Packing Your Kitchen for Moving

Taking Care With Kitchenware

Woman labels box with kitchen items for move
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The kitchen is probably the hardest room you'll have to pack, with all its small items and drawers and cupboards, there's just so much stuff to sort through. So use this guide and take each task, step by step, to make sure you get everything sorted, packed, and ready for when the movers arrive.

Sort, Select and Simplify

Before you move, select the items you're taking with you and remove the items you're leaving behind. Make sure you have "homes" for the things you won't be taking and check that you're not moving items that shouldn't be packed. Go through each cupboard and drawer and be very selective. Donate items to shelters, food banks, have a garage sale, or give useable items to friends.

Prepare an Essentials Box

Put aside the things you'll need for your last two days in your current home and the first two days in your new home, including dishes, cutlery, food items, appliances (coffee maker/toaster), dishtowel, dishcloth, cleaner, soap, etc.

Collect Packing Materials

For a family-sized kitchen, you'll need the following:

  • 5 Large Boxes (18 x 18 x 24): For lightweight and hard to pack items such as plastic kitchenware, dish racks, small appliances, baking tins.
  • 10 Medium Boxes (18 x 18 x 16): For heavier items such as small appliances, pantry items, pots and pans, silverware, contents of drawers, cookbooks.
  • 5 Heavy Duty Boxes (18 x 18 x 28): These have thick, double-walls, perfect for packing fragile items, such as plates, glasses, stemware, wine and canisters.
  • Unprinted Newswrap: To pack fragile items, including food items, small appliances. Purchase a 4 to 5 lbs bundle.
  • 5-10 Cell Kits (18 x 18): Cell kits are extremely useful for packing glasses, stemware, wine and liquor bottles. I've also used them to pack figurines, vases, and canisters. Check the sizes of your cell kits to ensure they'll fit into the boxes you have.
  • Packing/Sealing Tape: Purchase in bulk as you'll need it for packing all your rooms.
  • Marker labels: Again purchase enough so you can pack your entire house.

Pack Items Not Frequently Used

Start by packing the items in your cupboards and drawers that you don't use on a daily basis. It could include:

  • Vases, crystal
  • Food storage containers
  • Wine glasses
  • Mixing bowls
  • Cookie sheets, pie pans
  • Small appliances, such as mixers, blenders, etc.
  • Cookbooks
  • Extra dish towels, dish cloths, and oven mitts
  • Special utensils, such as barbecue tongs, meat mallets, ladles, and spatulas.
  • Special-event dishes, such as serving plates, condiment dishes, cream and sugar containers, etc.
  • Pictures and wall hangings

Pack Wine, Liquor or Other Unopened Bottles

Wine and alcohol can be packed early on in the process. Select the bottles you plan on opening between now and the move, and pack the rest. Other items you may want to pack now are food items that are in glass bottles, but are still sealed, such as cooking oils, specialty oils, and fine vinegar. Remember, ask yourself if the weight of each item is worth the cost of moving it. For items such as aged olive oils, balsamic vinegar or truffle oil, it's worth the cost of moving.

Pack Drawers and Shelves

Start with the messiest drawer. Get rid of extra items or items you no longer use. Rule of thumb: if you haven't used it in the last 6 months, don't move it.

Pack the cutlery drawer, keeping only one set per family member. These sets will be kept in your essentials box.

If you still need to pack your cookbooks, do it now. Remember to pack books flat to prevent bending the spines. Place the books in the box according to preference; keep the books most used on top. If there's a book you'd like to include in your essentials box, keep it out. Just make sure you only set aside one. Your essentials box should be only for the most critical items.

Pack Dishes

Put together the cell boxes for glasses and stemware. Take your time with this step, ensuring items are packed well. It is also the time to pack plates and bowls and any odds and ends.

Pack Pots and Pans

Keep at least one all-purpose pot for your essentials box. Pack the rest, including lids and crockery.

Pack the Pantry

The pantry should've been sorted by now, keeping only those items you want to move. Start with the spices then work your way to the larger items. Canned goods aren't worth moving unless you're moving yourself. Again, check the weight of each item and measure the cost to move it. Tape up any opened food packages and get rid of all perishables, including freezer items unless you're moving close-by.

Prepare Appliances

Make sure you properly prepare large appliances for your move. It should be done at least 24 hours in advance. Improper preparation can lead to gas leaks, broken parts, and appliances that won't work. Read the manuals, and if you're unsure of how to prepare them, call a professional.