How to Make the Most of a Minimalist Kitchen
When you think about the word minimalist, the associations that spring up can go in a couple of different directions. On one hand, you might think, 'Spartan, bare, utilitarian, stark, and boring.' Or, you might come up with, 'clean, uncluttered, calm, tidy, and organized.' As a practical definition, in the kitchen, we can go with 'the essentials needed to prepare and serve food.' These days, so many of us are running away from the unnecessary possessions that are slowly drowning us that minimalism can also be thought of as, 'relief, salvation, peace, and contentment.'
Minimalist Kitchen Basics
A set of dishes is the starting point for furnishing your kitchen with everything you'll need. After that, cookware, utensils and tools are the basics requirements for rounding out your minimalist kitchen.
Instead of having several sizes of saucepans and frying pans, try what's often referred to as a 'chicken-frying skillet'. This is a 15-inch frying pan with 2-inch sides that can be used for frying anything. The beauty is that it can also be used to make a pot of stew or a batch of spaghetti sauce. You can even brown and sauté some of the ingredients, then add the rest, with plenty of room for a one-pot meal. Here are the cooking essentials for a minimalist kitchen:
- Cast-iron 3-quart pot
- Chicken-frying skillet
- 8-Quart stockpot
- 4-Quart saucepan
- 2-Quart saucepan
- Large mixing bowl
Have you ever suspected that the ladles, slotted spoons, spatulas and stirrers in your utensil drawer are magically increasing in number? You'd be surprised to learn that it's possible to get by in the kitchen with:
- Spatulas (2)
- Sauce/stirring spoons (2)
- Pasta grabber
- Measuring spoons
With only six major utensils in play, they don't even need a drawer of their own. They can take up residence in a tall, narrow glass jar or ceramic vase on the counter, and you can keep an eye on them to make sure they don't multiply!
One good set of knives can take the place of peeling and slicing tools, and you don't really need a pizza cutter (besides, they're really a pain to clean). Use the cleaver from your knife set to cut your pizza. As long as you keep your knives sharp, you'll be able to slice, dice, chop and peel just about anything.
You'll need two cutting boards, one for meat and another one for everything else. Your main cutting board should be made of bamboo or high-quality wood. Oil it once a year, and it could last indefinitely. We recommend a heavy-duty plastic cutting board for meats. This material is rugged, and it has a narrow profile, so you can easily store it in the same space as your main cutting board. Silicon hot pads are the longest lasting kind. They also make useful jar openers, and you can protect your counters by putting them underneath hot pans fresh off the stove. Here are the other essentials:
- Knife set with sharpener
- Kitchen shears
- Hand grater
You Can Do Without Appliances
One of the most obvious benefits of a minimalist kitchen is the lack of reliance on appliances to prepare food for cooking. Instead of an electric juicer that takes up room on the kitchen counter, a simple hand juicer can stay tucked away in a cabinet until needed. Rather than having a crock pot plugged into the wall and taking up valuable counter space, a heavy cast-iron pot will do the same job over low heat on the stove.
Good news! A blender isn't a necessity in the kitchen. The trick to getting some power behind a wire whisk is using a large enough mixing bowl that you can energetically beat those eggs or that cake batter into submission. And your ever-sharp knife set has all the tools you need to cut food into extra-small pieces. Add a hand-held potato masher and egg-slicer, and there's nothing a blender can do that you can't do better. And the bonus is that you don't have to take apart and clean an electric mixer.
Some Supplies Perform Double Duty
This is a concept that gets lost in the materialistic message we're constantly being bombarded with in our consumer society. You actually don't have to own a different container for every possible use in the kitchen. Dinner plates make quick and easy-to-clean cutting boards for small jobs. A large soup bowl doubles as a small mixing bowl, and a cast-iron pot becomes a serving dish (see: silicon hot pads).
Finally: Remember to Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle
This is an ingenious way to have everything you could ever need in the kitchen, even for special occasions. And you'll be a responsible recycler while you're at it. Cruise your local thrift shops a few weeks before a special event. You should be able to find serving platters, fancy drink glasses and other extras for just a few dollars. After you've used them for a couple of parties or special occasions, pass them on to a friend or give them back to the thrift shop. That way, you don't even have to figure out where to store them!