One of the things I was looking forward to the least when we moved into our 400 sq. ft. house was the tiny kitchen.
I’d been living in a one bedroom apartment for four years and then a studio, but the kitchens in those spaces were expansive compared to the tiny little space I was about to try and cram my cooking arsenal into.
My kitchen consists of two shelves, two reasonably deep cupboards, and two more that are only about a foot deep.
There’s no counter space to speak of, other than a single surface to prepare food.
I knew going into it that I was going to have to really take a look at my kitchen stuff and pair it down in order to function in that tiny space efficiently.
When it came to food preparation tools, like pots and pans, I stuck to the one of each rule. One big frying pan, one small. One cast iron pan. One cookie sheet, one big casserole dish, one small. By eliminating duplicates (many of which I’d accumulated as hand me downs through school) I was able to fit most of my cookery into one of the cupboards.
I think everyone reading this has some product in their kitchen that they’ve never used but can’t bring themselves to throw out or donate. Something that you think you’ll need someday, perhaps? I took a hard look at what had been gifted to me over the years and started to pair down.
I got rid of the handheld mixer (I love to cook, but don’t bake), the four beer pitchers, the small veggie chopper, and innumerable other things that I knew that I’d honestly never use. I didn’t get rid of everything though, I kept one nice glass pitcher, the gravy boat, the handheld immersion blender, our Magic Bullet, and I’ll keep our new blender until it croaks. Sure some of that stuff I only used occasionally, but it was worth hanging on to. Most of it – however, got donated.
I live with my fiance, and since our place is so small, we don’t entertain too often. Because of this, an expansive collection of plates and bowls isn’t necessary. I have a set of four bowls, plates and mugs, and that’s more than enough. A bonus to having less of this stuff is that doing the dishes is so much easier! We’re never tempted to leave the dishes unwashed, because we’ll run out if we do!
Living as a minimalist in a small kitchen can be a challenge. Things can get messy and out of control in the small cupboards quickly. The only way to keep things under control is to clean and organize frequently. Any food ingredient that is more than a year old gets put on the “cook with this now” list or gets tossed.
For example, I’ve had a bag of dried black beans taking up valuable real estate in my cupboard for awhile now. Our mission this month is to use them up, otherwise, they’re getting tossed! Luckily, because there’s so little space, frequent cleaning and organization sprees don’t take long.
There are a few things that I need for cooking, but rarely use. I hate pawing through various items in my cupboards in search of a random utensil or pan, so instead, anything that doesn’t get used regularly goes into storage in our laundry room, where space isn’t so precious.
If I need the item, I’ll go and get it. This is where I keep my crock pot, my large simmering pot, and my roasting pan.
This is the key to a minimalist kitchen. Do you really need three salad bowls of varying sizes when a mixing bowl will do the same job? Do you need a complete tupperware set when you can just throw some tin foil over a bowl and achieve the same effect?
My favourite double duty item is the mason jar. It makes the perfect container to store dry goods, left overs, smoothies, freshly ground coffee, and for taking my lunch to work. I even use one to grow sprouts at home. I always have a few mason jars in rotation for whatever needs done.
I recently was trying to help a friend pair down her kitchen utensils. She had everything one could wish for in a well appointed kitchen, but no place to put it all. Every time I would make a suggestion for her to get rid of something, she’d explain why she needed to keep this item. This went on for awhile until I realized that she didn’t want to give up any of her stuff.
Being a minimalist in the kitchen takes some adjustment. There will be moments when you say “Damn, I wish I had _____”. Eventually, those moments will become fewer and farther between, and in time, you’ll be completely adjusted to living with a minimalist kitchen.
Do you ever feel like you are trying to keep up with the Joneses? It seems like everywhere I turn, a big purchase is happening to someone I know. A massive 3 story house, nice cars, fancy vacations, a new iPad every other month and everything else.
When a friend goes out and buys the next greatest phone or buys a new car every couple of months, it kind of makes you wonder, and maybe it makes you jealous?
I’m not going to lie, the jealous monster takes over my life every now and then. This is something that I am working on and something that I need to change in my life. Am I the only one? Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person who is jealous and no one else has these crazy feelings. Since my extra income seems to be continually increasing, sometimes I feel the urge to spend it.
Maybe the jealous monster has taken over your life as well and you are trying to keep up with the Joneses.
We know someone who isn’t showy with his money, he is careful with how he spends his money. He doesn’t buy all the latest gadgets that don’t mean anything to him. Instead he spends money on his family, vacations, making his house into a home, family gatherings at his home, and other things that truly mean something to him.
He is the perfect example that just because you “might” have money to spend, it does not mean that you should. Buying all of the newest things all of the time doesn’t always mean everything in life.
Winter is not one of my favourite seasons. I live in Canada and here, winter is a long, dark, cold season. The snow hits in December, and stays until April. Temperatures can go down to -35C (-31F) and stay there for weeks, and we measure the snow on the ground by feet, not inches or centimetres.
I’ve never really been an outdoor sports kind of girl, and winter is no exception. Since I don’t ski, snowboard, snowmobile, skate, or play hockey, a lot of the great nordic past times are lost on me.
That said, I’ve got family here, so I really can’t see myself moving to a warmer climate anytime soon. So, I’ve come up with a bunch of fun, frugal winter activities that make passing this season a little easier, and a little more fun.
Snow Man Building - After a fresh snowfall, nothing is more fun than building a snow man. The snow is usually best for building snowmen when the weather is warmer, the excess moisture makes the snow pack together well. As an adult, I find building snowmen creatively to be a lot of fun.
A Winter Fire - I love campfires, and winter campfires are no exception. They help you stay warm during a day of fun outside, and there’s no worry about starting a forest fire like there is in the middle of summer. Just make sure not to get too close! Once when huddled around a fire in the winter, I melted the rubber sole of my shoe – I was just trying to get warm.
Admiring Christmas Lights - This used to be something that the older members of my family did, but in the last few years I’ve really come around to their way of thinking. (Maybe I’m just getting old?) Taking a stroll around the town to admire some of the festively decorated houses can be a lovely way to spend the evening.
Sledding - Parks, meadows, and school playgrounds are great venues for sledding. Ideally, there’s a hill involved, but make sure it’s not too long (long walk back) steep (too much speed) or near any roads (danger!) Also, avoid waxing your sledding aparatus, lest you end up like dear Clark.
Hunkering Down - One of my favourite past times during a heavy snow fall (after I’ve ensured I don’t need to navigate the roads anytime soon) is to just hunker down in my little house and watch it come down. Add in a cozy blanket, a cup of tea, and a movie, and you’ve got yourself one of my ideal afternoons.
Now, a lot of these outdoor activities can end up pretty unpleasant. Cold feet, runny noses, chapped lips and too much ambition can make any of the activities above end up a lot less pleasant than you’d planned. So, follow some of these basic tips to help keep your frugal winter activities fun.
Warm Drinks - My drink of choice is hot apple cider (rum optional). I always make sure to bring a warm drink along on any trip in my mega-insulated mug. Whenever I start to get chilly, my warm beverage helps ward off the cold.
Lip Balm and Tissues - I run outside all winter long and these two items are always on my must have list. The cold, dry air chaps not just my lips, but the end of my nose and my cheeks. If there’s a breeze, my eyes run like crazy, streaming tears that are likely to freeze if I don’t wipe them away. The tissues also come in handy for my perpetually runny nose. (How’s that for a nice mental picture?) If I don’t have these two items during a winter excursion, I’ll definitely have less fun!
Appropriate Attire - Don’t be a tough guy/girl and skimp on winter gear if you want to have a fun day out in the white stuff. A wicking base layer is key to keeping any sweat your planning on working up from giving you a chill, and from there it’s all about insulation and wind breaking. Don’t forget to equip your feet, head and hands, as much as the rest of you.
There are, undoubtedly, fewer frugal and fun winter activities than there are in the summer time. There are fewer festivals, flea markets, and open air events. But that doesn’t mean that we all need to reach into our wallets in order to have a good time in the winter. With a little creativity and preparation, there are lots of fun, frugal activities to do in the winter time.