Kitchen essentials for your first apartment or home: nontoxic + aesthetic

first apartment kitchen essentials

An air fryer? New steak knives? Everything you had in your childhood home? After we moved a year and a half ago, we experienced first-hand how tricky it felt to prioritize what kitchen utensils to get. While it seems like we might have needed everything, as the saying goes, money doesn’t grow on trees. When […]

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August 15, 2023


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An air fryer? New steak knives? Everything you had in your childhood home?

After we moved a year and a half ago, we experienced first-hand how tricky it felt to prioritize what kitchen utensils to get. While it seems like we might have needed everything, as the saying goes, money doesn’t grow on trees.

When you’re moving into your first apartment or home, chances are you’ll also want some sort of go-to guide to make your life easier.

first apartment kitchen essentials

How we added intention to our new kitchen (and what I wish I did)

Our new kitchen was definitely an upgrade, and with that, I felt a sense of intention I didn’t have with our last one. I closed the cabinets more gently. I walked a little more gracefully around. I know– it sounds crazy– but it kind of goes along with Marie Kondo’s mentality: when you surround yourself with things that spark joy for you, you live more intentionally.

I am incredibly grateful for our basic kitchen back at our old place. Having a functional kitchen alone is an absolute blessing and something I never want to take advantage of.

That’s why I fully believe in working to honor each and every kitchen you have, whether it’s something you love, or something you’d love to improve.

We lacked some fancy appliances like a dishwasher, garbage disposal, or water filter, and I struggled to find gratitude in the smallest thing. I’ve come to believe that when you have more things that spark joy, you live more intentionally, but sometimes, buying your new favorite kitchen item every week is just sustainable, attainable, or possible for many.

Let’s break down this shopping list for essential kitchen supplies so you can have everything you need after moving into your new space.

First apartment kitchen essentials checklist ✓

Vitamix Professional Series, Professional Grade Blender (64 oz, Self-Cleaning!)

Strapped for time but need those calories? Or, love stopping at Jamba Juice but know it’s costing you more than you want it to? OR, want to get a little healthier? Sounds like you’ll want something that doesn’t rack up a bill while also being tasty and nourishing.

A heavy-duty blender is essential for all of these scenarios. It’s easy to use, super easy to clean— simply mix some water and dish soap in it and hit the cleaning button), and an amazing way to get nutrients into your body.

Our blender is essential for getting food in us during busy days, particularly through mid-day smoothies full of frozen fruits, greens, mushrooms, oat milk, and more, and it’s able to easily grind up those frozen bits into a silky smoothie. Something that we don’t use it as much for but can use it for is making soups! We’d like to buy a separate, metal top for it instead of the plastic, as heating the plastic up could release toxic chemicals.

Explore the Vitamix Professional Series Blender

Cute measuring cups

We all need measuring spoons and cups to portion out what we’re eating— but let’s make it fun, shall we? There are traditional measuring cups, made from plastic and nothing special. And that’s totally fine! But you’re in your new apartment or home, so you deserve something a little more fun.

Adorn these amazing little finds with me and choose your favorite!

Cute measuring spoons

Cute measuring cups

Nontoxic meal prep storage containers (glass or BPA-free plastic!)

Our meal storage containers have certainly transformed over time— and while we are very grateful for having many plastic containers and Tupperware, we would eventually love to donate them and switch over to different size glass ones, from using it for leftovers 

If you’re looking to purchase, then I’d suggest glass every time over plastic, but if you need to get plastic, get BPA-free plastic!

Bonus: for road trips, picnics + long days out: Lunchbots stainless steel bento box

Bamboo or wooden spoons and spatulas

After years of having rubber, we made the switch to wooden spoons, spatulas, and ladles to work to transition away from plastic and more towards wood and natural materials.

We realized that using rubbers and plastics in general, especially when it comes to your food, is very unsafe, with lots of harmful chemicals being potentially put into your food! And then, on top of that, putting them near hotter temperatures for the potential to melt? No, thank you.

In order to let these beauties thrive, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind

  • No bamboo or wooden spoons sitting in water! Instead, either wash them immediately or keep them out of sitting water. (This also means no dishwasher.)
  • Polish bamboo spoons every few weeks with mineral oil to keep them healthy.

BOKALAKA natural teak wooden spatulas and spoons →

Dishwasher clean/dirty magnet

Oh, the age-old question: “Are these dishes clean or dirty?”

When setting up your first apartment kitchen, you’re bound to have this dilemma once or twice (or a dozen times!). A sweet little solution? A dishwasher clean/dirty magnet!

Not only is this a practical addition, but you can find ones with the most adorable designs that’ll add a little touch of charm to your kitchen. No more guessing games; just a quick glance and you’ll know the state of your dishes. Whether you live alone or with a partner, you’ll be as relieved just like we were when we finally got this.

Stainless steel pots and pans

Now, let’s talk about the heart of cooking: pots and pans. For a starter kitchen, investing in a good set of stainless steel pots and pans is a must if you want to stay away from questionably toxic non-stick pans. It’s a little bit of an investment, but it’ll be worth it to stay away from toxins.

Perfect for searing, sautéing, and simmering, they’ll be your culinary sidekicks (even if you can barely cook some vegan mac and cheese like me!). And while they’re not dishwasher safe, they’re not that difficult to clean, especially if you let them soak for a little bit after a particularly sticky creation.

Nontoxic utensils (flatware)

Alright, let’s have a heart-to-heart about flatware.

With all the awareness around sustainability and health, it’s about time we prioritized nontoxic options. When we first moved into our new place, I rushed off to World Market and found gold and black utensils that I thought would be perfect! Well, much to my dismay, not only did they start fading and peeling in the dishwasher (I’m sure they’re not dishwasher safe), but I realized that there’s only one way they needed to get this way— through toxic paints, dyes, and/or sprays.

When it comes to cooking utensils, bamboo, and wood are great alternatives. But when it comes to flatware, just like your pots and pans, stainless steel is the way to go! Here are a few options so you can make a bee-line for these nontoxic flatware sets, all 18/10 stainless steel:

Tea set

Is there anything cozier than curling up with a hot cup of tea in your new apartment?

For all you tea lovers out there, I think a dainty tea set would want a spot high up on an apartment essentials checklist, whether it’s a traditional porcelain set or a more modern glass variant.

Tea sets are practical, of course, but also bring an added layer of elegance to your space, especially when they’re gracefully sitting out on your dining room table, ready to brew!

There are many different types of tea sets you could get— porcelain, class, ceramic— so here are some adorable ones that I would recommend, especially if you want it staying out as added kitchen decor:

One go-to mug

And speaking of tea, let’s not forget the importance of a cute mug. Find at least one that speaks to your soul, whether it’s adorned with whimsical patterns, motivational quotes, or perhaps a touch of gold.

Make it that mug you reach for on slow mornings, during rainy afternoon reads, or just when you need a little pick-me-up. It’s a daily dose of happiness that you can leave out on your counter just to smile at throughout the day and remind you to take a moment to sit down and be present.

Salad bowls and large mixing bowls

Don’t underestimate the power of a salad bowl. Mix up your daily vegetables, vegan cheeses, olives, rice, fruits, and whatever else you love in a salad, and eat it in a beautiful salad bowl. This can also double as a chip bowl or fruit bowl for when you have company over for a rustic, cottage-like feel.

Cute oven mitts

Safety first, but make it cute.

It’s one thing for the outside of your kitchen to look great— it’s another thing for the items you use and see in drawers to look great, too! Just like you’d want to wear cute mittens to go out, why not get some oven mitts that suit your style, too?

Pair of kitchen scissors

Often overlooked, a good pair of kitchen scissors is amazing to have, especially if you like to cut up your own herbs that you grow outside (me! ♀️) Plus, just because they’re utilitarian doesn’t mean they can’t be chic. Seek out designs with embellished handles or in lovely metallic hues for that touch of elegance, and add this to your knife set for a full collection of kitchen cutters.

Cast iron skillet

Last but definitely not least, is the cast iron skillet.

Sure, it’s not as easy to clean and is insanely heavy, but you can use this in multiple different settings without transitioning pans— from stove to oven and oven to table. You don’t even need to use a cutting board; using a fork and knife to eat or cut a piece out of your cast iron skillet is popular and totally a-okay!

These also age gracefully and develop a sort of non-stick patina over time, so the name of the game is treating this with love.

And serving something in a cast iron skillet just looks so much more rustic, right?!

Bonus upgrade: Hydrogen water machine

Hydrogen water is proven to support many parts of your body, acting as an antioxidant, electrolyte, and more! The machine we purchased sits right on our countertop, but could also be mounted on the wall too, and gives us the options for:

  • 3 levels of hydrogen water
  • Ozone water
  • Regular distilled water

As well as simple self-cleaning. Hydrogen water is proven to give you more nutrients, reduce inflammation, and give you more energy. Read more about hydrogen water here! The water machine we have is from Healthy Hydration, and we’ve been happy with it so far. It was one of the more affordable machines on the market compared to other ones! We got the Hydra-Home Unit, which you can find here!

For more sustainable and adorable home essentials, check out these blog posts!

Hope you loved this list of must-haves for your new kitchen. I hope with each and every day, whether you’re ready to add some new kitchen gadgets to your home or not, you’ll have everything you need to enjoy your new space, find joy in making food, and spend more time in a kitchen that you love. Happy cooking!





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Kitchen essentials for your first apartment or home: nontoxic + aesthetic


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