Home & Garden

15 things you should buy before you actually need them

You don't want to be out of this stuff during an emergency!

13 things you don't buy until you need them—and why you should get them now Credit: Reviewed

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My mom is the most prepared woman I know. Somehow she has whatever you need at all times, and for a while I thought I was that overly prepared “mom friend” too. Until I realized I was only overly prepared from the box of necessities she would leave me with at the beginning of each year at college. Now that I’m on my own (more or less), I find myself missing these things when I need them most.

Between moving into dorms and apartments each year throughout college to finally having my first (hopefully) long-term apartment, I’ve lost a lot of essentials along the way. Usually, I don’t even realize I’m missing something until I’m knee-deep in a recipe and find out that my old roommate took the can opener with them, leaving me in quite the pickle.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve been in plenty of these kinds of situations before, which has left me scrambling. But nonetheless, now I am more prepared than before. So, I beg of you. Please check your cabinets, drawers, and emergency supply bags to make sure you have these 15 things before you actually need them. If you don't see them, you should probably put them at the top of your shopping list.

1. A can opener to enjoy soups, beans, and more

EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Need to open a can? No problem.

When I first moved into my apartment, I could have sworn I brought along a can opener. But alas, as I was making my favorite sweet potato chickpea curry I realized I had no way to open my cans of chickpeas and coconut milk. I did not have the patience for a trip to the store for a can opener that would delay my dinner, so I hacked at those cans with a kitchen knife (Authors note: This was very dangerous, and I do not recommend this method to anyone).

Check your drawers right now and make sure you have a good can opener handy, especially if you don’t open cans too frequently. You’ll never know when you’ll need one, and when you do, it should be one that works well. After testing some of the top can openers, we found that we like this EZ-DUZ-IT one best because it’s inexpensive, easy to use, and quite durable.

Get the EZ-DUZ-IT Deluxe Can Opener at Amazon for $9.86

2. Duct tape for some quick repairs

Black Gorilla Tape
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Patch up a repair quickly.

Renting an apartment always comes with a few downsides, especially those little damages you don’t want to repair yourself but aren't big enough of a deal to call the landlord. If you’re anything like me, you know duct tape will do the trick to keep a curtain up or stop a leak for the time being—as long as you have it on hand. After testing some of the strongest duct tapes on the market, we found that Black Gorilla Tape was the best because it's strong enough to tackle all those small repairs and leaks.

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Get the Black Gorilla Tape, 12 yards at Amazon for $4.84

3. Batteries for when you buy something that doesn’t plug into the wall

Panasonic Eneloop Pro AA Rechargeable Batteries
Credit: Panasonic

Your electronics will need a charge at some point.

I recently purchased an electric fly swatter (best decision of my life, honestly), only to come home and realize I had zero batteries and too many flies. In a desperate attempt to quickly resolve my fly infestation, I had to remove the batteries from my TV remote to annihilate those buggers. I have since purchased a large pack of AA batteries for these kinds of emergencies, but I really wish I had them earlier. When I run out of these, I may just invest in our favorite rechargeable batteries so I never have to worry about running out.

Get the Panasonic Eneloop Pro AA Rechargeable Batteries at Amazon for $26.30

4. Toilet paper so you don't run out when you need it most

Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper
Credit: Jess Rose Photography

Our #1 for when you need to go #2.

This might be the biggest source of arguments between me and my roommate: who’s getting the toilet paper this time? Whether it’s someone finishing the last roll without telling anyone or stealing toilet paper from your bathroom when they run out in theirs, TP comes with its fair share of issues and passive aggressive comments.

Instead of spending $6 on a small 4-pack every few days, you should just buy toilet paper in bulk so you don't have to worry about it as often. Charmin Ultra Soft is the best toilet paper we’ve ever tested, and you can get 16 “double rolls” for just over $20.

Get the Charmin Ultra Soft, Pack of 16 Rolls at Amazon for $21.69

5. Paper towels for all those future messes

Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels
Credit: Jess Rose Photography

Be prepared for any mess!

With that being said, paper towels are probably the second area of concern with roommates. Between who’s buying it and who’s using too much of it (you can dry your hands on dish towels, you know!), you always seem to run out of paper towels when you actually have a spill to clean up or just spritzed cleaning spray on the counter.

My solution is to have each roommate take turns buying paper towels in bulk. The Bounty Select-A-Size paper towels are our favorite paper towels because they do a great job at picking up messes, and you can use smaller sheets to waste less.

Get the Bounty Select-a-Size Paper Towels, 12 Huge Rolls at Amazon for $26.99

6. A tool kit for small projects

Stanley 65 Piece Homeowner’s Tool Kit
Credit: Reviewed / Dan Roth

A tool for every basic project.

The first night of living in my apartment, I noticed my lock was loose. I also noticed I didn’t have a screwdriver. In a panic to get to sleep without worrying about a break-in, I tightened the screws with a butter knife (yes, I’m very innovative). It definitely did not work very well, but I was able to at least tighten the screws enough to give me peace of mind before getting an actual screwdriver first thing the next morning.

In the future, I’m going to invest in one of the best starter toolkits we’ve ever tested so I can be prepared for any quick fixes or bigger things like furniture assembly. This one from Stanley (our favorite) comes with 65 pieces and I’m confident it will suit most homeowner’s needs.

Get the Stanley 65 Piece Homeowner’s Tool Kit at Amazon for $37.97

7. A colander so you can make pasta

OXO Good Grips 5-Quart Stainless-Steel Colander
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

Be sure you can properly rinse your veggies and strain pasta.

When I was staying with a friend in New York City for a few weeks, I decided to make pasta one night—a low fuss, cheap meal that would save me money from ordering takeout again without being overly intrusive in their kitchen. The only issue was that this friend doesn’t really cook, and when I went to strain the pasta there wasn’t a colander in sight.

So you don’t have to deal with trying to strain out water using a pot lid or a precariously placed spoon, make sure you have a good colander in your kitchen. Seriously, check right now. If you find that you somehow don’t have one, or yours is old or kind of crappy, we recommend the OXO Good Grips Colander, which is the best colander we’ve ever tested.

Get the OXO Good Grips 5-Quart Stainless-Steel Colander at Amazon for $29.99

8. A flashlight for when the power goes out

Anker Bolder LC40 Rechargeable Flashlight
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Let there be light!

I am confident that every young adult will experience a power outage at least once. At first, you’re terrified. You can’t see anything and you somehow need to figure out why the power is out and how long you’ll be without it. In order to semi-function without any electricity, you’re going to need a high powered flashlight that can make an entire room glow. This one from Anker is the best affordable flashlight we’ve ever tested because it’s super bright (400 lumens is more than you'll need) and it can be recharged so you don’t have to worrying about tracking down those odd sized batteries flashlights always seem to require.

Get the Anker Bolder LC40 Rechargeable Flashlight at Amazon for $19.99

9. A first-aid kit for emergencies

Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First Aid Kit
Credit: Swiss Safe

You can never be too prepared for an injury.

If there’s anything you want to make sure you have before you actually need them, it’s a bandage or first aid kit. Nobody wants to go into a drug store or grocery store with a bloody towel wrapped around their hands. That’s just plain embarrassing and unsanitary. Make sure you have a first aid kit on hand—like this highly rated one from Swiss Safe that has over 1,700 reviews and a 4.8 out of 5-star rating. It includes 120 pieces of first-aid essentials like bandages, gauzes, disinfectant, and more. Hey, you can never be too prepared.

Get the Swiss Safe 2-in-1 First-Aid Kit at Amazon for $27.95

10. A mesh strainer to wash the little things

Kitchenismo Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainer
Credit: Kitchenismo

Rinse your rice and more.

Mesh strainers are incredibly handy for things that will slide right through the holes in your colander. Both grains and beans cook much better when you rinse them first, and you can use these strainers to sift flour and powdered sugar while baking as well. Some wacky recipes (ex: almond milk, juices, and homemade yogurt) call for a mesh strainer too. This set comes with three sizes to handle anything you need.

Get the Kitchenismo Fine Mesh Stainless Steel Strainer, Set of 3 at Amazon for $14.97

11. An iron so you can look presentable

Black+Decker Easy Steam Compact Iron
Credit: Black+Decker

A wrinkled shirt never looks good.

Before I had an iron, I would literally rewash or redry clothes to attempt to get rid of wrinkles. It took a bit of time and they never came out completely wrinkle-free, but they looked a heck of a lot better. Finally, I bit the bullet and got a reasonably priced iron, so I could make my clothes look good in a jiffy. Our home appliance expert recommended this iron from Black + Decker because it's affordable, it doesn't drip, and it works great.

Get the Black + Decker Easy Steam Compact Iron at Amazon for $25.07

12. Superglue to literally fix anything

Gorilla Super Glue
Credit: Gorilla

The quickest little fixer upper.

Not to be dramatic, but superglue has basically transformed me into the ultimate home fix-it gal. My curtain keeps falling? Superglue it to a velcro strip. My shoe broke? Superglue the bottom back on. It’s been a lifesaver for me to give longer life to my favorite things without having to replace them entirely. Gorilla Glue is my personal favorite because it is easy to apply, though I do need to be careful not to get it on my hands, of course.

Get Gorilla Super Glue at Amazon for $4.49

13. Over-the-counter medicine for when you get sick

Wellness Basics Multi-Symptom Daytime Cold & Flu Relief Softgel
Credit: Wellness Basics

Cold season is upon us!

We all get sick. It’s inevitable. So you’re not completely miserable when it happens, make sure you’re stocked up on all the essnetials. I’m talking cough medicine, cold medicine, ibuprofen, antacids—the works. These kinds of over-the-counter medicines are always good to have on hand, so purchase your favorites whenever you’re getting low. But remember that the generic versions of name products will work just as well and typically cost a lot less than the name brand stuff.

Get the Wellness Basics Multi-Symptom Daytime Cold & Flu Relief Softgel at Amazon for $8.24

14. Deodorant so you don’t smell

Degree Deodorant
Credit: Degree Deodorant

Don't end up running to the store with smelly pits!

Somehow I feel like I’m always running out of deodorant. Whether the stick falls on the ground and renders itself useless or I don’t realize I’m running low until it's too late, it’s always been a problem for me. So I don’t have to worry about going out and smelling terrible, I’ve been buying my deodorant in bulk and attempting to restock when I start using my last stick. Problem solved.

Get the Degree MotionSense Antiperspirant Deodorant, 4 Count at Amazon for $14.78

15. An assortment of feminine products

U by Kotex Pads
Credit: Kotex

You can never have enough. Seriously.

When it’s that time of the month, you don’t want to be without an assortment of pads, tampons, and panty liners. Maybe it’s TMI, but we’ve all gone through those moments of ruining underwear or reaching for a wad of toilet paper before you race to the store. Like most things on this list, I recommend stocking up on these necessities ASAP. It’s also always good to toss one in your bag just in case you, or someone you know or the person in the next stall, needs something when Mother Nature calls.

Get the U by Kotex Cleanwear Ultra Thin Pads, 64 Pack at Amazon for $10.92

Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.

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