Remember, we're doing these experiments with less in search of our personal "enough". There are different things you might want to do with this knowledge...from downsizing to finding some mental security. In terms of this exercise, keep in mind that some people make homemade tortillas or pasta or bread several times per week. Some of us have made them once. :) No judgement or guilt...just honesty...with ourselves please.
Pull all of the cookware (pots, pans, etc.), cooking utensils (knives, spatulas, etc.) + small appliances (rice cooker, bread machine, tortilla press, coffee paraphernalia, etc.) out onto the table (or counter). Open every drawer + cabinet just to check that everything is out. (I didn't do this + kept thinking of more things to add.) How does it feel to see all of this in one place?
Take the opportunity to clean those empty cupboards + drawers + to let them dry. :)
Consider thinking differently about what + how much cooking equipment might be "enough".
- Consider how many of one thing you need. I've found that a paring knife is the only knife I need. Two wooden spoons are enough for me.
- Consider using things in a variety of ways. Take a look at our series multifunctional in the kitchen for a little inspiration.
- Consider alternatives to items you don't use often. Making bread by hand might be a lovely, slow activity to savor, freeing space taken up by a bread machine. Make sheet cakes instead of using cake pans. Make a blueberry coffee cake rather than blueberry muffins. Use a bottle rather than a rolling pin.
- Consider your community of family + friends. Do you need to own every tool or could your community of family or friends share some tools? Or could one of you be the one who becomes an expert at making pasta while another volunteers to make the birthday cakes? I love considering how much closeness + fun this could foster too.
- Consider the diets you're working with. We choose not to eat meat at home, so I don't need a roasting pan. One of us is gluten intolerant, so I don't need bread pans. When I want to make sweet breads or muffins, I use my glass baking dishes. (No paper muffin cups or struggle to get muffins out of the tin either.)
This isn't an exercise in deprivation, but I do think that the kitchen has become a place where marketers have found an especially rich playing field. There is a gadget for each + every process. Our hands can squeeze citrus. A knife can mince garlic. Yet, I have owned both a lemon squeezer + a garlic press.
Let's take a look at what we have + get honest about what truly gets used during the course of a year. We might only make popsicles in the warmer months + use cookie cutters during the holidays...so a year seems an appropriate measure of time. We might have moved on from making bread...or never have used that pasta maker that was a gift. Maybe we don't need the things that we haven't used for a year. Set them aside (this doesn't necessarily mean that we are getting rid of them yet...but it might...you decide).
Choose your most versatile cookware to cook with for the next month. Taking a look at things by category might be helpful here. This is what I'm working with:
small appliances ::
- coffee press
- cold brew strainer
- tea strainers- one large (for iced tea) + three small
- a large pot + a small pot + lids
- cast iron skillet + glass lid
- sheet pan
- 3 glass dishes + lids
- ladle, 2 wooden spoons, can opener, small + large funnels, small + large spatulas, chopstick, grater, whisk, knife, measuring cup + spoons, thermometer
- cutting board
- small cooler
set aside : icecube tray, small spiralizer (used in the warmer months) + cookie cutters (actually art supplies that we used to make ornaments)
Consider the left overs. Set aside things you are willing to let go. Put the rest in a cupboard that you can close + not look inside for the month...or on a shelf with a towel draped over (out of sight). At the end of a month, take a fresh look at each of these items + decide whether they serve the life you currently choose to live.
If there is anything that you are happy to let go of now, do your best to get it into the hands of someone who will appreciate it. (Offer it to friends, family or an agency that works with adolescents aging out of foster care, refugees, abused mamas, formerly incarcerated or homeless folks.) Or sell it. Take note of the feelings this action brings.
Cook with less for the rest of the month. If you come up against a situation that you would usually use a put-away item for, try to get creative. I don't mean, just make something else. Use the blender rather than the hand mixer for the whipped cream. Cut up the apple by hand rather than using the apple corer.
Talk to friends + family about strengthening community around food. Share food (not Covid). Be creative. :)
Find our other experiments with less in the kitchen here: 01, 03, 04, 05, 06.