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Tools for a Tiny Kitchen

Earlier this week, I posted an article about entertaining in our tiny house and a reader asked:

“It would be interesting to see a post/pictures of all your kitchen stuff. What equipment and tools did you keep and what did you toss? I’m wondering what’s truly necessary for a tiny home.”

At one time we had a very full and cluttered kitchen. For example, we had over two dozen coffee mugs, three dozen wine glasses, and enough china to serve 40 people. Plus we had a microwave, blender, coffee maker and other odds and ends that collected dust. All of that stuff was donated to charity about four years ago.

I’ve discovered that I don’t need a whole lot of kitchen stuff (or a refrigerator) to make yummy food. I only need a few good tools and fresh, local food. Plus superb company helps too.

Below are photos of the core items we use in our tiny kitchen. Let me know if you have questions.

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The essentials: Olive oil, salt and pepper

A cast iron pan and splatter screen.

A well loved paella pan.

4 small wine glasses from Ikea.

4 cute blue mugs. Our friends Dave and Trina gave us these little mugs. They work well for coffee and tea.

Coffee making supplies. Two insulated Kleen Kanteens and a steel GSI H2Jo filter.

Corkscrew and bottle opener. This is one of the few wedding gifts we’ve kept. It came in an epic wine basket, filled with wine and beautiful glasses. Unfortunately, I broke all of the glasses. I’m very clumsy.

A salad/mixing bowl. My mom got this for me as a wedding gift. It’s was made by a potter in Red Bluff, CA.

4 plates and 3 bowls. Most of our kitchen stuff can be used for bike camping too. For instance, we’ve taken these plates on many camping trips.

A silver bowl for cooking pasta and other goodies, plus two small bowls for camping.

Tools for measuring.

Ikea strainer. We bought this strainer for $1! It’s been in our kitchen for years. I love it!

Forks, knives, and other odds and ends.

A cheese grader and scissors.

Food storage containers.

A well loved kettle/tea pot.

What’s in your kitchen? Share in the comments section.

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If you want to set-up a minimalist kitchen, read:

How to Set-up a Minimalist Kitchen: Part 1 Things to Avoid  

How to Set-up a Minimalist Kitchen: Part 2 The Essentials and The Nice-to-Haves 

– Need help simplifying? Read my friend Joshua’s book, Simplify. It recently debuted on Amazon for the Kindle and became a best seller!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Matt Wilkinson November 17, 2011, 9:40 am

    Hi Tammy! Wonderful pictures of your home. Where did you get that teapot if I may ask? I am a tea lover and I’m on the lookout for a new teapot. What do you like/dislike about that one?

  • Jt Clough | Big Island Dog November 17, 2011, 9:41 am

    Good stuff. Last week I had my sister and brother in law come visit us at our new home in Hawaii. They have a long time hobby of shopping. She has a set of plates for every holiday and it goes on and on and on.

    We got rid of most of our things before moving to Hawaii. I have to admit that I was a bit something… not sure of the word, embarrassed, concerned, feeling not adequate in the first part of their visit. We only have a list of things somewhat similar to your list above. What I found out was it was really great. It was easy. And it was more than interesting to watch the reaction of my family to see I’m perfectly happy without a lot of things.

    They also did their shopping thing. I went with them. But didn’t buy anything. It was noticed. I think they thought it was no fun for me not to get anything. For me it turned out to be quite enlightening. I really honestly have made the shift. I didn’t WANT to get anything.

    Love your tiny house.

    • Rachel November 18, 2011, 8:12 am

      @Jt Clough – I get this all the time from family. I have yet to figure out a diplomatic way to ask them not to buy me something that will just end up donated to charity later though! 😉 Usually, if I’m not shopping with them, they assume it’s because I’m destitute, take pity on me and ask me what I want, to which I always reply, “I have everything I want and need”. And then they buy me something anyway. I have to be very careful what comments I make about items I see along their shopping adventures. I ended up with an avocado slicer last time (an Avocado slicer??!! Really??!!) because I mentioned how “interesting” it was. I was actually marveling at the ridiculousness of such a thing and trying to be polite about it at the same time. Whoops!

      I wonder if Tammy has any tips for asking well=meaning relatives to cease the parade of material gifts?

      • Tammy Strobel November 18, 2011, 8:16 am

        @Rachel – Check out this post: Christmas with the Minimalists. 🙂

        • Rachel November 18, 2011, 8:27 am

          Love it! Thanks!

      • Shadlyn Wolfe November 18, 2011, 8:26 am

        I’ve found I can’t stop family from buying me things, but I can direct their purchases somewhat. I’ve been working on training my mom to buy me consumables: Paints, canvas, teas, chocolates, yarn and so forth. It’s still another thing to store, but it’s something that will get used and then be gone (or in the case of yarn/paintings, used differently because I made what I really needed).

        Plus, I’m saving tons of money on my hobbies because she’ll buy me a year’s worth at the holidays because she’s not sure how much I need. 🙂

  • Dave November 17, 2011, 9:46 am

    This has been one of the most difficult parts of our downsizing. An old beer is bottle not quite as effective as the old rolling pin 😉

  • Nick Danforth November 17, 2011, 10:05 am

    I love to cook, so simplifying the kitchen has been quite the challenge, but my list is now nearly the same as yours. The things I use most regularly…

    Salt, pepper, olive oil
    2 high-quality skillets
    1 sharp chef’s knife
    Cutting board
    2 plates, 2 bowls, 2 sets of utensils, 2 coffee mugs
    Deep roasting pan (great for veggies, casseroles, etc.)

    • Tammy Strobel November 17, 2011, 10:07 am

      @Nick – Nice! That’s one thing I forgot to take a photo of. Our super tiny cutting board. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Nick Danforth November 17, 2011, 10:57 am

        Sure thing!

        I also use my AeroPress every day to make coffee at least once. Usually 2 or 3 times.

  • Dave November 17, 2011, 10:10 am

    Our kitchen probably houses a higher percentage of our belongings than any other room in our apartment, but here is a basic overview 🙂

    http://givetothewheat.blogspot.com/2010/03/equipment-we-use.html

    Though, there have been a few changes since then, I should do an updated post (and some better photos).

  • Stacey November 17, 2011, 10:42 am

    Love seeing what’s in your kitchen! I bake like a crazy person (bread in the oven and pizza on the grill!), so I’d have to add an outdoor charcoal grill (basic Weber kettle) and an oven-safe dish/pan.

    • Rebecca B. A. R. November 18, 2011, 11:16 am

      That’s what the cast iron pan is for–you can use it in the oven, too, or just about anywhere. Love them! Plus, if you get Lodge brand cast iron things, they are made in Pennsylvania, USA!

  • Shadlyn Wolfe November 17, 2011, 10:48 am

    The kitchen is one area where I still have an abundance…and 90% of it gets used at least once a month! I love to bake and like to cook sometimes so having bread pans and cookie sheets and the like is important to me. I admire people who can simplify the way you do, but I’d miss kneading a loaf of bread and peeking in on it while it rises.

    I’m also not sure how anyone survives without a timer’d coffee pot greeting them with warm coffee when their eyes open in the morning. *wink*

    With that said, I’ve gotten rid of a lot of items that can just be replaced with a paring knife, and still more appliances that only served to remove me from the experience of learning to really cook. Food processer? Faugh! Chop! Bread maker? Faugh! Kneed that dough!

    • Dave November 17, 2011, 11:58 am

      Yeah, at this point, I think the only electric appliances we have are a hand mixer (which only gets used for very hard doughs, or things like creaming butter/sugar) and a small stick blender – we use mortar and pestle, chop things by hand, have a hand-crank coffee grinder, whip cream with a whisk (a copper bowl is a worthy investment!), a food mill for mashing things, and a chemex pot for coffee.

      I love that it forces us to be involved in our cooking more directly, and I actually love not having a dishwasher (most of the time), because then you get to carefully handle all your things, get a feel for them, and interact with them even more. It’s a process of becoming familiar.

    • Tammy Strobel November 17, 2011, 1:32 pm

      @Shadlyn – You’d be surprised what one can do with a cast iron pan. We’ve baked cornbread and all kinds of goodies in it. Although we might get a tiny baking sheet. I’m sure we can make cookies in the cast iron pan, but it would be easier with a sheet.

      • Shadlyn Wolfe November 17, 2011, 3:25 pm

        @Tammy Gimme a couple more years, then. ^_^ Seems like every three months or so I notice 4-5 things I just don’t need anymore; eventually I’ll probably get down to some of my baking gear.

        Not anytime soon, though, tee hee!

        @Dave I don’t know that you could pry my dishwasher away from me yet, but I am really enjoying mixing things by hand with a fork or a whisk and taking the time to really get a feel for the food I’m making. Especially when I’m baking, which is more recreational than the family dinner – the latter being a daily event that must be done will ye, nil ye, the former a once or twice weekly indulgence taken out of a day.

  • Sherri Dunham | The Budding Lotus November 17, 2011, 10:59 am

    I think kitchen utensils is one area that can’t be applied across the board. My husband and I live an extremely simple and modest lifestyle in a small home but one of the ways we improve our quality of living is through making a great variety of delicious homemade meals and desserts at home. When we moved to Costa Rica, we had to make some very tough decisions about what to give away/sell. For instance, we make a lot of one-pot meals, so we need a large pot. We also make skillet meals, sauces, and puddings, etc. So we also need 2 sized skillets and a sauce pan in order to make some of these things without compromising the process. We also make a variety of ethnic foods so we’ve have to rebuild our vast collection of spices. Baking supplies are also tough for us to live without. Cake pans, a bar pan, a spring-form pan, etc. are really essential things in our kitchen because baking brings me such joy and is one of my “flow” activities. But, I have noticed that I CAN indeed survive without my kitchen aid mixer and food processor (though they do make life easier). I think this is a great post because it asks you to question whether or not you really need all that kitchen junk we tend to accumulate over the years and instead really look at the items that are actually used on a daily or weekly basis. I discovered that I didn’t need 3 large boxes (!) worth of kitchen “junk” and I’m glad we have finally pared down to the essentials *for us.*

    • Monica November 18, 2011, 4:30 am

      exactly. i think that’s key when comparing any decluttering/downsizing. how you actually live. i’m also a baker, and generally love cooking, so i also use baking sheets and pans and such. and i guess if you entertain often, 4 mugs/glasses isn’t going to be realistic. it’s about paring down to what you really use, rather than how little one other family makes do with, right?

      • Tammy Strobel November 18, 2011, 8:18 am

        @Monica – You’re right on with this comment: “it’s about paring down to what you really use, rather than how little one other family makes do with.”

        It’s all about figuring out what works for your life situation, and determining, needs, wants, etc. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

  • Hillary November 17, 2011, 11:40 am

    Love this post. I’m about to do some kitchen inventory as well. You make it look so pretty!

  • megan November 17, 2011, 12:12 pm

    I love that you have the fork /knife/spoon. Great for camping! I could see myself using that every day. thanks for posting the pictures! I’ll keep your kitchen in mind when I move out.

  • Kairi November 17, 2011, 12:31 pm

    Hi Tammy,
    I love your minimal kitchen items. We too have downsized our kitchen supplies a well. I got rid of our blender and donated it, we replaced that with a hand blender. I’m in love with it. It fits in a drawer and can be used to blend yummy soups right in the pot on the stove. Can’t wait to make butternut squash soup! It’s amazing when you downsize all of the kitchen clutter, there is always a smaller simpler replacement or solution that doesn’t take up much space at all. I must try your coffee cup and filter idea and then I can get rid of my coffeemaker too!

  • Rick Roberts November 17, 2011, 1:55 pm

    Hiya, Tammy. I want to know where you got that awesome cast iron fry pan that is actually shaped like a proper pan instead of a “cornbread skillet”?

    • Tammy Strobel November 17, 2011, 2:53 pm

      @Rick – I’m not sure. I think we ordered it from amazon.com a few years ago. 🙂

    • Logan November 17, 2011, 3:26 pm

      Hi Rick,

      We have two cast iron pans. One is a 10 inch lodge pan (thick and heavy) and the other is a 13 inch paella pan (thin and light). The lodge pans are wonderful. The pans are inexpensive even when purchased new and they are so robust that its not uncommon to find 20 year old pans at thrift stores that work perfectly well after some “seasoning”. :^)

  • Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi November 17, 2011, 8:01 pm

    Our kitchen is our most “cluttered” space! However, we pretty much use everything there. Our three main devices (other than what you posted) are blender, food processor, and toaster!

  • Karen Shackles November 17, 2011, 9:33 pm

    My everyday used top kitchen items:

    Olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder
    Cutting board, large knife and paring knife
    Kitchen scissors
    Stock pot, large & small skillets & large & small saucepans w/ lids
    Salad spinner – it’s bulky but I love it, and it can double as a strainer and large bowl
    Mugs for hot drinks
    Water bottle
    Tea kettle
    Coffee maker
    Glass storage containers with lids
    Crock pot
    Spatula, tongs, ladle, and large spoon for cooking/serving
    Plates, bowls, glasses, and forks/spoons/butter & steak knives
    Grater, whisk, peeler, and apple slicer
    Measuring cups and spoons
    Corkscrew/bottle opener

  • subhorup dasgupta November 18, 2011, 1:59 am

    Your pictures make this post a treat. We set up our minimal (and frugal) kitchen three years back and wrote about it on my blog, but over the years, some amount of build-up has taken place. We managed without a refrigerator for a long time too. One of the problems we have faced is with gifts for the kitchen since people who looked at our kitchen always felt we needed some things and began gifting them to us. Seeing the discussion, I thought your readers may like some of these links. Decluttering the kitchen http://goo.gl/p1CFt , Living Without a Refrigerator http://goo.gl/NBg66 , and How to set up a minimalist kitchen http://goo.gl/TG0ZN.

  • Monica November 18, 2011, 4:21 am

    i don’t have a cluttered kitchen, but do have a fair amount of stuff, including several mugs and glasses. when friends pop around, i need them. so what do you do when entertaining?

    • Tammy Strobel November 18, 2011, 8:12 am

      Monica – I have 4 blue cups and 4 wine glasses. I made note of that in the description above the photos. I chose to only photograph one glass instead of all 4. If we have more people, than glasses we ask that they bring their own.

      As far as entertaining goes, please read this post. Thanks!

  • Daniel November 18, 2011, 4:31 am

    Tammy, How do you like your GSI H2Jo filter? I’m contemplating going to get one today so I can stop using those expensive K-Cups

  • Brenda November 18, 2011, 5:19 am

    Tammy,
    I just have to share this:
    When I saw the picture of your thermos and coffee filter, I did a double take. The filter looked exactly like the drain that my roommates and I have been using for the kitchen sink! When I got home, I took a look at it and sure enough, it looked exactly like your filter. Turns out that when we moved to this place, the former tenants had left it by the sink so we assumed it was a drain to catch food particles. Sometimes it would get clogged and the sink would start to fill up, but we still assumed it came with the sink! I’m so glad that we now know the proper use for this item…I will have to see if the former tenants also left behind an insulated Kleen Kanteen. If not, I might just get one myself!

  • Kathy Parker November 18, 2011, 5:39 am

    Hello Tammy!!
    I guess I’m not really a minimalist! That being said, I know I’m a foodie… lol After downsizing last year big time, Chris and I bought this house so we could garden. What isn’t grown by us, I purchase from the Amish markets. Preserving has become my middle name. The world could collapse and we and many others could eat for a year. ( or longer if we’re careful ) I’ve relearned the Yankee ingenuity 🙂 Now understand we live in the NE and it gets cold here, and I hate going to the grocery store. So could I keep a kitchen like yours? Nope, but I’m proud that you live your values and I applaud your successes. I love your site and can’t wait for each post.
    Blessings on you both, Kathy

  • Sunday November 18, 2011, 5:51 am

    you didn’t mention a cookbook. how did you know you could cook so much in a cast iron pan? one of my goals is to get down to a kitchen like yours: just the essentials and nothing that requires electricity. i’m not sure exactly what i’ll still be able to cook though. i absolutely love that salad bowl from your mom: gorgeous!!

    • Tammy Strobel November 18, 2011, 8:03 am

      @Sunday – I’ve checked a lot of cookbooks out of the library. Logan has one. But usually I use the library, the internet or get recipes from friends. 🙂

    • Dave November 18, 2011, 8:09 am

      You can definitely cook a lot without electricity, you just need a few of the right tools – we cook almost every night, and 98% of the time without anything that requires electricity (except our stove, which is electric, unfortunately). If you want some examples/recipes, feel free to check out http://givetothewheat.blogspot.com.

  • Mark Owen-Ward November 18, 2011, 1:42 pm

    I’ve owned 2 kitchen items for 20 years. Other things come and go but these stay. One is a global vegetable knife and the other is an alessi stove top espresso maker. I have a few other items but these 2 are the core!

  • Maria from Sweden November 19, 2011, 1:28 am

    Reading the post about the kitchen-tools I now wonder: What kind of clothes do you keep?
    Great site by the way. I get inspired every time I read it!

  • andreas schmidt November 19, 2011, 7:19 am

    hi. i discovered your blog today. sweet.
    i’m also in the progress of downsizing (from a 400sq ft mobile home to a van – not because i have to but because i want to).
    funny thing is – i use many of the same items as you do. i also have: – pepper grinder, (sea) salt and quality olive oil (gets you a long way) – a cast iron pan, – i also have a klean kanteen since years, not the insulated one tho, – i also have these squishy bowls, – and i also have that “mora” knife, the far left one with the red ends. i think it’s the best all around knife you can get for the money, – i have the same cheese grater and – i use recycled glass jars for storage, – i also have that “spork” but i think that was a unnecessary investment – i also have the same good ol gsi water kettle.
    anyway – my tip would be to try chopsticks. in addition to one little knife, i always used these as my all in one kitchen utensil and “silverware” when backpacking. a nice thing about chopsticks is that you don’t feel the need to really wash and scrub them – just use a bit of water and wipe them off.
    another tip i have – i’m going with only one cup, one wine glass, one shot glass ;), one plate, one spoon etc per household member (which is gonna be 1 in my case) once i hit the road. in this way i will not have unwashed dishes sit around (and just haul less clutter around in general). the downside here is that entertaining guest will be a bit more of a challenge 🙂
    cheers,
    andreas

  • Lindsey November 20, 2011, 10:31 am

    Like you, I am a kitchen minimalist and I cook a lot – so I have pared down to what I must have (for me).

    My most favorites: glass measuring cup, glass mixing bowl, a good pizza stone (I use it for pizza and everything beyond) and a good whisk.

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