5 things you can do to simplify...your kitchen

Buy it in bulk. There are a lot of ways to do this: some people love Costco, others love the bins at Whole Foods. Amazon subscribe and save is a great option with good prices and the convenience factor of having something delivered on a schedule. S sleeps in disposable diapers, so we have a standing order that comes like clockwork and saves us an extra 10-15%. We placed a big order with friends a few weeks ago from Country Life Naturals and I’ve got to tell you, I’m thrilled with my industrial-sized bag of red lentils and thinking I should have ordered 50 pounds of oats rather than a measly 25…

Give up meat. Really. It sounds scary but it isn’t. We’re not vegetarians, I just don’t buy meat. Or cook it. Almost ever. It frees up freezer space, eliminates an entire section of the grocery store, and keeps my list simple. There are also, of course, the nutritional reasons (which I actually find debatable), and the excuse to eat more nuts, beans, and lentils (though if you’re noticing a legume theme here, it’s because we need no excuse). Just stop buying meat.

Freeze! You’ve got extra room in your freezer now. Use it. Freeze odds and ends from your vegetables (onion roots, the white parts of celery, the too-tough stems of chard) in a big plastic bag and boil them for veggie broth (then freeze that too). Freeze even the tiniest bits of leftovers – a little leftover chili can be topping for a baked potato; a handful of anything can be combined with other handfuls to make soup. And, while you’re at it, freeze anything that might go bad soon. Freeze cherries and strawberries, bananas, tomatoes (yep, you can freeze them), bread, milk, cheese…the list goes on and on.

Make your yogurt. It’s so easy, I don’t even need to link to some intense tutorial. Here it is: get some milk (I usually buy a half gallon at a time, but it doesn’t matter). As with all yogurt, it will be most delicious if it’s whole milk, but any level of fat will do. Pour it into a dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot. Heat it until it’s 180 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, don’t buy one. Just wait until it’s steaming pretty seriously but NOT boiling. Then take it off the heat and leave it until it cools to around 110. Again, if you don’t have a thermometer, don’t buy one. Assuming you’re in a room that is, well, room-temperature, 110 will feel warm to the touch (use your wrist if you have poor circulation). Whisk in 3 Tbs of yogurt (this is your culture – start with storebought and then just remember to save a little bit every time you make it). Cover the pot, put it in your oven with the light on, and leave it overnight, then refrigerate. Voila. Yogurt. No joke.

USE your crockpot. Yogurt? You can make it in the crockpot. Veggie broth? You can make it in the crockpot. Chili? Crockpot. Pasta? Crockpot. Rice? Crockpot. You can put it in in the morning and have warm dinner at night. No stirring, no worries about burning, no management whatsoever. Turn it on and go about the rest of your life.

There are a zillion things I do in the kitchen to keep things simple, simple, simple. If you’ve got other ideas, share them in the comments!

Filed under: Simple Living

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