The Capsule Kitchen Checklist

  • Are you putting together your first kitchen?
  • Are you exploring a minimalist kitchen?
  • Do you wonder how to start minimalism?
  • Are you enjoying your “Capsule Wardrobe” and are you ready to apply the same approach to your kitchen?
  • Are you moving into a tiny house?
  • Are you downsizing the family home?
  • Would you love a great checklist that you can adapt to your own needs?
  • Would you like to live a more frugal, simple, and zero waste life?

If your answer to any of those questions was “Yes” then you are in the right place!

I have created a capsule kitchen checklist that will help you put together a collection of kitchen gear that is just right for you, saving you money, saving space, moving you toward your zero waste goals… and all that without sacrificing your ability to cook great food!

This is a simple living hack of the highest order! 

Building a capsule kitchen will allow you the freedom to own less, clean less, and find simpler ways to do the things you used to depend on equipment to do.  In short, you’ll gain skills, but you’ll also gain a cozy minimalist tiny house kitchen that lacks nothing except clutter!  You’ll enjoy the contentment that comes from having only what you need, nothing more or less.

If you downsize the contents of the family home, it’ll suddenly feel much larger.  You may even find that it’s time to downsize the family home as well as the contents – and living in a smaller home is the most effective strategy for saving money.  Frugal living doesn’t have to feel like sacrifice.  It can be luxurious when you discover that you can still cook everything you love, but without needing to dirty as many dishes.  And using less power tools in the kitchen is another effective strategy for saving money, one that you’ll appreciate each time you open the electric bill.  That’s why I created the Capsule Kitchen Checklist with an emphasis on kitchen tools that do not require power… tools like a simple whisk that you can use in place of a mixer to whip up Pavlova.  I know it can be done, because I’ve done it.  And thousands of cooks through the generations have made great food without modern kitchen appliances.  Simplifying our lives isn’t a step away from progress, it’s a step toward liberation.  And it’s exactly this kind of simple living wise thinking approach that will bring you closer to your dream life.

Ready to go purchase an Amazon tiny house kit?  LOL!  Perhaps we’ll just start with the kitchen today.

Get Your Capsule Kitchen Checklist First, get your free Capsule Kitchen Checklist PDF, print it out, then grab a pen. 


Then start here:

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Use this website to get strategy and inspiration and work through your kitchen as you listen to the videos.  You’ve got this!


You’re going to love the transformation of your kitchen!  You may even find (as I and a number of my friends have) that transforming your kitchen may also transform you.

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Purposeful Simplicity

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This is the first video in my “Lessons I Learned from living in a Tiny House” Series… here is “Purposeful Simplicity” based on chapter two of my new book, Kitchen Simplicity, now available on Amazon.

 

 

For more practical steps on right-sizing your kitchen (which is way more fun than downsizing) click on “home” above and explore the modules for creating your own capsule kitchen that works if you’re moving into a tiny house, studio apartment, Airstream, cottage, or any other kind of micro-living situation.

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And as always, thanks so much for following along with my tiny house journey!  I’m here to help you navigate the transition to a simpler life in a smaller space – or to help you live more expansively in the home you already enjoy.

All my best,

Carmen Shenk Logo Mini

 

24 Steps to a Kitchen that is Exactly Right for You!

Is the chaos in your kitchen on your last nerve?  Don’t even know what all you have in there anymore?  Have you been thinking about simplifying your life?  Isn’t it high time? Since my new book, Kitchen Simplicity (Tiny House Foodie) came out, I have continued to work to expand the resources I have to offer folks who are seeking to downsize or right-size their homes – especially the most challenging room: the kitchen!

Take it from me, a retired chef and restaurant owner who has lived in 125 sq ft for quite a few years now – it’s entirely possible to live tiny very comfortably – without sacrificing flavor or contentment.

A tiny kitchen still cooks – IF you right-size your collection of kitchen gear the right way.  I can help you through this process with a focused strategic process that you can take at your own pace.  It’s important not to waste your resources or get rid of something you’ll just have to replace later.  With that in mind, I’m so happy to announce my brand new 24 session Right-Size Your Kitchen Video Series: putting the Mmm back in Minimalism! Learn more >

Video Series

In 24 detailed sessions I’ll show you the practical steps to right-size every part of your kitchen collection.  You’ll soon be feeling the liberation of living tiny!  Learn more…

Kitchen Simplicity

IMG_3744My cute little book is ready for the world today, and I’m so pleased to make it available far and wide. This has been a long time coming! Find your copy on Amazon. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it!

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The Shareables are here!

And thanks so much to each of you! This sweet little book has been a labor of love for me, and to hear you all responding with such interesting and thoughtful reviews and comments on social media has just been incredibly gratifying! Over and over again I have been moved by the way people respond to this little book and I appreciate all of you so very much!!! <3

All my best,

Signature Tiny House Foodie logo

The Breville Smart Oven Air – Perfect for a Tiny House Kitchen! (plus… YOGURT!)

breville-smart-oven-air-oWhen a retired pastry chef and restaurant owner chooses the oven for her Skoolie… which one does she choose?  Ha!  It took me a while and a stack of research, but here are the reasons I choose the Breville Smart Oven Air (not an affiliate link).

  1. Since it will be the only oven in the Skoolie, it needs to be able to actually bake things.  In other words, it needs to be more than a toaster oven.  We had a glorified toaster oven in our first Tiny and it was good for many things but sometimes the limitations were vexing.  I read the product material and the reviews until I was confident that this oven could handle any baking challenge we are likely to throw at it.  Furthermore, after extensive testing, I now know that it cooks anything we like to eat (and then some) and we love it!you-deserve-to-be-free-1
  2. Size: It’s a small oven that is roughly the same size as the larger toaster ovens on the market.  It takes less space than a small size range, and since our Skoolie will have less than 130 sq ft of living space, that was important.  It still has enough space inside the oven to roast a 14 pound turkey, as long as the turkey is square.  LOL!  Just checking to see if you’re paying attention.
  3. Power: It takes less power than a small range.  It may still require more power than a small solar power system can handle, however… it takes MUCH less power than a microwave!  So that’s a bonus.  And this will be great for those times and places where we are able to plug in an umbilical cord.
  4. Features: This oven has some really fancy features!  The one that really caught my attention was the dehydrate function.  When we sold the restaurant, the new chef/owner wanted my Excalibur dehydrator and so I gave it to him.  I’m still kicking myself – can you tell?  I’ve missed having fresh yogurt, kale chips, and pineapple flowers (among other things).  Now FINALLY, I can do all of those things again – without an additional appliance in my home.  SCORE!
  5. The air fry feature was a revelation!  We LOVED sweet potato crisps made in this oven, then drizzled with olive oil and sea salt!
  6. Another perk is that it doesn’t overheat the kitchen when we use it in the summer!
  7. Price: The Breville Smart Oven Air is $399 pretty much everywhere.  I checked.  This is not a cheap item but there are cheaper oven models in the product line.  Less bells and whistles = more affordable.  It is still a better value than buying a full size (or even a fun sized) range.  And we already have a induction cook top.

20-thfNOTICE: There is a lot included in the box with this oven, so wait to purchase bits and pieces until you’ve seen what comes with it.  I didn’t realize that and now I have an extra air fry basket that I don’t need.

Living tiny for a foodie doesn’t have to be a sacrifice!

I recently saw a Skoolie with an Excalibur Dehydrator, so I will also mention…

Having used both the Excalibur Dehydrator in our restaurant, and the Breville Smart Oven Air Dehydrator more recently, I am very happy to say that both are excellent!  I expected to find the Breville dehydrating function underwhelming because it was small.  However, the Breville really isn’t that much smaller than the Excalibur, and I prefer the door on the Breville.  I was able to make a lot of yogurt very comfortably in the Breville, and that was the feature of the Excalibur that I missed the most.  Knowing what I know now, having used both, I prefer the Breville because it has so many features without adding an extra piece of equipment to the kitchen.  What makes this deal even sweeter is that I can have all those features at my finger tips in a tiny house kitchen.  Now that’s brilliant!

The Breville Smart Oven Air =

The IDEAL Tiny House Kitchen Oven.

Microwave – Day 22

We’ve come a long way.  Our equipment has become very sophisticated and very powerful.  We can now make food very quickly.  With all the great inventions and new technology, we’ve managed to make food faster.  However, we have not managed to make food better.  That’s why it’s no sacrifice to me, to get rid of a microwave.  It’s no sacrifice to skip the freezer section of the market where the overly processed microwave “food” is found in all that packaging.  It’s no sacrifice to cook great meals and reheat them in a saucepan on the stove, or by heating them in the oven.  It’s no sacrifice to make real popcorn, and buying popcorn kernels is much cheaper than microwave popcorn, and doesn’t come with all that extra packagine.  It’s no sacrifice to make a fresh cup of coffee rather than reheating an old one.  Find out how to brew Tiny House Coffee here.

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Xaver’s Tiny House Coffee

In a tiny house situation, the power a microwave requires may also be a problem since it may overwhelm the system or cause a breaker to flip.  Trust me, that always happens when it’s cold, rainy, and after dark and then one of us has to go out in that weather with a flashlight to get the breaker turned back on!  lol!  In an off-grid situation, running a microwave may not even be an option because they are such energy hogs.  So part of becoming comfortable with tiny house living may include finding other ways to cook food without the use of the microwave.

Finally, there are some very real health concerns in microwaved food.  I’ve read the results of various research on the topic and I’m convinced there are valid concerns.  However, I’m not interested in debating any of that.  I’m not a scientist but I do respect what scientist do.  For me it’s much simpler to cook without it to remove the question, and the concern – and even the debate.  I really don’t want the debate!  In fact, I am willing to be ridiculed on this topic (and have been – at length!) rather than even engage in the battle.  I love peace.  I love people, even when we disagree.  I’m very secure that the choice I’ve made is the right one for me and of course I recognize that some folks won’t agree.  And that’s actually fine with me.  I choose not to eat microwaved food and I prefer not to eat in restaurants where I know the food will be microwaved.  Food artists don’t cook that way anyway, so that’s hardly a sacrifice.  No problem.  In short, I lose nothing by avoiding a microwave.  I skip the health concern and I eat better food.  Where’s the sacrifice?

16 mealsIf you have a microwave, take it out and look it over.  It’s an automatic toss if it is damaged or malfunctioning.  Put it in the garage or other distant room of the house for a while.  Clean the spot where the microwave was and consider your kitchen without it.  Make a contest of it and see who can go the longest without using it.  You have nothing to lose.

What you “need” is based on what you’re used to.  Change what you’re used to, and it will change what you need.  So the best way to make a real change in your kitchen is to simply dive in and get going.  You may not think that you can “go tiny”, but I know you can.  And from my years of experience living in 120 square feet, I can honestly tell you that what you gain makes every “sacrifice” worth it.  (Otherwise I would not have purchased a short bus where the living space will be 110 square feet!)  In time you might even find that none of it was actually a sacrifice, at least that’s how I feel.

I’m Carmen Shenk, the Tiny House Foodie, reminding you that we can #LiveTiny #EmbraceSimplicity and still #EatWell.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Right-Sizing Coffee & Tea

Because we didn’t have room in our tiny house for a coffee maker, we got creative.  The results are in the video.  Here is Tiny House Coffee & Tea.  PLUS, my Austrian makes a special guest appearance showing how he makes his coffee.

2 SimplicityOur culture makes a habit of making simple things complicated, and marketing tries to convince this that this complexity is to simplify things for us.  Going tiny for Xaver and I has meant making complicated things simple again, and we enjoy this very much.  That sometimes means going old-school and doing things the way our grandparents did them.

At the beginning as you contemplate your shiny coffee gear and think about downsizing – this might seem like a sacrifice.  I want to invite you to go back to the earlier post about choosing your favorite things in your kitchen.  If you coffee or tea system is your favorite thing, then the task becomes how to make space in your now smaller kitchen for this production.  We’ve found that one of the keys to enjoying a tiny space and making it feel less sacrificial is to enjoy our favorite simple luxuries along the way.  This includes sometimes having a little Amarula in my tea, or drinking it from a luxuriously beautiful china tea cup and stirring it with a silver spoon.  This interplay of simplicity and beauty brings us much satisfaction.  It is from this satisfaction that I can challenge you to look at different habits and consider thoughtfully the choices that are right for you and your family in light of your own tiny house or micro-kitchen.

Spend some time today with your coffee and tea equipment and ingredients.  Add a few things to your donation box and think of ways to make the process more earth friendly.  You can do it.

Have fun with the process, I’m not here to pressure you into anything, I simply offer you an alternative that comes from our years of living in 125 square feet.

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If you haven’t already chosen your tea cup or coffee mug, now’s your chance! And here’s the rest of the gear needed for making coffee & tea in a tiny house. It could not be simpler!

Whistling Tea Kettle

I like this Kitchen Aid Whistling Whistling Tea Kettle that comes in a whole bunch of colors, but there are so many options and this is a great opportunity to find an interesting tea kettle that suits your taste. Make sure to get one that whistles! I ruined a pan on the stove by walking away and forgetting about it. The whistle helps me remember I have a hot burner on in the house and that’s important to me since I am so easily distracted!

Tea Infuser

I doubt anyone needs instructions on how to use a tea kettle and a Tea Infuser.

Tiny House Coffee might be a different matter.

So here’s the additional gear needed to make Tiny House Coffee: Nothing!

Wait, what?

Here’s how we make super-simple coffee in our tiny house. Here’s my handsome Austrian showing how easy it is (start at the 8:50 mark on this video):

A little too hard-core minimalist for you?

LOL! Ok, no worries. Here’s a beautiful Bodum French Press” for a very reasonable price and doesn’t require additional electrical power, and shouldn’t be too messy to clean up. And there are lots of size options! Isn’t it pretty? These are surprisingly affordable at $20 – $35. All in all, that’s some pretty simple coffee!

Whew, scared you there for a moment didn’t I?!

he he! Shall we continue?

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A Zero Waste Kitchen Tames the Trash

One thing we quickly learned living in our tiny house of 125 square feet was that TRASH is a BIG deal!  Even a little bit of trash can feel like a lot in a tiny space.  I picked up a book on Zero Waste living (Zero Waste Home) that helped me find strategies to A) keep trashing from entering our home to begin with and B) manage trash more efficiently once it did.

Zero Waste living is based on the usual “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” ideas, but also adds “Rot” (compost) and “Refuse” to the list… meaning that we shop in a way that brings less trash in the house and refuse freebies, etc.  Using cloth bags instead of allowing more plastic shopping bags in the house is another example.  Avoiding products that are packaged in plastic, especially single use plastics, and instead choosing recycle-able packaging.  Glass is the best way to store food, so we collected canning jars instead of plastic storage containers.

For more on Zero Waste Kitchen… watch these:

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Detox Your Cleaning Cabinet – Day 3

Monday we started by thinking about our own unique WHY? so that we keep our focus, Tuesday we started by choosing our favorite items in our home.  These are the safe items that won’t be downsized.  Today we tackle the cleaning closet.  Since there are so many toxins in the products we use to clean our homes, and since cleaning, downsizing, and organizing go hand in hand… I thought I’d tackle this difficult topic right up front so that we don’t spend the month of January steeping ourselves in toxic chemicals in the effort to clean and organize our environment.  Download the “Think Dirty” app for your phone or iPad and let’s get started with non-toxic alternatives for your home.  Here are a number of recipes that you might find helpful, of course there are a million more available online.  I look for recipes that are frugal, natural and non-toxic, and don’t take up a lot of space in a tiny house.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Recipes mentioned in the video include:

Simple Clean:

1 cup distilled water (use tap water when you intend to use all the solution in 2 weeks)

1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol (to make the water and oil emulsify – may omit)

15 drops of the essential oil or blend of your choice. *Blend recipes below.

Combine in a spray bottle. Shake sprayer, saturate surface, then wipe with dry clean cloth.

All Purpose Cleaner:

1 cup distilled water

2 T to ¼ cup castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s) depending on how soapy you like it.

15 drops of the essential oil or blend of your choice.  *Blend recipes below.

Combine in a spray bottle.

Shake sprayer gently and wipe with a damp cloth, otherwise the castile soap will leave a soapy residue.

Vinegar Cleaner:

1/2 cup distilled water

1/2 cup white distilled vinegar

½ juiced lemon

15 drops of the essential oil or blend of your choice. *Blend recipes below.

Combine in a spray bottle, keep in the refrigerator because of the lemon juice.

(**Vinegar cleaner and citrus oils not for use on stone counter tops.)

Thieves Household Cleaner:

1 teaspoon (1 cap full) Thieves Household Cleaner + two cups of water in a spray bottle. No additional essential oils required. More recipes using Thieves Household Cleaner to make a variety of specific household cleaners are available at Anoint-Ed.com.  It really is the simplest and best non-toxic household cleaner and can be used for a dusting spray, carpet spot cleaner, toilet cleaner, kitchen counter spray, bathroom cleaning spray, daily shower cleaner, grout cleaner, mold remover, garden pest control, pet odor remover, floor cleaner, air freshening spray, stain spray/stain stick in the laundry, and as a bleach replacement. In short, this spray will banish the ICK from every area of your home including exercise equipment, toys, diaper pail, high chair, baseboards, pet areas, furniture, door knobs, walls, tires, luggage, car tires, and car interior.

My Favorite Essential Oil Blend Recipes:

Try a different combination each time.

Garden Fresh: 5 drops Lemon, 5 drops Peppermint, 5 drops Lavender

Woodsy: 5 drops Eucalyptus, 5 drops Idaho Balsam Fir, 5 drops Cedarwood

Bright: 5 drops Lemon, 7 drops lemongrass, 3 drops Patchouli

Minty Fresh: 5 drops Spearmint, 5 drops Peppermint, 3 drops Frankincense

Festive: 6 drops Orange, 4 drops Cinnamon, 5 drops Frankincense

Assignment: Clean out your cleaning closet, download the “Think Dirty” app and throw away any cleaners that score a 7 or higher.  If you need to order non-toxic alternatives, place your order right away and get a jump on green cleaning in the New Year.  As always, leave me a comment and let me know how you’re doing with this video series.  Thanks for watching, I really appreciate it!29c45-1a2bcarmen

 

Introducing the Capsule Kitchen

Creating a “Capsule” of Essentials

Photo Oct 25, 6 31 06 PMIn the 1970’s, boutique owner Susie Faux created a collection of a few essential items of clothing that don’t go out of fashion. The idea was that with a few good basics, you could create a wardrobe of clothing that was infinitely useful, always interchangeable, and came with the confidence that no matter which items you paired – you’d be well dressed. The question of “What will I wear?” was drastically simplified by owning less, while each item was of a better quality. Thus the “capsule wardrobe” was born and various clothing designers, boutique owners, consumers, and bloggers have continued the tradition.

I love my capsule wardrobe and find that I am better dressed than ever. I’m wearing better quality clothing, and I leave the house with more confidence. Plus, once I have my capsule in place, I find it much easier to donate good quality items that didn’t make the cut.

Recently I asked myself… “Why can’t I apply this capsule concept to the kitchen?” And that’s how this Capsule Kitchen idea began.  And really… what could be more perfect for a tiny house kitchen, than a key group of essentials from which you can cook anything?! 

Therefore, I’m bringing you my capsule kitchen with this Tiny House Foodie website. This is a little group of classic foodie essentials that bring cooking back to the age-old basics without sacrificing flavor or contentment.

I’ve recently given my website a big makeover, and set up the material more like a class.  You can see the various modules of the class on the front page of the website.  Take them at your own pace, and as you dive into each section, follow this simple process:

Photo Oct 25, 3 12 54 PMFirst, go through your own kitchen with me, section by section.

And the first thing to do is to take inventory.  Bring everything out of the cabinets (one section at a time) and put it all on the table or on the counter tops, and have a look around at it all.  Does it surprise you that there is so much?

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Second, as you look at the collection, look for items that are not good for you.

Toxic Teflon coatings on cookware, or glasses with chips that have made the edges sharp, or plastic that could be leaching chemicals into your food.  Immediately remove those items from your collection to the trash, and recycle where possible.  Also remove malignant items – things that have a negative memory or sense of shame attached.  We have all outgrown having toxic things around, people and malignant things.  As an act of self care, remove these items.

Photo Oct 25, 3 19 29 PMThird, assess what’s in your collection.

If items are broken, or if a pan has a loose handle that looks like it might let loose at some inopportune moment, remove those items to the trash.  If the mixer has been hanging on by a tattered cord, remove it.  Things that are simply worn out may be removed to the trash.  I know the environment is in crisis, but your home is not the landfill.  You have permission not to live with trash in your home, so quickly remove worn out things from your space.  Recycle where possible.  Donate if there seems to be some life left in an item.

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Now, create the capsule kitchen you want based on the way you cook.

(Not the way you want to cook, or the cook you wish you were… but the way you actually cook today.)

  • Consider what equipment in your kitchen gets used once a month or more often, and remove the rest to be donated.  Donating rarely used items frees you to be who you are, not who you were.
  • Upgrade key items to lifetime pieces using the buyer’s guide on these pages.
  • Never purchase something to match your kitchen – always purchase items in the colors you love the most.  They will inevitably match or blend nicely together.

A friend of mine suggested to her daughter to purchase a white Kitchen Aid because it would always go with everything.  But her daughter was inclined toward a beautiful green one.  My friend told me later that she regretted giving this advice to her daughter because she knew that she would find pleasure in having the green one – and it would always match her kitchen because she’s always loved green.  Choose colors that match you – and those items will always look great in your kitchen.


Before you begin taking things out of your kitchen cabinets, watch this:

I’ve set this up this website like a class, and the first thing I’d mention may not be the first think you think when you enter your kitchen and take a look around with downsizing on your mind.  However, it’s foundational to the process.  So today we begin by asking “What’s your Why?”  Think about it, find me on social media and leave me a comment.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Next, pick your favorites.

Your assignment for the day is to look around your kitchen and choose your favorite items. Get everyone in the family in on this. Choose items that have good memories and stories attached. Choose items that are beautiful and useful. Narrow it down to just three items per person in the household. It may seem like an easy assignment, but it may be harder than you think. This is where the simplicity of the Capsule Kitchen begins.

Photo Oct 25, 6 25 15 PMMy very favorite thing in my kitchen is a vivid fuchsia Kitchen Aid.  When we had the restaurant we had to create a schedule for using the one Kitchen Aid so it was time to purchase another to improve efficiency.  I happened to be walking by when my husband was shopping for the new one and saw the vivid fuchsia one and exclaimed over how beautiful it was.  Then I caught myself, because that wasn’t the wise purchase at that time.  Later when the box came and the gorgeous Kitchen Aid was inside and my Austrian just shrugged and said “It matches you…” and that simple machine became an example of the way he loves me extravagantly.  What a blessing he is to me!  Guess what’s on my counter in my kitchen – even though I don’t bake as much these days because of food allergies?!


Finally, Choose Your Cause

 

Today we talk about selling, donating, and giving away the things in your home that no longer serve your purpose. What is the charity in your area that supports a cause that matters to you? What kinds of donations do they accept? What other options do you have that are unique to your area and your values? How can you use your extra stuff to support these missions in your community? Prepare a few boxes for the things you no longer need and make a plan now to deliver those items to the charity of your choice. I’d love to hear how it’s going with you, please connect with me on social media and let me know how it’s going.

There is an exciting transformation ahead of you!

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