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As I packed to move, I carefully scrutinized everything in my kitchen, deciding if we really needed it or not. Since we’ll soon be moving into a bus, space is valuable and we have no room for non-essential items.

Incidentally, the essential items in our simple kitchen are all multi-purpose items or tools that we use so frequently that it’s a miracle they even get put away (I’ve argued with myself about putting them away vs. just leaving them on the counter. Clutter-phobia wins over laziness.)

Here are the tools I just can’t part with:

1. Brewing Basket

I use this marvelous tool for brewing coffee and loose leaf tea. It fits in a mug, mason jar or thermos and allows us to make coffee or tea when someone, say, breaks the French press. Again.

 2. Blender

I bought a high-quality blender a few years ago and don’t regret the purchase for a second. We use it to make smoothies, sauces, almond milk and to grind small quantities of flour or flax seeds. It also has really cool videos on YouTube that may have swayed my decision to buy this particular brand.

3. Food Processor

I can’t decide if I love it because it’s so handy or if it’s because sometimes I get really lazy. I think it’s both. We use the food processor for grating cheese and bar soap for laundry detergent (not at the same time and yes, it’s always washed in between uses). I also use it to whip up small batches of pizza dough for the kids and “normal” cookies when I feel that I need to test my willpower.

4. Knives

Good knives are essential in a kitchen, even though they make me cringe (I have a weird thing with knives – some may call it a phobia). While we still have a knife block (your days are numbered, knife block), these are the main knives we use: 

  • Chef’s Knife
  • Paring Knife
  • Knife that’s a few inches longer than paring knife that Isaiah got ahold of and pulled through my hand when I tried to grab it (one of my worst nightmares come true).

Ian’s brother says that the first two knives, in addition to a boning knife are all anyone needs in the kitchen. I say that the boning knife sounds extremely sharp and I should not be handling such dangerous slicing tools.

5. Cast Iron Skillet

I love my cast iron skillet. It’s well-seasoned, so I can cook all sorts stuff without needing a chisel to clean it (thanks Honey!). Is it multi-purpose? Well … it can also be used as a weapon. (If you haven’t seen Tangled, go watch it and then come finish this. Ok, finish this first, then go watch it. If you’re anything like me, you’ll forget why you started watching a children’s movie in the first place and forget about this post.)

6. Cast Iron Dutch Oven

My brother-in-law (the chef) said that cast iron dutch ovens are invaluable. And I agree. Ian scored me one for $10 at a yard sale for my birthday one year and it gets used a lot. I use it to cook soups and curry, bake amazing sourdough bread and it’s on deck for sauté duty now that we only have one skillet.

You can even bake in it while camping if you have some good coals.

7. Stainless Steel Pots

If it were up to me, we’d only have our smallest stainless steel pot that we use on a very regular basis, especially since we also kept our Dutch Oven. However, someone has reminded me how awesome the bigger one is for canning and brewing beer. Which reminded me that it also heats up a good amount of hot water to be added to my baths. That is reason enough to keep something for me (even if it will be a while before we have a bath tub again).

8. Metal Measuring cups

If you read my post on heating food without using a microwave, you know why metal measuring cups make the list. We have two and they get used a lot for melting things like butter and coconut oil. There’s also measuring – they’re very good for that. But mostly I just love butter.

9. Glass or Metal Mixing bowls

I don’t like plastic and I have a thing for Pyrex. We have three glass mixing bowls, all are different sizes, so they fit nicely inside each other. I also have an 8-cup glass measuring cup with a lid that I tell myself I need because it’s good for holding my sourdough starter. But mostly, I just really like Pyrex. And then there’s the metal bowl with a handle and pour spout that I just can’t part with. It’s so handy.

10. Canning Jars

You know how I’m a minimalist who’s moving into a school bus? Well, you wouldn’t be able to tell if you saw all of my canning jars. And I barely can. (That one time last year when my husband canned all those tomatoes counts here).

But we use them for so many other purposes:

  • Food storage in the pantry
  • Leftover storage in the fridge
  • Drinking glasses
  • Kombucha brewing
  • Beer filling (we live in Oregon, the microbrew state, and like to sample different beer – sustainably)
  • Did I mention food storage?

I am not a canning jar hoarder, I don’t care what you say!

What are your essential kitchen tools?