How to Simplify Your Kitchen in your Tiny House

Mariah

Guest post by Mariah Coz of www.cometcamper.com

As we gear up for another awesome session of my Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course, I wanted to share with you some of my tips for making life easier in your tiny kitchen.  As you guys know, I’m all about simplifying our needs and using less (in every aspect of our lives). I’ve downsized my life into 100 sq. ft. , and then again into just 35 square foot when my partner and I decided to live out of our custom converted Honda Element micro-camper. I’ve learned quite a few things about downsizing from making these two drastic transitions, and I have so much to share with you. If you like my tips from below, you’ll love the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course. Registration is now open and class begins on August 10th, so you’ll want to save your spot by signing up here.

I believe that occasional-use Kitchen Toys are your enemy when you’re trying to downsize and simplify your kitchen. Those things that take up a lot of space but only get used once a year? I say ditch it. Living in a tiny space is all about NOT planning for the “what ifs” and “every possible scenario”. You don’t need anything in your kitchen that serves only one purpose, unless you’re a total foodie and baking is your life (in which case do whatever you want!).

And if you’re trying to go off-grid with your tiny house, you’ll thank me for lessening your electric load!

simplify your kitchen

The Kitchen Toys:
What you don’t need (unless you can convince me otherwise):

  • Ice cream maker
  • electric pop corn popper
  • Microwave
  • Fancy food processors that take a long time to come apart and are hard to clean
  • Fancy China
  • Real Silverware in a velvet-lined case (from your wedding)
  • Specialized Glassware: An assortment of wine glasses, Martini glasses, and beer mugs in every shape and 8 of each? You need as many vessels as there are people in your household, and no more!
  • Cheap Mixers – just use a spoon and a bowl, no need for an electrical appliance here.
  • Toaster – grilled toast tastes better!
  • Bundt cake form
  • any type of special cake form
  • fancy baking supplies for frosting and cupcake making
  • “holiday” anything – if it has a “theme” like thanksgiving or christmas, get rid of it. Just get one nice set of dishes that can be used for every single day.
  • a block of 12 knives. You only need one or two really nice knives, and a sharpener.
  • Anything “As Seen On TV” that was meant to make your life better but got pushed to the back of the drawer.
  • Cookbooks. Any recipe can be found online, there is no need to keep a bunch of cookbooks (unless it was your great great grandmothers or something very special!).

If you haven’t used it in the last 2 months, you really don’t need it. You need the right tools, not more of the useless gadgets you see at the kitchen stores!

Mariah's Comet Camper

My Tiny Kitchen Essentials Inventory:
This is the stuff I use on a regular basis, things that you should definitely include in your kitchen!

  • One medium sized cast iron pan (I love cast iron!)
  • One small saucepan
  • 2 plate-bowls from Ikea – these are the only vessels I will ever need. It’s like a plate and a bowl combined. Genius.
  • 2 sets of silverware
  • one French Press
  • 2 coffee mugs
  • 1 tea strainer for loose leaf
  • 1 Tea pot
  • 1 set of various plastic containers for leftovers – no plastic wrap.
  • Citrus juicer (hand powered, of course)
  • 1 cutting board
  • 1 Pyrex or other baking pan (not 5 or 10 or one in every single size, just one).
  • 1 colander
  • 1 nice knife
  • 1 spatula
  • 1 multi-purpose measuring cup, not a “set” of nesting ones.
  • 1 can opener
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 mixing bowl

The One-Bowl Method:
My partner Matt and I found one single plate-bowl (it’s a wide, medium shallow bowl from Ikea) that we love enough to use exclusively every day. You can eat almost anything out of it, except maybe a steak (for cutting reasons). Breakfast, lunch, or dinner – we really only need one multi-purpose vessel!

Simplifying the Fridge:
In your small home you will most likely have a small fridge. The good news is that it’s hard to stash lots of unused and unhealthy stuff in a tiny fridge. Fermented foods are a great way to have healthy, probiotic foods that don’t require refrigeration. Your fridge should only be home to the essentials. Here is a list of items that don’t need refrigeration so that you can declutter that icebox!

  • Eggs – don’t need refrigeration unless they have always been refrigerated. If you buy eggs that are cold from a fridge section, let them come to room temperature overnight. This will cause a small amount of condensation and moisture to form on the eggs, just wipe it off with a towel so they are dry and they will be fine.
  • Ghee (clarified butter – so good!)
  • Most fresh fruits and vegetables – It drives me nuts when my mom puts tomatoes in the fridge! That’s not good! It makes the vegetable actually go bad faster.
  • Bread – Maybe it’s just my mom, but she puts bread in the fridge too! Makes it go bad faster.
  • Potatoes
  • Honey
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Peanut Butter
  • Bread
  • Bananas
  • Baked Goods
  • Oils
  • Apples

And that’s it! Those are my most essential strategies for simplifying and downsizing your kitchen. Most people have out of control kitchen situations, and feel pretty bad for giving away expensive kitchen gadgets. I give you permission to ditch the crap you don’t use and make room for a simpler, de-cluttered life!

Tiny Transition E-Course 800 Button

If you want to join me and a class full of motivated tiny-hopefuls like yourself for an intense journey to simplified homes, lives, closets, and minds, come hang out in the next session of the Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course. You’ll have access to a private class forum so you can meet and connect with like-minded people, make new friends, and find motivation and support. If you’re curious about what you’ll get from taking the course, I’ll let some of the past members tell you:

“This class has single-handedly changed my thinking and life. The email course is rocking my world with the “how” to do this, the access to the associated Google group is invaluable. You could lurk and never post with this group and it’ll change your thinking and life. Even if you just want to tread more softly on this beautiful jewel of a planet we live on, you will benefit from this course.
I’ve found my true fun self since I’ve been taking this course. My stuff was burying my life, and I had no idea that I’d done that to myself. The e-course, the readings, and the Google Group together make for a powerful inspiration to keep going. The class is already paid for itself in less stress, less stuff, and heck, I’ve even lost weight! All because I’m realizing that I just don’t NEED a lot of things. While we may or may not move into an actual Tiny House, our house of 1,100 square feet is starting to look huge. We have SO MUCH SPACE NOW! I’m looking forward to a smaller house (and a smaller or NONEXISTENT mortgage soon). ” – Andrea

“This class is changing my entire life. For the good, too. So glad I made the decision to spend the money to take this course!” – Becky R.

“Thanks for a terrific course, Mariah! You have taught us “life” and (mental) “survival skills”. The process you have used to redirect our thinking while burdened by the overwhelming voice of “how will I ever manage this?”…has really been spot on.” – J.

“This was a fantastic class- I am so thankful I took it!!! I’m seeing great results. Your other “life” stuff that you suggested we look at and employ minimization on is also being whittled down. I’m not stopping until it’s all done- I’m already feeling “lighter” and loving it! This was and continues to be a life changing class for me. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, experiences & skills with me & so many others.” – B.

The next session of the Comet Camper Tiny Transition and Downsizing E-Course begins on August 10th, so sign up now to save your spot! I look forward to supporting you through this journey and seeing you in the class! Click Here!

Mariah lives in a 1960s vintage trailer that she renovated to be eco-awesome and off-the-grid. She blogs about vintage trailer life, tiny houses, and sustainable living over at her blog www.cometcamper.com.

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Daniel Hoffman - August 2, 2014 Reply

I agree with everything except the microwave. I have discovered you can do a lot with that versatile piece of equipment.

    sallie tierney - August 2, 2014 Reply

    I’ve been complaining about how small my kitchen is for years – but recently I came to a lightning bolt realization that it isn’t that my kitchen is small, it is that all the appliances are unnecessarily HUGE for two old ladies! Am now in the process of replacing 20 year old fridge, range, washer and dryer with energy efficient smaller units. Now to empty the cabinets of useless junk. Thanks for the ideas!

    Terrie - August 2, 2014 Reply

    A microwave with a confection oven. Then you can cook and bake in it as well. We use our microwave for too many different reasons and things to part with that. I’d just have to find a spot for it.

    Dorothy - August 2, 2014 Reply

    I agree! Could NOT do without the microwave!

    Cher - August 2, 2014 Reply

    I rarely use a stove and hate filling propane tanks. I hook up to 220 and use the microwave for everything (built in above the old stove (which I ditched) and put a fantastic toaster oven in the old stove oven space… single hotplate in the cupboard to fry up the occasional steak and we’re good to go. No appliances for me!

    Shauna G - August 3, 2014 Reply

    I’ve lived without a microwave for about a year now and really don’t miss it. I reheat leftovers in the oven or on the stovetop and they taste much better than they did from the microwave. The only thing I miss is “baking” potatoes in 10 mins rather than 45 mins in the oven or grill.

    Earl - August 3, 2014 Reply

    For me, my microwave is too efficient to shed. Also, they don’t waste energy heating your space in Summer.

    My other main qualm is with the knife recommendation and I bet most people agree that one kitchen knife is not practical. You need a large chef’s knife and large serrated knife for bread. These could be the same knife or just a large, serrated chef’s knife. Also, a small paring knife. And, maybe, a fillet knife. But these four knives will get you thru 99.9999% of your kitchen needs. Too, multiple knives will relieve you of having to stop to wash a knife while preparing different foods or cutting raw meat.

Devi Cholet - August 2, 2014 Reply

Absolutely great advice! Thank you!

Marsha Cowan - August 2, 2014 Reply

Man! Oh, man! Oh, man! This is exactly how my kitchen is, except with a few less items. I preach this to my kids all the time, so now maybe they will believe me when I send them this article. There is so much trepidation involved in letting go of familiar, though useless, stuff, but once you do, it is totally liberating. Thanks!

katee - August 2, 2014 Reply

Super suggestions, I really hate clutter…
thanks for this article.
katee

Kevin Yorke - August 2, 2014 Reply

Great article. I’ve been trying to sell my wife on a tiny house for three years and I’ve yet to sell her. Not giving up hope.

Kevin
Pet food buyers club.

    Brid - August 3, 2014 Reply

    I spent the weekend cleaning out the kitchen… Put everything into my car boot from the declutter list..then rescued the wooden pestel and mortar! Just 2 drawers of stuff left and a tiny house in my sights! FREEDOM IN MY SIGHTS,

Mark - August 2, 2014 Reply

Thanks for the wisdom!

Cherlynn - August 2, 2014 Reply

As a professorial chef and baker I agree! You don’t need 50 million items to cook. Last year I went through and simplified my kitchen and life and while occasionally I get in the middle of a big project and run short, most of the time I do just fine with the few items I deemed necessary.

    Lora Hein - August 2, 2014 Reply

    And what did you “deem necessary?”
    Does your list differ from Mariah’s? Being gluten free due to celiac, I do a lot of my own food prep “from scratch” as well as preparing food for group gatherings I attend. I would be hard pressed to make do with Mariah’s list.

      Sparrow Rose Jones - September 23, 2014 Reply

      I also have celiac and I agree with Mariah’s list. But that is because I chose to go the route where I don’t spend a lot of money and time trying to imitate gluten foods like bread and cake. Instead, I re-shaped my entire eating so that bread and cake are not even entities in my life at all. Once you let go of the idea that there has to be bread-like stuff in your diet, cooking at eating as a person with celiac gets a lot freer and simpler.

Dewy - August 2, 2014 Reply

Lodge makes a great pot/fry pan (acts as a lid) combo. Also I have to have my cast iron grill. And a big pyrex measuring cup for making my ice tea.

    Empress Lockness - August 2, 2014 Reply

    A large pyrex measuring cups are very versatile. They are great for eating hot soup or hot or cold cereal out of as well. 🙂

Bob Ratcliff - August 2, 2014 Reply

For decades an avid RV’er, every single sentence in your article makes perfectly good sense but I would add one caveat. Once we rid ourselves of family china, linens, art, or beloved books, there’s also a loss with our past and those who were a part of it. I’d never get rid of everything since lifestyles do and can change. Isn’t there a middle-ground somewhere? Meanwhile it’s impossible not to envy your simplified and greatly enjoyed lifestyle. Note: People can control debt in any living situation but that comes from within. It doesn’t necessitate we live in 300 sf or less just control of our monies. The plus of 300 sf is there’s always a new vista awaiting – but of course maybe someday you’ll never want to leave where you’re at?

    andrea - August 2, 2014 Reply

    I have my essentials list too which is almost identical (including ikea bowl plates) although I keep a set of 4 of all for visitors. I added a cheese grater I use alot and fresh black pepper grinder.
    As for all the sentmental objects from parents and grandmas…I appreciate the fact that my sister and cousin have bigger more settled family homes that suit all the antiques and carefully chosen bits of history ..we have let alot go but i love to see the special items that found a place at THEIR homes when i visit…and having thanksgiving dinner on the family china with all the old serving platters from childhood.

    mary - August 2, 2014 Reply

    For myself, when I downsized I spent quite a bit of time talking to closer family members, asking if they remembered and/or wanted this or that. What I. Found was that no one else wanted it either. I took pictures of most of it and sold it.

    I have more things in my kitchen. For me a toaster oven is a must and is used regularly. A microwave is debatable. I wouldn’t want to give up my blender. I have a single electric burner, not a stove. My canning jars are worth keeping. And having a smaller fridge has been healthier for me because there’s nowhere for mold to hide.

Rebecca - August 2, 2014 Reply

I agree with simplifying a kitchen… but I am a foody and love to cook. I have 3 great knives, a bread pan, and a crock pot. I kept my awesome heavy stainless pots but only have 2 sets of dishes. My counter is a cutting board much used and never put away. I designed my small space as a luved in kitchen with game table and 2 comfortable chairs. Twin beds combine for king and split for chaise lounges. I killed the closets: drawers under the beds hold jeans etc. Minimal bathroom and a haircut that does not require curling irons etc. Olive oil cooks and makes skin soft. I dropped nearly all beauty products and feel so liberated! Funny how many men are attracted by happiness.

I am happiest in my garden and kitchen room. As I dreamed and planned and distilled I realized that I liked the pioneer cabins where life was in the kitchen.

    Marsha Cowan - August 2, 2014 Reply

    Wow, Rebecca! We could be long lost twins, especially where the olive oil is concerned. I use baking soda for all cleansing, hair, clothes, dishes, teeth, etc., and olive oil for softening. I also have a wash and go hair style. Know what you mean about liberating,

Annie Fitt - August 2, 2014 Reply

I’ve been living in my 360 sf house for 12 years now. I don’t have a designated kitchen per se. What I do have is a 10 cubic foot fridge/freezer with a small microwave on top. A 3 qt. oval crockpot lives in a cupboard unless it is in use (which is almost constantly), and a hotplate lives on the porch because I prefer to fry and pan-grill outside. I also have a small toaster-oven which will be replaced once finances permit with a bigger unit that can handle baking a pie or a loaf of bread because sometimes baking is the only way to go. The microwave is essential unless all you use it for is to warm up your coffee. Between the microwave and the crockpot I can cook almost anything. These are not your mother’s appliances. No need to use Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup (unless you LIKE it…).
As for pots and pans: One each of
9″x13″ pyrex baking dish with snap on lid
8″x8″ ditto
2 quart pyrex measuring container with pour spout, handle, and lid
3 quart cast iron covered with porcelain dutch oven. I use a Le Creuset because that is what I already had, but if I were starting from scratch I’d get one where the top is also a frying pan.
Between these you can cook and store just about anything. I have even made crepes in the le Creuset!
I’m going to differ with Mariah about the fridge – as someone who doesn’t have a car I do a lot of my shopping in bulk, and freeze most of it. I wish somebody made a fridge where the ratio of fridge to freezer was the reverse of what is normally available. Hmm. When this fridge kicks the bucket I may just get a front loading freezer and put a dorm fridge on top…

Pat - August 2, 2014 Reply

I wholeheartedly agree with Andrea’s comments above. This course is worth its weight in gold! I participated as a “lurker” as that really helped me deal with everything I had accumulated over the years. Like Andrea, I too have an 1,100 sq ft home which, for more years than I care to admit, looked more like a rarely visited mini-storage unit than a lived-in home. I am proud to report this simplification project is now 3/4 completed! It has also turned into a 25th anniversary gift for my incredibly patient husband who says it’s the best present I could ever give him! A few days ago I found him standing in the middle of the spare bedroom. He asked if I was aware that a person can now walk from the doorway to the window in the dark without taking their life in their hands! YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wendy - August 2, 2014 Reply

I was glad to see you list a whisk in your kitchen essentials -rather than just the spoon and bowl referred to in the earlier list. I have an electric mixer but find when I’m making cakes or cookies I often reach for the wire whisk because it’s faster, simpler, and easier to clean. And works just as well!
The one thing I don’t understand is what you do if you have a guest? Surely you need at least a couple of extra coffee mugs in case someone stops by for a visit?

Dawn - August 2, 2014 Reply

The only comment I felt compelled to make is that in Florida, with our humidity, bread and baked goods *do* last longer in the fridge than out of it. Out of the fridge, they go moldy within a week. In the fridge, they last at least a few weeks.

    tthom2 - September 23, 2014 Reply

    Agree about the bread. I don’t use much bread – I don’t get the kind that’s loaded with preservatives. Lasts Long time in Fridge. Also most natural peanut butters require refrigeration as well.
    But – overall these are Gr8 tips for downsizing.

Chris - August 2, 2014 Reply

I’m living in a 1973 Stardust cruiser houseboat. For one or two people and a dog. is just fine. Right now, it’s just me and a reverse brindle lab, Ruby. She’s adjusted well. Me too.

Now, I am going through the ways and means of discarding my items that I use and don’t. This morning my paninni maker, which I use a couple times a day, made that decession for me. It died. RIP paninni maker. I can’t wait to see how this class goes for me.

Barbara Kvistad - August 2, 2014 Reply

I want a convection microwave!
Soon I will down-size from a 3 bedroom house to move into a tiny house. But I felt over-whelmed and paralyzed by the work required to sell years of items, including specialized stuff of high value (such as that wedding silverware and artwork.)
ESTATE SELLERS is the solution!!! They figure out the value of items and sell them via various means. Sure, they earn 40%, but that is so worth it to me.
I’ll be down-sizing AND making money doing so! Yippie!!! I feel lightness & freedom just having a solution. No more eBay, Craigslist and yard sales for me.
Now I can focus on buying a tiny house and finding a parking spot. If you know of a tiny house (about 220sf) for sale, please LMK.

David Remus - August 2, 2014 Reply

You don’t need to drag around a regular sized bbq grill. I have an old charcoal starter, the type that is simply a tube with a handle and a grate inside, that I use as a small bbq. I use skewers to cook the food so there is no grate to clean, you simply wipe the skewers clean. Vegetables, bread, meat, all can be put on skewers. If all you have are little cheap ones, you can use 2 of them in parallel so the food doesn’t rotate when you turn it over. The wider flat ones are good for ground meats, dowels can be used to cook bread. A small piece of steel screen cut to fit the bottom keeps the coals from falling through too soon. It uses a lot less charcoal than a regular size grill if you are only cooking for two, or cooking snack size pieces. It’s nice to have people cook their own snacks while chatting away. Don’t forget your vegetables! You can use it as a little wood stove too, but if you are grilling make sure the wood you are using is food safe. Be sure to use it over a surface that won’t burn.

I got mine for 2 bucks at a yard sale.

I realize that charcoal is bulky but it won’t explode, leak, or spill either.

PS – I won’t return to this site if that irritating, skipping video is on every time. Please don’t start using advertising that makes uninvited noise.

Barbie - August 2, 2014 Reply

Great idea even for a ‘big’ kitchen. Tomatoes and cast iron don’t go. The tomatoes leach the oils out of cast iron and give a metallic taste/strange colour to the tomatoes.
So maybe one stainless steel frying pan too.

As far as sets of plates and cups go etc. how much more interesting to have each one different.

Baking… one 6 cup muffin and one tray does just every thing that’s good for you to eat (time to get off the sugar?)

My tool unmentioned is a funnel for pouring salt/pepper, spices, grains etc.

Love the idea of downsizing and that you’ve thought about it a great deal is great!

Susanne - August 2, 2014 Reply

Great article. I was just discussing the topic with my significant other today. We were trying to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. I am not a foodie or a baker but I do like to eat. I will most definately be using your list to simplify my kitchen with. The one thing that I feel I must keep that is not on your list is a slow cooker.

    alice h - August 6, 2014 Reply

    I always make my tomato based spaghetti sauce in a big cast iron pot, bubbling away for a couple of hours. However, once it’s cooked I take it out of there and it’s never been a problem either for taste or condition of pot.

Lynne - August 2, 2014 Reply

Although I love small spaces, and the idea of living in a tiny home, I have learned over the years that there are several reasons it doesn’t work for me. (Special dietary needs requiring special preparation and long-term storage; piano for teaching and accompanying, and a cupboard for all my music; storage and supplies to make usable items from ‘trash’, which I sell to help our income.) I can, however, utilize small-space principles in my smallish 1909 farm house. This site is great for that!
As to the ‘family heirloom’ issue – I’m the one in my family who keeps, and uses the most, the special items passed down through our family. I come from a large family, and we all share and enjoy Gramma’s handmade wooden bowls, Aunt Margaret’s chintz dishes, and even Grampa’s apron! (He was a cook in WWI). Also, since our daughter and her husband live in an 82 sq ft travel trailer in our back yard, it’s nice that they can use the one bathroom on our property, and the kitchen when she needs to prepare her special foods, too. We’ve had people stay here when they need to do something to their small house, and need to ‘move out’ while it’s being done. It’s nice to be able to offer this kind of thing, while still keeping our stuff under control.

Corby - August 2, 2014 Reply

Great ideas, but I don’t think any one list can apply to everyone. If this post gets people to think about what is essential for them, then it has done its job well!

Hollymaren - August 2, 2014 Reply

“Real Silverware in a velvet-lined case (from your wedding)” and “fancy china” are not just about your lifestyle at the moment. If you are not planning on having children, fine. However, these things become heirlooms and get handed down. Find a home you can safely store these items in. Your life is not static-things change. You grow and your likes and needs change too. I also disagree with the microwave and plastic wrap. Not every food item can be stored in a small container and plastic wrap takes up hardly any space at all.

Beth DeRoos - August 2, 2014 Reply

I am keeping the sterling silverware because as they have value and if things get rough one can sell pieces and get good money.

And I like having nice silverware because having given most of what we own away, the silverware is something we use daily and enjoy.

Also kept two place settings on the good Lenox, because I see this as something special to use for when I make something special and romantic for dinner, for just the two of us.

Also love the Vitamix which does the job or a stand mixer, hand mixer, food processor, blender. And my model also cooks soup and makes ice cream.

    Teresa - August 7, 2014 Reply

    Which model Vitamix do you have that takes the place of all those appliances?

Beth DeRoos - August 2, 2014 Reply

My wee place is a bit bigger than the trailer shown. Have never lived in anything bigger than 400 sq feet and now it’s 200 sq feet.

Having a Vitamix that does the job of a stand mixer, blender, food processor, hand mixer, and also cooks soup is a space saver.

Since I like to bake I need nesting measuring cups since a glass measuring cup is meant for liquids and doesn’t do dry ingredients precisely as needed.

I also like having two place settings of the Lenox china because its nice to have special dinners with ones mate. And I do recommend keeping the good sterling silver place settings, because they get better with use and being sterling silver they have value and can be sold piece meal if money is tight.

So many of the tiny homes shown on sites are staged, and the counter tops tend to have ‘stuff’ that one doesn’t need when counter space is at a premium.

cheryl - August 2, 2014 Reply

We are in the process of downsizing from a 2 bdrm condo to a tiny studio within the next month. We reside in Italy for most of the year and return to FL for summers of helping/visiting kids and grandkids.

My husband was freaking in the beginning of tossing unused and superfluous items but is now having a great time working alongside me. We have made several trips to our grandchildren’s Catholic school Rummage Sale storage units – it’s easy to let go of all excess items we’ve kept for a myriad of reasons over the last 40+ years. The school takes these items and the monies raised go directly to offset their expenses. It’s win-win for them and for us!

My list for a functional kitchen in 240 sq ft is personal. She cooks one way, I do things differently, but we agree in many areas. Summers in FL do require bread, etc to be refrigerated. I don’t want a toaster but a large toaster oven is exactly what we need, as well as a small microwave AND an electric popcorn popper (our loft will ‘house’ giggling grandchildren for their overnights – popcorn is a treat!).

It’s fun reading all the different wishlists of dreamers like us. Can’t wait to get settled in!

Colleen - August 3, 2014 Reply

I have a passion for cooking and when I build my tiny home, the focus of the home will be the kitchen. I agree, it is all about having the right tools but if for you they happen to be a food processor, then so be it. Know what you need to make your minimal life feel complete and what you don’t.

Melina - August 3, 2014 Reply

You don’t need any French Press. Just use a very fine grade sifter to filter the coffee after brewing 😉 Much easier to clean and tastes the same

Laura - August 3, 2014 Reply

Great suggestions! Your kitchen is similar to mine but I opted for the 4 piece corel dish set – they are thin and take up little space and I really like to entertain at my tiny house too. The mugs, I donated. For these I purchased hand made pottery handle free cups. I purchased these from various local artists so they are little works of art as well as being functional. I have TEN of them… which is the maximum number of people I can have over at one time. These are very ideal because if you have people drop by they hold wine, soup, beer, water, or really anything you want to put in them. I also figure that if I ever get the outdoor oven built then I can bake mug brownies in them as well. 😀

Laura, Tiny House Ontario

PS, I love your bright little kitchen. It reminds me of one of my dearest friends who had a similarly bright and cheery kitchen long ago when we were young neighbours.

Jaya - August 3, 2014 Reply

Do not leave “store bought” eggs out on the counter…….buy from a farmer who does not wash their eggs and keeps nest boxes cleaned so they don’t get icky to begin with. Eggs will taste better, be better for you and your far less likely to run into an issue ( chickens leave a protective coating on the eggs when they are laid to prevent contamination…store bought eggs have this washed off ) ……food poison isn’t fun…better safe then sorry !!

    Lyana - August 7, 2014 Reply

    I was reading all comments to see if anyone else would address this issue. Overseas, one can find eggs on the shelf. It’s fine if they have never been washed. If one really needs to keep eggs unrefrigerated, let cold eggs come to room temperature first. Then dry the condensation and coat with mineral oil. Shells are porous and need a barrier to protect the eggs from contamination.
    I also disagree with removal of the microwave. When living in a tiny space, summers can become unbearable when cooking on the stove or in an oven.

Lucia de Souza - August 3, 2014 Reply

I had no room for an oven so got this,bakes well,heats food,grills etc. I ditched the microwave too.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BC9B7Y/ref=wms_ohs_product_img?ie=UTF8&psc=1

GoldenPoppy - August 3, 2014 Reply

Has everyone forgotten the wine opener? 😉 I jest, but I found I could no longer open a bottle with a pen, or whatever it was, as I did in college. So I included it in my utensil drawer.

My absolute favorite item in our tiny trailer home is our thermal cooker…I do not often hear anyone mentioning these, but it is just amazing. Its like a crock pot, but without electricity. Amazon carries several, we have a Tiger. They are great because they cut down our propane use for items like beans, soups, etc that would have to cook a while. Also suberb for hot days when you don’t want the stove to heat your tiny kitchen.

We also have a cast iron skillet. And we keep several biggish bowls which can be used for mixing, or double as serving bowls when guests are around.

Finally, we keep some Luminarc glasses – which can be used for drinking, and for storage when used with their lids.

Great list! Its always nice to see what other folks use/need…as it kinda makes you reevaluate the necessity of what you have.

    Sparrow Rose Jones - September 23, 2014 Reply

    I looked up thermal cookers and gasped at the prices! I use a bag for slow cooking. They were developed for African households where fuel is very scarce and they work with any covered pot you already have. So your pots do double-duty and the bag scrunches up into a small space when you’re not using it. Plus, it’s 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of a thermal cooker.

    Search on Wonderbag Non-Electric Portable Slow Cooker.

Randy - August 6, 2014 Reply

So sorry to disagree with this writer but placing bread in the refrigerator DOES NOT make it go bad faster. As a matter of fact, it truly is the opposite. I live alone and for years I could not keep bread in the house because it would mold before I could eat it. A friend suggested placing it in the fridge. I thought it was dumb but I tried it. Bread now has a chance in my house. And, even bread that is two-weeks old and may be a tad stale, will taste just fine once toasted. So, from person experience I’d have to say putting bread in a fridge will preserve it longer.

Randy - August 6, 2014 Reply

I’m sorry to disagree with this writer but putting bread in the refrigerator DOES NOT make it go bad faster; quite the opposite. For years, I couldn’t keep bread in my house because it would mold before I could eat it all. A friend suggested I put it in the fridge. I thought it was goofy but I tried it and it definitely works. Bread keeps for weeks now. And, even older bread that appears stale will taste just fine when toasted or cooked. I realize this is just my opinion against her opinion, but I’ve got personal experience with this one. Her mother is right. Put the bread in the fridge and it will keep much longer.

alice h - August 6, 2014 Reply

If I had to cut back to two “appliances” in my kitchen I’d pick the toaster oven and the stainless steel electric skillet I found at the thrift shop. It even has a warming tray underneath and a high domed lid. Some of them even had a grilling element in the lids but not this one. You can make a wide range of things in the skillet and take it outside to cook in the summer.

Dee Evans - August 9, 2014 Reply

Well, I actually disagree with a lot of what is listed as a ‘not needed’.
For the past 4 years my husband and I, our two dogs, and a cat have lived in our Tiny House (140sq ft) that we built on an 8’wide x 20′ long trailer frame. We bought an old RV and deconstructed it, then built a cabin with two lofts in it. We use a 1930’s wood cookstove (McClary Charm) that we bought for $100 that also serves as our heater in the winter. In the summer, we use the BBQ and this handy little unit for cooking indoors: http://www.amazon.ca/Avanti-MKB42B-kitchen-Bake-Broil-Rotisserie-Convection-functions%252c/dp/B004KOHTCO/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407600735&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=avanti+convection+cook

This little versatile unit has two burners on the top, and a little convection oven. It is the most suitable use for the space.
We do not use a microwave as that was one of the first things we sold when we started downsizing. I believe the food really does taste better heated up in the convection oven…think about this too – you are making CONSCIOUS choices to change your life and your thinking. That should extend to making decisions to slow down your life, not everything has to be about instant gratification. Choose the important aspects and go with that. Also, since I have an auto-immune condition, to my mind not enough research has been done on the possible negative aspects of radiation from microwave energy. Its a personal preference, I would not deign to tell someone what to do with their life, since each person’s journey is their own, that is simply my belief and why I chose not to have one.

When we do popcorn, it is with the old time method, but I make sure to get organic popping corn (since the majority of corn on the market is GMO) and use a skillet with a lid that I shake over the heat. Works just fine and reminds me of camping.

We do have a toaster (used everyday), a blender (used for my husband’s smoothies) and my beloved KitchenAid mixer which you would have to pry out of my hands…as a trained chef and baker, I appreciate quality tools, and while I have downsized my kitchen considerably to what I feel is useful and ‘necessary’ to me, it is always a balance. We also LOVE antiques, so more often than not, if we find useful and working antiques we will purchase them and use them as they were intended to be used, I prefer to not have the disposable, consumer driven crap in our house.

Someone else said previously, things change in your life…change with them. You do not NEED to give up the things that make you happy, (my KitchenAid really does make me happy), as do my good knives, so what I would say is get rid of the stuff weighing you down, what you can do without…and the stuff that you keep, make sure it is GOOD QUALITY. The pots and pans I use are almost all Le Creuset that we have found at antique stores or second hand stores. We found a 3 piece saucepan set for $15.00, the kind with wooden handles, and then I found a set of 3 graduated sizes covered casserole/stock pots with lids for $45.00. Since these are cast iron with an enamel coating they require almost no care. They hold the heat and can go from stove top to oven easily. I gave away my good quality stainless pots & pans to my daughter when she moved out on her own and needed to start her life, as I did with many other items.

Since we do not plan to live in this tiny house forever, it was a planned stepping stone to living small while saving money to buy property to homestead and farm, we intend to build a cob and timberframe home (max 500sq ft) so knowing this eventuality, we built a small storage shed (8x8ft) and put all the stuff I couldn’t bare to part with in it…and as my daughter needs stuff for her place that will dwindle until the time when we are finally ready to settle into our newly built home and have a place for all those treasured things I love. Some women are not sentimental or do not care about ‘pretty’ things, I like them, I will make sure that what we bring into our new space has form and function to suit the space and is still within the comfort zone of what I can live with/without. Not everyone has to be ‘all or nothing’; there are shades of grey to life…I found some of the extremist statements of people who have chosen to only use one item e.g. baking soda, to be more about them doing what is right for them, but do not think that you have to live that way…there are many, many options and degrees to make change in your life.

Because we chose a less cluttered lifestyle that opens us up to other life options and choices. We own a farm & garden structures company, a computer home-based business doing desktop publishing, computer repairs and virtual assistant work, and a contracting company. For all of those we need tools; so for the contracting & farm and garden structures business we have a shop adjacent to our cabin where all our woodworking tools/machinery and materials are, for the desktop publishing/computer work (and our form of entertainment with Netflix and internet) I have a 32′ screen, laptop and a printer on sitting on an antique farmtable in our cabin. At some point we will build me a separate little office cabin so that I can have my work be outside of the house…I think I will put it in the garden. Since we are big on growing food and sustainable gardening, I live outdoors in the spring and summer…we entertain on our deck, rather than in the house where only about 5 people can stand at one time…but when my daughter (or other single people come over) we have the other sleeping loft and for more people we have a camper to host them.

In my opinion, life is too short to think you have to give up the stuff that is important to you, its not, but it is about coming to the realization that a shift in awareness may be needed…we have a truck for the construction businesses, and the farm work, but also to play in when we go to the US or go camping off the island we live on…so it does NOT mean you must give up those things, perhaps just make alternate decisions which will also make you happy!

Good Luck!

susan - August 9, 2014 Reply

I must comment on refrigerating eggs, as there appears to be a lack of deep understanding on this topic. (I’ve been growing my own eggs since 1973 and am highly qualified (and long experienced) in food safety, organic farming, and veterinary medicine.) Some facts: All birds, especially wild birds, can and do carry salmonella, which occurs pervasively (and more or less harmlessly, as with most things we fear in nature) in the natural outdoor environment. Salmonella is not manufactured at egg farms (although certainly concentrated there). This includes the sparrows in your henhouse and other wild birds; salmonella doesn’t necessarily, or even usually, make them sick. Your hens at home, especially if they are over 2 years old, are also likely to carry salmonella, because of their contact with the natural outdoors; again, they will appear perfectly fluffy and healthy, as your birds likely do. It’s true that unwashed eggs are protected by their coating, and that factories wash them. However, salmonella does not enter the egg from the outside—it is already in the egg when the egg is laid if your hen carries salmonella, which, statistically, she likely does. The tiny bit of salmonella naturally occurrring in a hen’s egg when it’s laid won’t hurt you and won’t multiply if the eggs are refrigerated; they do multiply at a scary exponential rate on your countertop. It’s a gamble, especially for children and the elderly or immune-compromised. To believe that eschewing the evils of factory farming somehow protects you from the realities of nature is unwise.

mike - September 24, 2014 Reply

I disagree with your list entirely. You methodology is sound, but you shouldn’t decide what is important to somebody else and what is not.

What if baking and decorating cakes is my way of sharing and staying close to my daughter?

Teach a person to fish, don’t tell them which fish you think taste good.

Gette - September 24, 2014 Reply

Thanks for the article. I think a teapot is unnecessary. I boil water in a regular saucepan for tea or instant coffee.

lisa roscoe - October 6, 2014 Reply

All this downsizing appears to eat up a LOT of gas. What’s the point of downsizing if in the process one is dependent of fossil fuels?

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