We recently moved from a downtown loft to a house in suburbia. The kitchen was a very important part of our purchase, but we mostly got the house based on its fabulous location. Many of the houses we looked at had tiny kitchens with limited counter space. We were used to our huge island and having lots of room to move around and entertain in the kitchen. We did also gain a pantry and extra cupboards in the house. We even splurged to get a convection and induction range.
While checking the house out, a friend commented how empty the pantry was. I guess I agreed, although it definitely wasn't 'empty', but that's probably pretty close to how it will always be. I know I have a child under one year old, so I'm sure our food situation will expand as her appetite grows. However, I enjoy and have the flexibility to get fresh items often. I do cook in big batches, but only as much as our fridge/freezer can hold. I know we're in a North American bulk purchasing society, but that doesn't tend to be the way my husband and I shop or consume and it appears that helps our waistlines too. Although, I must admit that I recently stocked up on diapers (so our daughter is already changing things).
I enjoy throwing random ingredients together and trying new recipes. I often seek out google and type in a few items that I want to use together and see what recipes or images inspire me. I also often try to use up the items in my pantry. For example, I'll look and see that we have a lot of rice, or canned beans, or dried fruit and that will lead to a creation. Thus, I tend not to have a full pantry although I do have my staples, as I'm sure you do too. I guess this works really well with my attempt at living a minimalist lifestyle, even though that wasn't my intention, it's just how I approach the kitchen. It also helps me keep the kitchen somewhat clean and inviting.
It's not like my kitchen has no food, but it's also not heavily stocked (compared to some or depending on the day of the week). I started reading Brian Wansink's Slim by Design recently and he mentions that empty kitchens often lead to bigger waistlines - because people are eating out more. We use our kitchen a lot, but I think if it was full I might be overwhelmed. With a few key things on hand, I can figure out my meals for the week and reduce our waste, so it helps me be mindful too. This means we try all kinds of meals and is a handy way to help those with a strict food budget.
How do you approach your kitchen or pantry?
Steph Langdon, RD