The kitchen is a prime target for clutter. With companies inventing a gadget for every little thing, anything that can make cooking a little easier. In the end we find our kitchens filled with gadgets, multi-function counter top appliances and it all adds up to a whole lot of clutter. Some time ago I realized one thing about all these things in my kitchen: they don’t add up to better food on the plate. It was in that realization that it became clear to me, what really mattered in cooking was the initial ingredients and technique, very little relied upon the tools.
With this realization I began to declutter my kitchen using my tried and true box method (read about how to do it here). As I needed things, I would pull them out and after a few months I still had 80% of my kitchen things still left in the box. During this time I brushed up on some of my knife techniques, read up on how professional chefs cook, and focused on simple.
A few things to keep in mind. I have this setup for how and what I like to cook, I don’t like to bake much, I’m mainly stove top or grill. I also am cooking for myself, maybe one other person.
In the end, I was able to whittle down to a basic set of tools in my kitchen all the while increasing the quality of my cooking/food. So what does a minimalist kitchen have in it? Glad you asked…
Two knives and one steel
I see this all the time, you walk into someone’s kitchen and there is a giant knife block that contains 10-15 knives. If we are honest with ourselves, we don’t know what half them are for and we only use a few on a regular basis. Most of your work will be done with your 8 inch chef knife, it’s the workhorse. Next to that I have a 3 to 4 inch parring knife for smaller, more delicate tasks. Finally a honing steel, this helps re-align your edge between sharpening because as you use a knife, the fine edge actually rolls over, creating a less sharp edge; using a honing steel quickly un-rolls that edge and gives you back your edge.
If you ask me, put your money here. A check knife in the $100-$200 price range with a full tang and good steel is something that is worth spending money on. A paring knife for $50-$100 and a honing steel for $25-$50.
Two rubber spatulas and two tongs
These two items are pretty much my go-tos when it comes to actually cooking on heat. It keep two of each so that if I have to make things that can’t mix, I’m covered, or if I’m doing something with meat, to reduce risk of salmonella. My tongs are a rigid silicone tipped, so they can be used on coated pans and on the grill.
One metal spatula
I use this for grilling or if I ever use cast iron. This is a heavy duty metal spatula that is rigid enough to scrape, but flexible enough to wiggle under a piece of meat. I’d use this a lot more if I was a big fan of cast iron, it’s not my favorite, but if you cook a lot with cast iron, this will be a go to.
Break apart scissors
Sometimes scissors are the right too for the job, including cutting up chicken. A solid pair of scissors that come apart so you can thoroughly clean the joint is very handy. These can play double duty for a bottle opener.
Pot strainer (or colander)
I use this style of a pot strainer, its very small, compact and doesn’t take up a lot of space. If I was more of a pasta guy, I’d upgrade to a colander, but this suits my needs.
Pots and pans
This is the pot set that I choose for my kitchen, it was the second place that I sunk most of my money into. When you live a minimalist life, it makes sense to spend some real money on the few things you have. For this set, I did my research and ignored prices, in the end this set cost me $600. The large soup pot and the high side saute pan I use very rarely, but they are worth keeping on hand. While I still keep these two, I don’t actually keep them in my kitchen of my tiny house, I keep them in my bulk storage area. 90% of what I cook is done in the small fry pan, the large fry pan or the medium sized pot.
The last thing on my list is a cutting board, I prefer a butcher block style myself.
- What else would you add?
- What is your favorite kitchen item?