Our family has a big kitchen. It might not be big by some standards and it isn’t decorated with shiplap or a large island, but it is also larger than a galley kitchen (lots of seaworthy references here). However, the countertops are free of gear and it looks big to us. If you were to open the cupboards you might even find yourself thinking, “Wow, they have so much space.” It’s true. We do.
I am not a celebrity chef or even a blogger hoping for celebrity chef status. We don’t eat out a lot and I cook, often, out of necessity. I own six cookbooks. The rest of the recipes I have saved to Pinterest.
What is there to gain out of a minimized kitchen? For us, having a stack of dishes was akin to a week’s worth of unfolded laundry. Just the sight of it made us exhausted. We also had guilt for all the kitchen electronics and tools that we bought for use and then never worked past single use.
What we ended up with, at the end of a deep dive into our cupboards and our cooking ambitions, was a pretty simplistic list of tools that get food on the table and make life easy for us. Your list might look different. That’s OK.
What We Kept
- Two cake pans
- A blender
- A coffeemaker
- two mixing bowls
- two pans
- one pot (medium)
- one pot (large)
- a colander
- a loaf pan
- a large baking tray
- a rolling pin
- measuring cups and spoons
- an electric griddle (for pancakes and most certainly for lefse making)
- a cheap rice cooker (after using one daily in Thailand for two years, I am never making rice out of a pot again)
- four baking dishes
- seven glass containers for meal prep (five for me, two for my husband)
- large and small plastic containers (these will carry leftovers to friends at our next get together)
- knives (we have too many in my opinion but my husband says otherwise)
- silverware for six
- four coffee mugs
- eight kids’ cups
- eight adult glasses
- ten everyday plates and six everyday bowls
- eight fancier plates and five fancy bowls
- a hand mixer
- a toaster
- two wooden spoons
- five serving spoons
If you are a Mark Bittman fan, he posted on what one really needs in a kitchen and he spends A LOT more time in his than I do. Here’s a link to his New York Times article. He only spent 300 to completely outfit a kitchen with necessary cookware. His trick, go to a restaurant supply store.
What We Live Without
- a stand mixer (I hate the space they take up. Don’t argue with me about how pretty they are when I still have to dust them)
- a crock pot. Don’t get me wrong, we own one and you’ll see it in the photos but we use it once a year and probably loan it out three times a year. I know they are easy but dang, everything that comes out of one tastes the same…if you can call it taste
- a food processor. A blender usually does the job
- a toaster oven. We have an oven…we have a toaster…what is the big deal with toaster ovens?
- an InstaPot. See my note about crock pots. This is another one that is too bulky for our kitchen
- a pie tin. Until I care enough to learn how to make a proper pie crust
- muffin tins. I can’t remember the last time we made cupcakes OR muffins but it’s been years.
Extra: What My Husband Can’t Live Without So I’m Accepting It
I could easily live with four plates, cups, bowls, etc for our family. My husband has a different definition of what constitutes a minimalist kitchen and we’ve had to meet in the middle. It makes him happy and it keeps me from being a dictator. Here is the list of things my husband needs to feel at home in our kitchen.
- a sandwich press/toaster thing. I use this now for turkey and cheese sandwiches for the kids. It prevents them from eating the cheese and turkey and leaving the bread on the plate
- a pizza cutter. He did get rid of his Star Trek one, however, I think I would have preferred to keep that one for street cred
- one round pizza stone
- four large plastic mugs earned from a club during his bachelor days
- a grill. The use of which is near non-existent but I suppose the pull it has on men is akin to the pull between women and pumpkin spice lattes; I get so excited about them and then have maybe one a season
How to Declutter Your Kitchen on the Quick
I am a big fan of the power of three. So get ready to make three distinct piles throughout your decluttering process.
Pile 1: What You Need IN the Kitchen
These are the items you use every day. It also includes what constitutes a full load and a quarter of a dishwasher. However, keep the silverware to a minimum.
Pile 2: Seasonal and Special Occasion Items to Store
If you are like our family, you have large hosting occasions during certain times of the year. Yes, I will break out the slow cooker for such times. My husband makes bars and cookies yearly and so we have a container for those items. Extra plates and silverware go in storage also.
Pile 3: Donate or Toss (If Damaged)
What haven’t you used in the past year? Did you have big dreams for an item and then it didn’t deliver? What items did you get from someone and just seeing those items makes you feel guilty that you aren’t using them. Find a place for them, look into shelters, churches, and donation centers. Do not donate items that don’t work. If you have something that is an electronic, check out your local recycling station to see what or if small appliances can be recycled.
Keep in Mind
The kitchen can be a place of peace or a dumping ground for clutter. Make sure the kitchen STAYS a place for food, drink, and family and not a place for toys, mail, and other non-kitchen items and you will find the space is much easier to manage. If you have to make an exception (for us it was for library books) then that is OK as long as you only make one or two.