For many of us, the kitchen can become an overwhelming space, full of mismatched ingredients we have very little idea what to do with or barely use. In this article, Shannon Acheson shares how to create a Capsule Kitchen with ingredients you already have on hand—a practice that may not only streamline your kitchen, but also simplify your life!
You’ve probably heard of a capsule wardrobe—a limited collection of clothing pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a number of well-coordinated outfits. The goal of a capsule wardrobe is to simplify both your closet space and the time spent daily on choosing clothes to wear. But did you know that this idea can be applied to other areas of your life and home as well? Areas that tend to become overwhelming…like your kitchen.
Yup, a Capsule Kitchen is totally a thing!
Back when the grocery stores weren’t quite so full of ready-made, pre-packaged convenience meals as they are today, the idea behind Capsule Kitchens was typically how kitchens were run. Got a plethora of potatoes? Great! You can use them as simple sides (mashed, boiled, or baked), put them on top of a shepherd’s pie, whip up a potato salad or hash browns, or create something fancier like scalloped potatoes. How about a whole chicken? You can have a fancy Sunday supper with all the trimmings, then make broth, soup, pot pie, and sandwiches from the leftovers.
The idea of a Capsule Kitchen is not exactly new, but rather a bit of a forgotten art.
WHERE TO START CREATING A CAPSULE KITCHEN
To create a Capsule Kitchen, you would apply the same minimalistic principles that you would to create a capsule closet. Gather a limited number of ingredients that mix and match to create a number of delicious meals and snacks that your family loves.
But where do you begin? What ingredients do you include in your Capsule Kitchen?
Well, that depends on a number of factors. Asking yourself a few questions like the ones below will help you to create a Capsule Kitchen that works for you:
- What you want to cook vs what you ‘really’ cook?
- Are there ingredients you use every week?
- What items do you already rely on in your pantry, fridge, and freezer?
Think about these questions for a few minutes to gain some insight as to what ingredients you already use repeatedly throughout the week. Jot down these ideas and thoughts. These are where you would begin with your Capsule Kitchen. Then go from there.
For example, I know that my family loves Greek, Mexican and Asian type meals. So plain rice is a staple grain in our house because it’s a key ingredient in all of those meals. My family also loves broccoli (yup, even the kids), and I serve it with pasta dishes, alongside chicken dinners, and in stir fry, so it is one of the staple veggies in our Capsule Kitchen. We also regularly eat chili, fajita bowls, and tacos. So chili powder is a must-have in our kitchen too.
WHAT DO YOU NEED IN YOUR CAPSULE KITCHEN?
Essentially your Capsule Kitchen boils down to stocking the ingredients you regularly use, depending on how you cook and what your family likes to eat.
Here are the basic Capsule Kitchen ingredients:
- 2-3 versatile protein types
- 3-4 in-season vegetables
- 2-3 healthy whole-grains or starches
- 3-4 in-season fruits
Plus, it’s good to have these on hand as well:
- Dairy (or non-dairy substitutes for) milk and butter
- 1-3 Condiments & oils
- 2-3 Spices
- 1-2 Breakfast foods (bread, bagels, or cereal)
- 2-3 Snacks (granola bars, crackers, chips)
At our house, I know that if I keep at least most of the grocery staples below stocked for our family of five, I can create multiple meals and snacks from them.
- Chicken breasts
- Whole chicken
- Ground beef
- Green beans
- Bell pepper
- Rice (we are currently using basmati for everything, but we’ve gone through seasons of using white rice, brown rice, or jasmine rice)
- Pasta (for us it’s gluten free quinoa pasta these days, but for a while it was rice pasta, and before we figured out food sensitivities it was regular wheat pasta)
- Italian seasoning
- Chili powder
Condiments & Oils:
- BBQ sauce
- Olive oil
1-2 Breakfast Foods:
- Granola bars
Of course, you will need a few other basic staples in your kitchen like baking ingredients (if you actually bake, otherwise skip these to save time and space), basic cooking pots, pans, utensils, and food-safe storage containers with lids. But you may find you need less than you think if you use double duty or multi-purpose pieces.
Creating a Capsule Kitchen from the ingredients you already use and the meals that your family likes to eat can help you both streamline your kitchen and simplify your life!
Want more from Shannon?
Check out her Capsule Kitchen checklist by following the link below!
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