simplifying the kitchen - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 04:02 PM - Thread Starter
 
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we are moving towards cooking at home all the time and i want to make my kitchen easier to use and clean. 

 

what are the few "gadgets" you can't live without?

what about appliances?

how do you do dishes/cutlery?

pantry staples/spices?

 

i am leaning towards one plate/bowl/spoon/fork per person but i was curious how well that works out irl. i just think it would be easier if the kids were in charge of their place setting and it would give them a little more responsibility.


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#2 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 05:16 PM
 
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My kitchen isn't fully simplified by any means...  But what made it a lot better was to rearrange all of the items so that they were near their point-of-use.  All of the food prep items, like mixing bowls, measuring cups, pots and pans, etc, are in one lazy susan corner cabinet.  All of the food storage items, such as leftover containers, aluminum foil, baggies, and such are in another.  Plates, glasses, and cutlery are all near the dishwasher and sink.  All of the spices, oils, and sauces are near the stove.  Seems obvious, but I was much less organized for a while.

 

Another thing I did was to get glass leftover dishes.  I think they're Anchor.  They have rubbery plastic lids, but they're microwave safe and don't iscolor like plastic.  I use them as serving dishes, then just pop on the lid and put what's left in the fridge.  I can microwave the entire portion without worrying about leaching chemicals or melting. 

 

Gadgets?  I have a parmesan grater that you'd have to pry from my cold dead hands before I'd give it up!  I LOVE fresh parmesan.  Also a can opener, if you consider that a gadget.  Other than that, I think I'm pretty gadget-less.

 

Appliances....  I have a toaster oven and microwave on the counter.  A coffee pot in the cupboard.  A single-serve blender, crock pot, rice cooker, food chopper, and a hand mixer down in the cabinets below.  I could live without everything but the crock pot, mixer, and coffee pot.  I'd have a rough time without the toaster oven, but I could use the oven in a pinch.

 

I don't have a ton of pots and pans.  3 pans, 4 pots, and a enameled cast iron dutch oven.  I could get rid of the small size pan and medium sized pot and not miss them much.  I do have a big canning kettle and a pressure cooker/canner, but those are going to be moving to the basement when DH builds my new shelves.

 

I have 8 place settings of dishes and 8 glasses.  12 place settings of flatware.  We have family over for dinner about 6 times a year, so 8 is the minimum for us.  I couldn't live with just 1 setting per person, even if we never had guests.  We'd have to wash after every meal, and I'm just not that dedicated.  I prefer one big sinkful every night.  We have no paper plates, and we're going to be phasing out paper napkins. pretty soon. 

 

I have quite a lot of pantry staples.  We have food storage, so I always have a lot of the basics on-hand.  We have a small dedicated pantry in the kitchen itself (the rest lives in the basement).  I try to keep about two weeks to a month's worth in the kitchen.  Then when I grocery shop, I just rotate it when I unpack the new food.

 

I'm interested in what others will say, since this is an area that I always seem to be working on!


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#3 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 05:48 PM
 
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We're trying to eat at home more often too. I think some of the answers depend on what types of food your family eats and how often you want to shop. I have come to realize that my family (1) doesn't eat frozen foods (either processed foodd or leftovers or extra ingredients that make it into the freezer), and (2) doesn't like leftovers. We aren't motivated to can fruits or vegetables, make our own pasta, bake bread etc. - partly because we have convenient access to a lot of good food stores but mainly because we're lazy. We also don't plan too far ahead - having a whole week of dinners planned is a big accomplishment. All this means we have decided to shop for small quantities of food more frequently. This in turn means we don't need a ton of food storage (no need for a deep freezer) and can cut down on some gadgets (don't need a bread machine, meat grinder, coffee grinder, canning equipment, etc.)

Here are some of the specific things we do:

Knives: Rather than a full set I just have a chef's knife, paring knife, and bread knife. We used to have a full set in a butcher block holder but these were the only 3 knives I used regularly.

Food prep/storage: I would second the recommendation for a set of glass bowls with lids.This has cut out Tupperware and the fuss of transferring food before reheating it in the microwave. I got our set at Costco a few years ago and saw a similar set there recently.

Dishes and glasses: we have dishes and glasses for 12. i find this works best for us. We have a dishwasher and I like to wait to run it until it's full - if we did the one plate per person thing we'd end up handwashing a lot We have that many people for dinner at least once a month - DH's family lives close and we get together with 2-3 other families frequently. I've managed to accumulate some random bowls and glasses over the past few years but plan to purge them - I prefer to have a matching set with some defined limits.

Gadgets/small appliances: I try to minimize anything that's single purpose, or anything fancy where something simple will do - like we have a manual can opener rather than electric. I can't live without some form of coffee maker (now use a French press, used to use a stovetop espresso maker). I don't have a coffee bean grinder - I buy beans frequently and have the store grind them. I have a food processor and kitchen aid, which are nice to have but not absolutely essential. Same with the microwave - we use it mainly as a timer and to pop popcorn.

Pots and pans: I just got a Dutch oven which I love - I think it will replace some other pots and pans. I have one skillet and 2 sizes of pots. This seems to do the trick. I also make use of 2 baking sheets, a square cake pan, and a glass baking dish (good for baking or roasting). We grill a lot so may not need as many pans as some.

 

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#4 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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We never eat out, ever, and we don't eat anything processed either (not entirely for health reasons, although that's a motivation, but because we can't afford to eat out or buy packaged health food, so we make it all ourselves.)

 

We have enough dishes for two for every person (plastic ones for the baby, glass for everyone else.)  We keep all the utensils in stainless steel containers on the counter - one each for spoons, forks and knives and another big one for spatulas, wooden spoons, wisks, etc. Knives and other tools are in a drawer.

 

As for appliances, we don't have a microwave or dishwasher.  We do have a Vita-Mix, which I absolutely couldn't live without.  We make green smoothies every morning, and use it at least once a day otherwise. We have a juicer, a food processor, and a Bosch kitchen mixer that I would say are staples and accessible all the time. Put away, and pulled out occasionally are a lot of appliances that we got for our wedding, but rarely use - although they are nice when we do make something fancy.  We've got a waffle maker, a crock pot, a rice cooker (although I never use it because I just cook it on the stove), a crepe maker... I'm sure there's probably more.  I like to have those things around if I need them, but I like that they are out of the way and only brought out when necessary, which isn't very often.

 

I second the glass bowls. Also, we just installed a hanging pot wrack right above our sink (high enough that the pots don't hit our faces while we wash dishes) and I am so far in love with it. It keeps the clutter off the counter when handwashing.  We use it as a temporary drying rack, as the water just falls right into the sink.


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#5 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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We recently moved our microwave to the garage for a trial period of not using it, as I have been convinced it is terrible for your health.  It has been gone for 6 months now and that was the big one I **THOUGHT** I couldn't live without!  We use Mason/Kerr jars, quart for adults to drink from, pints for the kids.  They are durable, can withstand a drop on the floor, and non plastic.  I do love the plastic jar lids so I can easily save/transport foods without rings and lids on the jars. I need my pizza cutter, Kitchen Aid mixer, and Melita drip coffee pot w/ the Thermos to keep the joe hot in after being brewed.  Other than that, I could really unload tons of one-use gadgets that are taking up space!!

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#6 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 08:00 PM
 
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what are the few "gadgets" you can't live without?
We don't have a lot of gadgets...I love my French Press, my can opener is handy to have on handy in an emergency...I could do without my grater and hand mixer as long as I have a whisk (and more time, especially if there are egg whites involved).

what about appliances?

I could live withou the microwave, but we need our rice cooker and blender. My dishwasher is an overpriced drying rack as I find it easier to just handwash. The dishwasher is run maybe once per month for the sole purpose of washing the inside of the dishwasher! LOL!

how do you do dishes/cutlery?
We could and should cut down on the quantity of dishes and cutlery as we only use a small share daily, whatever is sitting in our $500 drying rack. I should just move the rest to the basement to keep for entertaining as it would free up a whole cabinet. We did live with one dish/one set of utensils briefly when we relocated and had to wait for our stuff to be shipped. I liked it as there were only three of anything to wash at a given time. I hate to see dishes piled in the sink and it would only take a few minutes each time to clean up.

pantry staples/spices?
We have too much, partly because we cook so many different types/cuisines so have a zillion different spices, seasonings and stuff. But it is pretty organized with stuff grouped with similar stuff but I would like it to be more aesthetically organized.

I like the idea of glass containers for leftovers, which would work in the oven and microwave. DH sometimes uses our pots for storage and it drives me nuts as we only have one of each size.

Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymorebanana.gif

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#7 of 12 Old 01-10-2011, 08:48 PM
 
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I have three smaller pots, a cast iron dutch oven in three sizes and five skillets cast iron/stainless steel.  I have a variety of knives, lots of utensils, 12 place settings, tons of glasses, electric skillet, waffle maker, griddler, veg steamer, popcorn popper, pressure cooker, just lots and lots of kitchen stuff.  And I didn't even start on my vintage Pyrex collection.  And I use it all.  We cook here minimum twice a day, many times three times as we homeschool and are here all the time.  If I have things that sit for a yr or so without use it goes.  But still lots and lots of kitchen stuff.  Anything else in my house-not so much.

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#8 of 12 Old 01-11-2011, 12:27 AM
 
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This thread is very useful for me. I have started to simplify the kitchen but I still have stuff that needs to go.
I love cooking from scratch and making gourmet dishes so I have lots of spices and sauces/random ingredients. My pantry is overflowing with different oils and sauces.
Appliances that I use on a regular basis - food processor, kitchenaid stand mixer with meat grinder attachment, immersion blender, rice cooker and my electric water kettle.
Gadgets that I can't give up - my coffee grinder which I use for spices, garlic press, my graters (I have a few).
Things that need to go - fish turner headscratch.gif, torch for caramelizing things (I really want to use it, but I have had it for 5 years and it's never been out of the box). Baking pans that I never use. I do have too many cutting boards and wine glasses bag.gif I probably have a few pots and pans that are rarely used but I am not quite ready to send away.
I also need to stop buying random pantry items and never figuring out what to do with them (port jelly anyone?) - and I need to ruthlessly compost anything that has been sitting on the shelves forever and has expired.
I did successfully donated lots of random unmatched mugs and bowls and recycled a bunch of random leftover containers, so maybe it's time for a second pass through the shelves.

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#9 of 12 Old 01-11-2011, 01:27 AM
 
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We cook everything from scratch too, and I am trying to put lots more food up from the garden.  I also love to bake. So with that in mind...

 

 

What are the few "gadgets" you can't live without?

Pizza stone

Super Peel

Hand mixer

Garlic press, whisk, cooking spatulas and spoons, measuring cups and spoons.

Rolling pin and marble slab

Apple peeler/corer thingie

Bench knife

Kitchen scissors

 

what about appliances?

Water kettle

Rice cooker

Coffee makers (one for brewed and one for espresso)

Coffee grinder

Food processor

 

how do you do dishes/cutlery?

We have a 12 person set of fiestaware.  I love that we have lots of dishes...we only have to run the dishwasher about every third day.

 

pantry staples/spices?

I have a great herb garden in my backyard that gets lots of use (and doesn't take up kitchen space!).  I also have both a spice drawer (jars are all labeled on the lids) and an overfill box (I think I singlehandedly keep Penzey's Spices in business).  I keep my bulk pantry staples (nuts, rice, beans, other grains) in glass mason jars on a bookshelf in the, well, pantry.  I keep the stuff I've canned there too.

 

Other stuff I can't live without:

My cast iron skillets (I have three) and stainless pots (four or five)

Le Creuset soup pot

Pressure canner and food dehydrator

Mixer (ok, I could live without this one, but baking would be much harder)

Williams Sonoma kick-butt cookie sheets/pans

Emile Henry pie plates (seriously these get used almost every day and they are like steel.  I have eight small ones and one large).

 

My knives gets lots of use but they are mostly crap.  Same with cutting boards. I have a mortar and pestle that I use occationally but I hate how hard it is to use. I'm apparently a spice pounding wuss.

 

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#10 of 12 Old 01-11-2011, 02:30 AM
 
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One thing we did to simplify our kitchen was to get rid of the microwave.  I love the extra counter space and don't miss it at all!  We got rid of it because of what it does to food/nutrients.

 

Someone was saying they like having a lot of dishes so they don't have to wash them but every 3rd day... we find that its a huge problem for us.  With more dishes, just more and more pile up.  We are down to 1 plate, bowl, etc per person + 2 extra plates for guests.

 

We have a small kitchen, so if you do too, less is more.  When you cook from scratch you need more space for prep in my opinion, and less dishes to wash to stack up.

 

 

Appliances I have:

 

crockpot

toaster

blender

mixer

 

For the oven we use stones and a stone baking dish thing

On the stove we use cast iron skillets, and 1 cast iron dutch oven, and 1 small sauce pan and a wok (we do rice in the dutch oven)

 

Can opener

Sharp knives - chef's knife, paring knife, and bread knife

Spoons, spatula, whisk

Potato masher

cutting boards

strainer

measuring cups/spoons

rolling pin

kitchen scissors

cheese grater

garlic press

 

Seriously that's all.  I don't think you need many gadgets honestly!

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#11 of 12 Old 01-11-2011, 03:30 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you thank you!! this has been so helpful for me... we do have a small kitchen right now so i will simplify accordingly.

 

and i think i will try the place setting for each person and see how it works out. the kids would love to wash their own and hopefully it will keep me from being lazy. because honestly i will use every single last utensil rather than washing dishes lol.gif


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#12 of 12 Old 01-11-2011, 10:55 PM
 
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Gadgets that I can't live without?

 

sharp cleaver

cutting board

boiling pot

skillet or wok

chopsticks

Forks

spoons

spatula

cooking fire (I use a gas hob; I can cook on electric or on a woodstove or grill, or campfire, but prefer cooking w/ gas).

 

If  you mean, tools that I really like:

vegetable peeler (also known as a potato peeler)

potato masher

whisk
grater

Thermos thingy to make yoghurt

Mortar and pestle

Colander

Strainer

rolling pin

 

Big bowls for mixing things or using to as serving bowls

stainless steel tripod thingies to put a plate on when you want to steam things

 

Electric tools I really like and use:

Food processor

Hot water machine

Microwave

Oven

Bread machine

 

We have about 8 drinking glasses, 10 mugs of various sorts, about 8 wine glasses, 8 champagne glasses, ~ 8 regular tea-cups and saucers maybe 18 plates (different sizes), 6 bowls, 8 soup-plates, etc. This is useful for when we have people over for supper or parties.  We have enough forks, knives, and spoons to serve ~ 16 people dinner and dessert w/out having to wash things. When we have more than that, we have to wash some forks and spoons before dessert.

 

Pantry staples

Whole wheat flour

White flour

Rice (mixed brown, white & red)

Sugar

Salt

corn starch

Pepper

Pepper sauce

tahini

sesame paste

peanut butter

soy sauce

cooking oil

Mustard (seeds, prepared, and dried)

Cumin (seed and ground)

Coriander

Cardomon

Cinnamon

Chili powder

5-spice powder

Bay leaf

Basil

Tarragon

Oregano

allspice

nutmeg

ginger (fresh & ground)

flax seed (ground), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds

canned goods: kidney beans, garbanzo beans, butter beans, tuna, sardines, mackerel

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lookatreestar View Post

we are moving towards cooking at home all the time and i want to make my kitchen easier to use and clean. 

 

what are the few "gadgets" you can't live without?

what about appliances?

how do you do dishes/cutlery?

pantry staples/spices?

 

i am leaning towards one plate/bowl/spoon/fork per person but i was curious how well that works out irl. i just think it would be easier if the kids were in charge of their place setting and it would give them a little more responsibility.


 

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