The kitchen is a prime target for clutter. Companies are 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. I realized what really matters are 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. Cast iron isn’t 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. This set cost me $600. I rarely use the large soup pot and the high side saute pan, 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?