Before we get into nutrition let’s talk about how to prepare our kitchen to be functional and enjoyable while cooking and cleaning. While most of us are not professional cooks we can learn to set up our kitchen like the professionals: organized for efficient flow. 

Below are some guidelines for setting up your kitchen. Remember these are guidelines and not hard fast rules because the best setup will be the one that makes sense to you and matches your personality. 

  1. Take inventory of your tools. Make sure you have all the essentials and get rid of rarely used gadgets. Living in a van I realized how few kitchen tools you actually need to make most meals. Less tools meant cook time was less overwhelming and easier to clean up. See below for my essentials list.
  2. Separate your kitchen into work zones such as: Prep, cook, serve, store. Then put the corresponding tools for each function close to their zone.
  3. Make everything easy to find. Keep essentials in plain sight and use baskets and clear containers to store things in the cupboards. I also like to group things by similarity. For example all my veggies go in a drawer and pasta and grains are on the same shelf. This makes it easier to find and also more obvious when things need to be replaced.
  4. Clear the counter. There’s nothing like a cluttered counter to kill the cooking mood. Keep your counters clean and only store essentials on them. For example I have a tray and bucket with salt, pepper, olive oil, tongs and a spatula on the counter. All other tools, oils and spices are tucked away. 
  5. Keep your staples stocked and don’t forget to label things. It’s easier to cook in a pinch when you keep the staples stocked. 

Have fun prepping your kitchen this weekend and I can’t wait to dive into our nutrition course!

Essential Kitchenware (aka what made it in the van)

  • Chef’s Knife 
  • Paring Knife – we used our pocket knife for this
  • Medium sized pot + lid ~ 6 quart
  • 10” pan – we use a cast iron
  • Small non-stick pan 
  • A spatula or flipper
  • A stirring/serving spoon
  • Tongs
  • Cutting Board
  • Colander
  • Cutting Board
  • Mixing Bowl
  • Can opener
  • 2 Plates – having less dishware makes you more likely to clean your dishes and not let them stack up
  • 2 Mugs
  • 2 Water Bottles
  • 2 sets of Cutlery
  • Pour Over Cone and Thermos
  • Hot Mitts
  • Towels

Other things I now consider to be essential

  • Baking pan and Baking Sheet
  • A bread knife
  • Shredder/zester
  • Storage containers! 
  • Storage Bags
  • Measuring Cups and spoons
  • Larger mixing bowls
  • Saucepan/ small pot
  • BBQ
  • A few more dishes and glasses

Other tools I use often – (the need for these tools will be determined by your cooking preferences):

  • Food processor
  • Instant Pot
  • Toaster
  • Coffee Pot
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Salad Spinner
  • Thermometer
  • Hand held Mixer
  • Wish we had a Blender
  • Dehydrator – used for making backpacking meals not sure most people need this

There are a lot of other special tools out there. If you use them and have space for them then great. If you don’t – consider getting rid of them to make your kitchen feel less cluttered and more functional.