Minimalist - Part 1

What Can You Live Without? – Part 1

May 7, 2017

I have a lot of stuff. Like many, it’s accumulated slowly in the 15+ years since I went off to college. Having not moved in nearly 10 years – which typically serves as a good time to “purge” – has only contributed to the clutter.

While not a New Year’s resolution, I did start over the holidays to cull my stuff down one room at a time. I was successful removing boxes and bags of items from every room, closet and cabinet. But I still have a ton of stuff. Why?

The desire to cleanse and reduce largely came from a planned friends visit where I wanted to be sure everything had its place. I’d also started reading and researching ways to reduce my own carbon footprint through removing unnecessary packaging and waste. While that’s a story for another day, I did find myself fascinated by the “minimalist” movement. I won’t do it justice here, but essentially it’s only having exactly what you need to survive providing room for other quality of life items like health, friendships, passion, etc. I watched a video of a man who had reduced his possessions down to less than 200. While at first glance that may sound like a lot, think of it … 200 items, inclusive of each article of clothing, each piece of flatware, glass, shoe, drinking cup. Less than 200.

I’m come to realize while I could pursue that way of life, it’s not for me. But there are certainly elements worth emulating in an effort to reduce my own use of the planet and lead a more fulfilling life. Again, another post for another day.

All this research got me thinking, “What could I live without?” Or more accurately, “What is the absolute minimum that I would need and couldn’t live without?” The kitchen immediately came to mind.

I love my kitchen. I love to cook, as you can find my favorite recipes. I have almost every useful, practical item you would ever find or need in a household kitchen. No, I don’t have the banana slicer as it’s a unitasker, but I do have the best knives, pans, storage containers, spatulas, etc. that I’ve accumulated in that same 15+ years.

In Part 1, we’ll start with the items I would absolutely take with me for my next kitchen, i.e. what I couldn’t live without. For ease, I’m leaving out kitchen items that could also be used for dining, i.e. a fork to flip bacon or a bowl to scramble an egg. Maybe that’s another part …

Le Crueset Cast Iron SkilletLe Creuset Cast Iron Skillet
This was the VERY first item that came to mind, and yes, I’m being utterly specific in the brand because it’s THE trusted brand for cast iron, especially enamel-coated cast iron pots and pans. I’ve owned my blue 10 inch skillet for nearly 15 years and it has developed that perfect southern-inspired patina. It’s a wonderful pan and my absolute go-to for cooking anything over any level of heat. I’ve cooked bacon and eggs, pork fried rice, and my favorite homemade pizzas in this skillet. Every kitchen should have one. Period.
$165 but you can find on sale, or their outlet is fantastic.

Chef's KnifeStainless Steel Chef’s Knife
The only knife you truly need. While I have other pairing knives, serrated blades for tomatoes and bread, everything can be done with this one knife. I reach for it all the time for chopping, mincing, carving, pealing (be careful) you name it. My kitchen would be entirely incomplete without this blade, and yes, the one I’ve been using I’ve had for more than 15 years and it’s just as sharp as ever. Invest in a great solid one-piece chef’s knife and you won’t be disappointed.
$10-$150 invest in a knife with a single piece of metal running from the blade into the handle.

Cutting BoardCutting Board
I have a few, but the one I use the most and the very first one I purchased is a small green hard plastic cutting board that I purchased late one college night at Walmart. It’s small, fits in the dishwasher with ease, can easily be soaked and scrubbed to disinfect, and perfectly gives when chopping, dicing, or slicing. It’s the perfect complement to my chef’s knife. Yes, I do have different boards now for meat, vegetables, etc. to avoid cross contamination, but this is the first board in my hands when preparing food.
$10 and up. Avoid glass or marble for chopping, as it will dull the blade of the knife. Wood and bamboo are great for fruits and veggies.

8 qt Stock Pot8 Quart Pot
Whether it’s for rice, making pasta, or chicken soup, a solid high-wall pot is a must. I debated including my dutch oven instead, which would also be a fantastic inclusion, but try as hard as I might, I can’t imaging boiling water and making pasta in it. I absolutely could, but this pot just feels more versatile and is available on the cheap.
$30 and up. Consider a layered core base/bottom as it will help regulate and heat better than a single-layer pot. It’ll cost more, but will heat and cook better.

Tupperware Silicon SpatulaSilicone Spatula
At the end of the day, you still need something to use while cooking. I debated flat spatulas, large spoons, tongs, etc. However, a solid large silicone spatula is perfect for mixing, scraping the contents of a bowl, enduring high heat for stirring in a pot of boiling water or soup, and the tip is still thin enough to flip a pancake. My large blue one is invaluable in the kitchen, especially for baking.
$19 but will LAST. I have an earlier version of this model and use regularly. It can withstand high heat and easily cleans in the dishwasher.

I’m sure your list would vary. I thought about what would, and wouldn’t make the cut. I love my peeler, but a knife can do the job. I love my medium pot, but it’s not versatile enough to make pasta. I’ve limited the above to five items, but I’m sure I have more than 1,000 in my kitchen, pantry, and linen closet converted to a secondary pantry.

What would you take? What would be your absolute MUST kitchen essentials? Share below in the comments section.

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Basics, Cast Iron, Chef's Knife, Kitchen, Le Crueset, Minimalist, Skillet, Tupperware,