The Minimalist Kitchen Part 1: For the Table

Friday, February 26, 2016

A few weeks ago, I had an interesting conversation with a friend about cooking.  She asked me why we don't eat out very much and I told her that eating at home is a way cheaper option for us.  She commented that she rarely hears this as a response to eating at home, because most people that she has talked to about it feel that it is more expensive to invest in all the cooking equipment.  She also observed that many of the people she has talked with who feel this way grew up in a home where cooking wasn't a part of their family's lifestyle.

This conversation reminded me of another brief conversation that I had with a young woman while standing in front of the lettuce display at Sprouts a few months ago.  I was scoping out their clearance lettuce, when she turned to me and said, "what does 'organic' mean?"  I was a bit stunned, mostly because this is a regularly used word in our house, and I wrongly assumed that most people were familiar with that word.  I told her what it meant and she said she had recently been looking into a healthier diet and didn't really know where to start. I think I wished her luck, and told her that the lettuce clearance was a good place to start.  I spent the next few weeks, reflecting upon our brief conversation.

Between these two conversations, I started wondering if there were a lot of people out there who are trying to live a healthier life, and just don't know where to start.  They wish they could save money on food, and learn to love cooking, but have no idea where to begin.  They don't have the kitchen equipment necessary, and no one to help them figure out what they even need.

We are all at different places in life, cooking, and the pursuit of acquiring (or getting rid of) stuff.
My goal with this series is to show where you can start, or, if you already have loads of kitchen stuff, what I think is actually essential, and maybe help shed some light on what you can get rid of.  Maybe it is time to clear out some of those extra sets of dishes that you got at a garage sale, or time to invest in a nice set of cloth napkins.

This is what I think is essential for having for your table:

Place settings:
- 8-10 dinner plates - These plates are inexpensive and they go with everything.  Have 8-10 means you don't have to wash all your plates every meal, and that you can still use real plates when you invite friends over.
- 8-10 salad plates - Apparently I only shop at Ikea for dinnerware...
- 8-10 bowls - Latte bowls are my thing.  I think they make food look beautiful.  I also have the large bowls pictured above from Ikea.  We used them in France at our Airbnb and I loved them so much, I bought four when we got home.
- 8-10 mini bowls, ramekins or parfait dishes -  Something for dessert, a small treat, or baby sized portions. I use mine ALL THE TIME!
- 2-4 mugs - We have two cute Anthropologie mugs for hot cocoa. I swear hot chocolate tastes better in a cute mug.
12-20 cloth napkins - I have been interested in using cloth napkins for a long time.  We had some growing up and they always felt so fancy.  As an adult, I realized that I don't like buying paper napkins, so I made a cloth set out of an old cotton shirt.  I plan on making another set soon; not out of an old shirt. If making them isn't your thing, lots of places sell nice cloth napkins in various fabrics and colors. I have a few sets left for sale in my Instagram shop, if you feel inclined to check them out.  The idea of using cloth napkins was reinforced when I read this post from Reading My Tea Leaves a few days ago.
- 10 drinking glasses - Get something you will love using everyday. We are big water drinkers in our house, so we skip the smaller juice glasses.  They take up a lot of space and aren't really necessary for us.
- 8 full sets of utensils - For our wedding I registered for a really nice set of utensils.  I am SO glad I did, because we were gifted 7 of the 8 sets that we registered for, and they have been so nice!

- 1 large tray - This is perfect for rolls, biscuits, fruit slices, vegetables, sliced bread, etc. We have a matching large and small tray similar to these.  I love them, and use them all the time for everything.  White is the most versatile color, but I could see a metal or wood one being really pretty, too.
- 1 small tray - great for smaller portions of food, slices of bread or a lovely salad.  I use this one all the time for our family of three.
- 1 glass carafe or pitcher - No one wants to continually be getting up from the table to grab a glass of water.  Fill your pitcher with cold water, and store it in the fridge until mealtime.
- 1 large serving bowl - I have this one, and love it.  My mother-in-law gave it to me and two smaller versions of the same one to me for Christmas a few years ago.  We use them almost every night.
- 2 small serving bowls - See above.  We use them ALL the time!
- 2 serving spoons - Because you will probably have two things to serve at the same time at some point in your cooking career.
- 1 serving fork 
- 1 set of tongs - Sometimes I wish we had two sets.  I use these all the time for salad, flipping chicken over in the oven, pulling naan off the pizza stone and lots of other things.

Did I miss anything?  Anything you just love having in your kitchen?  
Next installment coming soon!   


  1. I love this post! This is exactly what I needed to read today! You have inspired me to clean out my kitchen cabinets and drawers (keeping only what I need and truly use), and to start using cloth napkins. I am inspired by so many of your posts, so THANK YOU!

    1. Thank YOU for reading!! I am so glad that these posts are helpful! I am having a great time writing them :)

  2. I was hoping you would do a series about a minimalist kitchen. Very inspiring!

  3. I'm getting married in May, and made a registry because everyone wants you to, even though we're both adults and have lived on our own for ten years and now together for a couple years, so we kind of already have everything we need. Anyway, I was a little shocked at the amount of stuff you 'should' register for. I am not the type of person who would actually use fancy dinnerware, so I didn't register for it. I like your recommendations--although I have more mugs since I'm a coffee and a tea drinker. I love the latte bowls too--they're great for coffee, they're great for yogurt, they're great for so many things! My sisters got me a set for Christmas and I gasped, since I've wanted them for so long now :)

    1. Congrats on your upcoming marriage! Being married is the best! I think it is interesting that people expect you to make a registry when you already have all the stuff that you need because you have been an adult for a while. The wedding registry business is CRAZY! So much stuff that you are 'supposed' to register for. I say register for the things you really need or want, and skip the rest. Maybe if people really want to give you a gift, you can ask them to donate to a honeymoon fund or something...?

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  5. I love the idea of having more dinner plates! We only have a set of four from when we got married and when we have people over we're all eating on different plates! I really want to get a new set of white dishes... why we registered for black dinnerware is beyond me.

    1. I feel that way about a few of the things we registered for. I don't even know if we registered for plates... We moved to Texas 5 days after our wedding, so we returned most of the stuff we got and bought it again when we got here. You should totally get the Ikea plates! Cheap, food looks good on them, and they are great for everyday use!


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