How to Stock Your First Apartment Pantry—An Essentials List

Image of several spoons full of different spices in a row with a banner that reads how to stock your first apartment pantry.

Stocking a pantry in your first apartment or home can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. This pantry essentials list will help you learn what items to buy for your first apartment pantry.

When you make a purchase using a link on this page, we may receive a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please see About Us.

This post is all about the essential items that you need to stock your first apartment pantry.

Moving into your own apartment may be the first time that you are fully responsible for shopping for your own food. It can be overwhelming at first, especially if you aren’t used to cooking or knowing what you like to eat.

A kitchen pantry is a great place to store essential items that can help to make sure that you always have something to eat.

Your first pantry is a good place to stock kitchen essentials that you use on a day-to-day basis. This includes things like coffee, cereal, and snack foods.

The pantry is also a good place to stock those kitchen essentials that you may not use daily, but that you do need on occasion for cooking and baking—things like flour, sugar, and baking powder.

You may wonder if having a pantry is necessary, especially if you eat out a lot. It is probably a good idea to have some food at home, in case of emergency or if, for some reason, you can’t order take-out or go to pick up food.

Keeping food stocked in a pantry means that you are, more likely than not, able to have something to eat.

Benefits of having a well-stocked pantry:

  • It can save you a trip to the grocery store.
  • It can help you save money.
  • You almost always have something to eat. You can make bread from flour and water, for example. It may not taste very good, but it does give you something to eat.

In general, you may want to start with a small amount of each item, to find out what you like. Once you know what you like and what you tend to use the most, you can stock up on more of that item. It helps to prevent food waste if you know that you are going to eat certain types of food.

The list will vary according to individual needs. For example, if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, then you might want to store extra canned food and water—along with flashlights, batteries, and manual can openers—during hurricane season.

Here is a list of first apartment pantry essentials to help you get started on stocking your pantry.

Pantry List

Baking Essentials

Whether you are a hardcore baker who likes to bake bread weekly, or you only like to make waffles on occasion, having the right ingredients can help to make your baking efforts a success.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Active dry yeast—good for making bread, flatbreads, and yeast dinner rolls
  • Instant yeast—good for making homemade pizza crust
  • Vanilla extract
  • Olive oil
  • Bread crumbs
  • Instant milk powder
  • Chocolate chips
  • Cocoa powder, for making chocolate cake or brownies
  • Nuts—pecans and walnuts are good for baking, almonds are good for snacking and making granola
  • Dried fruit, such as cranberries, blueberries, or raisins
  • Peanut butter, or other types of nut butter or seed butter
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey

Protein, Bouillon, Soups, and Stock

  • Canned meat and fish, like chicken, salmon, or tuna
  • Shelf-stable tofu (a vegetarian protein option)
  • Canned beans, such as black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, or cannellini beans
  • Lentils, usually sold in a bag
  • Canned soups
  • Bouillon cubes, chicken and beef
  • Chicken broth or stock

Fresh Fruit and Vegetables

These fruit and vegetables tend to have a long shelf life and can be useful to store in the pantry. Apples, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and onions may last up to a few weeks in a cool, dark pantry, while winter squash and pumpkins may last up to a few months.

Storing these fruits and vegetables in stackable wire baskets is a space-saving way to keep produce aerated and help keep your pantry tidy.

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Pie pumpkin
  • Other winter squash varieties

Canned Fruits and Vegetables

  • Canned vegetables, such as green beans, carrots, corn, or peas
  • Canned tomatoes, including a variety, like diced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with green chiles, tomato sauce, and tomato paste
  • Canned fruit or fruit cups, such as mixed fruit, peaches, pineapple, or mandarin oranges

Grains, Cereals, and Oats

  • Brown rice or white rice
  • Quinoa, couscous, or other grains
  • Oatmeal
  • Cereal
  • Granola


  • Pasta, in a variety of shapes and sizes
  • Egg noodles
  • Pasta sauce
  • Alfredo sauce

Herbs and Spices

Dried herbs and spices add flavor to your meals and can last up to 6 months in storage.

You may need some of all of the items on this list, depending on how much you cook and what your recipes call for. At the very least, stocking salt, pepper, and garlic powder can provide flavor for your food.

  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Bay leaves
  • Basil
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Ground cumin
  • Oregano
  • Paprika
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Chili seasoning
  • Italian seasoning
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • Seafood seasoning
  • Taco seasoning
  • Minced garlic in water or oil


  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Cookies
  • Granola or granola bars
  • Raisins
  • Fruit cups


Condiments, like herbs and spices, can help to flavor foods and make them irresistible. Sometimes they are the glue that holds a meal together. For what is a tuna sandwich without mayonnaise? Or peanut butter without jelly? It can be a good idea to keep some basic condiments in stock.

  • Peanut butter, or other types of nut butter
  • Jelly
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Salad dressing
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Soy sauce
  • Teriyaki sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Salsa
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Olives


  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Hot cocoa
  • Bottled juice
  • Bottled water

Refrigerated Goods + Perishable Foods

These are food items that should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer, and perishable items like fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, and bread. These foods typically don’t last as long as shelf-stable foods that you can store in a pantry.

Refrigerated Foods

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Coffee creamer
  • Yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Meat and poultry—this includes things like chicken breast and steak, easy to cook foods that are a good source of protein
  • Bacon or sausage
  • Deli meat and cheese

Freezer Foods

  • Frozen fruit—Frozen fruit like strawberries, blueberries, and bananas are great for making smoothies. Frozen fruit is easy to portion out, so that there is less waste.
  • Frozen vegetables—Frozen vegetables are easy to heat up to make side dishes for a meal.
  • Freezer meals
  • Frozen pizza
  • Ice cream


Fresh fruits and vegetables an essential part of a healthy diet. Keeping some fresh fruits and vegetables in your kitchen can be good for adding variety to the diet and making healthy snacks.

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Melon
  • Pineapple
  • Watermelon
  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Tomatoes

Some grocery stores offer pre-cut fruits and vegetables, which can be a time-saving option for busy people.

Salad blends and kits are another way to eat vegetables without too much having to do much prep work.

A colander is an essential tool to have on hand for washing fruits and vegetables before eating them.

Other Foods

  • Bread
  • Sandwich bread
  • Pastries

Household Essentials

Here are a few other items that you may also need in the kitchen.

  • Paper towels
  • Paper napkins
  • Dish soap or dishwasher tablets or liquid
  • Sponges and scrubbing pads
  • Kitchen hand soap
  • All-purpose cleaning spray
  • Garbage bags
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic wrap
  • Parchment paper
  • Sandwich bags
  • Freezer bags
  • Food storage containers
  • Reusable shopping bags

Other Essential Items

These items can be kept in a small basket in the pantry, in case of emergency.

  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Bottle opener
  • Wine opener
  • Manual can opener

This post provided a list of pantry essentials for a first apartment pantry.

— —

  • Photo by Karolina Grabowska / Pexels
  • Photos are used for illustrative purposes only.

Related Posts