The Most Important Box to Pack Next Time You Move

published Mar 4, 2015
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(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Everybody knows that pizza is the moving-day meal of choice — pizza shops are everywhere, open continuously, and deliver. Bonus: You don’t need plates or silverware to eat pizza, and everyone loves it! But what about the first morning in your new place? If your boxes haven’t arrived yet or you just haven’t gotten around to unpacking (moving day was stressful enough!), you’ll need some basic-as-it-gets kitchen supplies so you don’t have to turn to takeout.

So what should you do? Make a box and designate it as your moving kitchen survival kit, fill it with things you will need until your kitchen is unpacked and set up — and move it to the new place yourself so it doesn’t get lost in the moving-day whirlwind.

Here’s what to put inside!

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

The Box Itself

The first thing to remember is that you need to make sure everyone knows what this box is for. Label it clearly so the movers you hire or friends helping out know not to put it onto the truck that’s going to storage or, worse yet, the donation center.

In fact, pack this box yourself and then place it out of the way in your car or with your purse, so it doesn’t get mixed up with the other boxes.

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Cooking Supplies

  • Saucepan: This versatile piece of cookware can boil water for tea in the morning, heat up some soup, or cook pasta.
  • Frying pan: A frying pan can make scrambled eggs, sear some steaks or pork chops, or sauté vegetables. If you like cooking eggs, bring a nonstick one or cast iron skillet.
  • Knives: Pack one chef’s knife and one small paring knife (wrap them in a kitchen towel or oven mitt to keep them safe in the box). Trust me, that’s all you’ll need.
  • Cutting board: A cutting board can also double as a serving platter.
  • Large bowl: One large bowl can be used to make salads, beat eggs, or wash greens. Bring a metal or plastic bowl if you have one so you don’t worry about a fragile glass bowl.
  • Tongs: Tongs can toss pasta, flip meat, or stir things around in a frying pan. Plus, they’re essential if you have a grill and decide to fire that up instead!
  • Rubber spatula: A good rubber spatula can stir scrambled eggs and help scrape things down as you’re mixing or cooking.
  • Foil: Baking pans are bulky, but you can always line an oven rack with foil instead or use it to wrap up leftovers. Foil can also serve as a makeshift cooking lid.
  • Resealable plastic bags: Pack a few in each size to bag up leftover food or ingredients. You’ll also find they’re useful around the house in general!
  • Oil, salt, and pepper: These three essentials are irreplaceable in even the most simple cooking.

Cleaning Supplies

  • Dish soap and sponge: You’ll need to keep up with the dishes, as you’ll probably have to reuse your cooking supplies pretty often. Pack a new sponge and your favorite dish soap, or splurge on a special dish soap with a nice scent to make you feel welcome in your new home!
  • Kitchen towels: Wrap some kitchen towels around the knives or the glassware you’re packing in the kitchen box to protect them. The towels can then double as potholders in your new kitchen.
  • Paper towels: Paper towels can serve as napkins, help do cleanup, and in general will be useful around the house.


  • Remember that you’ll need things to eat with and off of, so don’t forget a set of plates, bowls, knives, forks, and spoons for each person.

This is a great time to use up paper or plastic goods you have left over from a party or gathering. Since they’re disposable, they’ll make your life just a tad easier while you get settled, and who cares if they say “Happy Birthday” on them? Another good option is plastic picnicware or children’s stuff — they’re durable and lightweight!

(Image credit: Christine Gallary)

Beverage Supplies

  • Wine and/or bottle opener: It’s a lot harder to reward yourself with a cold beer or a glass of wine at the end of moving day if you can’t open it.
  • Glasses: Go for ones that are lightweight and tempered so they survive the move; heatproof is even better if you want to be able to drink hot beverages out of them. If you have paper or plastic cups hanging around, bring those instead!
  • Coffee or morning beverage essentials: You’ll be happier facing the first morning in a new place if you can have a proper cup of coffee or tea. Since you probably don’t want to set up your fancy espresso machine bleary-eyed, pack a small coffee maker or French press instead, make sure you pack the actual coffee or tea, and if you have room, throw in your favorite mug so you have something familiar to greet you in the kitchen.

Hopefully these things will make the big move just a tad less stressful, knowing you can churn out some basic meals and not be scrambling to look for cookware and gadgets.

What would you pack in your kitchen essentials box?