Ace of Space: Kitchen Essentials

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A few years ago my kitchen overflowed with excess stuff. We donated our microwave, bread machine, wok, toaster, electric grill and more to the local thrift store. If you're in the process of downsizing your home consider reducing your kitchen stuff to the minimum.

Contrary to popular belief you don't need expensive kitchen equipment (or fancy cooking techniques) to create mouth-watering meals. Since we moved into a tiny studio, with a tiny kitchen, we have more space and constantly cook good grub.

The downsizing left me with the following essential items:

1. Basic dishes and flatware
Reduce the number. I have enough plates, bowls and flatware to serve 4 people. However, most couples I know have enough dishes and flatware to serve an army, yet live in tiny apartments. Reducing the number of items in your cabinets will give you more space and decrease the amount of dishes you wash everyday.

2. A cutting board
I love my thrift-store cutting board. The plastic is recycled and it's easy to store. If you don't have a stellar cutting board, check out the Epicurean Cutting Surface. It's inexpensive and you can put it in your dishwasher and oven.

3. A stove-top pressure cooker
When we downsized to one pot we purchased a pressure cooker that can be used for multipurpose cooking. With the pressure-sealing gasket it's a great tool for fast and energy efficient cooking. Without the gasket it's a great normal-use pot for heating up leftovers or cooking pasta dishes. One pot is perfect for our needs. The 4-quart size feeds about 4 people. If you have a big family, you might need a larger one.

4. A 10″ cast iron skillet
Cast iron skillets are the best invention ever because it distributes the heat evenly over the cooking surface. And for some reason cooking with cast iron makes food taste even better.

5. A baking sheet
A baking sheet is perfect for cookies and biscuits. I use an "Air Bake" sheet that is double walled. The air between the two walls insulates the temperature on the baking surface so you don't burn the bottoms of your cookies or biscuits!

6. Two quality knives.
Cutting vegetables, fruit and bread requires a few quality knives. You'll need an eight-inch chef knife for chopping and a four-inch pairing knife for small tasks that require more control. Why not buy a cheap knife? Cheap knives dull quickly requiring more effort to cut. More effort means less control of the knife, and that can cause kitchen accidents.

7. A stovetop kettle, a drip coffee filter, and an insulated cup
Most of my friends and family members love drinking tea and coffee. We got rid of our automatic coffee pot and now make our coffee by the cup, using a cone filter system. It's easy and my coffee stays super hot. Rather than using an automatic pot to heat up our water we use a kettle.

8. Food storage containers
Since we are eating out less and cooking at home more, we've invested in containers to store leftovers and bulk food. My bulk food containers were purchased at IKEA. But I also use Mason jars. They are cheap and store rice, dried fruit and other goodies really well!

So where to begin?
Set aside some time on the weekend and inventory the contents of your kitchen. Think about what you need for cooking and what you actually use. Put all the stuff you don't need in a pile and donate those items to your local thrift store.

When cooking in a tiny kitchen it's important to remember: Less is more.

Minimalist Cooking Resources

What are your cooking essentials? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Tammy Strobel blogs at RowdyKittens about simple living and is the author of Simply Car-free: How to Pedal Toward Financial Freedom and a Healthier Life.

The Ace of Space is a bi-weekly column that will provide you with the tips and tools to live lightly and creatively in a small space.
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