Is a minimalist kitchen possible?
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I love the feeling of a new year – I see the possibility of a clean and tidy house stretching out before me…
Staying on top of the clutter is definitely one of my New Year resolutions. I want to make it easier to clean my house, and I know that getting rid of the piles of stuff will be a help to me.
This year we’ll be welcoming our seventh member of the family, God willing. It’s a great motivation for me to sort out those hidden corners of my house where clutter accumulates. I think it’s part of nesting.
Mulling over minimalism
Like so many of us, I’m drawn towards minimalism. I’ve been mulling it over.
It is so attractive – all those clean white lines, surfaces devoid of endless pieces of paper, never treading on stray felt pens and ambushes of lego.
And it’s so good for our mental health.
I recently read some brilliant guidelines for staying on top of the decluttering – I love that Tara’s article is realistic that decluttering is not a one time only event.
Personally, I lean towards throwing things away (or giving them away). I find it liberating to get stuff out of the house.
I’ve heard it said that if you havent used an item in six months, you should donate it. You can even test it out by boxing it up, leaving it for six months, and if you didn’t need it, then obviously you know you don’t need it.
But what about your kitchen? A minimalist kitchen?
But when I think about my kitchen and my cooking habits, this is where my doubt creeps in.
On the whole, my cooking is very simple. Nothing really fancy goes on in my kitchen.
But it’s a working kitchen. There’s always something on the go.
I cater for 6 of us, at least twice a day, often three times a day.
I homeschool, so I’m usually at home to get the dinner started early, for example. But my children are usually here too, so there’s limited time and energy for food shopping and meal preparation.
And I go through crazes with my kitchen gadgets – am I the only one? Last year I was a bit obsessed with making meringues. So I used my stand mixer several times a week, and it lived out on my kitchen counter top.
Then I moved on… At the moment I’m loving making juices and smoothies. (Now I think of it, this often happens to me in pregnancy!)
So my new blender is sitting out on my counter top.
Which blender did I chose? Well, that’s a topic for another day, but in short, I went budget over longevity and time will tell if that was the right decision! But at the moment, I’m loving making fruit juice for the whole family at a bargain price 🙂
This is the kind of thing I’m talking about – check out how pretty this red blender from Oster is, and amazing value!
Anyway, fortunately I have enough cupboard space to store my stand mixer. I might not have used it in over 8 months, but I’m not about to give it away, either. I’m pretty sure it’s turn will come around again. Those meringues are pretty tasty.
Truly essential kitchen items for cooking for your family
That being said, when I analyze what I actually use in a typical week in my kitchen, it’s very simple. Maybe my kitchen is closer to a minimalist kitchen than I realized.
So, I’ve made a list of truly essential kitchen items, when cooking for your family. Check out all you really need!
I wrote about my love of my stock pot here. We’re kind of a large family (4 children and 1 on the way), so when I make soup or pasta sauce or chicken stock, I need something bigger than my biggest saucepan. I use this stockpot at least twice a week. I love that soups and homemade sauces are great value, nutritious, and oh so flexible.
So, this goes along with my stock pot. I use it all. the. time. It’s so useful, such good value, and is so small for storage. Can you tell I’m a fan?
If you are looking to buy a hand held blender, I wholeheartedly recommend this one from Oxa. It’s amazing, sturdy quality, and it comes with an egg whisk attachment and a 500ml food chopper…. That is outstanding value!! These gadgets are so much more affordable than a stand mixer. Plus they are so so much easier to store, because they’re so much smaller.
Click on the image to see all the jobs this blender will do for you! Chop your veggies, whisk egg whites, blend your soups, do the washing up 😀
3. Large saucepan and a medium saucepan
I almost always find this is enough for what I’m cooking. One for the vegetables and one for the gravy. One for the pasta and one for the sauce.
This is my lo-tech, old-fashioned, much loved version of a slow cooker. It suits my lifestyle, since I’m home most days. If you are out of the house for most of the day, slow cookers are the business. But if you’re keeping it simple, dutch ovens are the way forward.
I use it for stews, casseroles, roasts and even bread.
Here’s an example of the kind of Dutch Oven I recommend. This will last you for just about for ever. It’s cast iron, which is what gives it the ability to slow cook anything to perfection. I love that you can brown the meat and onions on the hob, and then pop it straight in the oven. Definitely go for a 7 quart size if you are planning on cooking for more than 5 people.
Take a look at this Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Enameled Cast Iron 7-Quart Round Covered Casserole, in Provencal Blue as a great example of the kind of Dutch Oven that will stand the test of time and many, many easy and delicious dinners.
Essential for dinners like lasangas, casseroles, enchiladas, chicken pie, toad in the hole and so on. And also essential for desserts like apple crumble, bread and butter pudding, sticky toffee pudding…Yum.
I love this example of pyrex dishes because the lids are also made of glass. So many pyrex dishes come without lids, or with plastic lids. But When I store leftovers in the fridge, I really want to use a glass lid to stay away from the plastics.
I use this every week, several times a week for bolognaise, carbonara, scrambled eggs, stir fry and so on. I really recommend getting on with a lid (click on the link for a great example) because then you can leave things to simmer and really infuse with flavor.
I love my Mason Mixing Bowl – this is the bowl I’ve used for ten years, and it’s still a favorite. I love the retro look, I love that it’s heavy duty and can withstand being knocked about when I knead bread in it, I love that it’s big enough for pancake batter for at least 12 people (road tested this at New Year), I love that it’s cool enough to serve pasta salad in, when my salad bowl is just too small. It comes in different colors and patterns too – take a look!
Is it possible to be sentimental about a chopping board?? I confess that I am 🙂 My lovely sister gave me this Joseph Joseph Chop2Pot Foldable Chopping Board. And it’s fantastic! I use it every day for adding chopped veggies to my stock pot or wok. It’s super skinny for storage and also dishwasher safe. You can check out the range of colors by clicking on the photo.
I’ve surprised even myself here, but apparently it is also possible to be nostalgic about a colander…! This is the exact colander given to me by a dear friend as a wedding gift – ten years ago And I’ve used it almost every day in cooking for my family. It’s a Calypso Basics, Powder Coated Enameled Colander, 5 Quart, in Lime. Yes, I was also obsessed with lime green ten years ago…
I use this for anything and everything from cookies to roast potatoes. This week I used it to roast a chicken one day and make traybakes another day. Don’t worry, I cleaned it thoroughly in between.
This Jamie Oliver Baking Tray Nonstick Cookie Pan is a great example of the kind of thing I mean. You want something heavy and solid. I love this product description on this pan : “professional heavy-gauge carbon steel construction.” Industrial! Gives me confidence it’ll last for ever.
11. A few essential extras
Here’s a little list of the extras I use all the time. And I mean every week, almost every day.
- a set of sharp knives
- wooden spoons
- a spatula
- a ladle
- a whisk
- a can opener
- a grater
So there you have it! My list of 11 essential items for my simple but busy kitchen. My version of a minimalist kitchen. And if you’re just starting out with your kitchen (or even making a wedding registry for kitchen items), I definitely recommend you start with these items. You’ll be equipped to cook just about anything for just about anyone who comes for dinner 🙂
Have I missed something vital? Let me know! I’d love to hear your favorite kitchen essential…
And if your family is growing, check out this post on surviving morning sickness while cooking for your family.