Accomplishment – Minimalist Kitchen

Completing our biggest accomplishment to date, we successfully minimalized our kitchen this morning. From beginning to end, it took about three hours (although we had done several hours of homework before the project). As is our custom, we pulled every item out of every drawer and cabinet and began sorting the contents into piles: keep, relocate, and discard (sell, recycle, or garbage).

As I mentioned previously, we were more strategic and intentional with the kitchen than previous projects hoping to eliminate any costly errors. With the help of the New York Times, we created a list of every cooking/baking utensil that we needed to keep. In case you are curious, here is our finished list:

  • 8in chef’s knife
  • paring knife
  • bread knife
  • instant-read thermometer
  • three stainless steel bowls
  • glass bowls
  • plastic bowls for leftovers
  • sturdy sheet pan
  • plastic cutting board
  • can opener
  • vegetable peeler
  • colander
  • small saucepan
  • medium saucepan
  • large saucepan
  • 10in nonstick aluminum pan
  • 14in large steeple-sided steel pan
  • skimmer
  • slotted spoon
  • rubber spatula
  • big whisk
  • food processor
  • coffee grinder
  • blender
  • knife sharpener
  • microwave
  • toaster
  • coffee maker
  • pizza cutter
  • garlic press
  • griddle
  • muffin pans
  • rolling pin
  • cheese slicer
  • ice cream scoop
  • corkscrew
  • plastic spoon
  • wooden spoon
  • frosting knife
  • metal measuring spoons
  • plastic measuring cups
  • cooling racks
  • cake pan
  • pie pan

And here is a list of some items that we removed:

  • wok
  • baking stone
  • waffle maker
  • george foreman grill
  • electric carving knife
  • extra cake pans
  • extra tupperware
  • extra cutting boards
  • extra cooling racks
  • bundt pan
  • tea kettle
  • old spatulas/spoons
  • cookie cutters
  • various pampered chef items
  • plastic corn-on-the-cob holders
  • flower vases
  • knives
  • corningware
  • plus another 12-15 utensils

As always, it feels so good and freeing.

Minimizing always results in one of those “Why-didn’t-we-do-this-years-ago” feelings.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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Comments

  1. says

    Interesting lists! While I try to keep our food purchases rather minimal to avoid waste, our kitchen gadgets and tools is not an area that my husband and I would call minimalist. I do try to find ways to do stuff with what we have and not pick up a lot of really specialty stuff. For example, my husband uses a regular large strainer to make pots of tea with instead of getting a large tea ball (or, heavens forbid, using bagged tea). However, we still have a lot of stuff packed into our small kitchen.

    I don’t have an egg ring, griddle, frosting knife, and probably some of those pots and pans. I don’t have a mandoline slicer, either, though I do have an apple/wedge slicer and a separate french fry style slicer. Instead of a regular coffee maker, I have an Aeropress which is a bit like a French press.

    I don’t have a regular food processor or coffee grinder, but we have a Magic Bullet style blender that could grind coffee supposedly and it can do some food processing. I like that the one we have can use Mason jars with a converter ring that came with it.

    I do not recommend a plastic cutting board. Why would you want to risk eating the plastic that comes up as you cut your food? We have a wood one that is dishwasher safe. I also don’t store my food in plastic containers. We have Pyrex mixing bowls with lids that we use for food storage. And we also use Mason jars we’ve recovered from commercial pasta sauce we once bought.

    I think my husband would die if we got rid of his George Forman grill. I don’t like that it’s coated with Teflon, but it is really useful. When it eventually dies, we may try a cast iron stove top griddle instead.

    I love our electric knife. We use it to cut our bread and it makes fast work out of meat as well. And yes, we have a bread machine which we love, though that is a very non-minimalist luxury. At least we have the type that’ll also make jam, butter, meatloaf, lasagna, cake, etc.

    I’m surprised not to see the wok on the keep list. We love ours. It’s great for soooo many different types of cooking. I’ve even made steamed buns in it using the steaming baskets. If I could only have one pot, it’d be a wok. We have a separate electric steamer as well, which is very convenient since I steam food regularly, but I could make do with the wok baskets if need be.

    I also would miss our tea pot. It’s so much easier to heat and pour hot water from a tea pot than a regular pot. Of course, it might not be missed if we didn’t drink hot tea or coffee at all.

    We also have a slow cooker, a cast iron dutch oven (that’ll probably replace the slow cooker when it’s dead), a microwave, and a large toaster oven that we use a lot for cooking and reheating leftovers.

    So… yeah… as I warned, our kitchen is far from minimalist, lol.

  2. says

    Update:

    George Forman just died recently, but we’re not going to replace it — at least not at this point. We have the cast iron skillet and a cast iron griddle now, plus a cast iron press. With those we can cook burgers, et al. just fine.

    My husband got rid of our wok because he didn’t really know how to season it right back then and it was too much trouble trying to reseason constantly. But since then, he’s learned to season our cast iron and as we both miss using the wok we’ll probably get another one soon. Tips for seasoning: scrub off any factory seasoning and reseason with bacon grease for a coating that’s not sticky like veggie oil. Bake HOT for several hours. Learned this through trial and error. Sadly, online guides to seasoning are pretty crappy.

    Oh, and we gave away the slow cooker to a friend because we are hooked on the dutch oven.

    And, the Tribest blender we have does indeed grind coffee. Tested it recently. We went ahead and got a Kitchen Aid food processor for big stuff. It’s far from minimalist in it’s accessories, but it takes the place of other gadgets since it can juice citrus, whip mayo, knead dough, etc. etc. etc.

    Still cooking well without:
    *
    Japanese mandoline
    *
    three stainless steel bowls (we use Pyrex mixing bowls and a ceramic batter bowl)
    *
    plastic bowls for leftovers (using the Pyrex or glass jars)
    *
    plastic cutting board (well, we have wood)
    *
    small saucepan
    *
    10in nonstick aluminum pan
    *
    14in large steeple-sided steel pan
    *
    slotted spoon (we just use our skimmer for this)
    *
    microplane grater
    *
    coffee grinder (part of our small blender technically)
    *
    garlic press (we have a mallet, lol)
    *
    cheese slicer
    *
    nonstick egg ring
    *
    plastic spoon (or any plastic utensils that I can think of)
    *
    frosting knife
    *
    metal measuring spoons (well, we have one spoon with a slider)
    *
    cake pan

  3. Jasileet says

    Martha makes a springform cake pan with bundt insert. I use it for tarts, cakes, cheesecakes, cheese forms, etc. The bundt insert is also useful for cutting corn off the cob and jello molds (imho gross but some people dig).

    We ditched the cheese slicer, garlic press, egg ring, pizza cutter and blender.

    Added submersible hand mixer, rice cooker (we eat rice almost every night) and crock pot.

  4. TatiLie says

    I’d suggest you to have some chopsticks. They’re versatile and substitute corn-on-the-hob holders, slotted spoons, thongs… And they are also great to check if the cake is baked. The best chopsticks are the cheap black wood Japanese ones.

    My husband is Italian and we never owned a pizza cutter and ice-cream scoop. I think that the pizzas and ice-creams we have here are very different than the ones you have there.

  5. Ryan says

    I love this idea, but I honestly don’t think I could live without my wok. If I could only keep one thing to cook food in, it would be my carbon steel wok. The second would be my cast iron skillet.

    • Ofelia says

      I double this. I can stir fry, steam, cook etc. in my wok. The two items I use most for cooking are my cast iron skillet and my wok.

  6. Sara says

    Hand blenders are SO awesome! I had no idea how great they worked until I moved in with my fiance who already owned one. Ours has a food proccessor attachment too. They are far more simple and effective than a regular blender. You can move the blender around rather than hoping the food you are trying to blend mixes properly to make things consistent. You can blend in any containter, so you don’t have to wash multiple things. They are smaller, easier to store, and easier to clean as well.

      • Leslie Lombardo says

        Corningware lasts forever and looks good, never chips and because of its durability removes the need for constantly replacing chipped stoneware sets. And you can always replace and add via open stock. I love it and consider it to be a very minimalist choice.

    • Sarah says

      Hi Sara, Do you have a particular immersion blender that you recommend? I bought one and returned it because it was a lemon. I’d love the processor attachment!

  7. says

    Wow, do I ever need to do this.
    We just moved into a smaller apartment, with a galley kitchen and I have very little room.
    I’m ashamed to say I have a (big!) box in my basement full of kitchen “stuff” – though I suppose if I haven’t had the need to unpack it yet, I should probably toss it eh? ;)

  8. bzahm says

    I’ve spent the past two months culling my kitchen cabinets & pantry back. It hasn’t been reorganized since I’d moved in 20 years ago (oye!) I’ve removed 13 trash bags of “stuff” too abused or outdated to donate. I donated the microwave after much thought. I kept the toaster oven and my super good blender that serves as a food processor, and I love apple, walnut, raisin smoothies.

    What survives is exactly what I regularly use: immersion blender, hefty wooden “cornered” spoon, (no-spatula – use the spoon, & no whisk), wooden cutting board, small paring knife & 8″ chef’s knife, garlic press, soft-grip locking can opener (for arthritic hands), two stainless steel 3 qrt mixing bowls, small, heavy saucepan w/ lid, 10″ skillet, 3 quart dutch oven w/ lid that also fits skillet; 10″ pie-pan with holes I use as steamer that fits both skillet and D.O., 16″ pizza pan can serve as cookie sheet or under baking pan, & 1-1/2 quart baking dish that fits toaster oven. I replaced the old, dented & chipped enamel tea kettle w/ a bright blue one to celebrate.

    The counter top holds only the toaster oven & leaves me lots of room now (without the microwave) for food prep, even with a cat sitting on the counter to supervise. I previously had to move the cat.

    • di says

      I’ve never liked the idea of having a cat and a cat box in the house. It’s unsanitary for them to be in your lap, on your furniture, on your bed and especially on the counter top.

  9. Kelekona says

    It’s a little anti-minimalist to have it somewhere, but I had a large kitchen with inadequate storage, and many of the less-used bits of kitchen toys were stored in the living room in a dresser turned buffet.

    It is interesting to see what people consider important. Garlic press? Cheese slicer? Food processor? Well, that last one is replaced by a box grater and a food mill. (Dealing with a food processor is equal work to grating 3 pounds of cheese by hand.) I would say that a tea kettle is a bit of a luxury only if they make sauce pans that whistle when they boil.

  10. Lena says

    Wow, that is a lot of things you kept! I love cooking, but there are a lot of things on your list which I neither have nor miss: a mandoline, a thermometer, stainless steel bowls, spatula, food processor, blender (I have a hand blender though), microwave, egg rings, pizza cutter, garlic press, ice cream scoop, cheese slicer, frosting knife, coffee grinder (wll,, I do have a hand-operated coffee mill), coffee maker (I have a china coffee filter holder) and plastic spoon. I do have a waffle iron and a tea pot, though, and also quite a lot of cookery books, to be honest.

  11. Teresa Forrester says

    I need to work in this area more. I did see a wonderful video on cookbooks that I thought I’d share. Instead of owning shelves of cookbooks when you only use one or two reciepes from each book, copy the page and put it in a three ring binder. Then all of your reciepes are gathered together in a 3 inch binder space. My extra cook books are on the chopping block. Here is a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90SumxmHkx8&list=UUcvu0uB6SzugED_5FEC7Z0Q&index=19

  12. di says

    Use corning ware for pies, cakes, lasagna, meatloaf, etc.

    Use a cookie sheet to roast vegetables in the oven. They’re more flavorful and it’s less work than watching a pot on the stove.

    Use empty jars for leftovers, flowers or utensils.

  13. Cookie says

    I am so glad you have this web site to help those of us that see the need to slim down all of the ‘stuff’ we own.
    We are just starting the purging and I love putting the ‘extras’ in the box that is going to the Goodwill.

    Again thank you for sharing your journey with the world.

  14. Melanie says

    Some public libraries loan out cake pans. I think that is such a cool idea because every once in a while I’d like extra or a unique one, but not enough to buy them. So if you are decluttering that is another place to ask if they’d like a lendable item.

  15. SusanFL says

    This is an area I am always working on. I don’t use a pizza cutter but there are things not on the list I use a LOT. I have a gadget called a Hot Shot that heats a cup of water faster than the microwave. I use it to make hot beverages, heat water for oatmeal and even to soak dirty pans because it is so fast. I have a juicer, which takes up a huge amount of space. I keep it in the laundry closet next to the kitchen but I like making fresh juice. I got rid of a ton of small appliances I don’t use often enough to warrant the space: rotisserie, bread maker, full-size food processor- I use the mini kind, toaster- I use a toaster oven- a higher wattage kind for most toasting and baking- cheaper to run and easier to monitor at eye level. Got rid of the ice tea maker and the pasta maker- a gift I never used. (as it turns out you can buy the stuff!) I would like to narrow down more but the rule that the items wouldn’t be missed has to work.

  16. Jacque says

    Really? I have less in my kitchen than what is on your “keep” list. Although, I do see some things I could do without. Now that I have a real stove with oven, I could get rid of the bread maker. But maybe I am already a minimalist? I just moved from a 400 sq. ft. efficiency to a two bedroom duplex. There are some things I would like to acquire, like towel racks for the bathroom, for example. I like reading your posts through facebook.

  17. Rajib says

    After reading the list of things you decided to keep, I was hit with the realization that I have fewer things in the kitchen. Hence, I might be living a minimalist lifestyle without even realizing it. I admit I might need to cut back in other areas of my life though.

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