Moving? Pack a “First Night Box” of Kitchen Essentials

Moving is stressful enough, so make sure that wine opener is handy at the end of a long day.

Published Aug. 23, 2021.

You just helped lug an actual couch up a flight of stairs. You desperately need something to eat, but do you know where anything is to make yourself a snack? You would if you had packed a "First Night Box" for your kitchen—that is, a box containing the culinary essentials needed for those first few days in a new place. Make moving easier by keeping track of these handy kitchen items.

Every person’s take will be different, but here are some guidelines for what you might consider including in yours.

Easy Eats

Moving is disruptive, but it shouldn’t interrupt your meal schedule—you need fuel for all the heavy lifting, anyway. Pack convenient snacks like granola bars, yogurt cups, and fruit. For lunch during my recent move, I loaded up takeout containers of a cold bulgur salad I had made a few days prior, in an effort to deplete some pantry ingredients. Sandwiches can be a quick option mid-move; as well as eggs and cheese, if that’s more your style. Pack up some plasticware, a lightweight cutting board, your favorite knife, skillet, and spatula, and make sure to bring along some durable plates. The first night in a new place is a great excuse to go out to eat or order in (you deserve to not do any dishes!), but you’ll want easy access to this essential equipment while you unpack over the following few days.

Towels and a Sponge

While drying off the lettuce headed for my mid-move sandwich, I reached for a clean dish towel from my First Night Box. A roll of paper towels is indispensable for dusting surfaces and sopping up spills amid the chaos of a move, but versatile cotton towels are a low-waste food prep necessity. Speaking of keeping things clean, start with a fresh sponge at your new home.

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Bottle Opener and Cups

Pack a few reusable or disposable cups along with a water bottle to help you stay hydrated throughout the move. Bubbly is a worthy first-night drink: Not only is it celebratory, but it doesn’t require special equipment to pop the cork, so it’s easy, too. If a bottle of wine awaits that calls for a corkscrew, make sure to pack one (either a waiter's corkscrew or twist corkscrew) in your First Night Box so you’re not rummaging for it when you’re ready to kick back and admire your hard work. Beer drinkers, take it from me, a lager lover who moved on an especially hot day of moving: You might want a koozie to keep your can cool.

Coffee and Brewing Equipment

Set yourself up for settling-in success by having a plan for your morning caffeine. Unless you want to explore your new neighborhood’s cafes, that means packing coffee and everything you need to brew it, whether that’s a plug-in coffeepot and filters or a grinder and a French press. A couple of mugs, too! You don’t need a kettle to boil water, but if you pack one in your First Night Box it makes it even easier.

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Garbage and Compost Bags

From paper-fiber dust cloths to the plastic packaging of your new shower curtain rings, moving unfortunately generates a lot of garbage. Have a few trash bags handy, even if you don’t set up your kitchen trash can right away. (An empty moving box can collect recyclables.) I brought along compostable liners and the countertop bucket I use to sort food scraps, a service I subscribe to in my city of Boston. This kept our temporary catch-all garbage bag free of organic matter and its associated odors.

Photo credit: eddie sanderson, Getty Images

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