how to setup a minimalist kitchen part 2 – the essentials & the nice-to-haves

lamb w crushed chickpeas-2

If you missed it, last week in part 1, I aired my minimalist kitchen dirty laundry and came clean about the lack of minimalism in some areas of my cooking equipment. This week I thought I’d go through the minimalist kitchen essentials – what I’d invest in if I was kitting out a kitchen from scratch.

This is just my personal list – based on the types of things I like to cook. Of course your essentials will be different depending on your cooking preferences and style.

If you’re happy with your own kitchen setup – you might like to skip down to the recipe below which includes crushed chickpeas – a fresh alternative to hummus for the minimalists out there living a food processor-free life. Or for when you find yourself in someone else’s kitchen and are temporarily without access to a food processor.

the minimalist kitchen essentials

1. knives
A good quality cooks knife and a bread knife if you are a fan of slice-your-own. Forget those knife block sets.

2. chopping board
One large wooden board for all purpose chopping and a plastic one that can go in the dishwasher for raw meat, poultry etc. If you’re vego you could stick to just one board.

3. big appliances
A dishwasher (unless you are some zen master dishwashing fan), an oven (preferably electric fan-forced), a stove top (preferably conduction or gas) and fridge with a freezer.

4. frying pans (skillets)
If you live by yourself – 1 smallish skillet will be fine but if you ever cook for a few people, a larger frying pan will come in handy. Best to get ones with ovenproof handles so you can start cooking on the stove top and then finish them off in the oven.

5. pots
If I was being super minimalist I could limit my pots to just one – my 26cm cherry red enamel coated cast iron le creuset. It’s perfect for everything from boiling pasta to slow cooking a batch of lamb shanks. I can’t tell you how much I love it. But only having one saucepan can be very limiting if you want to boil some spuds for mash to go with your lamb shanks so I think it’s reasonable to have another pot. I have a mini stock pot that it about the same size as the le creuset that is fine for pretty much anything.

6. roasting pan
I have at least 3 old metal roasting tins that I need to ditch now I’m the proud owner of a cast iron le creuset roasting dish. You can also use your roasting pan to bake scones or cookies – saving you buying a separate cookie sheet. It can also be used for dishes like lasagne or moussaka saving the need to invest in a separate dish.

7. crockery
I have a set of ‘blates’ (pictured above) which are lovely, shallow pasta bowls that my favourite Italian restaurant used. I am so obsessed with them that I stalked until I found a place that sold them retail [the chef’s warehouse in surry hills]. They are the ultimate minimalist crockery because you can pretty much serve anything on them from a steak to pasta. You could also use them for soup or cereal if needed, although I do prefer a deep soup bowl for both of those. My minimalist kitchen would have one ‘blate’ for everyone in the house and a deep bowl each as well. I’d also include one mug or teacup per person which can double up as an alternative to little ramekins or serving cups for desserts.

8. cutlery
Forget the free set of steak knives you really just need one fork, spoon and knife per person. Or for fans of Asian food – just a set of chopsticks and a spoon.

9. glasses
A hardcore minimalist would be able to use their mug for everything from water to wine but I think it makes things taste funny. For me a wineglass and a tumbler per person is the minimum because I like to have both water and wine with my meals. A Champagne flute per person is also critical for me – I love my sparkling and it isn’t the same in a normal glass.

10. salad / mixing bowl
I have a set of three Pyrex mixing bowls that I love but I could just keep the largest one to use for mixing things and also for serving salads. Or I could limit it to my one big white salad bowl. Either way – one large bowl that doubles as both is all you really need. I use my deep soup bowls for mixing smaller things.

11. utensils
A whisk for egg whites or whipping cream, a can opener, a bottle opener (although non-drinkers would be able to get away without one), a spatula for getting food out of the frying pan (more versatile than tongs I find), a microplane grater for anything from chocolate to cheese. A large strainer for draining pasta that can also be used for sieving flour or removing lumps from sauces or custard.

12. loaf pan
A loaf pan is the bare minimum I could get by with. It can be used for loaves of bread, any type of cake or even making terrines. I did toy with including a tart tin but you could just make a rustic crostata without one.

the minimalist kitchen nice-to-haves

1. knife sharpener
While you could outsource your knife sharpening, I highly recommend investing in a set of Furi sharpening fingers – the easiest and most effective sharpening system I’ve ever used.

2. an electric kettle
I was tempted to put this in the essentials but you can always boil water in a saucepan so I resisted. Brilliant for cups of tea and boiling water for pasta etc when you’re in a hurry. For non-tea drinkers with lots of time to spare it’s not worth it.

3. a food processor
You can live without one but they can make life a lot easier – and make purees possible. Also excellent for slicing or grating large amounts of vegetables.

4. a stock pot
I love homemade stock and really enjoy having a big pot on the simmer while I do other things on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It also comes in handy when cooking for a crowd. If you’re not a stock maker, you can easily live with a normal large saucepan.

5. measuring cups and spoons and kitchen scales
I originally had the kitchen scales in the essentials but I’ve cooked in many kitchens without them and it’s been fine. If you’re not into following recipes then you probably won’t need these but they make life easier especially for the bakers amongst us.

6. utensils
If I don’t have tongs I use a normal fork or a spatula (egg flip) to turn things but tongs can be useful especially for the BBQ when you don’t want to puncture your meat. A vegetable peeler can make things a heap quicker but I tend to leave the skins on which is why I’ve left it in the nice-to-have sections. A good veg peeler can also take the place of a mandoline for cutting fine ribbons for vegetables. I’m a big fan of lemon zest. While you can use a microplane to do the job, I prefer the clean little strips you get from a lemon zester. Serving spoons are a more civilized option for when you have guests, although not critical as you could always get people to use their own cutlery or even better their fingers.

7. serving platters
I’m a fan of serving things in the middle of the table so everyone can help themselves but this isn’t essential as you could always serve straight from the frying pan or pot.

8. water filter
Unless you are lucky enough to have your own rain water tank, a water filter is an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to buying bottled water. I actually went out and got myself a filter when I was staying in Barcelona – it payed for itself within a week.

9. salad spinner
Years ago I would have included a salad spinner in the essentials, but these days there are so many prewashed leaves available you could easily get by without one. This does limit the types of leaves you can use so for anyone who is serious about their salad, I’d recommend investing in a spinner.

10. storage canisters
For years I just stored everything in its original packaging with a rubber band or a peg to seal but there was always the odd moth infestation that kinda grossed me out so I invested in glass canisters. Not only do they make my pantry look more stylish, they keep ingredients fresher and protect from pesky moths.

11. containers for leftovers
You could pop foil over your plate or leave leftovers in the saucepan but this could be a pain when you want to cook something the next day. I have a few Pyrex dishes with plastic lids which I love for many reasons. They look good, they seal properly so you can be sure your lunch will make it to work, they are glass so you don’t have to worry about plastic leeching into your food AND they are oven proof so you can pop them straight into the oven to reheat things. Brilliant.

12. cake tins etc
I included the loaf pan in the critical list, but when it comes to nice-to-haves, I could cull my tin collection down to a 24cm (9in) round cake tin with a removable base and a 28cm (11in) tart tin with removable base.

13. a BBQ
As a Australian, I’m really tempted to include a barbie in the essentials but I have managed to live without one from time to time.

lamb w crushed chickpeas-3

[5 ingredients | 10 minutes]
lamb cutlets with crushed chickpeas and sugar snap peas

serves 2

Lamb cutlets are wonderful because they cook so quickly. My (almost) niece Lily-belle is also a big fan and calls them ‘lollypop chops’ because they have a built in ‘stick’. Too cute.

Lamb fillets or other types of chops would also work – although you’ll probably need to adjust the cooking time. I’ve even given it a go with just the crushed chickpeas and the sugar snap peas and loved it. Would work well with a simple piece of pan fried salmon or white fish as well. For vegetarians I’d replace the lamb with a couple of generous handfuls of toasted cashews or almonds or better yet, some felaffels.

The crushed chickpeas are a more minimalist take on hummus – something I invented when I had run out of tahini. If you have tahini in the house, you could always add in a tablespoon or two for a more nutty flavour. The other option it to just use store bought hummus – but I haven’t found one I like as much as home made.

If you are in possession of a food processor – by all means put it to good use crushing the chickpeas – you can make them as chunky or as smooth as you’d like.

1 x 400g (14oz) can chickpeas, drained
1 clove garlic, superfinely chopped
2-3T lemon juice
4-6 lamb cutlets
2 handfuls sugar snap peas or snow peas (mange tout), topped

Put a small saucepan of salted water on to boil.

Crush chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice together in a bowl with a fork or your hands until you have a chunky mash. Stir through a couple of tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Taste and season.

Place a frying pan over a medium high heat. When the pan is hot and the water is boiling, pop the peas in the water.

Add a few tablespoons oil to the frying pan, season lamb and cook for about 2 minutes each side or until browned on the outside but still pink in the middle.

When the lamb is done, the peas should also be ready. Drain peas.

Divide crushed chickpeas between 2 plates. Top with lamb and peas.


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  • Jules, I have to admit to feeling rising anxiety when I started reading last weeks post. OMG, how could I ever give up all my knives, pots, pans and “special” platters!!? I decided I’m not quite ready to go minimalist in the kitchen but do agree that you can get by without a whole heap of equipment. This is more evident when I travel and end up in tiny kitchens with hardly any equipment and can still whip up something great to eat. Now if only I could remember this when I next open the overflowing cupboards…..

  • I have self educated myself on many of these requirements by searching my kitchen for things and realising I don’t own them. I still need a more serving platters and storage canisters. It is hard to find nice ones.

    This looks like another great recipe for an easy salad. I need these or I would eat a pie with chips from the freezer on lazy nights.

  • one chopping board would not do me – every meal starts with onion and garlic – well almost – and when it comes to chopping bread or fruit or chocolate I need to have a second chopping board to that is onion free!

    but I do love your list – in some ways the ones that almost made it to the essentials but not quite are the most interesting because I can see you wrestling with your need for them

    • I do understand about the cutting boards but to take care of that and only work with one—-Just turn it over.. one sidde for your onions and the other for your bread and sweets. How does that sound?

  • Interesting list. Mine would lean more towards food preservation and garden produce.

    Comment on plastic cutting boards: “However, wooden boards that had been used and had many knife cuts acted almost the same as new wood, whereas plastic surfaces that were knife-scarred were impossible to clean and disinfect manually, especially when food residues such as chicken fat were present. Scanning electron micrographs revealed highly significant damage to plastic surfaces from knife cuts.”

  • Once you have reduced the number of kitchen items, is a dishwasher anything but pure luxury? To be honest, I find that I am much more efficient when one is not around, and certainly far less wasteful of resources (water and electricity) when I know that I will be washing by hand. Consider that also, cast iron, knives, even the roasting pans (unless they are quite small, or your dishwasher is quite large) cannot go into the dishwasher, and there is even less reason to have one.

    That said, for myself given that my kitchen will have both a cold cellar within a few steps, and a cold sink in that cellar for even cooler temps, both well underground, a fridge would be a luxury as well.. But then being off grid does change one’s choices..

  • Beautiful lamb chop. I am in agreement with Johanna GGG. Leeks, onion, garlic, and shallots all have their own board. It is a wooden board.

    I enjoy this blog very much. It is inspiring. Cooking for the average working person needs to be simple and you explore that are here. My husband and I both put in long work hours, yet we enjoy fresh, wholesome food. Nice work.

  • I’m such a gearlist-head, I love this! I’ve tried to pare down my kitchen equipment to the minimum too (original inspiration, Mark Bittman’s article “A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks” for the NYT). I’m very excited about these “blate” things – can you really eat a steak on them? And can you buy them online? (I’m in Melbourne.)

    I’ll also check out the Furi Fingers, as I’ve been looking for a good sharpener. So they’re better than an old-fashioned whetstone, in your opinion?

    Re: food processor, I’m currently trialling just using a mouli – good for pureeing soup, which is most of what I used to use the processor for!

    Oh, and glassware. I’ve been considering getting a set of Bodum Pavina double-walled glasses to use for coffee, tea, water and maybe even wine. Have you looked at them? No need for coasters! But I’m totally with you on the champagne glasses. :) I also have a little set of liqueur glasses scavenged from my mum to serve my winter Pedro Ximenez addiction.

  • thanks…your minamalist ideas are in-line with my plans and have given me that extra push i needed to get rid of those extras, such as the ‘ole bread machine (it’s so much fun to knead anyway!) and the “i’d love to use it someday!” juicer!

  • I have to add in a mini-muffin tin cause I make so many little cupcakes for the kids’ birthdays/school days etc.. but I use it for lots of small things – savoury tarts for nibbles, mini cheesecakes, etc.. so if it’s used for multiple purposes do you suppose I could sneak it in?? I’d also have to add in a rolling pin for pastry (a wine bottle on it’s side is never long enough) and I can’t see wooden spoons on your list??

    I laughed when I saw your thing about serving platters – when trying to buy a sideboard I couldn’t find a deep enough one for some of my platters, and the salesman told me to get rid of my platters to something more “normal sized”. Humph. I left the shop – he obviously had NO idea about the joys of large platters when serving!!!

  • Your posts re: minimalist kitchens have got me thinking about the most important items in my kitchen. Here goes:

    – a plastic and a wooden cutting board
    – utensils: wooden spoons, spatula, whisk, vegetable peeler
    – a large and a medium steel mixing bowl
    – a box grater
    – a small lemon/orange juicer
    – a stick/immersion blender
    – handheld electric beaters
    – small, medium, and large pots
    – large frypan
    – toaster (I can’t live without this)
    – a big general-purpose cutting knife, a bread knife, and a small serrated knife for tomatoes and fruit
    – good, solid tumblers (I can’t drink alcohol anymore, so these would do me fine for everything)
    – teapot and teacups
    – kettle
    – knives, forks, dessert spoons, and teaspoons
    – a circular cake tin, loaf pan, cookie sheet, and 12-hole muffin pan
    – roasting tray
    – crockpot
    – serving platters and spoons
    – “blates” and bowls
    – ramekins

    I think that’s it ?

    I feel inspired to chuck a few things out now!!

  • That was so insightful – thank you. I have culled my kitchen of most gadgets over the years and have gradually upgraded pots, pans, knives etc to ones that I know I’ll probably have for the best part of forever – and it’s quality, not quantity. I love my wooden chopping board – I use it for lots of things, including kneading bread. It’s big and heavy – about the same size as the top of our family sized fridge. One thing that I find fabulous in the kitchen – and probably use more than my food processor – is a whizzy stick that has a mini processor attachment. I also love that it takes up barely any space. Oooh and I love blates too. They make things look so good too.

  • Must haves: My pressure cooker for getting meat off bones and carcasses.
    My crock pot – used every week for soups/stews while I am at work.
    A 2nd loaf pan – most my breads recipes make 2 pans.
    Pie tins – at least 3, and useful for mini platters also.
    3 different sized cast iron pans and a cast iron dutch oven – works on the woodstove top when the electric is out as well as on the glass top range :)
    A steamer for veggies.

    Not needed – wine glasses :) Wine, mixed drinks, water, etc – all are great in a mug :)

  • hah! safe to say that I am not a minimilist in the kitchen. I love my kitchen “stuff”, my wall of spices (truly), the ingredients I buy to create cuisines from around the world (no 5 ingredient restrictions for me!), etc. I love food, and cooking, and using beautiful/fantastic pots and spoons and everything in between! That said, I do not clutter up space with (too many) un necessary items. Bread machine? been there, ditched that (but it did come in very hand for that year we lived in Singapore and could not buy decent bread). Kitchen aid, ice cream machine and food processor? nah, not parting with them. Luckily space and sense restrict how much “stuff” I can have. I can practise minimalism in other parts of my life but not this one!

  • I was amused to see dishwasher listed as one of your must haves. Most homes in the Caribbean don’t have them. You’ve got me thinking about the stuff I do have though. I suppose everyone’s list will be different:-)

  • I just discovered your amazing blog, and I’m so enjoying reading your posts, especially these wonderful minimalist-kitchen posts… I’m a huge advocate of “decluttering,” and you’re definitley inspiring me to move on to the next level – the simple, liberating delights of removing all unnecessary “stuff” from the kitchen and elsewhere! Thank you SO much!

  • thanks for sharing what’s important to you everyone.

    vanessa – I’ve tried every form of sharpening system from my dad’s old stone, to a steel to the global waterwheel (which isn’t too bad) but the furi outclasses them all hands down.

    ET – big thankyou for the link – interesting study – and interesting to see that plastic boards cleaned in a dishwasher were able to be cleaned effectively – either way I think it’s always best practice to keep raw meat and cooked meat boards totally separate.

    thinking about the dishwasher – I guess it could seem to be luxurious but when you’re cooking as much as I do (and are a bit lazy like me) I’m happy to keep it as an essential

  • Thanks Jules – will hit the Myer sale this weekend for one! My boyfriend has the global waterwheel and I’m not so impressed with it.

    Enjoy your romantic Irish trip!

  • I love this … think I might have to copy your idea and work out a list, being vegetarian semi-vegan and having a husband and two children to cook for my list is a little bit different, but I am pretty hard core on the minimalism. A dishwasher is pretty essential to me but if I got to pick I think I would get a slimline one or a single dishdrawer, and use it for glasses, mugs and plates and cutlery which is the fiddly stuff, and I like to feel they are sterilized becaue I’m funny like that. I use a teatowel for salad greens and shake it … gave the salad spinner to a new home. Along with the coffee machine, ricecooker, crockpot, george foreman grill half my platters and serving dishes. Minimilism is a wonderful thing. Just wish we had Herbies in New Zealand!

  • Now I know why you use your teatowel for an oven mitt. Apparently a dishwasher is essential! Love your blog and your recipes. As a fellow Aussie I sooo get the BBQ need, sigh. X

  • Apparently the furi diamond fingers force a 20 degree angle on to your knife blade—which is great for most knifes EXCEPT globals which have a 15 degree angle. I can’t vouch entirely for this information, but I’d be careful with the diamond finger system and global knives. One would hope global’s own sharpening product would be designed with the right angles in mind.

  • This is a tremendously exciting discovery of a blog, and a particularly timely one as well – I have just made the (exciting yet slightly terrifying) move of buying my first apartment, to move in next week, whoop! But, being a minimalist, and having been a global nomad for the last 28 years of my life….the thought of immediately filling a kitchen up with clutter makes me nervous. So, thank you for so beautifully laying out how to start it all up from scratch – I’ll be reading the notes carefully, and keeping an eye on ingredients and equipment to keep it (semi) under control – but I am SO excited at finally being able to buy some of the base stuff I have needed for so long. Maybe my little blog will start being less about eating out….and more about eating in….

    Thank you! xx

  • I love this list! I’m slowly working toward this wonderful minimalist kitchen, and I’m doing quite well. However, one thing I don’t think I can ever part with is my immersion stick blender. Makes great soup purees and smoothies… every single day!
    I love your blog. I wish I’d found it sooner!

  • Minimalism seems to works very well for me, so my list may truly come across as tiny. I think it’s really funny how some people can’t even get rid of a uni-task tool. I really think I would only need the following.

    2 plates
    2 silverware sets
    a bowl
    cast iron skillet
    wooden spoon
    a mug
    a glass
    a medium sized knife
    a cutting board
    a mini fridge
    a hot plate

    There. I think I could avoid baking, so, no need for an oven. It’s just me. I don’t want a thousand glasses for parties I can’t afford to have. On the fact that I don’t like chores, I could happily trade washing a few dishes by hand to filling and emptying a dishwasher every day.

  • rachel
    I take my hat off to you – I think you’re definitely more minimalist than me!
    I love staking my dishwasher.

    thanks nenette
    appreciate the kind words

  • I have to put in a word for my rice cooker. We don’t have rice much, but I use it for lots of other things. I saute diced veggies in it and add borth and left-over meat to make soup. I also add an egg to sauteed veggies for breakfast. I have cooked hamburgers or salmon patties in it. I have even boiled eggs in it. Never use my sauce pans or frying pans any more. Between my rice cooked and my crock pot, I get along nicely without even a stove. My husband uses a toaster over for most of what he cooks. Our kitchen stove only gets used to boil tea water or to cook the turkey on Thanksgiving.

  • I’m super late to the party here, but where do you go for glass jars for storage? I’ve been getting some from Coles but they’re all one size..

    • Erin I use canning jars. I have tons. We live in the woods and that being said we always have a mouse or two in the house so I have to use jars. You can find the jars at the dollar stores or walmart or discount stores. I do know target has so pretty square ones I have some of them too. They have a silver lid, but it doesnt screw on, that is the only bad thing. Good Luck.

  • I have just downloaded your recipe book and think it is wonderful. My sister and I live together and take turns to cook. Your recipes are so wholesome, simple and look extremely tasty. i’m sure we will be much more healthy, energetic and slimmer if we follow your ideas. Thank you they all look wonderful. i intend building a tiny house sometime soon and your basic list of utensils etc. will come in very handy because some of our mother’s dishes/bowls etc will be hard to part with but i see the necessity to minimalise everything whilst maintaining necessities. The best thing about your recipes is that each is usually for one person, and after ears of experience it is easy to add for more people. The very bestt of luck in your chosen field.

  • Jules, I agree wholeheartedly on the Pyrex storage containers. I have six 3 cup rectangular ones that I LOVE and constantly use for left-overs – in fact most times my sister and I deliberately cook for four so that we always have a second sitting of that meal in the freezer. I treat them with a lot more respect that other types of left-over storage and although they are heavier than plastic, the fact that yu can also cook in them they are very valuable in our kitchen. I have almost disposed of all the other plastic containers.

  • Erin
    They have different sizes at Woollies and I’ve also picked some up from DJs.

    I agree – leftovers in pyrex definitely command more respect;)

  • I kept my 3-quart pot and 10″ skillet the same diameter so the pot lid fits both, as does my punched pie-tin universal steamer insert ($7.00). I have a 1-quart, heavy-bottom, lidded sauce pan for small tasks, 1 baking sheet & the ever useful loaf pan & 8″ cake pan. I used to store my utensils in the cake pan in the oven – flipper, wood spoon, can opener & 2 knifes – but I upgraded to a drawer to keep from bashing my knuckles when I got a grater. My mesh strainer hangs on a hook. Instead of a cutting board, I have a plastic cutting mat which is easier to handle. My tea kettle matches my 3-qrt pot & both are always on the stove. I also use “blates” (aka soup plates) because they hold a lot of salad!, and 1 silver-wear setting per person. This arrangement has worked very well for over 20 years. I didn’t know it was “minimalist” – it was just what I needed. Oh! Same thing!:)

  • Somebody explained there exists a way to get immediate updates when a web site makes a new article and never having to look at it your self, how could i do this?

  • Thanks so much for this, and for your “purge” list. My boyfriend and I share a 500 sq ft house and although our kitchen is great, minimalism is a definite requirement. It sounds like my kitchen is kind of similar to yours, with a couple exceptions:
    -no dishwasher. I do miss it but our sink is enormous, which is helpful.
    -I love my grill pan, especially when I’m cooking for just me.
    -I got a fancy keurig 1-touch coffee pot for Christmas and I love the thing. First, I save a lot of money on not going out for barista coffees, but it’s also very fast and instantly dispenses filtered hot water. Since I don’t have a microwave, heating water for tea or cocoa or broth or for cooking used to mean pulling out the electric kettle or a teapot, and I’m always losing the in the back of the cupboard or getting impatient with them- I’m going to drink the coffee anyway, so I’ve since ditched the kettle and the teapot.
    -I keep a small hand mixer for baking and I now own an immersion blender (handy but a guilty pleasure) so I ditched the whisks. For little things– salad dressing or beating an egg– I use a fork.
    -I would add tongs to my must-have list, and sets of little reusable cups and bowls– we get ours at Ikea ($1 for 6 neon plastic ones in the most heinously great colors) and I use them to hold snacks and side salads or sauces, for quick sips of something(or as oversized shot glasses), for keeping small leftovers, for scrambling eggs or mixing spices and for holding ingredients after Ive chopped them. (they tend to creep out of the kitchen into other aspects of my life, like growing little plants in them on the windowsill or holding q tips or pens or using them for rinsing paintbrushes or keeping matches in them, thus we’ve dubbed them “cups of doom” for their pending takeover.)
    -silicone steaming insert for fish, seafood and veggies

    The boyfriend goes on tour a lot for work and where tries to eat in a lot when he has a place with a kitchen. I visited him last year for 6 weeks– the apartment had an oven, stove, fridge, microwave, dishwasher, and eating dishes, but no cooking dishes. between us we had the following, and it was more than enough to cook almost every night:
    -collapsible mixing bowl– if I didn’t already own mixing bowls I’d get only silicone collapsible ones.
    -2 cup plastic measuring cup with oz, g, and cups indicated– this proved really helpful and i think i packed socks or something in it to justify the suitcase space. He has since picked up collapsible measuring cups, but I prefer the other.
    -1 good chefs knife, sheathed in cardboard to pack.
    -1 bamboo spatula (doubles as mixing spoon)
    -1 12″x18″ plastic cutting board
    -1 small saucepan
    -1 9″ metal baking dish
    -1 small skillet
    -1 travelers spice set. This was The Best Idea. Basically a tin of 20 1-oz round containers, each containing a different spice or dried herb. I found one at world market that had the basics and some blends, and them swapped some out for ones we tended to use more of at home.
    -roll of aluminum foil and some ziplock bags

    I don’t know if I’d want to stock my full-time kitchen with only that– but– you could!

  • Okay, your idea of a “minimalist kitchen” and mine are basically polar opposites. You don’t need a dishwasher if you don’t have an excessive number of dishes and utensils. Arguably, it’s practically impossible to have a minimalist kitchen if you have kids, but if you’re single, like me, you can make just about anything with the following:

    Frying pan, lidded pot, cookie sheet, coffee pot (you can use that to heat water/brew tea instead of a tea pot), George Foreman (I have a little one, which is kind of cheating since I COULD use a frying pan or the oven, but I don’t have a balcony so a grill is out of the question), chef’s knife, paring knife, cutting board, spatula, whisk, can opener, cork screw, and stirring spoon.

    My “nice to haves” include a coffee grinder, rice cooker, water pitcher with filter, and pizza cutter.

    Take into account I only own 2 plates, 2 bowls, 4 dessert/side dishes, 4 tumblers/wine glasses, and 2 water glasses. I do keep meaning to buy a couple mugs, because it gets old sipping a nice cup of fresh-brewed coffee out of a travel mug…

  • Thank you Jules for this list- I have been searching for a comprehensive list online other than Mark Bittman’ s and Miss Minimalist, the others are vague. Your list fit my search completely (and I am a full time cook/baker and have a family of five as well as practice minimalism) and aside from having five loaf pans, a rice cooker (because I cannot cook rice) and a knife block (needing to get a magnetic bar for the three knives I use), I am happy to say I do have a minimalist kitchen (at least for families who cook everything). Oh, and we do have two champagne flutes we use for wine and champagne. Thanks!

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  • Never underestimate the food storage containers! And quality ones. I learnt this the hard way and thought cheap was best but ended up buying twice as much to replace.

  • Thanks Jules. Your post is a good reminder that a lot of what we have in our kitchens is some sort of security blanket rather than actually necessary or even used. I’m not quite ready to do the big clean out yet, but you have definitely pushed me closer to the edge!

  • Hi, Just found your site… LOVE that you are Aussie and a minimalist!!! Anyway – round here “blates” are called “hungry boards” and my men wouldn’t have anything else!! Why hungry boards – cos they are like the sides of a ute – nothing slips over the sides!! Great for anything with gravy or sauce… Thanks for the lists – I will be back again – and again – and again.

  • My husband and I sold everything to move to Europe for his grad school and we will be soon starting from scratch again when we move back to the USA. For us the one thing we miss mostly (kitchen wise) is our ice cream maker! It has been a torture not to have one because we made lots of ice cream at home and they all call for different ingredients for the base. This means they will taste differently if I were to use your no churn vanilla ice cream base for example on top of that the texture can vary. I don’t make basic flavors at home because I can easily buy them in store but we love creative flavors.
    I think a minimalist lifestyle isn’t meant to deprive yourself of stuff but to rid unnecessary tools when you can accomplish the same task without them. (For us not having one is deprivation haha but I agree that every family has different taste/needs). I make rice few times a week and you truly don’t need a rice cooker for that. I’ve never had one before either. You can make bread without a bread maker and I completely agree that you don’t need a toaster. We don’t eat toasts often anyway and we just toast bread on the top stove. When we make pancakes we just use a pan, no need for a griddle.
    But ice cream is a different story for our household. If I feel like eating a delicious mint basil ice cream or a roasted cherry with rosemary goat cheese ice cream I will go ahead and use my trusty ice cream maker friend instead or buying cookies and cream from a store.
    We were craving eating waffles when we first arrived here and we bought a waffle maker that rarely gets used. I still haven’t figured out a way to make waffles without one but I don’t think I will be buying one when we move back to the USA.
    I can’t live without a food processor either and I plan on investing on a good mortar and pestle. I grew up watching my dad making different sauces and garlic pastes.

  • Great article. I always find it difficult to set up and organize my kitchen. Thanks for sharing wonderful tips to properly organize kitchen.

  • Hey Jules,
    Your list looks fine except it would appear that you are missing a nacre spoon to shovel caviar out of the tin! (Kidding)
    Larger empty peanut butter jars (plastic) are great for storage of things such as dried beans, rice, and Anaheim peppers.
    I still have two Wustof black-steel knives I bought 50 years ago. I’ve never used anything other than 2″ by 8″ oil stones to sharpen them.
    Pyrex pie plates might pass for “blates.” You can always bake a pie between meals.
    I had a piece of soapstone cut into the shape of an oversized slice of bread. It lives on top of my wood stove and makes the best toast.
    6″ and 10″ de Buyer frying pans are used daily. Proper care makes them virtually non-stick.
    2 1/2 quart and 4 quart Calphalon sauce pans are now sans noir internally.
    The pantry, however, is sufficiently overstocked in anticipation of the occasional blizzard.

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