Knowing which appliances you’ll need for your first apartment can be tricky. If you’ve been living at home, chances are you’ve probably grown up having most of the kitchen appliances you need – and many you don’t – your whole life. If it’s your first time living on your own, you likely haven’t even thought of all of the things you might need. It’s best to figure out these things ahead of time, instead of at 3 a.m. when you’re trying to make toaster strudel (Pro Tip: toaster strudel works best when you have a toaster.)
To help you get ready for living on your own, and avoiding any disruption in your daily dietary routine, we’ve compiled a guide of top 10 appliances for your first apartment, in order of usefulness, analyzing their cost, and how often you’re likely to need them.
1. Microwave: Without a doubt, the single most obvious kitchen appliance for your first apartment is a microwave. It’s up to you to decide, however, if you care to have one of these boxy, clunky, radiation boxes in your home. For many of us, we’ve grown up around microwaves, growing used to their speed and convenience, making it difficult to transition to living without one. It’s always nice to have a microwave around, if you can afford it and spare the counter or under counter space. Microwaves come in handy for quick thawing, heating up food quickly and easily, and, of course, speedily preparing convenience food, like microwavable burritos, cup o’ noodles, or Hot Pockets, during hectic study sessions, binge watching Master Of None, or coming home late from work. For most, something simple like the $59 Danby Designer DMW077BLSDD Countertop Microwave will meet most of your microwave needs. For the advanced apartment chef, something like the Samsung MG11H2020CT 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Grill Microwave Oven might be called for, with more elaborate settings and functions. Average Price: $60 – 150, although frequently available for less, or even free, on Craigslist or Freecycle.
2. Coffee Maker: When you’re constantly busy, running from class to work to internship to meet-up to a dinner date, needing that coffee pick-up is a daily reality. In my household, we have a rule: no one may speak to one another until we’re at least one cup deep into a strong pot of Sumatran coffee, lest we say something we’ll regret later on. An electric coffee maker is nice to have, if you drink a decent amount of coffee or all of your roommates get in on the grind. Electric coffee makers are particularly convenient for busy mornings, when you just don’t have time to luxuriate, as you can prepare your morning pot the night before. A lot of electric coffee makers have timers, also, making the smell of fresh-brewed French Roast or Colombian blend your alarm clock. If you are serious about your coffee, something like this $73 Cuisinart Grind and Brew will fit the bill. Average Price: $20 – $95
3. Toaster: Again, a lot of us grew up with the classic two-slot toaster oven chilling on our countertops, just waiting for our Pop Tarts, our bagels, our muffins and toast. It’s difficult getting used to not having a toaster around, even if you won’t need it that often. It’s possible to make toast or bagels in an oven or on a stove top, but it’s tricky business, easy to get wrong. Even if you get your toast perfectly right, every time, it gets old. You’ll feel like you’re camping, in your apartment, which begins to lose its charm. This cute little Hamilton Beach can do even fat bagels and costs about $15. Average price $10 – $60
4. Countertop Blender: A countertop blender is one of those things that you don’t need, but you’d love to have. If you’re used to having a countertop blender around, however, you might need to have one, as it’s kind of hard to step back from being able to instantaneously dice, crush, pulp, puree, or liquify ingredients by hand. Ever tried to make a smoothie by hand? It’s not fun, trust us. But if you have this $80 Nutri Bullet it’s done in a flash. (Keep an eye out for sales – sometimes they can be had for about $50.) Average Price: $40 – $500, (there’s a staggering array of countertop blenders out there, at all price points.)
5. Hand Mixer: Much like blenders and food processors, if you’re used to having an electric mixer around, you do NOT want to go step backwards towards mixing things by hand. If you do any amount of baking, or even occasionally have people over for dinner, you’ll want a hand mixer in the appliance drawer. Electric hand mixers, like this Oxo for $28, make homemade whipped cream a snap, cake batter a breeze, and brownies in minutes. Average Price: $12.99 – $69.99
6. Water Purifier: Although a water purifier may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think ‘most important kitchen appliances’, as we tend to think of electrical kitchen appliances – water purifiers are appliances, AND essential. Living in cities is a fact of life for a lot of us – or urban/suburban centers, at any cost. Cities are notorious for bad, dirty drinking water, especially so in certain places (look at the drinking water crisis in Flint, MI for an example of why a water purifier is so important). A water purifier is a simple, small little device, like this Pur for $25, that attaches straight to your faucet. An attachable water filter eliminates the need for portable water filtration pitchers, like the Brita water filter, freeing up invaluable space in our already-crammed fridges and reducing the cost of filters, which can get kind of spendy for filtered water pitchers, leaving us drinking straight from the tap when you’re short on cash, which is not uncommon. Average Price: $15 – $70
7. Electric Tea Kettle: Although electric coffee makers are convenient and lovely, I’m addicted to my French Press, personally. Too many years living in the Pacific Northwest have left me immune to weak, watered-down coffee, so it takes several cups of thick, black, oil-like coffee to rev my engines in the morning. Sometimes it’s a bit of a pain having to boil water on the stove, as it’s easy to forget, boiling out all of your water, sometimes even destroying the pot. Electric tea kettles are almost ridiculously useful, boiling water faster than you can blink an eye. You’ll be amazed at how often you need boiling water, once you get an electric tea kettle, and astounded at what you can do with all that saved time! (like enjoying your coffee or tea, for starters!) We’d recommend the $19 Best Electric Tea Kettle, Version 2.0 Stainless Steel 2.0L Capacity, from Best, for a combination of capacity and affordability. Average Price: $10 – $40
8. Food Processor: For the even more hardcore foodie, you might need a food processor. Your average blender can fulfill most basic chopping, blending, and dicing functions, but a food processor is mandatory for a full range of culinary functions. If you need to dice or chunk ingredients, for things like salsa or cole slaw, or grind things, like seeds, a food processor will save you countless hours of frustration. For those already fully in the grips of their gourmet obsession, try the Cuisinart DLC-8SBCY Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor – guaranteed to bring a touch of pure class to your countertop, with its brushed chrome exterior. It’s pricy at $166, but remember, Cuisinart invented food processors, so you get what you pay for. Average Price: $27 – $200+
9. Electric Grill: Some of us still scoff at electric grills as a legitimate, useful kitchen appliance, remembering all the infomercials for the George Foreman grill. For a while, we were wondering if fathers, grandfathers, or uncles knew how to give any gift other than a George Foreman grill, that become the de facto default ‘masculine’ gift. Turns out our forefathers were on point, with this trend, as electric grills really are handy. They reduce the amount of pots, pans, and skillets you’ll need to wash which, in and of itself, more than justifies the initial investment. Electric grills also make it possible to have grilled food, even when you live in an apartment. The idea of a summer with no BBQ is just a little bit of a bummer, even if you’re not that into it. Just don’t try making S’mores on your electric grill – it could probably be done, but I wouldn’t envy the roommate whose turn it is to do the dishes. $40 – $100
10. Convection Oven: If you eat a lot of toast, want full control over whatever you’re toasting, a convection oven is an insanely useful kitchen appliance. Convection ovens heat up three times as quickly as a full-size oven, cooking things up to 30% faster, while using a fraction of the energy. For fast, crispy sandwiches, microwaveable burritos without the radiation, or the ability to pretty much toast an entire loaf of bread at the same time, convection ovens more than make up for the counter space they take up. This one from Oster for $85 even boasts a special pizza drawer. $80 – $300
What are a few of your favorite kitchen appliances, that you couldn’t live without? Let us know in the comments!