Minimalist Cooking: Reduce Kitchen Clutter by Removing Unnecessary Tools
Due to health concerns and obesity scares, more and more people are taking to the kitchen and cooking their own meals as opposed to heading out to eat or binging on cheap fast food. It’s a great sign—cooking can be a fun experience, and the ability to control whatever goes into your food gives people peace of mind and they can eat freely without worrying about what additives and chemicals are added to their meals.
Cooking is also a great social skill. It’s wonderful to invite friends and family over and prepare them a home-cooked meal to show them your appreciation or to mark a special occasion. With Christmas coming up, there’s never been a better time to learn how to prepare a comforting and delicious Christmas dinner complete with desserts and mulled wine.
Keeping it Simple
All chefs need to have the right tools to carry out their work. You can’t make great meals with just your bare hands and a blunt knife. Sadly, some people get a little carried away and start to buy contraptions or tools for every little task.
While it’s great to have tools that save time on tasks that you perform regularly, the main question you need to ask is: this might save me time on prep, but does it save time on cleaning? A lot of specialised equipment takes a long time to clean and might require specific tools or a lot of patience. You also need to worry about storage, and if you aren’t using it very often it could take up more space than you’re willing to commit.
Stick to the essentials and work on your skills as a chef. The more general your skills are, the more tough cooking challenges you can tackle in the future without the need to rely on a gadget for each meal you make. It’s cheaper in the long run if you buy a good set of basic tools, and you’ll also keep your kitchen clean and free of clutter.
Microwaves: Yay or Nay?
Microwaves are bulky appliances that are commonly used to heat up prepped food or ready meals, and you can also use them to defrost frozen foods. It’s convenient to keep a microwave around especially if you have enough room, but it’s not a mandatory kitchen appliance and if you’re on a tight budget or you’re thinking of upgrading your microwave, then consider the pros and cons of having a microwave first.
Like mentioned before, a microwave is a convenient tool to heat up food. If you’re a busy person and you do a lot of food preparation during the week, then it’s handy to heat up your prepared meals while you continue working or going about your daily life. It’s also used to heat up TV dinners and ready meals that you buy from the supermarket, and you can also warm up a drink that’s gone cold. You can also buy microwaves that double as convection ovens—they make handy alternatives to larger ovens and they save more energy.
However, prepared food can also be heated up on the stove as well. You can empty the contents of a container into a pan and heat it up that way. Some people would also argue that microwaved food doesn’t taste as great as simply reheating it on a pan. Admittedly, it’s not as convenient, but it works just as well and cleaning out a pot or pan doesn’t take much work. You also shouldn’t be eating too many TV dinners and frozen ready meals because they aren’t as healthy as a home-cooked meal. Defrosting can also be done by running it under cold water.
Knives for Everything
Every chef swears by a sharp set of knives. There are paring knives, fillet knives, carving knives, bread knives, and so on. But you don’t need every single knife that’s ever been designed. Knives are surprisingly versatile, and you don’t have to get out a specific knife to deal with a certain task if you’re casually preparing food.
Chinese chefs swear by the cai dao, or vegetable knife, which looks similar to a meat cleaver. They’re surprisingly light and extremely sharp. They can be used to cut vegetables, but they’re also great for cutting through bone and meat. The large flat side can be used to crush garlic and ginger, but it can also be used to transfer food. The blunt spine is weighted enough to tenderise meat, and the handle can be used as a pestle. It’s the epitome of a minimalist kitchen tool and is a much-recommended knife if you want to keep your kitchen utensils to a minimum.
However, if you prefer to have a traditional set of knives, then places like Cut it Fine are a great place to start looking. It’s good to have a knife rack or block to keep your collection tidy, and you’ll need to learn what each knife specialises in. Don’t neglect to sharpen your knife either. A blunt knife is a dangerous tool to use, and it can be tedious to prepare meals if your knife struggles at cutting through a tomato. You can buy knife sharpeners, but make sure you read up on the recommended ways to sharpen your blades.
Pots and Pans
It’s easy to get caught up in buying dozens of different pots and pans of various sizes. If you’re working in a small kitchen, then chances are you have a limited amount of stove tops to use. Depending on what type of meals you cook, you might be able to reduce the amount of pots and pans you use and save on cleaning effort as well.
If you want to stick to a minimum, then a skillet, a small pot, and large pot are all you’ll ever need. You can use the large pot for things such as pasta and stews, the small pot would be to boil soups, make sauces, and cook small amounts of vegetables, and the skillet is for everything else. Make sure you get good quality pots and pans because cheap ones degrade fast, and you don’t want to be replacing your pots and pans every couple of weeks.