When we sold our house and purged almost everything we had (see My Minimalist Story, Part 1: A Clean Slate), we discovered that the majority of our “stuff” came out of the kitchen. We had never realized just how many plates, pots, pans, glasses, utensils, and other cooking implements we had accumulated over the years.
After ridding ourselves of all the excess, we thoroughly enjoyed having an ultra-minimalist “kitchen” during our six weeks of transition from the US to the UK: nothing more than our sporks, titanium cups, and a tea kettle (and the occasional hotel microwave). Of course, we relied heavily upon restaurants and prepared foods from grocery stores—not exactly a long-term solution.
Now that we’re “rebuilding” our kitchen, we’re determined to keep things to a minimum. We only want to own those culinary items we use on a regular basis.
Sure, we could have a super-minimalist kitchen if we didn’t cook very often (or ate mostly frozen dinners or convenience foods). However, my husband and I enjoy preparing meals together, and try to base our (vegetarian + fish) diet on whole, unprocessed foods. Therefore, we’ve deemed a functional kitchen one of our necessities.
After an initial run to Ikea for the absolute basics, we’ve been taking it slow when it comes to culinary apparatus—and acquiring things strictly on an as-needed basis. Our main criteria: we must use something at least once a week for it to earn a place in our kitchen. So far, we’ve been getting by quite nicely with the following items:
Pots and pans: large skillet, saucepan, pasta pot, baking pan
Small appliances: tea kettle, rice cooker, French press (instead of coffee maker)
Other: chef’s knife, bread knife, paring knife, colander, steamer, cutting board, measuring cup, spatula, serving spoon, whisk, can opener, corkscrew, stainless steel mixing bowl, water filtration pitcher
For utensils, we purchased an inexpensive, four-place setting (after looking high and low for open stock or single settings, to no avail). It seems excessive to have extra forks and spoons on an everyday basis, but I suppose they’ll come in handy if we have guests for dinner. We also bought four plates, two bowls, two coffee mugs, and a set of four small glasses (to be used for all liquids other than coffee and tea).
[In general, I’m not a fan of owning extra stuff for the handful of times we entertain; when we hosted Thanksgiving dinner last year, I had no problem borrowing extra plates and utensils for the evening. That might be a bit harder here in the UK, though, without friends and family who understand our minimalist lifestyle!]
Plenty of websites and cookbooks offer lists of kitchen essentials; more than a few, however, seem intent on making sure you’ll be able to cook anything at any time. In that sense, having a minimalist kitchen requires some minor adjustments in priorities and lifestyle. I wouldn’t be able to bake cupcakes tonight on a whim, for example—but I’m okay with that. In fact, we’ve decided to forego bakeware almost entirely; instead of making our own sweets, we save those calories for when we travel—and sample the baked goods of the countries we visit. :-)
Of course, everyone’s list of essentials will be different; ours simply suits what we like to cook, and eat (mainly pasta, rice, soups, salads, and sautéed and steamed vegetables).
I’d love to hear what everyone else finds necessary… Leave a comment, and let me know what’s in your minimalist kitchen!