My kitchen is my happy place. I spend hours pottering around in there, stirring pots on the stove, sweeping crumbs off the floor, waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea.
Although my kitchen is tiny and the cupboards are so tall that I need a step stool to reach the top shelves, I love it.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of house hunting with my mum (she’s buying, not me) and in every house we’ve seen, the kitchen is the thing that sells the house for me.
I can live with a small bedroom. I can live without a bath tub or an en suite. I can live without a garage. But I cannot live without a decent kitchen.
Therefore, of all the areas in my home, it is the kitchen that I have tried to ensure is as simple and sustainable as possible.
It is still a work in progress but I thought I would share some of the ways I have simplified my kitchen with you.
10 easy changes to create a simple, sustainable kitchen:
Buy things in bulk
For some reason, I really hate having multiples of things. I think it has something to do with the fact that growing up, my mother loved to stock up our pantry whenever things went on sale. Having more than I need has always made me feel stressed.
However, I am a fan of buying things in bulk to save on money and unnecessary packaging. So a good compromise for me is visiting a bulk food store or buying the largest quantity of something I can.
Earlier this year, I read an article about Tesco’s trialing refilling stations in their supermarkets and I hope that went well because I would love that to become a widespread thing!
Start meal planning
If you are a long-time reader then you have definitely heard me mention this before, I love meal planning.
It will honestly simplify your life and kitchen so much.
You will always have what you need, when you need it and you won’t have excess food withering in your fridge or getting lost at the back of your pantry.
I must confess, I’m not always the best at sticking to what my meal plan says but I like that if I’m feeling lazy, at least I don’t have to think about what to cook for dinner.
Take reusable shopping bags
From the 1st of July this year, New Zealand brought in a ban on plastic bags which meant retailers no longer provided shopping bags and this, in turn, has made reusable shopping bags mainstream.
I am delighted to see other people adopting such a simple change to help reduce plastic waste.
I keep a bunch of bags in my car and one that folds up tightly in my purse so that I always have something to carry my shopping in.
Store your food correctly
There are some life lessons that I really wish they had taught us in school and how to store your food properly is one of them.
There is nothing worse than opening the crisper drawer at the bottom of the fridge to discover a vegetable slurry has formed without you realising it.
The fix is simple however, just learn how to store your fruits and vegetables correctly. For example, I recently learned that celery lasts much longer if you keep the stalks standing in a glass jar like you would with fresh flowers.
To learn the best way to store your favourite fruits and vegetables, I found this great post which explains it all perfectly.
For my birthday last year, my mum got me this gorgeous compost bin. The fact that I was over-joyed by this gift probably says a lot about me.
Truly, my compost bin is one of my favourite possessions. We used an old ice cream tub for a long time but it was far too small and was always overflowing. I love my new bin because it’s 5L and stainless steel so it won’t get all rusty from the wet food scraps.
As far as the actual composting is concerned, all I do is throw it in a heap in the backyard. Then I add sticks, newspaper and dead leaves, and I try to turn it every week or so. That’s it!
Start recycling your soft plastic
I have always been the stickler for recycling in my family. I have been known to take things out of the bin, wash them and then recycle them. I hate waste and if I can avoid it, then I will.
I know that recycling isn’t the answer to our waste problem but it is a start.
Something you might not know you can recycle is the soft plastic that foods such as pasta and bread come in.
In my city you can’t add this type of plastic to the kerbside recycling bin but there are collection points at several supermarkets where you can drop it off.
Do a freezer stock take
It doesn’t matter how small your freezer is, it will always manage to accumulate an insane amount of stuff.
Things tend to get lost in the depths of your freezer so it pays to do a little stock take every now and then.
I keep a list stuck to the outside with everything that’s in there. It’s not a perfect system but at least it means I take a good look inside my freezer every month or so.
Use loose leaf teas
It is official, I have become a tea snob! I bought a strainer and a box of loose leaf tea and I’m never looking back. I had no idea it tasted so much better.
But besides that, I always felt frustrated having to dump my used teabags in the bin because they contain plastic so can’t be composted like my coffee grounds.
Before you rush out and buy a tea strainer, can I recommend you get one like you see in the picture, not one of those ball and chain type ones? This strainer is so easy to use and remove the used leaves from.
I’ve tried those other cute, animal-shaped strainers and while they may look fun, they are the biggest pain to clean out. Simple is best.
Shop at a fruit/veggie store or farmers market
I love going to the fruit and veggie store because it is often much cheaper and I can throw everything in a basket without needing to use plastic bags.
It feels good to support a small business too.
I’ve learned to go to the supermarket first however, because they tend to have specials on a particular fruit or vegetable each week.
Try natural cleaning products
I’m a little iffy on using the word ‘natural’ to describe any product. What I mean by natural cleaning products is using items you already have that work wonders for cleaning.
I found some brilliant ideas in the book: Forgotten ways for modern days. Our grandparents had some really great ways of using egg shells, lemon juice and baking soda to clean their homes ‘naturally.’
Do you have any tips for creating a simple, sustainable kitchen?