Minimalism is all about defining what really matters, and letting go of non-essentials. Creating a more minimalist kitchen can help you feel more organized, reduce waste, and save money!
My minimalist kitchen looks a little different than most magazine worthy pristine white, subway tiled kitchens you may think of. My pantry isn’t full of matching glass canisters, and my spice rack definitely isn’t uniform.
I’ve upcycled, recycled, and found many of the items in my kitchen secondhand, which fits my low waste lifestyle perfectly.
Some of the items mentioned are higher priced investments if bought new, but are made to last a lifetime. I’d rather pay more for a quality product, than replace cheaply made items over and over.
If you’re exploring the idea of pairing down to a more minimalist kitchen, this post covers everything from:
- basic design elements
- organizing small spaces
- my list of minimalist kitchen essentials
- kitchen tools you probably don’t need
Plus how to manage it all on a smaller budget!
Join the No Waste Community for regular tips on wasting less, eating well, and saving more!
What is a Minimalist Kitchen?
Whether it’s a tiny apartment or an open concept home, the minimalist principals are the same. Essential tools and none of the extra “stuff” that can lead to a cluttered home.
There’s no ‘one size fits all’ version of what a minimalist kitchen should feel or look like, but they do all have common themes throughout.
This section explores what makes a kitchen ‘minimalist.’
Minimalist Kitchen Colors
This outdoor themed minimalist color palette from The Digital Artisans would be perfect for a minimalist kitchen. Minimalist design embodies much more than just a plain white tones.
Minimalist design favors natural tones like whites, light greens and greys, wood features, and sometimes even contrasting, black accents.
These color combinations are meant to create a soothing aesthetic, which is pleasing to the eye.
When we first purchased our home, the kitchen was painted bright green and had a dark brown accent wall where the table sat.
There was no $10,000 dream kitchen renovation, but we’ve slowly made updates over the years in order to save money and maximize the space.
The biggest game changer was painting the walls a shade of light gray. This small DIY project was only around $100, and the lighter color has made all the difference! Check out a before and after!
Natural light may not be possible in every kitchen, but the more the better. You can’t help but feel cheery in a bright, sun soaked kitchen.
You’ll never see a minimalist kitchen with gadgets littered on every countertop. Everything has a proper storage place.
Clutter subconsciously causes anxiety, no matter the room. Too much kitchen clutter makes finding the motivation to cook that much harder.
On the other hand, a clean and organized kitchen creates a pleasurable and relaxed cooking experience.
A kitchen organization strategy can save a lot of time and effort during meal prep. Having a designated space for everything– ingredients, cooking equipment, utensils, and food storage containers– means never having to rummage around for what you’re looking for.
Which means more time to cook good food, eat, and socialize!
A minimalist kitchen may have fresh flowers or a few natural plants around, but definitely no decorations in every nook and cranny.
Extra decor takes more time to clean and organize, which we’d rather spend on things we love.
This one is super important. Most minimalist kitchens have a limited number of kitchen tools, cookware, and dishware.
Kitchen appliance companies have marketing strategies in place to make us buy the next best thing. Whether it’s designed to save us time, make us healthier, or simplify the cooking process– they want us to believe we can’t survive without it!
I recommend doing a kitchen inventory every six months to a year to evaluate which items are getting the most use. You can sell, donate, or give away what you don’t need.
How to Organize Your Minimalist Kitchen on a Budget
An organized kitchen will save time, money, and unnecessary stress. Knowing exactly what tools and ingredients are on hand prevents accidentally buying the same thing multiple times.
My favorite tips to keep a tidy kitchen (without breaking the bank) are below.
Remove Counter Clutter
The first and most important rule of an organized kitchen: always put items back in their place!
Only daily use items should be kept on the counter. For us, that’s the toaster and coffee maker. All other items are kept in cabinet storage until needed.
I found a rack that fits underneath shelves or counters at Aldi for just a few dollars. It’s perfect for cookbooks and frequently used spices.
Keep Things Within Reach
Organizational experts recommend storing your most used items at eye level. Keep those daily use items on lower shelves within arms reach for easy access.
Take Advantage of Buckets, Bins, and Labels
Grouping similar items together in the pantry and fridge helps keep spaces orderly. Labels ensure you never lose track of ingredients.
You can almost always find plastic storage containers or wicker baskets at any thrift store for a budget friendly option, or recycle a cardboard box. It’s not as pretty, but it’s functional.
Organize by Height
Smaller pantries should be organized in a “U” shape with larger items toward the back. Creating space in the middle of a shelf makes it easier to keep track of all the inventory.
Strategically Place Wall Hangers
Hanging kitchen tools on the wall can save storage space and function as decor as well. Suction hooks are a budget friendly option for hanging dish towels and cloth napkins when not in use.
Utilize Cabinet and Pantry Door Space
The inside of pantry and cabinet doors are prized real estate for storage. Racks for spices or lids from pots, pans, and meal prep containers are perfect to keep here.
Use Drawer Organizers
Keep eating utensils, cooking tools, and random items corralled with drawer organizers.
I have this made in the USA “everything drawer” organizer. It’s two levels, and therefore double the space of most organizers.
An Essential Minimalist Kitchen Inventory List
Everyone has their own list of essential kitchen items. I cook most meals at home, so the kitchen gets a lot of use. Keep in mind there’s not a lot counter space, and the pantry is just a small closet with a few storage shelves.
The items below are what I own and consider essentials for everything I cook on a regular basis. Some were gifted, some were bought secondhand, and some were purchased new.
Essential Minimalist Kitchen Tools for Cooking
Coffee Maker with a Reusable Filter (1)
This is number one on my list for a reason.
After a TON of research and reading reviews, I finally settled on a moderately priced, programmable Cuisineart coffee maker. It’s been going strong for years now.
I won a Keurig once and gave it away because I couldn’t stomach the idea of disposable K-Cups. And I’d love to have a pour over coffee maker one day, but it’s just not convenient at this stage of life.
Measuring Spoons and Cups (1 set)
I recently replaced an old, cracked plastic IKEA measuring cup set with a gorgeous stainless steel All Clad version I found at a huge discount. They were still an investment, but should last a lifetime.
Pro Tip: All-Clad occasionally sells products deemed unfit for stores on their website. They either have minor flaws or damaged boxes, and are sometimes up to 50% off or more!
You have to be on their email list to get notified of these sales.
Pyrex Glass Mixing Bowls (set of 3)
These have been with me since college 15 years ago, and still good as new! I love that Pyrex is made in the USA.
Handheld Can Opener (1)
There’s no room for an electric one, but the handheld version works fine.
Cutting Board (2)
One for larger jobs, and a smaller one for minor cutting needs. I currently own plastic cutting boards, but I’d eventually love to replace them with a natural wood version.
My minimalist tendency is to hold out until my things are too worn or stained to safely use.
Food Processor (1)
A Nutribullet Pro works perfectly for now. I’ve used mine for over 7 years for all of the following:
- grinding coffee beans
- nut/oat flour
- protein shakes
- grinding course sea salt
If and when it breaks down I’ll get a higher powered, larger processor. While it currently works well for now, sometimes I have to process foods in batches. I don’t mind, but it does take extra time.
Non-Stick Skillet (2)
I don’t love non-stick skillets because they have to be replaced every so often. But I deal because they’re lower maintenance and convenient when I’m feeling too lazy for cast iron.
Cast Iron Skillet (2)
Obsessed is an understatement when it comes to cast iron. I found my first Lodge skillet at a thrift store! It was a rusted mess, but I restored it and now it should last for lifetimes.
Cast iron is often sold secondhand because it literally lasts generations if cared for properly. If you don’t want to dig through thrift stores and flea markets, buy them online.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven (1)
My favorite secondhand find is my Lodge cast iron Dutch oven. I found a never before opened, still in the box version that I use for sourdough baking all the time!
If I didn’t bake as much, this would definitely fall on one of the non-essential lists.
Flat baking Sheet (2)
Two baking sheets are great for preparing multiple items in the oven at once.
Stainless Steel Pot (2)
I use these large pots for soups, pastas, and for cooking rice at least weekly.
This is definitely an essential tool, but I use it most for straining homemade broths.
I have two of these– one stainless steel and one silicone version for use with cast iron.
Chef Knife (2)
At some point, I want to invest in a quality knife set but for now we just have a few chef style knives.
I don’t cook with wine very often, but I drink several glasses a week. Essential!
Minimalist Kitchen Storage Essentials
We have a very basic food storage system, which very rarely includes anything plastic. I do save any ziplock type plastic baggies that comes into my possession for storing herbs and veggie scraps.
These are my storage essentials:
Pyrex Meal Prep Storage Set (set of 18 pieces)
We bought this set during a Black Friday sale. It came with a $15 rebate, which lowered the average cost to about $1 per storage container.
That’s a steal for anything Pyrex!
BeesWrap Reusable Plastic Wrap Alternative
I love my BeesWrap storage, and they’re on year three of usage right now. When they completely wear out, I’ll toss them in the compost.
Tupperware (4-5 mixed sized pieces)
Plastic tupperware, while not the most sustainable option, is great for packing snacks on a hike or while traveling.
They’re lighter and less likely to get damaged compared to glass storage.
Minimalist Kitchen Cleaning Materials
I make a lot of my own all purpose cleaners to help reduce plastic waste and harmful cleaning agents.
Natural All-Purpose Cleaner
My go-to cleaner for the kitchen is a simple citrus infused white vinegar and water solution. It works well on most surfaces except for granite and marble countertops.
Baking Soda (1 box)
Baking soda is great for cleaning kitchen sinks and the oven. Just mix it with water until it forms a paste, and let it sit for 30 minutes up to a few hours before scrubbing away!
Re-fillable Dish Soap (1)
I’ve been shopping at our local refill shop, The Good Fill for household products. If you don’t have a similar shop, nearby they ship orders nationwide in reusable packaging.
Dish Towels (3)
We still use paper towels occasionally, but we’ve transitioned to primarily dish towels for cleaning up spill.
Cleaning Cloths (4)
These are mainly for smaller spills and also paper napkin alternatives.
Stainless Steel Wool Scrubbers (3)
Steel wool scrubbers work magic on tough stains, and they last longer than regular sponges or magic erasers.
Dishwasher Tabs (1 box)
I buy these in bulk every 6 months or so for the dishwasher.
Minimalist Kitchen Tableware
We were gifted a hand-me-down set of all white tableware when we got married. The set is enough to host about six people, and I just borrow dishes if we have more than six guests over.
- Cups (6)
- Beverage Glasses (6)
- Dinner Plates (6)
- Salad Plates (6)
- Bowls (8)
- Silverware set (30 total knives/forks/spoons)
- Serving Spoons (2)
Reusable Water Bottles/Coffee Mugs (2 of each)
I feel like we’re constantly getting rid of reusable bottles!
Minimalist Kitchen Tools that are Nice to Have (but not essential)
These are all items we own, but don’t use on a daily basis and would probably be fine without.
I prefer the stovetop and oven for reheating food, but it’s convenient in a time pinch.
Crock Pot (1)
Our crock pot is used a couple of times a month. Anything I use it for could easily be prepared in one my larger stainless steel pots.
Pizza cutter (1)
This gets plenty of use, but a sharp knife works just as well.
Confession time! I actually saved a plastic set from a catered Panera lunch from an old job. Definitely not an essential tool for an indoor kitchen.
We do have a seperate set of tongs for grilling.
Cheese Grater (1)
I buy blocks of cheese and shred them. Although I don’t use it daily, it’s worth keeping around.
Mango Slicer (1)
This was an impulse by 10 years ago, but it ended up being a smart buy! I eat a lot of mangoes, and it somehow cuts precisely around every mango seed somehow!
This is similar to the one I have.
Pineapple Core Remover (1)
Another great purchase if you eat a lot of fresh pineapple! It’s like a corkscrew that goes into the pineapple just around the core, and then it magically lifts out the pineapple meat.
Mine is all plastic, but this stainless steel version would be even better!
Handheld Spiralizer (1)
This handheld version is a space saver, and the perfect size for squash and carrots. You insert the vegetable and turn it like an old school pencil sharpener.
Rolling Pin (1)
I used a wine bottle for the longest time before I decided to actually borrow my mom’s rolling pin. Since I don’t use it often, I don’t consider it essential.
Unfortunately I’ve never used these for their intended purpose– creme brulee. They do make perfect holders for dipping sauce though!
Muffin Tin (1)
I go through muffin phases every few months, which is why this it’s only a nice-to-have item.
Glass Baking Loaf Pan (1)
These are perfect for quick breads, but I don’t use it nearly as often as I’d like.
Knife Sharpener (1)
This would be classified essential had I not recently discovered you can sharpen knives using the rough bottom of a coffee cup.
A sourdough baking banneton is my latest kitchen purchase. It’a a linen lined basket used for final proofing stages. Dough doesn’t stick to it as badly as the mixing bowl I used before.
I only bake every few weeks, so that’s why it’s a ‘nice-to-have’ item.
10 Items a Minimalist Kitchen will NEVER Have
Some people swear by some of these tools, but you won’t find many self proclaimed minimalists own many of them. They’re often bulky, take up too much space, and are difficult to clean.
With a loaf pan and Dutch oven, I’m not sure why anyone would need an actual bread machine.
I’ve always used a pot for this, and most rice is cooked within 20 minutes.
Kitchen Aid Mixer
If you bake a lot, I get why this might be an essential tool. I typically bake bread, not desserts so I definitely wouldn’t need it.
I don’t even own a hand mixer, but I’ve considered starting with that.
Pancake fan over here! And waffle makers take up a lot of unnecessary kitchen real estate!
More Than One Coffee Machine
Some people have their primary coffee maker, and then an extra pour over coffee maker for when they have more time.
If ever use one, I may have to reconsider, but for now I’ll keep just the one.
It’s probably much quicker to dehydrate food with this tool. I rarely, if ever need to, therefore I just the oven.
Again, I’ll just use the oven and get my food nice and crispy!
If an hour long tutorial is required before I feel comfortable enough to use something, I’ll pass. My simple crockpot has been doing fine as long as I plan meals in advance.
Pizzas can be baked directly on the oven rack. I actually prefer my crust crispy, which is much easier to accomplish without a pizza stone.
I rarely crave a warm sandwich, but my cast iron skillet with a plate on top of the sandwich actually works well!
Final Thoughts on Creating a Minimalist Kitchen
Creating a minimalist kitchen doesn’t have to cost a fortune. It’s more about creating the kitchen you love, and shedding the things that no longer serve a purpose.
Use the information in this post to help you design and organize your kitchen, plus pair down items you no longer need.
For more tips on how to waste less, save money, and eat well, join the No Waste Community!
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