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The Minimalist Kitchen Solution for Non Minimalist Families

If you’re like most families with young kids, you have a sink full of dirty dishes almost all the time. For us, it was almost constant. When we finally felt like the house was clean, it would be meal time again and, with 6 people in our family, we would add dozens of dirty dishes and silverware to the sink after just one meal.

Between dishes and laundry, it felt like we were always drowning and just couldn’t keep up.

Whether you’re an aspiring minimalist or just a fed-up mom, this tip is going to save you so much time and stress. 

Trust me.

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Stop Being Overwhelmed with Dirty Dishes!

The solution happened on a whim one day when my husband said we just have too many dishes.

He reasoned that if we didn’t have so many bowls accessible to us, we couldn’t possibly dirty 15 in a day.

Sounds reasonable enough, but I have 4 young kids and I definitely don’t feel like doing dishes after every single meal!

When I’d finally had enough, I decided I’d give his way a try.

After all, mine wasn’t working.

We decided to keep out one bowl, plate, and set of silverware per person and pack the rest away.

My husband was so committed to this idea that he wanted to throw away all of the extras.

Our compromise was to pack them in a cardboard box and put them in the garage, just in case.

“Just in case” is my go-to excuse for keeping everything I ever consider getting rid of.

If we ever throw our first dinner party or actually cook for friends when they come over instead of just ordering pizza – we’ll dust off that box that I refuse to donate.

Having only one bowl per person basically guarantees that someone does the dishes after each meal or at least at the end of each day.

I’ve mentioned this in passing in other posts and readers have had a LOT to say about it.

Some people think it’s genius while other people say they’d never have clean dishes to eat off of.

My argument to this is (after doing it myself and seeing how well it WORKS), isn’t that already a problem in your home?

Maybe it’s just us, but we would use all of the clean dishes before we “had time” to load and start the dishwasher.

I can promise you, if dishes are a problem in your life, you’ll run out of dishes whether you have one plate per person or 8.

Minimizing the dishes in your kitchen automatically eliminates the days of pots and pans, dishes, and silverware spilling out of your sink and onto the counters.

What Happened Next?

I would be lying to you if I said there aren’t times that I see the kids breakfast bowls in the sink and get frustrated that I have to wash them before I can serve them soup and sandwiches for lunch.

BUT – and holy crap is this a big BUT –

I am absolutely never overwhelmed with dirty dishes anymore.

This is seriously one of those infomercial, too-good-to-be-true kind of before and afters.

I desperately wish I had a before of our kitchen. When the kids go down for a nap, I’ll take a picture of the after and update this post.

Just believe me when I say that of all the things I’ve done (ahem bought) to try to make my life with young kids easier, this is the one thing that’s actually made a difference.

Pots and Pans?

What about pots and pans? Should I pack any of those?


If you’re a busy mom, please hear me when I say this:

You don’t need half of the pots and pans in your cabinets.

Not even one third.

If the thought of getting rid of them makes you anxious, pack them away instead.

What do you cook most often?

For us, it’s various kinds of grilled sandwiches, pancakes, chilis, and pasta.

To make all of those things, I need a flat pan of some sort and a stock pot.

That’s it!

I packed away all but my square pan, this over-sized cooker, one sauce pot, and this awesome pot my husband bought me.

I keep this one on my stove at all times and use it every day. It cleans so easily that I just use a dot of dish soap, a scrubby sponge, and let it air dry on the stove for the next meal.

Minimalist Kitchen List

I’m always curious about how many of each thing minimalists have, and while we’re far from our goal of becoming minimalists, we have mastered it in the kitchen.

This is what we have in our cabinets and drawers. I’ll link to the ones we have if they’re still for sale online:

2 ceramic plates

2 ceramic bowls

2 coffee mugs

2 travel mugs

3 plastic plates

3 plastic bowls

2 adult forks

2 adult spoons

3 sets of kids’ silverware (we love this set)

1 large Pyrex bowl

9×13 pan

8×8 pan

2 mason jars

3 kids cups

3 “bubbas” or sippy cups

Flat cookie sheet

1 cutting board

Knife Block   We got rid of the knife block and kept just this knife

This spatula thingy that I can’t live without


Wooden Spoon



That’s seriously it.

If you’ve read this far and you think we’re absolutely crazy and have taken this too far, believe me, I would have completely agreed with you a few years ago.

My argument now is, what do you have to lose?

Pack up all but the necessities, put them away, and know that you can always unpack them if you really wanted or needed to.

I promise you, once you experience the joy of hardly any dirty dishes in the sink, you’ll never want to go back.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes!