Tag Archives: Food

Simple Pancakes

The weekend is almost here! Time for slow, relaxing breakfasts with the ones you love. (If you eat breakfast.)

One of my favorite breakfasts is pancakes. Chocolate chip pancakes, to be precise. Yes, I am an adult that enjoys chocolate chips on her pancakes. So does my father. We are German.

Here is my favorite pancake recipe. It is quite simple and also happens to be vegan.

Ingredients*:

  • 1-1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2  C water
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Add the wet ingredients.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Pour ladles onto hot pan.
  5. Flip once, when most of the batter starts to bubble.
  6. OPTIONAL: Add chocolate chips! and spread when melted.

Enjoy!

* C = cup
t = teaspoon
T = tablespoon

What’s In My Hospital Bag for Baby #3

It’s nice to have some extra clothes and home comforts in the hospital with you when it’s time to deliver your baby. And of course there are the things you need, which is actually a lot less than you might think (especially for a baby born during warm weather).

I’m speaking from the vantage point of delivering a baby in a hospital as opposed to anywhere else because a hospital is where I birthed my previous two babies and plan to birth my third. I really have no idea what other situations might be like or the accessories they might entail. Judging from experience, I like how easy my hospital makes it for me.

First, a list of what is in my bag.

The Essentials

  • A postpartum outfit. For me, this summer, this means maternity waisted (as in not full-panel elastics) shorts and maternity waisted jeans (I highly doubt I’ll wear the jeans, but who knows, maybe there will be a cool night); a loose v-neck t-shirt; and one nursing bra. I will have the shoes I wear to the hospital – either sandals or flip-flops. A nice summer dress would also do nicely, but I’m wearing them constantly pre-delivery and I don’t want to take even one out of rotation to make sure it’s clean and packed and ready to go.
  • 2 outfits for the baby. Outfit 1: A Newborn Size short-sleeve onesie; tiny shorts; a thin cotton hat; and Outfit 2: a Size 0-3 Months short-sleeve shorts romper; with previously mentioned thin cotton hat.
  • Baby mittens. So the silly baby doesn’t scratch himself up with his newly exposed fingernails.
  • 2 thin baby blankets. Many people take the blanket from the hospital, but they really don’t want you to. I use hospital blankets whenever possible, however, so if they get messy they will be laundered right away. I wrap my newborn in one blanket for a while and then send it home with visiting family so they can introduce the scent of the new family member to our cats. The other thin baby blanket should be more than enough to keep the baby warm if his outfits aren’t enough.
  • Extra contact case and solution. I am in the habit of removing and cleaning my contacts every night and I suspect my eyes would hate it if I kept them in for 2-3 days straight in the hospital. I just don’t like sleeping with contacts in either. I want to be able to put them back in during the day, though, because my glasses aren’t comfortable enough to wear all day.
  • Eyeglasses and case. Okay, these aren’t technically in my bag yet because I still wear them every night. But I have a Post-it Note next to my bag reminding me to grab them out of my nightstand before leaving for the hospital. As it gets closer to my due date, I will just store them in my hospital bag, taking them out for whenever I need to use them at night.
  • My purse. This includes my wallet with all necessary ID, insurance cards, and money, and my cell phone.

The Comforts

  • Nursing pads. At home I use washable organic cotton nursing pads. A cousin had given me a box of disposable ones that I kept forgetting to use at home when Pigpen was nursing. I’m packing them mostly so they’ll get used, and somewhat because I think they might be convenient to have.
  • Cell phone charger.
  • Camera and charger.

Now a list of things I am not bringing.

  • Diapers/feminine pads/disposable underwear. The hospital provides all we need and more to take home with us.
  • Toiletries. The hospital provides it all. And I’ve actually never showered in the 2 days spent at the hospital after giving birth. I’m too busy sleeping, nursing, interacting with doctors and nurses, and generally recovering. I’ve already established that I don’t need to shower very often to feel good. You may want to shower, but the hospital should provide all you need to do so.
  • Slippers or socks. My hospital provides comfy, fuzzy, grip-y socks with my gown as soon as I get a room.
  • Baby socks. Summer here is quite warm and, again, the baby blanket can pick up any slack.
  • Book or magazine and journal. I’ve brought these before and never used them. During the day, I’m busy. At night, I try to sleep. For entertainment, I talk with my husband or we watch the luxury of cable tv, which we don’t have at home.
  • Snacks. The hospital provides me with all the food I need. Andrew isn’t included in the meal plan, but that’s up to him. I’ve got enough to worry about. If I get hungry, I send Andrew out to bring me extra food.
  • iPod.

All that I am bringing fits in a medium-sized backpack with room to spare. I am a minimalist so I am not bringing much. But I will definitely have everything I need. I’ve learned I don’t need other “comforting” items, because as long as my husband is there and my baby is healthy, I’m good.

2-3 days is not a long time and there is actually a lot to do. Mind you, I believe that rest is a very important thing to do in the hospital. (Especially before we bring our tiny new infant home to two toddlers.) I don’t need my hospital room to emulate a luxurious hotel room or spa experience to accomplish the simple act of resting. We are there to get our baby safely from my belly into the world and to ensure he’s healthy enough to go home. Then we get comfortable, in our family home, together.

Sun Tea in 4 Easy Breezy Steps

In the sunny days of summer, I like to make sun tea. It’s very easy to make and super refreshing to enjoy as iced tea when finished. Here’s how I do it.

  1. Prepare. I use 3 tea bags in a wide-mouth half-gallon Ball jar. There are plenty of sun tea jars you can buy, but I don’t like them because their specificity limits their use and most of them are made of plastic. Mason jars are extremely versatile and classic. I use 3 tea bags — usually 2 black tea and 1 fruity herbal tea — because I don’t need my tea to be very strong. I fill the jar to about 1500 ml or 6 cups and cinch the tea bag strings in the lid when I screw it on, leaving just the tags out.
  2. Brew. I place the jar in a sunny spot in my backyard for about half a day, or until it looks like the tea is a nice, tasty shade of brown. Then I bring it in and discard the tea bags.
  3. Embellish. Sometimes I add some honey to the jar and it is best to do this when the tea is still warm from the sun so the honey melts in evenly — stir well or give it a vigorous shake (if you’re using a sealed mason jar). Alternatively, you can add sweetener per glass as you drink it (works well if people in your family prefer varying sweetness) or leave the sweetener out all together.
  4. Serve. If I want to drink it right away, I’ll add a bunch of ice cubes right to the jar and shake it again before pouring myself a glass. Otherwise, I’ll store it in the refrigerator and pour it over a glass of ice when I’m ready for a drink. It’s best to drink the tea within a week. If you add sweetener, use within 4 days.

Alternatives:

  • Add crushed fresh mint to brew with 2 black tea bags.
  • Add lemon or other fruit slices (strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, peach) while storing in the refrigerator.
  • Instead of using black tea, mix and match any combinations of black, green, white, cinnamon, or flavored tea.
  • After the tea is cooled, freeze in Popsicle molds for a frozen treat.

Enjoy!

Cooking

I don’t think cooking more in itself will simplify my life. Buying prepared food is easy and fast, but it’s expensive (and spending more money than I have complicates my life). It would be even more expensive to have a personal chef to prepare all of my meals for me, so that’s not happening any time soon. Therefore, knowing how to cook is a very useful skill.

Cooking simplifies food in the way that we know everything that went into our meals. Our diet is simplified. Cooking from scratch reduces the ingredients so we’re eating basic elements of life grown from the earth, not “edible food-like substances” concocted in labs or extra ingredients to lengthen shelf time. (Michael Pollan’s books and documentaries are great resources for getting back to the roots of our food and how humans eat.)

I did not learn how to cook growing up. I could prepare myself some food — like boil pasta, make myself an English muffin pizza, pour cereal, chop up a salad, etc. I could survive, but my repertoire was not very balanced or interesting. I didn’t know what a roux was, how to reduce a sauce, how to make pancakes from scratch, what causes food to rise or be sticky or caramelize, or what happens when you whip in some air. I’ve learned a lot and I continue to learn new things all the time. (I still don’t really know the difference between boiling and braising.)

I’m not taking a kitchen 101 class or a cooking course or anything. I’m just going in the kitchen and trying my hand at cooking different recipes. Sometimes they work — most of the time they work — but sometimes they flop. I learn from both outcomes. And I’m having a lot of fun doing it.

I put “cook new recipe” on my weekly to-do list for a month before I finally got around to doing it, but now I’m on a roll. I don’t even have to put it on my list anymore. Every Saturday morning before work, I drink my coffee and flip through a cookbook (usually The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook) and pick out 2 or 3 recipes to try to that week. Then I go to the grocery store after my shift and get everything I need to cook those recipes. This has been the best form of meal planning for me so far.

Cooking is more than a hobby for me. I wouldn’t really call it a passion either. It’s a way of life, I guess? It’s a way to life? We cannot survive without eating and being able to provide for ourselves will make ourselves better — more independent and more sustainable. And, above all, I enjoy cooking. I think it’s fun and interesting and sexy and delicious.

Cooking, I believe, is love — that we give to ourselves and share with others.

My Minimal Cookbook Collection

French Women Don’t Get Fat

If I could only have 1 cookbook to use for the rest of my life, I would choose this one. The recipes contained therein are simple, made with real ingredients, diverse, and overall very healthy (because they are made from scratch with real food). It is the first cookbook I go to when I’m in need of a recipe or ideas. I shop from this book. I find the stories and text entertaining and helpful. I also think it’s beautiful.

There are no photos in this book. At first, it kind of threw me off and I didn’t really like it. How was I supposed to know what I was trying to make? How would I know if I did it right? What’s it supposed to look like? But the more I’ve cooked from this book, the less it has bothered me. Now I quite prefer not having any photos to judge my creations against. I use my own imagination in presenting the meal and never feel bad if it isn’t as gorgeous as some staged photo would be. I make real food for my table, not set up for a photo-op. And the real judgement comes from how the food tastes. And I am always satisfied with how the food cooked from this book tastes.

Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker

I like this book for its set-it-and-forget-it-ness. I also value that it’s animal-free. However, it sometimes calls for some strange ingredients that I don’t like to cook with, or just haven’t tried because it is so foreign to me. I haven’t tried tempeh or seitan and don’t really use tofu. I know these foods are pretty ancient, but I didn’t grow up with them so they feel weird to me. I also don’t like things like textured vegetable protein (TVP) because it is not a real food — it’s an edible food-like substance concocted in a lab and produced in a factory.

There are still a lot of simple (and natural) recipes to cook from this book that are quite delicious. Most recipes call for a lot of ingredients, but it makes a lot and is usually a balanced meal on its own. I don’t really think ahead enough to use our slow cooker as much as I could. And yet I actually enjoy the act of cooking and the slow cooker takes a lot of that away. On heavily-scheduled days, though, it can really come in handy.

The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

I don’t usually use this book to cook regular meals at home, but it has some gems in it — especially things I use for sides. (The Brussel sprouts with bechamel sauce is so good.) Most recipes are just a little more complicated than I prefer, but it is quite a fun book, especially for a huge Harry Potter fan like me.

We make the sweet treats (of which there is a lot) whenever we want to bake together with the children or want a dessert for a special occasion. And we make the more complicated recipes when we want to spend some quality time cooking together. For example, the meat pies. I don’t have the time or patience to make them entirely from scratch by myself on a weekday, but if Andrew and I want to spend the day together and have a nice meal after, it’s perfect.

Crazy Sexy Kitchen

Another vegan cookbook that contains some ingredients too weird to be found in my pantry. A beautifully designed book with a lot of photos and information for those who might be new to veganism. As a whole, the book is more strict with food than I care to be (I just don’t care all that much about making sure all of my meals are pH-balanced), but then I know every option is super-healthy. Even the desserts only use naturally-derived, complex sugars.

Again, I don’t use this book very much in my day-to-day cooking, but it’s got a lot of interesting recipes for when I’m feeling adventurous. I also have a good amount of friends and family that are stricter vegans than my family at home, so this book is great when I’m preparing food for parties or get-togethers with them.

Sweet Talk: Where I Am Now?

There’s a bit of a [huge, glaring] discrepancy between my post this past Wednesday and the post of my September-October sugar journal. As in, Wednesday I admitted I was still struggling with sugar, but I claimed to have given it up for good at the end of October.

I honestly don’t even remember making that decision. That obviously wasn’t very mindful of me. Now I’m thinking that it wasn’t a conscious decision at all, but one born out of my frustration at the difficulty of introducing moderate sugar back into my life. It was kind of like, this is hard! I give up! Instead of re-evaluating where I should make some changes to make things work better for me.

I doubt it was the next day that I started eating sugar with abandon, but once I stopped tracking what I ate, I just didn’t pay as much attention. I paid attention, just not as much. Not enough.

It was a gradual slide from the end of October to now. I still don’t feel addicted anymore, which is very good. But I’ve given in to cravings and I’ve had bad days where I felt like crap because I didn’t realize how much sugar I was consuming throughout the day.

I must be honest with myself and admit that I am not an all-or-nothing type of person when it comes to food. Cigarettes? Definitely. I’ve never had one and never will because they are proven bad, bad, bad. Alcohol? I have some. It can be harmful, but it has some benefits, too. So I drink in moderation. But I’ve never struggled with either of them like I struggle with sugar.

I like my original Rules and am going to follow them again. I won’t track everything I eat, because as long as I’m avoiding sugar that’s NOT

  1. part of a whole food or
  2. honey, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, or
  3. the occasional exception
    1. ice cream, when there is walking involved
    2. homemade desserts (i.e. dinner parties)
    3. restaurant desserts (rare)
    4. anything I want on my birthday

I will be fine. Those 3 sweetness circumstances are hard to come by in my suburban New Jersey area, believe it or not, unless I’m cooking at home. It allows sweetness in my life (fruit, honey, syrups, birthday treat) without the likelihood of extreme excess (half a box of cookies, cake icing, jars of candy, etc).

It’s an ongoing experiment. I will not allow perfection to be the enemy of the good here. I will be mindful, while still enjoying small pleasures. I will try to be better. I will do my best.

Sweet Talk: My 6 Week Sugar Journal (9/16-10/16)

[This is a companion post to Sweet Talk: My Battle With Sugar]

The Rules

  1. Eat whole foods.
  2. Accepted sweeteners are:
    1. honey
    2. maple syrup
    3. brown rice syrup
  3. On my birthday, I can have whatever kind of ice cream I want.

Reminder — Sugar per day = 6-9 teaspoons or 25-37 grams

[Food list has been omitted for brevity.]

DAY 1

Went quite well. Good start. Actually quite shocked about the amount of sugar in the Taco Bell stuff.

DAY 2

A little nervous today because I have work and there are treats here. I have gum for intervention. And, whoa, that bread! Gotta stay away from certain brands.

Whoo-hoo! I did really well today! If I had a different brand of brand it would have been even better. Selfie-high-five! I did have 2 pieces of [sugar-free] gum at work though. I remember gum tasting better when I was younger. Now it seems… sensational. Like, sensational in the bad way like U.S. cable news stories are. I guess gum is not good because it is formulated. It is not good because it is not a whole food.

DAY 3

The sugar level of that jam is so crazy! I was soooo close to the limit, too. I’m learning, though. And I’m still proud of myself for today because I didn’t have any dessert at the German buffet. None! I resisted all the cakes and puddings — even the fruit. Good thing, too. I mean, damn, jam!

DAY 4

I can’t believe it’s only been 3 days. If I wasn’t keeping track, I’d have thought I had been “good” long enough and deserved a treat. Then I would have kept treating and treating, being addicted again. But I’ve really [barely] just begun.

I helped my mum make peanut butter bonbons today. Specifically, I did the chocolate melting and dipping part. And I didn’t eat or lick any of it at all!

I resisted salt water taffy, cookies, and grapes at work today!

DAY 6

Whoo-hoo! I did it! I got nervous there with that drink with dinner. I only drank half. It was a treat from Andrew. He brought pizza home for dinner and I saw he brought a 2 liter of soda home with it. I knew I wouldn’t drink it, but was a little disappointed because I wanted some. I really like the flavor of Dr. Pepper. Then he pulled out a bottle of Izze for me. And for a moment I got even more upset. He thought of me and my ragus aspirations and got me a special drink. So thoughtful of him! But I still didn’t think I should drink it. But I checked out the ingredient list and the sugars were from all natural juice. If I only drank half, I could fit it into my day.

And it was a very special treat. I wanted to drink more, but I was just really thirsty so I had water. Lots of water. I don’t know what Andrew did with the other half of the Izze Maybe I’ll find it [flat?] in the refrigerator tomorrow. I’m really, really appreciative of his help, support, and love.

DAY 7

Lot and lots of sweets at work today because of our supervisor’s return. I just enjoyed their ascetics. 🙂 Belly feels a bit bloated and squishy — just my monthly hormones? Or that drink yesterday?

DAY 8

I’ve been in quite a good mood for the majority of this past week. Could it be less sugar-fueled mood swings? Or the slightly cooler weather? Even Andrew noticed my good mood tonight.

DAY 9

Alright! Success, even with some cake in there. I treated myself to a big portion since I controlled the sweetness. Not too sweet at all. Sweetened by maple syrup and brown rice syrup. (The coconut whipped cream I attempted was a total fail, though.

Although I must say that after such a big portion so late at night, it’s sitting pretty heavy in my belly, and even up my throat a bit. I guess after 9 days I’m a bit detoxed?

Still in range for today so that’s good.

DAY 10

Oh, no!!! 2 teaspoons over. 🙁 It turned out I got the wrong kind of coconut cream and there was sugar added. 🙁 Won’t be making that mistake again. Back on target going forward.

DAY 12

Nice! Super low! I hope I didn’t forget to write anything down… Oh yeah, I had a slice of cheese to distract myself from a sweet craving.

DAY 13

Today I really wanted a rich, sweet, buttery cookie (more like a box of cookies), but I did not. So I felt deprived today.

Andrew offered me a bite of the rice pudding at the diner after dinner. I refused (even though I wanted some!) and Andrew said, “Good. That was a test. You passed.” I must admit I was proud of myself for “passing” his “test”. I mean, I can do it! I’ve been doing it for 13 days! That is quite the achievement for me. Honestly, I don’t know how I am doing it. Being mindful, I guess; paying attention to what I eat. And honoring myself.

Got quite the headache at the end of dinner until even now, though. Don’t know if it’s related to what I’ve been eating or something else.

DAY 14

I felt kind of deprived again today. Wanted… something. Sugar, I guess. That satisfying sensation in my mouth. Although, I guess it’s not “satisfying” because I never could get enough.

DAY 17

I was a bit lazy with tracking my food today and did it all tonight. Eh — it’s a Sunday. And I erred on the side of caution at dinner because I wasn’t sure where my numbers were so c’est bon.

DAY 18

Another headache tonight. 🙁 Upset stomach, too — too much coconut oil on popcorn?

DAY 23

Mother-in-law brought over freshly baked chocolate chip cookies today. Homemade! Warmish and smelling delicious! Chocolate chip cookies, especially homemade, are my favorite. This is quite a test. I will pass.

DAY 26

I found lunch to be really sweet today. Can you imagine? Me! Thinking half a kiwi and a few slices of orange makes a meal “really sweet”!

DAY 34

Really wanted a little Hershey chocolate bar today. I even had Andrew bring one to me. He said I shouldn’t deprive myself. Recent event highlighted the “life is short — enjoy it” argument for me. But sugar does not equal an enjoyable life. My self control is something I am proud of. I am not depriving myself — I’m teaching myself to be responsible, starting with a rigorous test.

I did not open that candy bar. I didn’t even smell it, ha. It sat next to me on the couch and I forgot about it — that would have been inconceivable a little over one month ago. The power is shifting back to me, away from sugar. I am proud and I will carry on.

DAY 38

I’m really doubting whether I want to go on with this or not. Part of me wants to just continue for 3 more weeks to complete the 8 week detox program designed by the writer of I Quit Sugar, but another part argues that she just made that 8 weeks up, it doesn’t mean anything, except, perhaps, that that’s what worked for her.

I feel good. I feel in control. I feel more confident when it comes to sweets. Wasn’t that my goal? To not be addicted? To not be a slave to cravings? Is wanting to do 8 weeks or 100 days just a silly quantifiable measure?

I never planned on quitting sugar for life. It, especially in chocolate, brings me great pleasure. I want to learn how to live in harmony with it in my life.

Aha. I will continue while introducing sugar back in my life, tracking what I eat and its sugar grams for the 3 more weeks, to learn how it looks like in my diet and practice moderating it.

DAY 39

Wow. Looks like I overdid it already. 🙁 Those little bits of sugary chocolate have a lot of grams and add up fast!

DAY 40

Wow, I’m bad at this.

DAY 41

Boo me! Well, no, boo frozen yogurt. I can’t believe that! It is SO much more sugar than ice cream! Give me fatty creamy ice cream — fro-yo is a disaster!

Boo me, this whole this is a disaster.

THE END

I am not going to track my sugar any more because… I have decided to give it up forever. (!)

I’ve tried to reintroduce sugar into my diet during this past week and it’s been horrible. I have noticed my moods were not as stable, my skin is broken out, and I’ve felt awful on the days that I’ve gone overboard. And it’s SO EASY to go overboard.

So I’m just giving it up. I won’t worry too much about ketchup and fruit, but I will be mindful. And perhaps on special occasions I will indulge. But I mean super special occasions. And I will indulge in good stuff, that’s worth it. The end.

Sweet Talk: My Battle With Sugar

I love(d) sugar. Too much. I was dependent on it. If my children didn’t nap, I went crazy, and a big reason for that was that I couldn’t have my sugary snack. I would only eat sweets while they were napping because I didn’t want to give them any. I know the effect sugar can have on a child. It’s something I’m battling 20 years later. I want to spare my children if I can.

First, I read I Quite Sugar by Sarah Wilson. I also flipped through her The I Quit Sugar Cookbook, but it is not great for anyone who wants to be mostly vegan. For vegan sugar avoiders, I would recommend Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr.

If you don’t want to read an entire book, there is this extensive, yet un-definitive, article by Gary Taubes for The Guardian.

As for my own story… it is disappointingly incomplete and failure-ridden. But it is a pursuit that I am still very interested in. Avoiding sugar is a very, very tough battle to fight on the American food-front, but I want to get strong enough to win it. Or at least survive through it.

I first became interested in quitting sugar when I realized I was addicted. I craved it and ate as much as I could, even though it left me feeling like crap. I needed it every day, usually at certain times, or else I would be irritable. I didn’t like being dependent on it to stay out of cranky moods. I wanted to be free of the addiction and I also knew it would be healthier for me.

I kept a journal, as suggested by Sarah Wilson, for 6 weeks — from last September to October — to track my sugar intake and how I felt. I will post a summary of those 6 weeks in another post.

Right now, I can’t say that I’ve quit sugar. I am much more aware of how much sugar is in foods, though, so I am better prepared to lower my intake at meals. It’s a lifestyle change, for sure, so I think it may be something that I can never complete. But I count being more mindful as a step in the right direction.

“If you are fighting to overcome an unhealthy addiction in your life — you are doing a noble thing.” – Joshua Becker

3 Easy Breakfasts

I don’t like to think too much in the morning. And I wake up really hungry. So I eat these breakfasts roughly 87% of the time. They are easy with the children, too.

  • Cereal with Fresh Fruit. I usually buy Cheerios, Rice Krispies, Life, or Shredded Wheat. The fruit is usually a banana. Strawberries and blueberries are a special treat from the grocery store. Raspberries are a special treat from our garden.
  • Yoghurt with Muesli. Plain, whole milk yoghurt. I buy Bob’s Red Mill Muesli.
  • Oatmeal with Nuts and Dried Fruit. Quick oats cooked on the stove. Usually chopped walnuts or almonds. Usually dried cranberries or raisins. I’ll usually drop in a little swirl of honey, too.

And that’s it.

When I’m feeling ambitious and have the time, I like to pancakes. I make them from scratch because it’s really easy — and then I just use stuff in my cabinets instead of buying another product. I usually serve them with eggs fried over-easy. Sometimes I serve them with chocolate chips. ^_^

Other times I will do eggs with toast. It’s one of my favorite breakfasts, actually, but I really don’t make it that much. It’s a little tougher to the little kids to eat. Maybe that’s what makes it so special for me. Because my favorite favorite is when Andrew let’s me sleep-in in the morning and he makes breakfast for everyone and it’s over-easy eggs with toast. Delicious.

Yes, but usually I keep it to the three listed above. I don’t get tired of them because there are lots of ways to change it up with each item. Easy preparation and clean-up is a big plus-side, too.

9 Tips for a Simple Kitchen

I can’t say that the kitchen is the most used room in our house because we have a small house and, frankly, all of the living areas get used a lot everyday. The kitchen is, however, the hardest room to keep clean.

We are in other rooms a lot, but a lot happens in the kitchen. Our only table is in our kitchen, so in addition to cooking and eating there, we use that surface for playing and working, too. Things are always being used and moved and dirtied and cleaned. Here are some tips I use to keep this complex area just a little more simple.

  1. Get rid of appliances and specialized or redundant tools. You don’t really need a hand mixer, an ice cream maker, a quesadilla maker, or a toaster oven and a toaster. You can use a spoon (or a stand mixer), a blender, a pan, or just the toaster or an oven. Keep only multi-use tools or appliances completely necessary for your style of cooking. Remember: owning less things means less storing, finding, cleaning, and replacing.
  2. Stash appliances and tools in the cabinets, cupboard, or a closet. Even the toaster. You probably don’t use it as often as you think, therefore, you don’t need it within reach taking up counter space at all times.
  3. Make your tools versatile. I used storage bowls as mixing bowls and cutting boards as serving trays.
  4. Embrace your ugly or “outdated” kitchen. Reading this post made me completely release a pesky renovation list from my head. Replace “ugly” with “quirky”. Styles come and go, but that doesn’t mean your kitchen can’t still serve its purpose. Embrace your quirky kitchen. As long as it works, right?
  5. Pick a few colors or one theme. We used to have an assortment of hand-me-down and thrift-shop plates, cups, bowls, etc. There is nothing wrong with second-hand things in themselves, but having a cohesive set makes things simpler. Dishes stack better, fit next to each other better, and reduce visual clutter (ex: multiple dish patterns in multiple color schemes). I’m all for second-hand, but get a complete, matching set to simplify things.
  6. Use a small refrigerator. Food won’t get shoved to the back to spoil if there isn’t any room for you to add new food in front. Eat what you have and shop fresh. Meals are more flavorful that way. You will waste less, be more creative, and save space. And a smaller refrigerator uses less electricity — good for your finances and the environment.
  7. Get rid of your dishwasher. Read this post explaining 8 reasons why.
  8. Organize by use. When we first moved into our house, we didn’t have a plan on how to use our kitchen. My husband and I never had a kitchen of our own before and we were unfamiliar with this one in particular. 4 years of trial-and-error later we finally reorganized and I LOVE it. Tools, cans, grains, nuts, flatware, spices and flavorings, baking supplies, and storage pieces each have their own designated areas. This makes cooking A LOT easier.
  9. Organize by ease of cleaning. This is a tip from Marie Kondo. (She is the tidying boss.) Keep surfaces clear — utilize all of your drawers and cabinets. When everything is out of the way, cleaning counters, tabletops, and floors is much simpler.

Enjoy your kitchen and the delicious food you prepare!

Do you have any tips for a simpler kitchen to share? Post them in the comments below!