Once a week, I will be focusing on one area in which we have been successful in living minimalistically, and one area that is still a challenge. I would have to say that our biggest success is definitely the kitchen. I’ve posted pictures of our kitchen numerous times. Here is the story of how we transformed a rather ugly kitchen into something fun and usable. This is a post about our stove, and here is a post about our refrigerator. Here is the transformation of my sink, after I polished it, per Fly Lady’s advice. This is a post about our dishes. Recently, I posted this about decluttering the cupboards.
So, today, I will be letting you know how we make it all work. How do we cook from scratch in a sparsely-appointed kitchen, and how does it make our lives easier?
First, let me tell you about cleaning. I begin each day by making a pot of coffee. While the water is heating up in the tea kettle, I usually wash the dishes from the night before and wipe the counters and the stovetop. (I try to do this right after dinner, but that usually doesn’t happen). This process is done well before the water boils. After we enjoy our coffee, I rinse out the French press, wipe the sink, spray it with a solution, and wipe it again. We then rinse our plates in hot water after each meal, using soap if necessary (it often isn’t necessary, if our food was something dry like sandwiches). This takes 3-5 minutes. Usually, the pan we used just needs to be wiped off. Sometimes I have to use water. The saucepan takes a little longer to scrape clean, especially if we have pasta. When we use the grill, there are no pans to clean. We vacuum the floor once a week, and I usually wipe the linoleum once a week, using the spray solution. We clean out the fridge before going grocery shopping, and wipe any spills with the spray solution. We don’t spend a great deal of time cleaning the kitchen.
So what about cooking? Most of our meals are very simple. We’ll have burgers or brats, with a salad on the side. Or I’ll cook up grains and cheese, with the vegetables mixed in. We’ll make pizzas with lots of veggies. Sometimes I’ll make vegetable soup out of homemade broth.
But what if we wanted to make something fancy? It’s not too hard. I could make lasagna noodles the day before. Then, I could assemble the lasagna in my saucepan and bake it in the oven. While it is cooking, I could put corn-on-the-cob on the grill (still in the husks!) and assemble the cashew salad. I could then bake apple crisp in the skillet. Voila! A nice, fancy dinner, cooked simply. Clean-up will involve washing the plates and utencils, wiping the skillet with a wet washcloth, and drying it, and washing the saucepan in hot water. The cashew salad would have been made in one of my plastic storage containers, so the leftovers would be ready to go in the fridge.
When we were staying in Ossineke last summer, we had a multitude of dishes to use, as well as a dishwasher. We found that living that way was not easier. Sure, we just put our dishes in the dishwasher, after we were done with them, then ran it when it was full. But pre-washing the dishes before, then putting them away after, actually took a lot more time than just rinsing 3 plates. Using more pots and pans also resulted in more clean-up.
So, have you found your family’s “happy place” with kitchen decluttering? How do you keep your kitchen under control?