prepare with accessories such as a bread machine, pressure cooker, or air fryer.

What you’ll need for this step:

Britany George / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Step 5: Keep kitchen linens on hand

From drying dishes and your hands to removing hot pots from the stove, linens certainly serve a purpose. Dressing up your table with cloth napkins and a tablecloth makes even the everyday dinner an elegant one. If possible, keep a dedicated drawer for your dish towels and potholders.

What you’ll need for this step:

Kathrin Ziegler/ Getty Images

Step 6: Cleaning supplies for a spotless kitchen

Dirty dishes, spills, and messes happen. Clean them up easily with your must-have cleaning supplies. Save time shopping and cleaning by choosing multipurpose cleaners and concentrated soaps.

What you’ll need for this step:

Roman Larin / EyeEm/ Getty Images

Step 7: Barware to help you serve in style

Take your home bartender skills to the next level with these kitchen essentials. As you stock your liquor cabinet, remember the tools you’ll need to create a signature cocktail or pour a glass of Cabernet. Struggling to stack your barware on open kitchen shelving? Keep it neat with these tips.

What you’ll need for this step:

Erik Isakson/ Getty Images

Step 8: Be ready to brew up coffee and tea

A cup of coffee or tea goes wonderfully with dessert (or as a kickstart to your morning). Make sure all of your coffee and tea essentials are ready for day one. If your kitchen space is limited, consider a single-serve coffee maker or coffee and tea maker combo.

What you’ll need for this step:

Pro tips:

  • Pro tip #1: Add turntables inside cabinets for easy access.
  • Pro tip #2: Save space with collapsible mixing bowls and colanders.
  • Pro tip #3: Add a magnetic strip to the wall for knives.
  • Pro tip #4: Mount a paper towel holder inside a cabinet door.
  • Pro tip #5: Keep your fridge clean by lining your shelves with wax paper for easy cleanup.

The bottom line

Whether you’re moving into your first apartment after college or your forever home, having the right kitchen essentials will make your daily meal prep and entertaining so much easier.

Frequently asked questions

What can I do to increase storage? 

If your tiny kitchen is lacking storage space, there are several ways to corral your kitchen necessities. Adding a rolling cart keeps items contained and lets you tuck it out of the way. Adjustable pan and pot lid organizers and multi-tiered shelving provide maximum storage.

Do I really need to stock my kitchen with all of this stuff? 

Stocking up on these kitchen essentials will ensure you have the necessities on hand. Take time to assess your kitchen and storage space before you shop. This will keep your kitchen organized and clutter-free.


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