The above photo is the nice and fairly large kitchen we had while we were living in Corolla, NC. We hosted a lot of people in that house! It turns out during the winter season you can get some really amazing rates in the Outer Banks. For considerably less than what we were paying to live near DC in a small 700 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment, we were able to rent a 3 story 8 bedroom, 6 bathroom house with a game room, 2 kitchens, media center, a hot tub, and oh yeah, the Atlantic Ocean. We hosted friends for Thanksgiving, we hosted my husbands entire work team, which was 12 guys and 1 girl and me cooking every meal, dessert and snack! For 4 days I cooked for a group of non plant-based people, and they really seemed to enjoy it (no one snuck out to get bbq). And for Christmas we had my family over. One of the things we did for the large group was to go to the party store and buy a few disposable chafing dishes, burners and pans. It cost about 10 dollars for all 4 days. We don’t always have house that can host lots of people, but that house was a really nice treat in that regard.
And to contrast – this was one of our kitchens in San Diego (our small shack on Mission Beach) we couldn’t open the oven door with out hitting the cabinets across from it.
We have one medium sized duffle bag to fit all of our kitchen tools. Most of the houses we rent have a few pots/pans, but generally the supplies we carry with us are the only ones we need. We also have a few tricks for making the kitchen less chaotic overall. Some of the houses we have stayed in have huge kitchen spaces, other houses we are lucky if the two of us can be in the kitchen at the same time. We are always having to adjust the way we cook and use a kitchen. I think that an organized kitchen with few gadgets leads to a much healthier life overall, and makes life so much more simple and less complicated when it comes to the way you eat.
Simplified Kitchen tools:
We cook all of our vegetables/grains/beans in our pressure cooker. Likewise, all soups & sauces are cooked in our pressure cooker. Many thanks to Christy Morgan (Blissful Chef) for encouraging me to get one, it is by far my favorite kitchen tool, even more than having a blender. We don’t necessarily pressure cook every thing – but the pot is fairly big, so we can cook any pasta’s or soups that we might not want/need to have pressure cooked.
If you have never used a pressure cooker – they are super easy to use, and you will LOVE it. Black beans take about 10 min to cook, chickpeas 15-20 min to cook, kidney beans 10-15 min to cook, cauliflower takes about 5 min, potato’s take around 7 min. It’s like magic. And we save A LOT of money over using canned beans, and we save lots of sodium as well, some of the places we have lived have 0 options for no salt added beans. It makes our food life a lot easier, and a lot faster.
Just be sure it’s sharp and can do the job for anything from fruit to hard vegetables! You only need one knife!
It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a large one that will last you for a while, ours does not have a lid (I think we left it at a house we were staying in). The more deep the pan is the more you will be able to do with it. We cook vegetables, mushrooms, spinach and make our “stir fry” in our frying pan. Don’t want things to stick? Instead of oil use water or low sodium vegetable broth!
We have a smaller Black and Decker blender, it was on sale at Target for 29.99 and has been working just fine for almost 2 years now. My husband likes green smoothies on occasion, and I enjoy making “ice-cream” and some other dips, sauces and dressings with it. No need for a fancy blender, although I prefer using one that has a glass pitcher, they seem to last longer.
1 nice spatula (one that won’t melt by accident)
We have an oxo spatula – has held up for about 2 years now. They are under 10 dollars.
1 small vegetable peeler:
Again, we have an oxo. I mostly use it to peel zucchini and eggplant, so if you don’t eat fruit/vegetables that require a lot of peeling, you might be able to skip this one.
1 baking pan:
We have a 11×13 pan, paid 8 dollars for it, works great, even when making things like cookies.
Keeping the kitchen less chaotic:
1. Implement a “1 rule”. My husband and I use 1 glass, 1 plate, 1 bowl, 1 spoon and 1 fork. When we are done eating we wash whatever dishes we used to eat. This means we never use the dishwasher, and we never have a sink full of dishes. You could do this with kids that are old enough to do dishes, and you could even get everyone a separate color/design dish set if you wanted to get really fancy.
2. Clean as you cook. This is something I learned from my mother. By time you are finished preparing a meal, the kitchen should be nearly clean, except if you have something in the oven. Makes life a lot easier, and you don’t have to worry about cleaning up after a meal.
3. Organize your refrigerator and pantry: (helps you eat healthier!) Have a place for everything. Make sure that healthy food is easily accesible. When you get home from grocery shopping, chop and prepare any vegetables and fruit so they are ready to go when you are really craving a treat. If you buy grapes, wash and de-stem them, and put them in a container so that there is no effort involved in eating a healthy treat. Same goes for vegetables like carrots, celery, brocoli, cauliflower, make sure you can easily grab cut up, cleaned vegetables, you will start to make a lot more healthy choices!
4. Clean kitchen sink every night. There is this funny organization site online called “Fly Lady” one of her rules is to have a clean kitchen sink every night, if you’ve been following every thing else, this should not be a huge problem, but if not, getting the kitchen sink cleaned before you go to bed is a great habit, and you’ll have a fresh start in the morning!
5. Get rid of things you don’t use! Before we started traveling, we had tons of kitchen tools that we never used. Sure, we might use them once a year or something, but was it really worth that item taking up valuable real-estate in our condo? Figure out what you really do need, then get a big box, put every thing you don’t think you’ll use on a daily basis in that big box. Store the big box, and if in 6 months you don’t touch the big box, it’s time to give it away or sell the stuff in it. Make your kitchen de-cluttered! One of the first things we do when we get to a new house is clear out cabinets and move things to a hall or bedroom closet, all that stuff gets in the way. So if you are giving up coffee (which you really should) get rid of your coffee maker, free up some space! If you’ve decided you don’t want to have bread anymore, get rid of your toaster. Getting rid of convenience kitchen tools will help you get healthier as well! (you really DON’T need that fondue set anymore!)
Think about ways you can simplify your kitchen, start this week by getting rid of 5 things in your kitchen!
some more kitchens we’ve had:
(large kitchen in Sedona) (small kitchen in California)
and lastly, this is every thing we own, plus a few bags of groceries! That black duffle has all of our kitchen supplies.