The Essential “First Week” Grocery List for Your New Home

updated Apr 30, 2024
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Credit: Kelli Foster

A new kitchen is wildly exciting. It’s a blank canvas, a brand-new space to make all your own, a fresh start … that’s in desperate need of groceries. You need so many groceries that the first trip to the store can feel totally overwhelming — especially if you’re stocking your fridge and pantry totally from scratch.

We’re here to help, with a grocery list to get you set up and fully stocked for life in your new home, whether it’s your first apartment in college or a new flat in a new town.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Tips for Writing a “First Week” Grocery List

I’m an advocate of making a grocery list for all shopping trips, and it’s especially important when you’re hitting the store to stock up a new kitchen. Without a list, it’s easy to buy things you don’t really need and won’t actually use. Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track.

  • Divide your list by areas in your kitchen. Because you might not know the layout of your new grocery store, break your list into four main areas of your kitchen: spice cabinet and condiments, pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
  • Your list doesn’t have to include everything. Use this first trip to stock up on just the basics and get yourself set up for easy weeknight dinner ideas. Because even if you leave with two carts full of groceries, there will be things you forget and things you didn’t realize you need. It’s inevitable.
  • Stay organized with a grocery list app. If a handwritten list just isn’t your style, there are plenty of grocery list apps that can do the heavy lifting for you. Apps like AnyList can organize your list by section, share it with family members, and even place an order with your preferred store.
  • Repurpose your grocery list. Once you’ve finished shopping, don’t toss your list! Your grocery list includes key basics you’ll stock on a regular basis. Use it to reference what you need, so you’ll know what to pick up at the store next time.

How to Create a “First Week” Grocery List

This list contains many of the basics that make for easy weeknight meals and daily necessities. Of course, our necessity might not be yours. The list is certainly varied and designed to jog your memory as your rebuild your pantry from scratch.

  • Pick and choose as you desire, of course — if you already have flour, leave it off!
  • If you never take cream in your coffee, then probably no need to buy it.
  • Add anything that we may have left off (Pet food? A few jars of baby food puree?).

With your adjustments, this list is all you need to arm yourself with the essentials to get started during your first week or so. Then, once you’re settled in and have created a meal plan, go back for another big shopping trip.

Pantry

  • Rice
  • Dried pasta and noodles
  • Beans (dried or canned)
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned coconut milk
  • Canned soup
  • Chicken broth
  • Bread
  • Peanut butter
  • Whole oats
  • Cereal
  • Snacks (nuts, dried fruit, crackers, pretzels)
  • Cooking oil (olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, sesame oil)
  • Vinegar (white, balsamic, apple cider, white wine)
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Coffee and tea
Credit: Kelli Foster

Refrigerator

  • Milk
  • Cream
  • Juice
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Fresh fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Tofu
  • Tortillas
Credit: Kelli Foster

Freezer

  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen fruit
  • Meat and poultry
  • Ice cream
Credit: Kelli Foster

Spices and Condiments

  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Basic spices (garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg)
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Hot sauce
  • Jam or preserves

What are the must-have essentials to get you through your first week in a brand-new kitchen?