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Minimizing my Kitchen

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 

My plan is to go room-by room in my house and get rid of things I don't need. I've been married to DH for a little over three years now and we have only moved once (that was merging our two apartments together into a townhouse). I have a new baby and I babysit in my home 2-3 days a week. I don't enjoy cooking all that much. It's okay, but I don't like to do it every day. I prefer to cook up a big batch of something every few days. My kitchen is small. There isn't much counter space and the cabinets are a bit awkward. I am a couponer (not too extreme haha) but I need more space for my grocery finds. Right now they overflow into the entryway closet. I'd like to have all the food easily accessible in the kitchen. There's no pantry. So that's a little background on my kitchen space and how I use it.

 

I noticed that just DH and I make loads of dirty dishes. It's really ridiculous that 2 people can have so many dirty cups, plates, etc. So For my first challenge, I decided to take out only a few dishes and see if we can get by using just those. I'm starting with 2 large plates, 4 half plates, 2 bowls, a large glass, juice glass and mug. We've been using this now for a couple days and magically there are no dishes sitting in the sink!! The "rule" is that we wash the dish after we use it and put it in the drying rack. 

 

Oops, baby's crying... more later!

post #2 of 40
Thread Starter 

Ok NAK lol

 

So next up I need to do the same thing with my baking utensils, storage boxes and serving dishes. My problem is that I do use some of these on occasion. We might have people over once a month or so. How do you all decide what you need in this case? Eventually my goal is to get rid of all the plastics and have covered glass containers that double as serving and storage dishes. 

 

My last problem in the kitchen is the appliances. I have a hand mixer, blender, two small food chopper/grinder things, toaster, toaster oven, electric griddle and coffee maker. The mixer is great, small and I use it a lot. The blender I also use a lot. The other two small food processors were gifts. I use them sometimes but I think I could get most of the same stuff done w the blender maybe? I'm a few months away from needing to make mashed up food for baby. Should I keep one of the smaller appliances to puree bananas? eat.gif The griddle was also a gift and I think it has to go. Also the coffee maker is a waste bc I use a French Press. It kills me to have a toaster AND toaster oven... but I don't know if I can get DH to part w the toaster. I like the toaster oven bc I can heat stuff up in the summer without heating up my whole house. Oh and there's the microwave. It has it's own stand. I wish I could get rid of it, but just use it too much. Any appliance advice?

 

Now let's talk about my incentive... aside from having less to clean and feel cluttered by, I decided to replace my random, slightly burned, mismatched kitchen towels and pot holders with cute, new ones

post #3 of 40

The main thing is to find the right balance for you -- a balance that  makes the place really functional for you and even encourages you to use the space. :) I found that when I went minimal in the kitchen, I started to cook a lot more.

 

So, our kitchen is really minimal, and the only appliances we have are fridge, range, and a dish washer (came with the place; we don't use it) plus a crock pot. 

 

we have minimal storage too -- 4 drawers and four under-bench (counter) cabinets plus the one under the sink.

 

In the first drawer closest to the range, we have our tea drawer -- 3 kinds of tea and honey. Beneath this drawer is our "pantry storage" cabinet. Top shelf has sugar, agave nectar, salt (we buy in bulk), rice and quinoa (in jars). Bottom shelf has two phone books.

 

In the second drawer, we have our spices in the various containers, salt and pepper shakers, etc, plus some wax paper, parchment paper, and foil. I hardly use this stuff, but i needed it for specific things and that's where I store my left overs. Beneath this drawer, the top shelf houses our jars (which will be used for spices, when I get to it), and beneath that is where the crock-pot is stored. 

 

The third drawer is the first dish drawer. This drawer has the measuring cup (glass, large), two pie plates (we use these for anything from making quiche to baking cookies), our bowls (3), my husband's "keep cup" (take-away coffee cup, reuseable), and our mugs (now 4 in number). Beneath this drawer I keep our muffin tin and large salad/mixing bowl on the top shelf, and on the bottom, our plastic containers (numbered at 6 total). 

 

the final drawer has our dishes -- two large and three small plates -- plus 4 short glasses, plus our silverware (4 of each spoon, knife, fork). Beneath this, the cabinet is empty.

 

On top of the fridge, which is on the other side of the range from the drawers, I have a basket with the knives in it, plus the other related utensils (eg, spatula, spoon, whisk, masher, can opener, grater, etc), and then a small area of art supplies (paints, brushes, paper, crayons), and a second basket with our candles and matches for our fire fairy.

 

I keep our skillet and pot on the stove top, since we use them 2-5 times a day, as well as our teapot, because we use that a lot too! No reason to put it anywhere else and lug it out, but I would likely put those things where the phone books are, and move the phone books under our dishes if I felt the need to put them away-away. But on the stovetop is good enough for me. :) And, that's all we have -- two skillets, one pot, one teapot. :D

 

On the countertop, I have a plate with olive, sesame, and coconut oils and a space for vinegar (though we currently don't have any), and then my second skillet is currently holding our fruit right next to that, and we have several jars of nuts there as well -- nice and accessible in a little row. 

 

so, that's my whole kitchen. I have found that having less actually means we cook more, because we do very simple recipes and processes. I can clean up as I cook, and then clean the dishes right after eating and wipe up the counters and such, and it's quick and easy. 

 

I do miss my mandoline (slicer) and also my food mill, but I'm doing ok without for now. Back in the US, I have my dishes -- essentially bowls and plates (small) for 6 plus 3 serving plates, silverware for 6 -- plus a few other kitchen stuff like my food mill. It's two small boxes, and I look forward to eventually having them. I think I have enough space for everything still (as most of my cabinets are pretty bare!), and I'll continue to keep it minimal. :)

 

I hope you find a good balance that works for you!

post #4 of 40

 

I've lived for months at a time with very minimal kitchen equipment, usually after an overseas move while we wait for the shipping container with our household goods to catch up to us. It's always a good experience to re-set my notions of what I really need in a kitchen. What I've found is that I can do a lot with a good set of knives, a few pots and pans, and a very few selected small appliances (immersion blender, toaster and kettle). Of course, a lot depends on what and how you cook.

 

So if you can, as an exercise, you may want to pack up or set aside most of your kitchen goods for a couple of weeks or a month. When you take an item out and use it, because you really, really want and need to use it, then you'll know it's something you won't want to live without.

 

This is especially helpful for small kitchen appliances. I thought I *needed* a microwave because we used it every day. Then it broke down, around the same time I started getting concerned about health concerns with microwaves. We tossed it out and I rarely missed it. I'll admit though, we were long past needing it to heat up food for a hungry baby, so I might have missed it more if my kids had been younger.

 

Same with the toaster oven, food processor, blender, and breadmaker, . Occasionally I miss them, but I can manage with our oven and cooktop, a good set of knives, and an immersion blender. I must have a toaster, because toast with butter keeps my body and soul together - it's my comfort food.

 

Now having said all that, I admit that in the past year, I have splashed out on a stand mixer, and I think we will get a food processor soon, because I am missing it for a bunch of recipes. So after several years of living minimally, I am slowly adding stuff back into the kitchen.

post #5 of 40
Thread Starter 

zoebird... your kitchen sounds awesome! I'm sure living in NZ has given you such a different perspective! I watched an episode of House Hunters in NZ and it looks so beautiful and amazing. I never thought of storing stuff in drawers, but that gives me a good idea. Right now my biggest drawer is taken up by spoons and forks and stuff. If I can pare those down I could free up that space for something else... maybe plates!

 

ollyoxenfree... I am happy to report I have sold my Magic Bullet and Cuisineart Chopper/Grinder (I did a Facebook "Yardsale" lol) So there is $14 and one cabinet shelf clean! biggrinbounce.gif I'm hoping to sell the electric griddle, coffee maker and maybe the toaster if I can convince DH. He cooks a lot for me and brings me snacks when I'm nursing or tired so I feel bad depriving him of his toast and bagel making appliances. I do want to be rid of the microwave one day... you're right maybe when the kid(s) are older and I can use both hands to prep my lunch.

 

 

I'm going to take some "before" pics tomorrow. 

 

Also, what do you all know about non stick pans? I read about Teflon being unhealthy. I'm thinking about phasing out all of my nonstick but I have never cooked in a non-nonstick pan... lol 

post #6 of 40

it's fine. we use an iron skillet and a stainless steel pot and our crock pot (i have a massive beef stew going now). 

 

you just need a bit more fat, stock or water in the cooking on an iron surface, so that things don't stick, but that's no problem really. :)

post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakareyasMama View Post

 

ollyoxenfree... I am happy to report I have sold my Magic Bullet and Cuisineart Chopper/Grinder (I did a Facebook "Yardsale" lol) So there is $14 and one cabinet shelf clean! biggrinbounce.gif .

 


Hooray!!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakareyasMama View Post

 

Also, what do you all know about non stick pans? I read about Teflon being unhealthy. I'm thinking about phasing out all of my nonstick but I have never cooked in a non-nonstick pan... lol 


I found it takes a bit of adjusting and trial and error to get used to cast iron, but the only thing I still have trouble cooking are eggs. I admit that when I'm making scrambled or fried eggs, I miss using a non-stick pan. I know many people don't have any trouble though. It's just me.
 

 

post #8 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZakareyasMama View Post
Also, what do you all know about non stick pans? I read about Teflon being unhealthy. I'm thinking about phasing out all of my nonstick but I have never cooked in a non-nonstick pan... lol 


Go the cast iron! Great alternative to non-stick coatings; much nicer to cook with than plain stainless steel. Well-seasoned cast iron is almost as non-stick as Teflon, and if you accidentally destroy the seasoning, it can be restored without too much trouble, unlike non-stick coatings. Non-stick coatings are delicate, sensitive to high heat and scratching and if damaged the whole pan is ruined. That is apart from any health concerns about Teflon.

 

I use my 12" skillet all the time, and having one with a (glass) lid means it's even more versatile (can steam/simmer more easily). Occasionally I find myself wishing for a smaller (lighter) skillet, such as when I need to fry off a single onion, but couldn't do family-sized meals in anything smaller than the 12".

 

post #9 of 40
Thread Starter 

 

Before.....

 

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post #10 of 40
Thread Starter 

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post #11 of 40
Thread Starter 

 

After...

 

 

All the food is together in one set of cabinets so that I can quickly see what I have. It makes meal planning for the week SO much easier. 

 

The dishes are pared down to daily use essentials: 2 plates, 2 half plates, 2 bowls, a few knives/spoons/forks, one mug and 3 glasses. They are stored in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is the new drying rack. Since we have so few dishes, they don't pile up and need to go in the dishwasher! The rest of my dishes are put away above the refrigerator for when people come over.

 

Baking and serving dishes and storage containers all fit in one cabinet.

 

I threw away my non-stick pot and loaf pans and a bunch of plastic boxes.

 

I am selling my useable but nonessential appliances and serving bowls (on Facebook). 

 

I have counter space!!

 

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post #12 of 40

that is a *huge* difference. :) Congratulations! It looks *awesome*

post #13 of 40

Nice pictures! You did a good job!

 

I don't have a whole lot on my counters but I'm wondering what you ladies who drink coffee do with the sugar bowl, etc. I use real cream so that stays in the fridge but next to the coffeepot on the counter I have a small folded cloth that I set the sugar bowl on as well as the coffee scoop and a spoon to stir with. I'm not satisfied with it and it looks kind of cluttered. I suppose I could put the sugar bowl in the cabinet above where the coffeepot sits and just keep the spoon and scoop stored in the flatware drawer. Hm, maybe I just answered my own question.

post #14 of 40
Thread Starter 

My coffee supplies (grounds, french press, sugar) are on the top ledge of the stove. I would eventually like to clear space in that cabinet right next to the stove but right now it's got spices in it and I can't think of anywhere else to keep them. I cook Indian food a lot so there are a lot of spices in there winky.gif

post #15 of 40

 

Those "After" photos are very impressive! You are inspiring me to clear out my kitchen too.  

post #16 of 40
Thread Starter 

Yay! I can't believe it took me this long to figure it out! It is so much easier to keep the dishes from piling up when there are so few. Last night we had almost everything dirty and in the past I would have left it, knowing there are a ton more in the cabinet. Eventually they would have piled up into a big mess and I would have spent so long loading and unloading them in the dishwasher. Instead, last night I spent about 10 minutes cleaning up and voila clean kitchen! Now for the next room...

post #17 of 40

it's lovely how well it works.

 

in re:coffee

 

we are no help there. DH has coffee, but he likes it black. and, he prefers to have it at work, so the press and beans and grinder are all there, in the file cabinet, where we also keep the teas. the teas, which we have at home, are in the drawer. we need to buy more tea, as we are nearly out! i also keep the honey in that drawer, so, it all works out. :)

post #18 of 40
Thread Starter 

nak

 

Oh one other thing I thought about the coffee (since I just made mine) is you could have a tin or jar or whatever that at least stacks or you really like the design of it. I keep my coffee in a Cafe Du Monde tin and looking at it every morning reminds me of being in New Orleans so I don't mind looking at it so much.

post #19 of 40

That's an idea if I come across a tin I like. In the meantime, I have put the sugar bowl in the cabinet above where the mugs are and the spoon and scoop in the drawer below. Everything's convenient. The coffee is in the pantry like usual. I think the counter looks better now.

post #20 of 40

We did this several years ago....we had so many dishes that we could go for days without washing. We put all the extras in the closet....and it turns out, we didn't need them!

 

We really need so much less than we think!!!

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