My Perfect Minimalist Kitchen for a Family

This entry is part 20 of 31 in the series Exploring Minimalism

This may not seem like  a minimalist kitchen to those who count their possessions, but after living with a pared down kitchen for several years, there are certain conveniences that fit best for our minimalist family lifestyle.

As a reminder, minimalism allows for the things you find beautiful and (frequently) useful.

To us, most of these are both 🙂

I plan to update the list periodically as we continue to evolve.

Creating a Family-Sized Minimalist Kitchen -an itemized list of what one family uses and why | 31 Days Exploring Minimalism | minimalist living, simple living

Post disclaimers:

  • I am not a baker. Any baking that happens in this house is done by David, and it’s pretty seldom, so not many baking items are listed.
  • While it could be argued that multi-purpose products don’t always do as good of a job as the products individually, my little heart still joyfully skips a beat when I find 1 item that can replace many. We’re not trying to build a catering business or open a restaurant, we’re just trying to feed our family as simply as possible.
  • I can’t vouch for all of these products from personal experience, but I checked out the other options and Amazon reviews (where applicable) and these are the products we either use ourselves or plan to buy. Some of these are affiliate links because it’s not free to keep this site up, but remember that it doesn’t affect your cost if you choose to purchase anything 🙂

All product images contain more information.

Appliances

I'm torn between these first two... Definitely only one of them, though.

1 Blender/Food Processor or Manual Food Processor (chopper/slicer/grater)/Juicer/Mixer

Hand Held Food Processor
Since we don’t use a blender or a food processor that often, but is really nice to have one when we do, I wanted something that did both. Right now we have this very inexpensive 10-cup Black & Decker model because I wanted something that held a lot for preparing freezer meals and such. It works fine, but I’m not in love with it. I’m really intrigued by this hand-held food processor because I would use something like this much more.

Ultra Chef Express – 7 tools in one
I just find myself much more drawn to manual appliances like this – quicker to pull out and use, easier to clean.


1 Slow Cooker/Pressure Cooker/Rice Cooker/Steamer All-In-One
(Bonus: Also great for yogurt!)

Instant Pot
Although not necessarily “minimalist” in that you could technically do most of this in a regular pot, it is something I want as part of our minimalist lifestyle because I do not want to spend my time hovering over a stove, neither do I want to burn a bunch of food and ruin pots, because I always get engrossed in something else and forget I was cooking 🙂 A big deal to me is that this has a stainless steel pot. Most rice cookers seem to be aluminum with some sort of non-stick coating, which we don’t want in our bodies, thanks very much.


1 Bread Maker

Cuisinart 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker
My parents got me a bread maker when I moved into my first place 13 years ago, and it’s still working like a charm. Thankfully David or Maeve makes our bread now, but it gets used at least 3 times a week. If we had to replace it, we’d probably try this one. Although we could get rid of this and just use our oven, I don’t feel like it’s worth it energy-wise or time-wise.


1 Toaster Oven

Oster Extra Large Digital Toaster Oven
We use our toaster very frequently, but it’s just a toaster. We got rid of our toaster oven a while ago because I didn’t like how much space it took up, but I am now ready to get rid of our toaster instead. I often don’t want to turn on the full-size oven because of how much it heats up our house, but you can even stick 9x13s in this sweet toaster oven! (I also think this looks rather interesting for a tiny living situation.)

Update: We did get rid of our toaster and replace it with this toaster oven in mid 2016 and we love it so much! We almost don’t even use our oven at all anymore.


1 Espresso/Coffee Grinder/Maker

DeLonghi Espresso/Coffee Machine
We have this and use it daily. David got it from his former day job, and he’s pretty addicted to his lattes. It’s perfect for not wasting any since it’s single cup. Obviously we’d never buy it on our own dime 🙂

Update: David decided to switch to pour over coffee and now uses this setup.

We got thispour over coffee dripperso we wouldn’t have to worry about buying more filters.

We love that we can also use this electric water kettleit for tea (which we do almost every day) and if we quickly need hot water for anything else (like a detox footbath, for example).


1 Popcorn Maker

Stir Crazy
We eat way too much popcorn and I am too easily distracted to make popcorn on the stove. I have many times, but I always hate it. A removable cord is a must, and people say this does have one.


1 Ice Shaver

We also have an ice shaver that we really love to use and make this. But we got it a long time ago on clearance for like $7, and I can’t really seem to find another one that I like as well, nor have I found a good alternative to actually having an ice shaver.

Cookeware/Bakeware

Cast iron is definitely our first choice for cookware. Cast iron uses less oil, is essentially non-stick without the harmful toxins, improves flavor, naturally adds a little iron into your diet, and only improves over time.

I debated about Le Creuset because of their enamel finish that doesn’t need to be seasoned like regular cast iron, but the Lodge brand gets such good reviews and has enough of a lower price that I would try them out first. We already have cast iron that we use and love, so I don’t think we’d have any trouble maintaining the pans.

1 Cast Iron Skillet

Lodge Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Skillet
A 12-inch skillet seems to be the best size for us.


1 Cast Iron Griddle

Lodge Cast-Iron Reversible Grill/Griddle
We warm up tortillas quite often, and it’s much nicer to be able to do more than one at once. This would also be great for pancakes and eggs – we love breakfast food 🙂


1 Stock Pot

Cuisinart Stainless 12-Quart Stockpot
I looove soups, and if I’m making soup, I aim to make enough for leftovers.


1 Sauce Pan

Cook and Strain Stainless Steel Sauce Pan
This pan looks pretty cool if we need to replace what we have. It has a strainer build right into the lid.


1 9×13 Baking Pan

Baking Pan
Part of me wants 2 of these, but I think the only time we have ever needed 2 at the same time is when we are baking birthday cakes for the kids twice a year. This works great for cakes, lasagna, etc, and its lack of handles means that it will fit in toaster ovens better. I would also be tempted by this Pyrex or this or this stainless steel pan since they have lids, but I like the look and lack of handles on the other pan so much more.


2 Baking Sheets

Wilton 17-1/4 by 11-1/2 Baking Sheet
It drives me crazy when baking sheets warp, and these have mixed reviews, but I’d like 2 of these.


1 Set of Silicone Baking Cups

Baking Cups/Liners
There are a number of things I would like to get in the habit of using these for, particularly with our toaster oven. I had thought to get the silicone cupcake pans, but it occurred to me that these would do nicely on baking sheets and are much  more compact for storage.


2 Baking Mats

Silicone Baking Mat
The non-stick surface that makes baking more even and clean up a breeze has me sold on baking mats, not to mention eliminating the need to use oil, foil, or parchment.


1 Collapsible Steamer

Stainless Steel Vegetable Steamer
I use this thing all the time! Makes vegetables so much better than straight up boiling, and is so fast and easy.


1 Strainer/Colander


At the beginning of our minimalist lifestyle journey, I was all about this sweet nesting set of food preparation essentials (and most of Joseph Joseph’s other space-saving stuff, too!).  They actually also sell a cheaper, more colorful set (here), and I was totally stoked to find a very similar design at Aldi for somewhere between $10-20 a couple years ago. However, over time I’ve realized that I really don’t use most of it. The measuring cups are a little unwieldy, and I just like our other bowls better. The part of it we used the most was definitely the colander. But I think this strainer will be a much better replacement, and I won’t miss any of the other stuff.

Stainless Steel Pot-Top Strainer Sieve
I sort of hate storing colanders, and it drives me crazy dirtying one just to drain out pasta or something and return it right back into the original pot. I imagine this probably works a little less easily on smaller stuff like saucepans, but those are usually easy enough for me to handle that I just pour off the liquid around the regular lid anyway. The other thing I considered is whether I would miss using a colander for rinsing and washing purposes as opposed to just draining. I decided that for the few times that I do want to wash stuff off in a bowl, I can always use this strainer to drain the liquid out of the bowl as well as a pot. I know, such obvious genius.

Food Prep

1 Cutting Board

Joseph Joseph Glass Worktop Saver, Bottle Top
I hate cleaning plastic cutting boards, and I don’t really want to have to think about possible bacteria breeding on wooden ones, so I strongly prefer glass, even though it supposedly dulls knives faster. It can also double as a trivet/”hot pad”.


1 Peeler

Linden Sweden Jonas Peeler
I’ve used various peeler types, but I always come back to liking this one the best – I love that it cleans so easily.


1 Apple Corer

Option 1
We really love apples and I really hate cutting them, so this still belongs in our minimalist kitchen. I wouldn’t waste time on a plastic one because they all seem to eventually crack.

Option 2
However, this one that helps actually pop the apples out draws my attention because it’s a little annoying to mess with normally.


1 Kitchen Shears/Bottle Opener/Nut Craker

J.A. HENCKELS Kitchen Shears
I use our kitchen shears all the time to open bags and cut things up. The added multi-functionality is certainly a bonus.


1 Chefs Knife

Rada Cutlery Chefs Knife
I use a chefs knife for everything, and I strongly prefer a rounded edge like this for rocking while cutting.


1 Bread Knife

OXO Bread Knife
I grew up with an electric bread knife and used to strongly prefer that because you can get better slices. However, I don’t like having to actually plug something in, and it’s more to store as well, so now I’m happy with a regular old bread knife.


1 Paring Knife

Rada Cutlery Paring Knife
Simple.


1 Magnetic Knife Strip

Magnetic Knife Holder
I just don’t like knife blocks anymore. We don’t need all those knives! Plus, a magnetic strip frees up more counter space, especially when you add in the storage for other types of utensils.


1 Tongs

Stainless Steel Locking Tongs
I strongly prefer tongs that can lock closed.


2 Measuring Cups

Pyrex Measuring Cups
We use these all the time, and I don’t have the time of day for a whole set of cups.


1 Set of Measuring Spoons

Stainless Steel Magnetic Measuring Spoons
I personally don’t really use measuring spoons, but David does sometimes. I really like that these are magnetic.


1 Scraper

All-Purpose Silicone Spatula
This is all we need.


1 Masher

Masher
We don’t actually use our masher for potatoes, but for beans and lentils and stuff like that. Come to think of it, I really should make mashed potatoes, though.


1 Can Opener

Safe Cut Can Opener
I grew up with an electric can opener, so that’s what I wanted when we got married, but I got over that fairly quickly. I realized don’t want something else on our counter top and I don’t want to be stuck needing electricity. The “safe cut” openers are now also the only kind I really want.


1 Slotted Turner

Large Stainless Steel Slotted Turner
I really dislike plastic turners, and regular metal is ok, but this one is even more versatile.

OXO Stainless Steel Turner
If I wasn’t going to use a slotted turner I would use this one instead.


1 Cooking/Basting/Serving Spoon/Ladle

OXO Stainless Serving Spoon
I use something like this for everything. It holds enough there’s no need for a ladle, too!


1 Cheese Slicer

Heavy Duty Adjustable Cheese Slicer
Most people would say we should just use a knife, which is what we did for a long time, but we get nice big blocks of cheese and a knife butchers them up and we wind up with much thicker slices than we would need, therefore using the cheese up faster. We also eat a lot of cheese, so this tool is worth it to us.


10 Magnetic Spice Tins

world market magnetic spice tinI love, love, love these tins from World Market (hopefully they’re as great as they look, since we have no Amazon reviews to tell us). I’d get 5 of them at the larger size for the spices I go through quickly, and this set of 5 for the less frequently used spices. My preference is to hang them on the side of the fridge for easy access and to save cupboard space.


1 Set Salt & Pepper Shaker


RSVP Retro Salt & Pepper Shaker

I prefer to keep it simple, and this salt and pepper shaker set fits the bill with a touch of personality.


1 Butter-Making Jar

1-gallon Glass Jar
David actually uses an old pickle jar, which works great for making fresh butter. (This is how we do it.)

Eating & Drinking

On one hand, I really lean toward wanting to only have one dish, glass, and set of silverware for each of us, because imagine if that’s ALL the dishes you could possibly have besides the food prep stuff?! We’ve been conditioned to think that more dishes are necessary for convenience, but what is that “convenience” really costing us?

I usually try to wash my dish right after I am finished with it, but so what if you do have to quick wash it up when you’re ready to eat? 30 seconds is all the time you’re really saving by pulling a clean dish out of the cupboard, and at the cost of a dirty kitchen. Everyone knows that dirty dishes breed like rabbits, right?

So what about having guests? Part of me wants to have enough extra to serve at least one other family, and maybe keep it somewhere I won’t be tempted to fall back on it. Part of me thinks, disposable is the way to go – have a large enough group and that’s what everyone always ends up using anyway… It really just ends up being personal preference.

4 Bowl/Plates

5-Piece Pasta Set
Some might call what we want to use for our family “blates”, but I discovered that most know them as soup plates or pasta bowls. As an inexpensive way to start out, I would be ok with these Correlle dishes, however, aesthetically I would prefer something like this, this, or this from Crate & Barrel.


4 Sets of Utensils

20-Piece Flatware Set, Service for 4
I would be tempted to just only use sporks, except for my extreme dislike of spoons… spoons should only be used for soup and cereal. Since this set comes with both larger and smaller forks and spoons, they can double as extras for guests.


1 Serving Bowl

Salad Bowl
We normally just serve out of what we cook in, so this is almost more for taking to potlucks and such.


2 Large Capacity Bowls

12 Qt Bowl
We use our large bowls mostly for serving popcorn, haha.


4 Mixing Bowls

Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
We actually use our metal bowls to eat out of way more than to mix in. We’re serious about our popcorn, and big salads.


1 Pitcher

Glass Pitcher
Have I mentioned how I hate cleaning plastic? 😉 I also hate the staining and the way it retains smell/taste. So glass it is, for us.


4 Glasses

16-Ounce, Set of 4
I like clean lines, and we have zero reason not to use these for anything we want to drink.


4 Mugs

Part of me wants to just have an eclectic collection of mugs. Part of me is tempted to buy a set of these wake-up mugs 🙂

Soup Mug
But when it comes down to it, I think I’d rather use some extra large mugs like this. Or I also like these.


1 Travel Mug

Chalkboard Ceramic Mug, 12oz
David uses something like this for his daily coffee.


4 Water Bottles

Klean Kanteen Stainless 40oz Water Bottle
We used to use only Sigg water bottles because we love the design, but we got tired of the inside coating eventually wearing off where you screw and unscrew the cap. So I rather reluctantly switched to Kleen Kanteen. I do love that they don’t have coating, but I don’t like how the lip of the bottle has a tiny fold-over that I feel like could be kinda gross in there. I’d prefer to use glass with a cover, but I haven’t been able to find any that are as big as I need. If I have to fill up more than twice a day to get my water in, there’s no way I’m not going to lose track. So I’m stuck using the 40 oz Kleen Kanteen and drinking 1 and a half every day.


1 Blender Bottle

BlenderBottle ProStak
I love this for quick, on-the-go protein/meal replacement shakes – easier, healthier, and even cheaper than resorting to fast food.

Food Storage

8 Containers

Pyrex 18-Piece Round Set
We only use glass for leftovers because it cleans up sooo much nicer than plastic. We have a set like this and use all of them pretty regularly. I love that the containers can also be used to eat out of.


5 Bulk Canisters

2.5-Gallon Glass Canister
I am a big fan of open shelving in place of regular cupboards. I also don’t love just keeping our bulk food in the bags they come in, but the canisters in regular stores are always stupid sizes for families. These fit up to 2.5 gallons, and I’d love a nice set in a couple different sizes!

Kitchen Maintenance

1 Dish Cloth

I HATE stinky dishrags, so I don’t use regular cloths. The washcloth I use is similar to the Norwex netted dishcloth, however it was only $1.50 or something like that. It is AWESOME for scrubbing all sorts of things and won’t scratch them. The Crown Choice Non-Scratch Scourer is a similar sort of scrubber.


1 Pan Scraper

Scraper
We use our pan scraper all the time, but I like these with the handle even better.


1 Dish Brush

Scrub Brush
As I mentioned above, I hate cloths and haven’t really used them since living on my own. We started out with one of those soap dispensing wand sponges, then eventually switched to soap dispensing brushes when I realized how much I also hated disgusting sponges, and now I’ve finally settled on just having a little dish with soap and a regular brush.


1 Dish Drainer

Stainless Steel Drying Rack
In keeping with my love of multi-purpose things, I very much want a drying rack that doubles as storage. This over-the-sink rack that folds up also looks pretty useful.


2 Dish Towels

Flour Sack Towels
Flour sack towels are the only kind of towel worth having in the kitchen in my opinion. More absorbent, can be bleached to stay nice. I’d only use a couple at a time, but they come in a pack of 4.


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  • soyperiodista789

    I feel exactly the same way about “disgusting” sponges!

    Great suggestions, my roommate and I have a pathetically small kitchen with little storage and it would be great to swap some of our stuff for some multitaskers!

  • Diane Burnett

    Regarding your love of cast iron cookware, you may like to read the research of Dr Neal Barnard (President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). Here’s a sample http://www.oprah.com/health/Metal-and-Alzheimers-Disease but you can Google the research yourself or read his book “Power Foods For The Brain”. He also has a YouTube presentation.

    • we eat very little meat, so we would probably still be fine on this, but I should probably make note in the post about this, thanks for that info. goodness, nothing is safe it seems!

  • GoddessMel

    Reading your list I realise that what some think of as necessary/essential/minimalist others would see as superfluous. For example, a bread maker, toaster oven or popcorn maker seem extravagant to me – but in a household of 2 adults where buying bread is cheap and popcorn can be done in a paper bag in the microwave, well our situation is different to yours. It has helped me take another look at what I have, what I want as opposed to what I need, and to make decisions based on that assessment.

    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment, you make a great point! We don’t have a microwave, for example 🙂 And prefer homemade to packaged – but technically we could bake bread in our oven and pop corn on our stove, it’s just that in that case we value convenience over the extra space we’d have if we didn’t have the bread maker and popcorn popper. You’ve hit the nail on the head I believe – being a minimalist isn’t necessarily being an ascetic. It’s putting thought into what you have and why you choose to have it, which for us is living a more simple life, and that sometimes includes more convenience.

  • L. A. McDonough

    Do you wipe down the countertops with paper towels? I am re evaluating sponges and dish rags really being needed as I use scouring pads (nylon) for non stick skillets and plates. Sponges and rags are not sanitary either.

    • I know, I really don’t like sponges and rags at all! I haven’t found the perfect alternative yet, but I like to use mesh cloths like these http://amzn.to/1XfMHrf and then either let it air dry or dry off with a towel or paper towel.