Facet #3 – How to Have and Love a User-Friendly Kitchen

Considering the time spent in this one room, a user-friendly kitchen is a must-have for every homemaker. Think about it – this is the room where we cook meals, bake cookies for our neighbors, have a staging area for cleaning the house, supervise homework and enjoy a bit of down time by enjoying coffee with friends.

table covered in blue and white check cloth; a centerpiece using an old enamelware bucket filled with silk geraniums

What do I mean by a user-friendly kitchen? Simple. One that is easy to work in, organized, and is always ready for just about anything. Maybe it will help to dig into the details a bit.

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How to Have a User-Friendly Kitchen

plastic tub filled with pot lids

The user-friendly kitchen list begins with a thorough cleaning and organizing. Start with the cabinets. Take one at a time, pull everything out and wipe them down. If necessary, replace the shelf paper with something fun and cheerful.

Before you put everything back, go through each item. If it is no longer used, either recycle it, place it in a box earmarked for the next garage sale, or toss it. If it is in the wrong place, put it where it belongs.

It is also helpful to keep all these tips handy in a notebook. That way, you can find all your information easily and in one place.

Once everything is clean, check out these tips to help you get and maintain your user-friendly kitchen.

Tip #1 – Stock your Pantry, Refrigerator & Freezer

a butter dish, bowl of eggs, bowl of flour

The first thing you want to consider is to have a fully stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. To do this, you want to first think about any basic ingredients you will need.

These are few of the basics:

For Baking –

  • Flour
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Confectioners’ Sugar
  • Salt
  • Baking Soda
  • Baking Powder
  • Herbs & Spices
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Shortening
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Cream of Tartar
  • Parchment Paper
  • Waxed Paper

Depending on the type of baking you do in your user-friendly kitchen, you may also need things like yeast, olive oil, nuts, oatmeal, chocolate pieces and other items to bake breads, cookies, and other sweets.

shelf filled with jars of assorted pasta, beans, rice, and baking ingredients

For Cooking –

  • Assorted Pastas
  • Rice
  • Beans – dried, and fresh/frozen
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Soups (Creamed and other)
  • Tomatoes (Sauce, Diced, Whole, w/Chilies, etc.)
  • Assorted Vinegars
  • Tin Foil

Click the Image to Learn More!

Refrigerated Items –

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Sour Cream
  • Pickles
  • Condiments
  • Cheeses
  • Eggs

Frozen Items –

  • Meat – Beef, Pork, Chicken, etc.
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Premade Dinners – (Casseroles, breakfast sandwiches, etc.)
  • Biscuits & Breads
  • Desserts

Tip #2 – Keep a Pantry & Freezer Inventory

pantry filled with assorted canned goods

Now that you have your pantry, refrigerator and freezer clean and ready to go in your user-friendly kitchen, it’s time to make a list of what you have in them.

It is best to keep a sheet for each one. When you use something, mark it off your list. When you add something, put it on the list.

Hand-in-hand with your inventory lists, keep a running grocery list. This way, when you use the last item, it can be replaced immediately, rather than having to make an extra trip to the store when you need it most.

To make it easy, you can download a free .pdf HERE!

Tip # 3 – Don’t Go Without! (Substitutions)

green metal bowl, stick of butter, spices, sugar, salt, flour, and canister of shortening

When we think of substitutions in the user-friendly kitchen, we often think in terms of baking supplies. For the most part, this is true. But what happens in your need a particular tool or piece of equipment, but don’t have it – or can’t afford it money or space wise?

Try a few of these substitutions and see if they help!

Baking/Cooking Ingredients –

Baking Powder – 1/2 teaspoon Cream of Tartar + 1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda

Cornstarch – Equivalent Measurements of Flour, Instant Tapioca or Arrowroot

Cake Flour – 1 cup = 1 cup All-Purpose Flour – (minus) 2 teaspoons

Self-Rising Flour – 1 cup = 1 cup All-Purpose Flour, 1 teaspoon Salt, 1 teaspoon Baking Powder

Self-Rising Cornmeal – 1 cup = 3/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons cornmeal, 1 T. Baking Powder and 1/2 tsp. Salt

Brown Sugar – 1 cup firmly packed = 1 cup granulated sugar + 1/4 cup Molasses

Confectioners’ Sugar – 1 cup granulated Sugar + 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch (For this, you need a blender, food processor, or high-powered grinder. Grind sugar and Cornstarch until the texture feels like powder. This may take several tries.)

Tools & Equipment

assorted kitchen tools including measuring utensils, apple corer, scoop, small bowls

Our kitchen tools and equipment are necessities in a user-friendly kitchen. These range from bowls and wooden spoons to measuring utensils and scoops, peelers, brushes and more.

But some days, we need something, and we don’t have it. If that is the case in your kitchen, try these handy equipment substitutions!

Remember – if you are using any tool or piece of equipment that is not ordinarily used in a kitchen, make absolute certain it has been sterilized and rust-free. Do not use any tools that have oil, chemicals or any other dangerous substance on them. Remember, you want a totally user-friendly kitchen!

Mallet to Pound Meat – Use a rubber mallet. To pound your meat flat, put it in a zip top bag or between sheets of waxed paper first. This prevents bits and pieces from flying everywhere!

Cupcake Pan – Use canning rings. Place the rings on a baking sheet that has been lined with Parchment paper. Place a cupcake paper in each ring. Fill each paper to 2/3 full, and bake as directed.

Vacuum Sealer – Place your food in a zip-top bag. Poke a very small hole at the top, just under the zipper. Place the bag in a sink or pan of hot water. Press the bag down until all the air has escaped. Wipe the bag dry, and place a small piece of freezer tape (or duct tape) over the hole.

Sifter  – Use a mesh strainer

Piping Bag – Put your icing in the bag, then gently twist and squeeze the air out. Clip a small piece of plastic off of one bottom corner and start piping.

Tip # 4 – Learn to Cook

measuring cups filled with oil, chopped pecans, crushed strawberries; fresh brown eggs, bowl of flour

All the inventories, substitutions and cleaning won’t help much if you don’t know how to use the food and equipment. A user-friendly kitchen is designed to help make preparing meals for your family easier.

If you don’t know how to cook, the first thing you need to do is find someone who is willing to teach you. It can be a relative, a friend, or even a website of basic cooking class. And once you learn the basics, you can slowly stretch you wings until you can bake or cook anything you set your taste buds on!

If you don’t have anyone you know who can teach you, and there are no classes around, search for basic cookbooks that can help. And don’t be afraid to get cookbooks designed for kids. These have some recipes that are simple and delicious! Here are a few to get your started in the right direction:

How to Cook for Beginners: An Easy Cookbook for Learning the Basics

How to Cook Everything – The Basics: All You Need to Make Great Food

Super Simple Cooking for Kids: Learn to Cook with 50 Fun and Easy Recipes for Breakfast, Snacks, Dinner, and More!

Tip # 5 – The Kitchen Table

two men sitting at a table with a plate of cookies and an old enamelware coffee pot between them

If you have a kitchen, then more than likely you have a kitchen table. And if you have a kitchen table, it is probably one of the most used pieces of furniture in the house.

This table is used for eating meals, yes. But it is also used for homework, a desk to pay bills, an area to play games, a place for cookies to cool, extra jar space while canning, and it can also be a place to have coffee and visit with a friend or used as a ‘counseling’ desk while having heart-to-heart conversations.

The uses for the kitchen table are endless. For all the things you do at your table, it needs to be a place that is comfortable and feels welcoming. Try these tips to make your table a perfect place to gather:

  • Keep it clean. Wipe it down after each meal or activity
  • If it is too scarred, spruce it up with a festive tablecloth
  • Keep a bowl or vase of fresh flowers on it as often as possible
  • Make sure it is sturdy. No one wants food or hot coffee dumped in their laps because a leg gave out
  • If your table wobbles, try adding a small piece of cardboard or wood under the shortest leg. Once the table no longer moves, glue the piece in place
  • If you have one of those awesome vintage tables with the metal edging, make sure there are no sharp pieces sticking out. If there are, use a block of wood and a hammer to put them back in place
  • Use comfortable chairs. Some wooden chairs look good, but they aren’t comfortable to sit in for any length of time. Add cushions to make them easier to sit in

Enjoy your User-Friendly Kitchen!

vintage shoe rack displaying a collection of enamelware

Now that you have all the basics down, it’s time to enjoy your user-friendly kitchen! And there is no better way to spruce it up than to have fresh cookies coming straight out of the oven. Ready to start baking? Try these delicious cookies. But be careful – you may have to pull up a few more chairs to the table!

Ready for More Facets of Homemaking?

You can get started with these posts!

Eight Facets of Homemaking

Facet #1 – Clean your Home

Facet # 2 – Planning Meals

Facet # 4 – Helpful Tips for Finances & Frugal Living

Facet # 5 – Easily Extend Your Home to the Garden

Facet # 6 – 7 Smart Reasons to Can your own Food

Facet # 7- General Maintenance & Repair Tips for the Home

How to Care for Overnight Guests

Plan Ahead for Canning Season

The Handmade Home

The Art of Homemaking Manual

If you like the information in this post, head over to my shop and get your copy of The Ultimate Manual for the Art of Homemaking. There you will find all the worksheets and information for the tips in this post, plus so much more to make your kitchen even more user friendly. Plus, you will find great worksheets for record-keeping, decorating and frugal living tips, how to mend, gardening information, and so much more!

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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