A look into my minimal, sustainable kitchen.
I might’ve previously said that the bedroom is my favourite room of this little home, but the kitchen will always remain the heart.
Looking back at the past year of living here, all of the meals I’ve whipped up; for myself, for family, for friends. The late night, countertop chats with a cup of tea in hand, and all the early-mornings I’ve stumbled in here to put the kettle on, still half asleep. When remembering every burn, spill and mess made, I might just have to reconsider my previous choice of favourite.
The kitchen is also the perfect place to start practicing sustainability- from food waste and storage, to cleaning products, and minimalism, because it’s often a place where we tend to collect a whole bunch of unnecessary gadgets and bits. In this post I’ll be sharing all of the products I personally use to help me be as kind to the environment (and my health), as I possibly can be.
With the hope to help you out as well, links have been added to any of the products mentioned in bold, so be sure to click on those if anything sparks your interest.
CUTLERY AND CROCKERY
Sticking to my minimalist ways, I only have 4 of each of the basics. The plates, white mugs and bowls, as well as things like knives, forks and spoons, are all from @Home. The stemless wine glasses from Mr. Price Home. And anyone who knows me well enough, will know that I am the biggest fan of odd bowls, mugs and various mismatched ceramics, all of which come from charity- or secondhand shops.
THE BAR STOOLS
Locally sourced and handmade by a guy I found in Woodstock (whose number I have since lost), but they’re just about everywhere in Cape Town, and I’ve seen many similar ones whilst driving through Woodstock and Observatory.
I found those little ceramic bottles at a secondhand store, and outside of the one holding all of my reusable straws, they’re usually filled with dishwashing liquid and an all-purpose cleaner that I stock up (using less sexier jars) in bulk, at one of Cape Town’s zero-waste stores (like ShopZero, Nude Foods or The Daily Goods Store). If buying in bulk isn’t your thing (or if you’re not close to a plastic-free grocery store); but you’d still like to use non-toxic, natural cleaning products, try these:
I choose to use natural-material based scrubs and cloths, because they’re 100% compostable, and these ones from Spaza just so happen to be made from natural, sustainable, raw materials that are locally available. Plus this South-African brand focuses on creating home-based employment for women, so they tick all of the boxes!
My coffee and tea jars are from Mr. Price Home, but I could’t find them on the online store at the time of writing this, and wooden cutting boards are available just about anywhere.
Oh how I love them! I’m such a sucker for any beautiful recipe book, and these are definitely some of my favorites.
My go-to appliances.
I keep the ones used almost daily out on display, and currently these are the kettle, toaster and Instant Pot. Usually a blender would be pictured there as well; but alas, the blender-cord/ stovetop/ almost-burning-my-flat-down incident is a story for another day. You’ll also see I don’t have a microwave, and that’s partly because I never bought one, partly because I wanted to avoid the radiation they emit, and partly because I’ve gone this long without one so I might as well just not get one at all.
For the same price as most microwaves, rather go with the Instant Pot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; this has been one of the best kitchen tools to ever cross my path. Essentially it does the work of 7 kitchen appliances in 1: acting as an electric pressure- or slow cooker, sauté pan (for searing, browning or simmering), and rice cooker. I also use it to keep food warm/ re-heat food, and there are even some recipes online of people baking with their Instant Pot. Don’t believe me? Just have a look at this Vegan Chocolate Cake! Another feature that I love is the delayed start, prep ingredients in advance, pour it all in, set the timer and let it do all of the work. Freezing Winter mornings with a warm breakfast, like oats, already ready and waiting for you as soon as you wake up (and making your whole kitchen smell like cinnamon)? I think yes.
All of which are bought in glass, at the above mentioned plastic-free grocery stores (with my own glass jars) or in 100% compostable and biodegradable packaging (currently offered by brands such as Faithful To Nature and Soaring Free Superfoods).
Grains: Rolled oats, brown rice, quinoa and couscous. I must admit to not being the biggest fan of pasta, so it’s hardly something that I buy.
Legumes: Mostly tinned, beans and chickpeas (making sure that water and salt are the only two other ingredients), and I’ll buy quicker-cooking ones like lentils at the plastic-free stores.
Fats and Oils: I mostly cook oil free, but when needed, a high- quality extra virgin olive oil on hand, and you’ll always find some sort of nut butter in there.
I always make sure to be stocked up on healthy snacks, like dried fruit and nuts, and I keep things like dried berries, hemp seeds, almond flakes, chia seeds, cacao nibs and coconut flakes on hand, for bowl toppings or as add-ins to homemade muesli mixes.
Not the biggest superfood fanatic, however I almost always have Wazoogles packets at hand for when I feel like extra flavour is needed to smoothies or oats. Sometimes I’ll try out a new fad, but not religiously. At the moment you’ll find Camu Camu powder, Acai powder and Maca powder in the pantry- but these are totally not necessary and if it weren’t for freebies I probably wouldn’t even have them in the first place.
VITAMINS / SUPPLEMENTS:
You’ll also find a wide selection of various teas here, and these are some of my favourites:
POTS AND PANS
I found these plastic-free ones at Pick ‘n Pay, and always get a ton of questions about them! Unfortunately, after keeping an eye out on their online shop, and double-checking at just about every Pick ‘n Pay store, I haven’t been able to find them ever again.
The waste situation
My waste gets sorted one of four ways:
Recyclables: glass and various other recyclable items, that get washed out and go into the wooden crate.
Compost: food waste, compostable packaging, tea bags etc. that I throw into my stainless steel, compost bin. This gets emptied out daily, and the carbon filter absorbs odors, ensuring that no smelly odors linger in the kitchen.
Landfill: this bin gets used rarely, as it’s for non-recyclables, and mostly just exists for unwanted packaging/ items that get brought in by guests, or for when I buy food items that come in non-recyclable packaging if there was no other alternative (which there almost always is).
Not pictured, are the eco bricks for pesky little bits and bobs that aren’t recyclable (like plastic cucumber wrappers, clothing tags, cling-wrap around watermelon halves etc.).