Following on from my post last week regarding streamlining the kitchen, this week I am going to talk about kitchen essentials. Even though our kitchen is looking more like a bomb site than a beautiful calm and organised space, I feel that writing about organising it, is in some way helping with my anxiety! So here goes.
A few years ago I took a stand and got rid of those ugly mugs and plates that I had picked up from charity shops when Dan and I set up our home. Deciding there and then to buy only things that were simple in style and practical in nature. Preferring to use a classic style that will last and never date. Gone are the beer glasses bought home on a drunken night out, and those brightly coloured mugs given as christmas present. Begone ugly things!
Instead I have chosen to collect simple things that I will love forever, and if I don’t, I won’t mind passing on to charity or selling on Ebay. Here are some of my tips to Kitchen essentials:
Plain cafe-style glasses
Last year I bought 12 Duralex cafe glasses, sturdy and simple, these glasses have proven to be unbreakable and chip proof. We use them for everything, juice, water, beer and wine. I’m even ok with the boys giving the cats a drink of water in them.
Over the years I have collected a set of old silver knives and forks, ones with cream coloured handles from flea markets, car boot sales and French brocantes. They are pretty and practical too, great for styling and for chucking in the dishwasher. I have nothing that is too precious otherwise I would never use it. Stainless steel is a great alternative, check out Ikea for affordable options.
I have just invested in some new saucepans, stainless steel with glass lids. Perfect for all types of cooking from making pasta dishes to boiling vegetables. I have one large non stick frying pan, which after years of using an old frying pan without the teflon coating – I am a huge fan of non stick! Copper pans are great too, but you can’t pop those in the dishwasher, so I keep mine for styling purposes only. Not for every day use.
Cast Iron oven proof pan
For years I have yearned for a Le Cruset casserole dish, something to sit atop the stove and bubble away all my one pot creations. But the price always put me off. Then I realised it needn’t be that expensive, and one from the supermarket is just as good. Try to buy one with a metal handle rather than a rubber one, so you can put it in the oven.
I’m still trying to get on top of this. For years we’ve been using plastic handled cheap set from Argos which I bought nearly 20 years ago! They are blunt, terrible to use and for a styling point of view – bloody ugly! If you can afford it get something that is great to use, I am in love with these box wood handles from Trouva. I’m also going to get a magnetic knife rack once we’ve completed the kitchen remodel. Remember you will only need probably three knives, so forgo buying a cheese or fish knife, just get decent a bread, chopping and slicing knife – it is all you need.
Wooden boards to me are the best. I have a tendency to hoard boards, but actually you probably only need three – a bread board and two decent chopping boards. Also invest in some plastic boards for chopping meat, these can be kept in a draw when not in use and popped in the dishwasher to clean thoroughly.
Wooden spoons / spatulas
These can be picked up cheaply from most supermarkets. Or if you have a family of wood whittlers, why not get them to make you some. I have wonky wooden spoons for every purpose. There is nothing better than using a hand made something to stir your pot.
Mugs / cups
I’ve got a bit of thing for hand thrown ceramics, and have collected a selection of mugs made by hand. They give me pleasure every time I use them. These are particularly nice, and give a small amount of colour if you need some in your kitchen.
Plates / bowls
White is always the best option for plates, they can look formal for a special dinner party or do equally well for your toast and jam. Go for a simple shape, that looks timeless. Again Ikea does plenty of plain white styles. I also have a selection of white brocante plates which add a little texture to the table. Gold edges, white faded flowers all add a bit of interest.
As for your other items in your cupboards, I would suggest a monthly clear out. Tupperware that looks old or stained should be chucked, anything you haven’t used for a few months assessed and sent to charity or sell. Think, do you need all of those jam jars / storage jars of old tea / mis-matched plates and cutlery. If you do fine, then keep it… but remember we are trying to simplify things here.
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Lou Archell, a writer, photographer, stylist and founder of Littlegreenshed. A UK lifestyle & travel blog
Lou is also a busy mum of two amazing boys and the founder of Sisterhood Camp – an annual creative retreat for recharging and empowering brilliant ladies, Lou is passionate about supporting and inspiring others whether through her workshops, writing, photography or lifestyle hacks.