When DW and I merged our households, DW contributed three coffee machines, two waffle makers, one food processor, one blender, one bread maker, a toaster owen, a microwave oven, a multitude of pots and pans, two strainers, many many spoons of various shapes, a block with a complete set of knives, and enough dinnerware for a small army. I suspect this collection is fairly representative for a typical kitchen. However, such a collection requires a fairly large amount of cupboard space which in turn requires a large kitchen which in turn requires a larger housing unit which in turn requires a higher income. Also whenever some utensil wears out, it “needs” replacement. Therefore this collection also comes with higher depreciation costs. My goal is to downsize our kitchen to reduce our expenses and money requirements.
Here’s a complete list of my kitchen equipment which I contributed. I had used these for all my cooking needs for 6 years before I met DW.
Using this I could and can cook almost anything except specialized dishes like creme bruulee even though I suspect I just might be able to use my windmill butane lighter? I haven’t tried.
Here’s the list:
1 glass – specifically a recycled mustard glass. (Fancy mustard come in whisky glasses). Any glass will do though. Price: Free
1 random motive ceramic cup for coffee and tea. Hang around people who likes to buy souvenirs and you’re bound to get one sooner or later. In principle this cup negates the need for the glass above, but I like to drink water out of a glass rather than a cup. I guess I’m weird that way. Price: Freeish.
1 camping steel plate with curved edges. This can be put directly on a gas burner for reheating. If I had a microwave I would probably go for Corelle ware instead as it is lighter and metal does not work in microwaves. I forget what I paid for mine but a reasonable guess is: $10.
1 steel plate mixing bowl. This also goes directly on a gas burner for reheating. This will probably cost $10 as well.
1 serrated (laser) utility knife. I got a serrated model because I would usually use the metal plates as a cutting board. By drawing the point of the knife across the plate I would only destroy the point. My knife was bought for $6 about 10 years ago.
1 combined serrated utility knife (not very good) and potato peeler (very good). Simply stuff the unused end into the handle. Price $5.
1 7 liter Kuhn Rikon top turn pressure cooker. With a pressure cooker, it is possible to cook rice in ten minutes using about five minutes of gas. Beans can be cooked in 20 minutes with about 10 minutes of gas. Potatoes can be cooked in 2 minutes. The price of this luxury is about $200. Get one, learn how to use it and take good care of it. It has a thick bottom (no hot spots), so it is also good for frying.
I have a set of camping utensils: fork, spoon, and knife. I always used the utility knife instead though so if I had to pick again, I would get a spork.
3 metal bowls with plastic lids that fit inside each other for storing leftovers. Price $20.
Now admittedly, this setup works for one person only. For two persons, I would suggest two plates and two glasses unless you’re hardcore enough to eat directly out of the pressure cooker (it’s not impossible). However, I would not suggest one gets more plates than however many people regularly use them. If guests only appear once or twice a year, maybe use paper plates or have them bring their own. What’s wrong with that idea?
Regardless, all this fits inside the pressure cooker for easy transport in a suitcase or a backpack. It also fits on a single shelf in a cupboard.
When cooking I would transfer food between the plate and the pressure cooker. As I mentioned before, the serrated knife allows the use of the plate as a cutting board. If raw meat is cut on the plate and transferred to the cooker, it is of course necessary to wash the plate and the knife before eating from it again. If I cook a meal that involves using the pressure cooker twice e.g. rice and beans, I would plan ahead and cook the rice on day one, store it, cook the beans and the meal on day two, store some beans in the fridge, and use those beans with new rice on day three. Thus with a little creative planning, you don’t need very many utensils to cook solid meals for little money e.g. around $60/person/month.