If you’re just starting out or looking to revamp the heart of your home be sure to check out this list before you shop for kitchen essentials. Chances are you don’t need the majority of the “must-haves” you would consider essential. Here is my guide on keeping a minimalist kitchen as well as my top Amazon picks for the truly essential items.
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Keep it Simple with Kitchen Essentials
There is nothing more stressful than going to prepare dinner and not being able to find what the tools you need to do the job all the… stuff in the way. I know, I’ve been there. These days I don’t have to second guess where anything is in my kitchen. I got rid of pretty much EVERYTHING I didn’t use. Yes, everything. It took a while, but it is so much easier to navigate my kitchen now. It all starts with knowing what the kitchen essentials are and saying no to everything that doesn’t fit the requirements.
Stocking Your Kitchen
If you’re just moving out on your own, starting over, or jumping into minimalism and want to simplify your kitchen you’re in the right place. Here is a simple guide on what kitchen essentials a minimalist might have.
Kitchen Essentials: Cookware
We keep it pretty basic in our kitchen; we have one stainless steel pots and pans, our Emerilware thoughtfully gifted to us by my best friend when we first married. It has held up well; I also bought a cheap, nonstick set (pre-minimalism of course), and it did not stand the test of time. Our exact set is not available anymore, but I love this set that comes with stainless steel utensils. On a smaller budget, you can get a basic 12-piece set with 4-star reviews on Amazon for under $60.
I have a few glazed stoneware casserole dishes, a pizza stone, muffin tin, small and large sheet pans, a muffin pan, and two loaf pans. That’s about it for bakeware. Oh, and a couple of cooling racks. They get more use when baking bacon!
I do not like one-trick ponies in general, but I would be lying if I said I owned any; I love to use our sandwich maker. For such a simple device it has really held up. My husband also makes waffles in it occasionally! We have a coffee maker, blender, and an electric pressure cooker. The microwave doubles as a vent-hood, so I don’t really lump it in here. I think that’s it for small appliances and gadgets.
Kitchen Essentials: Utensils
We are slowly transitioning our utensils from nylon/silicone to stainless steel; it simply holds up better. Over time the edges of scrapers start to burn and peel. Who wants that? Not us! I also have a good stash of several wooden spoons, scrapers for mixing, and a wooden rolling pin. a good set of stainless steel mixing bowls and a couple of good cutting boards are also handy.
There are good deals on huge sets of utensils, but I am not a fan; chances of using all the utensils in the set is slim. I prefer to buy a small set of the basics and then get my measuring cups and spoons separately, and love my Pioneer Woman set. I have also had my eye on this vintage soap dispenser set for a while. It would add a pop of color in my otherwise less-than-decorated kitchen, and still be functional. I have a basic corkscrew, can opener, and knives. My husband has a basket of BBQ utensils above the cabinet.
We started using the stoneware set gifted us for our wedding a couple of years ago when I got tired of our Fiesta Ware colors. I was over red and cream. To be honest, the cream was more yellow than I anticipated. We sold all the Fiesta on Craigslist and decided to just use the white stoneware set until after the move. Turns out eight of everything is more than enough for us! I don’t think we’ll be replacing our dinnerware any time soon. I had planned to buy a set but decided we didn’t have a need for more dishes. We have a handful of coffee mugs and travel mugs as well.
I love glazed stoneware because it is dishwasher safe, unlike unglazed. Plain, solid flatware holds up much better than anything with embellishments; we picked a fun set and were gifted both it (fell apart) and the solid set. I’ll pick a no-frills solid set any day now!
We switched to these stainless steel tumblers (purchased with gift cards earned by taste testing, a side hustle of mine)and I plan to switch out the kids’ plastic cups with these stainless steel straw cups.
One of the 10 things I stopped wasting money on after becoming a minimalist was one-time user paper goods. I have one set of winter placemats, 8 cloth napkins, 4 everyday placemats, oven mitts, and a good-sized collection of kitchen towels, which are a mix of Dollar Tree and gifted Pioneer Woman. I need to get into my scrap material and see if I don’t have anything suitable to use for napkins. Most evenings we share a kitchen towel. My husband built a farmhouse table for me and I do not like hiding it under a tablecloth.
I keep a bread box and recipe book holder on the kitchen cabinet as well. It really doesn’t take a whole lot. It turns out you can still cook if you don’t line everything with aluminum foil. I also stopped buying Ziploc bags. We use these reusable sandwich bags and have been very pleased so far. I plan to buy more when the budget allows. We still use plastic containers for leftovers but have a few stainless steel sandwich boxes and snack containers. I love the idea of these containers with bamboo lids. When the budget allows I will continue my efforts to replace plastic as much as possible in the kitchen.
Not as Much is as Essential as I Thought…
When we first stocked our kitchen I thought I needed 3 or 4 of everything and it turned out I had multiples of unused items I had been convinced were kitchen essentials and my kitchen wouldn’t function without them! Don’t you need a specialty tool for every new recipe?! Turns out, no you don’t. I do more cooking now with fewer gadgets, utensils, etc than I ever did when I had a fully stocked kitchen. I mostly used the same things then too, if I could find them.
Now I have fewer items, but I use just about everything! I haven’t broken out the stash of cookie cutters yet, but with the holidays approaching we may do this soon! I have two eager helpers in the kitchen, which is another motivator to keep the clutter down. This is not an exhaustive inventory of what is in my kitchen, simply an outline of the basics I use every day. Yes, I do have to wash dishes more often, but I cook from scratch. I dirty up a lot of dishes and prefer to wash a load a day anyway.
What are your essential, can’t live without items in the kitchen? I’d love to know.