The Single Use Kitchen Gadgets I Keep Around

I would consider myself a minimalist. I’m not extreme about it but I am pretty ruthless about what I keep in the house. But as a family that cooks a lot, the kitchen is where I break my rule on not having overly specialized/single purpose items. I relegate these little gadgets to one drawer (except for the two appliances listed). Your list might look very different than mine… but be very thoughtful about the kitchen gadgets you do keep. Don’t keep things that will only be used once a year or in a wishful/just in case scenario. Or items that you hate using because they are bulky/a pain to clean. To me, minimalism is not about having anything but about keeping the items that are used often and make life easier. Here are the items I personally keep around.

Photograph of cooking utensils.

Milk Frother: I seldom buy tea/hot chocolate/etc. from a coffee shop as I prefer to make them at home. It’s cheaper, produces less waste, and I can get exactly what I want. Wins all around. However, because I don’t use a fancy machine to make these things (just a kettle or on stovetop), my drinks lack the wonderful frothiness found at the coffee shop. This tiny, inexpensive milk frother does the job.

Citrus Squeezer: We are frequently in need of freshly squeezed lemon or lime, whether for a margarita, a cake, or in hot water when sick. Frankly, I just suck at squeezing lemons… barely getting any juice out of them and then resorting to using 2- 3 times the number that a recipe calls for. A citrus squeezer makes the job easier, faster, and less wasteful.

Apple Slicer: This is one of those items that you do not need to have if you don’t eat sliced apples FREQUENTLY. However, in our household, that is not the case. Our dogs eat apples, I eat apples, my husband eat apples. Always sliced. With peanut butter. This item is a time saver for us.

Dough/Bench Scraper: Some people consider the humble dough (or bench) scraper a single use item. I disagree. I use this to, yes, scrape dough but also to transfer veggies from a cutting board, clean flour/sugar off the counters while baking, and to cut/portion out pieces of dough.

Meat Thermometer: As someone who has gotten food poisoning from chicken, I can wholeheartedly say that it is an experience I have no desire to ever repeat. Hence. The meat thermometer. I also use this while baking cakes and frittatas.

Potato Masher: I like mashed potatoes. Both sweet and regular. I have yet to find a way to mash potatoes with forks (or another household item) that lead to a consistency I enjoy. Therefore, the potato masher stays.

Now for the appliances. I don’t think either of these are must haves (even for me). However, I enjoy them and they make life a bit easier. If I didn’t have the space for them, I wouldn’t hesitate to give them away. But, for now, they stay.

Bread Maker: I don’t think making your own bread is the only zero waste way to get bread. It’s actually less wasteful to get freshly baked bread from Whole Foods (or wherever) and stick it in your own bag straight from the bakery. Making bread at home means that I have to get flour, sugar, salt (all package free) and yeast (in a glass jar). However, the resulting bread is divine. Basically, I keep the bread maker because of the sheer joy of eating warm, freshly baked, low ingredient bread at home. I think that’s a pretty good reason to keep it around.

Rice Cooker: I’m Asian and I also enjoy cooking different Asian foods. And rice is a large component of many Asian cuisines. As an Asian, having a rice cooker is a part of life. I have never lived without one! Can I make rice on the stove top? Yeah. Do I want to? Nope. My compromise is that I have a much smaller rice cooker than the one I grew up with.

Pin this post image: the single use kitchen gadgets I still keep as a minimalist.
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Top 5 Eco-Friendly Food Swaps

Last week, we talked eco-friendly kitchen swaps. And this week, we’re drilling down even further to food specific swaps! We all know that if you can find a specific item in the bulk section (grains, spices, oil/vinegar, tea/coffee, candy/chocolate, baking ingredients), you should go for that and stick it in your own containers. But here are some other food items that usually aren’t in the bulk aisle that I’ve found some alternatives for.

  1. The item: Yogurt in plastic container
    The swap: Yogurt in glass containers
    My husband goes through A LOT of yogurt. Which also means a lot of plastic cartons. I found this brand at Whole Foods and Central Market that sells their (delicious) yogurt in large glass jars. Bonus — I reuse the jars afterwards for storage. Also — if you want a single serving yogurt option — Yoplait now has cute little French style glass jars.
  2. The item: Bags of frozen berries
    The swap: Pick your own berries or buy at the farmer’s market when in season and then freeze away!
    I pick enough blueberries during the summer to last an entire year for smoothie, jam, and pie making. Strawberries are a little tougher since I haven’t found a pick your own farm nearby. BUT I’ve been able to snag strawberries without any packaging at the farmer’s market (and occasionally at Central Market) to then freeze for later.
  3. The item: Bread in a plastic bag
    The swaps: Make your own bread or pick up from the bakery section in your own bag
    I have a bread machine that I use to make my own bread about half the time. However, if I am looking for a specific type of bread that I don’t have the ingredients to make, I just grab a package free loaf from the bakery section at Central Market and stick it in an old pillowcase.
  4. The item: Ice cream in a carton (these cartons are usually not recyclable unless your city specifically mentions it)
    The swap: DIY ice cream
    I have an old ice cream maker given to me by a friend. That + the 4 ingredients required to make vanilla ice cream allows me to have delicious, fresh, ice cream any time I want. And you can have fun creating your own flavors using the vanilla base!
  5. The item: Vegetable broth in a carton
    The swap: DIY broth
    Save veggie scraps (i.e. onion, celery, bell pepper, carrot) in a container in your freezer. When full, boil + simmer the veggies in water. Bam — veggie broth. (And absolutely no waste.)

    What are some swaps you’ve made food wise?

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Top 5 Eco-Friendly Kitchen Swaps

ICYMI — 2 weeks ago I wrote about my top 5 eco-friendly bathroom swaps. So now it’s time to move on to the kitchen! First up — let’s talk about those kitchen cleaning and organization items (food items are a whole other story!).

  1. The item: Paper towels
    The swaps: Cloth napkins (or IKEA dish towels) for dining and old tea towels for spills, cleaning, etc.
    I found our cloth napkins at Homegoods years ago (but you can also cut up an old sheet and hem the edges if you want to be extra conscious). I also find cloth napkins to just feel a bit more special so it’s a win-win. And old tea towels, hand towels, microfiber rags are all used for any kitchen cleaning required. Basically — I don’t buy paper towels at all anymore.
  2. The item: Dishwasher detergent packets
    The swaps: Bulk detergent or powder detergent in a cardboard box
    I was able to get my hands on bulk detergent from Refill Revolution (they shipped it to me in a little pouch (with a stamp on it) that I just stuck back in the mailbox after I emptied it out into my own container. However, they’ve been sold out for a while now and I have yet to see bulk detergent in the Dallas area. My backup is the eco-friendly powder detergent that comes in a recyclable cardboard box.
  3. The item: Dish soap in a plastic bottle
    The swaps: Dish soap in a glass bottle
    I did really try to just use a bar soap (like Dr. Bronner’s) to hand wash dishes BUT it just left too much white residue… so ultimately, you ended up wasting water just to keep rinsing away all the residue. I managed to snag normal dish soap in glass bottles at my local Homegoods/TJMaxx. The pump mechanism is plastic but I will be sending that one piece to TerraCycle. I’ve also heard of Common Good products — they have refill stations across the country and now you can get refills shipped to you in containers that utilize much less plastic than buying new bottles each time.
  4. The item: Conventional sponges
    The swaps: Dish Brush and cellulose sponges
    I love my Redecker dish brush… the brush heads are replaceable and compostable so wins all around! Cellulose sponges are also compostable — I’ve found some at Trader Joe’s. I also recently came across walnut scouring pads online!
  5. The item: Plastic tupperware
    The swaps: Glass or metal canisters
    Listen — if you already have a ton of plastic tupperware. USE IT. Don’t go out and buy new stuff. However, if your tupperware is on it’s last leg and you need new food storage options — make the switch over (after recycling the old stuff) to glass or metal. These options last significantly longer and don’t tend to get as gross as the plastic options over time. And honestly, you can just start saving glass jars from peanut butter, pickles, coconut oil, whatever else you buy and reuse those as storage for all your bulk items. And speaking of bulk items… we’ll talk more about that next week!
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Kitchen Remodel

And now a break from your regularly scheduled programming… I wanted to share some pictures from our recent mini kitchen remodel! I’ve been jonesing to lighten up our kitchen since we moved in 3 years ago… and we finally bit the bullet and got it done! I loved our kitchen’s layout, storage, and counter space… but it just didn’t feel like our style (i.e. just a bit too traditional looking). If we had an unlimited budget, I’m sure we would’ve updated the countertops to a white quartz… but it wasn’t worth it to us when we could upgrade the cabinet color, backsplash, and cabinet hardware and have a big impact. Here are some before pictures:

Basically… super builder grade looking.

And here are the afters!

Cabinet paint color: Sherwin Williams in Creamy (oil-based, satin finish, brushed on); this is a great shade for cabinets if you aren’t looking for the stark white look.
Backsplash: Ceramic tile backsplash (semi-gloss); we didn’t pick the brightest white, but rather one shade up to give it more of an ivory finish to go with the countertops and cabinet color more.
Gold hardware from Amazon in various sizes: Reviews were mostly good for these with some misses but we’ve had a good experience with these. They look great, are inexpensive, and feel sturdy when properly installed.