A new apartment is exciting, especially if it’s your first! If you’re a college student or a digital nomad, settling in a new city is always a one-of-a-kind experience. From moving all your stuff to decorating your place, the whole moving process takes time and effort. Yet a lot forget to mention one more thing: food shopping. But don’t fret; we’ve created an ultimate guide to preparing your first apartment grocery list.

A list helps you avoid spending hours in a grocery store thinking about what you need, while also keeping you from making impulsive buys. That’s right: this small piece of paper saves you time and money.

Related: Your Ultimate Moving To NYC Guide: Average Rent, Budgeting, Pros and Cons

First Apartment Grocery List Essentials

Now that you’ve unpacked your boxes and are somewhat settled into your first apartment, the next (big) step is grocery shopping. Remember, your first homemade meal in your first apartment is special! But before that, you have to prepare the ingredients and everything else you need. So, in creating your first apartment grocery list, make sure to include these essentials.


Usually, the pantry includes everything that you’ll buy most often or the staples you like to keep around the house. These can be snacks, cooking essentials, or beverages (such as coffee, of course!).

  • Cooking oil
  • Bread
  • Rice
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly
  • Easy-to-eat canned goods
  • Pancake mix
  • Cereals
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauce
  • Coffee essentials (beans/instant coffee, creamer, sugar)
  • Tea


Having your fridge-freezer full is a good to-do for your first apartment as you’ll be saving money from not eating out. Plus, proteins you won’t eat immediately can be kept in the freezer until you need them, while food for the following week can be stored in the fridge and cooked when you’re hungry. Here’s what you should keep stocked in the fridge-freezer:

  • Meat (ground beef, chicken, pork chops)
  • Seafood (fish, shrimp)
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Cheese
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fried food (hotdogs, fries, sausage, bacon)

Spices and Condiments

Cooking delicious food requires some basic spices, so make sure to have these in your kitchen. More than that, having condiments and sauces can add that extra kick to your meals. Here are some of the basics you need:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Salad dressing
  • Hot sauce
  • Vinegar
  • Soy sauce


You don’t need to be an expert baker to make cookies or even banana bread! So, grabbing these ingredients is totally harmless, not to mention you might even develop a skill or two. Plus, these ingredients don’t spoil easily, so even if you’re not big on baking, keeping them in your kitchen until you need them is totally fine. Just make sure to keep them in air-locked containers or zip-top bags to stave away bugs.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Granulated sugar
  • Yeast
  • Shortening
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • Vanilla extract
  • Toppings (Chocolate chips, nuts, sprinkles)


If you didn’t bring any with you or just want to stock up, toiletries should be part of your first apartment grocery list. Here’s everything you need for the bathroom.

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body and hand soap
  • Facial cleanser
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Mouthwash
  • Floss
  • Cotton swabs
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Facial wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • First aid kit

Cleaning Supplies

Not only can you get an exercise out of cleaning, but also a clearer mind (and better focus). With that, keeping your first apartment squeaky clean should be a priority! So, to have a clean and tidy living environment, include these cleaning supplies in your apartment grocery list:

  • Paper towels
  • Garbage bags
  • Zip-top storage bags (Ziploc bags)
  • Dishwashing materials (sponge and soap)
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Laundry detergent
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Baking soda (this is GREAT for cleaning!)

Tips for your New Apartment Shopping List

Now that you’ve got a rough idea of what to shop for while settling into your first apartment, here are a few tips. You can also find a few grocery shopping secrets that can come in handy for your first apartment grocery list.

  • Don’t shop hungry! Giving in to temptations (and impulse buys) is much easier when you’re hungry. Maybe you didn’t need those three packs of Oreos after all… To avoid this, eat a snack before going shopping or simply go once you’ve had a meal.
  • Budget accordingly. Shopping for groceries is fun (especially if you’re shopping for yourself), but remember to follow your budget! When going for groceries, one thing you can do to follow your budget is have a specific amount of cash on hand. With this, you’d be avoiding overspending because you’d only be spending what you have in your pocket.
  • Organize your list. Having your first apartment grocery list organized will make shopping much more manageable. Put similar items together so when you’re walking through the aisles, you’ll be able to grab them all in a single go rather than having to double back to aisles you’ve been to previously.
  • Consider your space. If you’re a college student or a young professional living in a tiny apartment, you may have limited space. When shopping for groceries, think about the space they will take up. You may think buying a lot of canned food is okay until you’re trying to fit them all on your shelf!

Related: Frugal Living: How to get groceries on a budget in NYC?

First Apartment Thoughts: What Now?

Remember, your first apartment grocery list should have everything you need. But, you can always change it depending on your needs. This list isn’t definite; still, it’s a great starting point for your first apartment.

Now, if you’re still on the hunt for a new apartment, why not use Roomi? It’s an all-around app that can help you find rooms for rent in any city! You can choose your neighborhood, move date, budget, and Roomi will show you the best apartments in the area that meet your criteria. Plus, all of your private information will remain private with Roomi’s secure in-app messaging and top-notch security features. Finding a room for rent has never been easier with Roomi!

Roomi is your one-stop option to list or find rooms, find roommates to settle into a new city easily. Download the app and sign up today!