The Dutch Oven
My Austrian and I use a 4.5 quart Dutch Oven (or French Oven – same thing) for just about everything – especially in the winter! The 4.5 quart size is good for making a little bit or a lot, serving 1-6, and it’s an all-around great part of a busy tiny-house-minimalist kitchen. These are great products, simply choose the color and shape you prefer. (Prices subject to change.)
Good: This pre-seasoned cast iron Utopia Dutch Oven is an amazing value at $29 and works just like the enameled version – only it will require a bit of maintenance to keep the seasoning so that your food doesn’t stick. The price is unbeatable, it looks great in a rustic kitchen, and is also perfect for use outdoors on a rocket stove!
$$ BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: These cast iron dutch ovens (without enamel) can sometimes be found at your favorite antique shop.
Better: Lodge offers an American-made and surprisingly affordable enameled Dutch Oven with a number of color choices at $46. It comes with a metal knob, which is a nice perk if you’d like to use yours on the stove and in the oven. The trusted Lodge brand has been around since 1896.
Best: There are at least two other impressive Dutch Oven brands that offer beautiful Dutch ovens (and a whole lot of other stuff) in a whole range of colors. The French company Staub offers a number of colors and some especially beautiful shapes for $280.
Best (continued): Le Creuset has even more colors, and their cast iron products are also made in France. I purchased the Le Creuset 4.5 Dutch Oven quite a few years ago and that was a great decision! I used it in our restaurant for making soup. I’ve used it over gas flame, on an electric burner, a glass cook top – even on our rocket stove. Nothing fazed it. It’s one of my favorite things and in the winter we use it almost every day! It’s even the basis for my fireless cooker, so stick around – I plan on writing lots more about our off-grid cooking set-up in the coming days! This one is currently $309.
Think of your Dutch Oven as an item you purchase only once, so pick your favorite color. Don’t match your kitchen or pick a “safe” choice – pick the color that is right for you. If it is your color, it will always match your kitchen!
Plus, I don’t say this often, but this is a case where I *would* recommend purchasing one of the brands on this page. I used a beautiful braiser (a different brand) and it was overly heavy, and for some reason the food stuck to that thing like you would not believe. I don’t know why that is, but it was frustrating and we ended up donating it. We were given that one as a gift, but if we’d paid money for it it would have been very frustrating to realize it was more trouble then it was worth. If you choose Lodge, Staub, or Le Creuset you won’t have that problem.
$$ BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: Check eBay prices on these before you make your purchase, and don’t forget to figure in shipping costs!
$$ ANOTHER BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: Download the Ibotta app and check to see what discount they are offering on this item at various retailers. Last time I made a larger purchase, I compared the iBotta discounts offered at Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Overstock, and various other retailers. Since they were all offering the same product at the same price, I picked the one offering the best discount and ended up getting the item I wanted plus $60 back on my purchase. It’s actually quite easy and rewarding, and every bit helps. Plus, I use the iBotta app at the grocery store each time I visit. I just used some of the cash-back I earned to purchase a special item for our tiny house. Use this link for a $10 sign up bonus.
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I spent some time at a gorgeous kitchen boutique looking over a wide range of skillets and sauce pans before picking my favorites. Here’s what I’ve chosen and why.
In this particular case, I’m not going to show you “good, better, and best” options. I’m going to offer you two equally excellent options and it depends on your needs as to which one is right for you. The fact that the cast iron skillet is miles cheaper is beside the point. It is the better choice for many people. Some folks will prefer the lighter option that requires less care – and for them I am happy to recommend the Le Creuset skillet. Both are excellent choices, and purchasing a 10-12 inch will be the right size for most. Of course there are TONS of more options out there, but these are the two I’m happy to recommend for this Super-Simple Kitchen Gear List.
Best: When anyone asks me about choosing a good all purpose skillet for a tiny house, my first answer is always a Cast Iron Skillet for $15. They are great on the stove top, and also work great going into the oven. I use mine for baking corn bread, pizza, focaccia, and for those times when I want just one (pan sized) chocolate chip cookie. I love it that having this skillet means I don’t need to keep a cake or bread pan. They’re also very reasonably priced, so it’s hard to go wrong. Plus, there may be some health benefits to cooking with iron. Score!
$$ BUDGET FRIENDLY TIP: These cast iron skillets can sometimes be found at your favorite antique shop.
SWANKY: Le Creuset offers these in COLORS! And that’s how you take a $15 cast iron skillet and make it $200! Aren’t they delicious?!
Here is my friend and favorite “you-tuber” Esther Emery giving a comprehensive look at using cast iron. (23.44 minutes) WARNING: Watching this will make you hungry! I may need to take a break and go bake cinnamon rolls.
The downside to using a cast iron skillet is that they can be very heavy, and they do require a little bit of care. If you’re not up for seasoning your skillet and caring for it’s surface, then you might consider a lighter option… plus… then you can flip your food like a chef! lol!
Best: After looking over a wide range of skillets in a lovely boutique kitchen store, I found a beautiful one that feels good in my hands. It’s lighter than cast iron, but heavy enough to work on an induction cooktop. I fell in love with the Le Creuset Skillet which (thankfully) was not the most expensive pan in the boutique – whew! It is a non-stick pan – which I would not usually recommend – but it is PFOA-free and guaranteed to never flake, peel, or rust. I’ve had mine for a number of years and the surface is still gorgeous. If you want a skillet that is lighter than the cast iron, especially for aging loved ones, this is the perfect combination of form and function for $135.
The Sauce Pan
I recommend a 2 quart saucepan for your Super-Simple Kitchen Gear Collection. Here are two workable options:
Good: The NuWave 3 quart Sauce Pan is compatible with the induction cook-top and works great for the great value of $33 with the added bonus of a glass lid so that you can see how your food is doing without lifting the lid and losing heat. I have this saucepan and I like it, but honestly – I don’t use it much because I always reach for the Dutch Oven first. This company offers a variety of cookware kits, but resist the urge to buy more than you need.
Best: All-Clad makes a beautiful 2 quart Sauce Pan that is also oven and broiler safe, induction cook-top compatible, has a limited lifetime warranty, and is made in the USA. Right now you can get this 2 quart for $121. (Prices subject to change.) It’s a beautiful thing!
*Note—This blog post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you purchase any of these items.