Kitchen gadgets…what do we really need?

what is needed in kitchenAt our house, we cook. I mean, we really cook. And bake. And barbecue. We love doing it from scratch, inventing new combinations (new to us, anyway), creating great flavors and nutritious foods. So, it can be tempting to amass gadgets in the kitchen “to make the work easier”. Unfortunately, we seem to find ourselves spending lots of energy organizing finding space for stuff, only to realize months or even years later that many of those “helpful” items rarely come out of a drawer or cupboard.

Now, everyone is different and we all find usefulness in different things. So this list of possibly unnecessary kitchen items is just MY choice of things I prefer to not give space to in the kitchen. You will have your own list, and it may differ from mine. The point is to take stock (pardon the pun) of what actually serves you and lighten your load by releasing the rest to find a home in a kitchen somewhere else.

*Just a note: For some people, certain items are not a mere convenience, but a necessity. For example, an elderly person with arthritis might not be able to manually open a can, so an electric can opener saves the day. Or someone who bakes bread regularly, churns out hundreds of cookies for extended family at holiday time, and creates all of their own homemade pasta might actually put a Kitchenaid stand mixer to great use because it CAN make much shorter work of all of these tasks using just one tool with attachments. These are the kinds of individual considerations to keep in mind as we ponder what each of us really will use in our kitchens.

Here we go!

1. Electric can opener: I have no need for one and I prefer saving the counter space and electricity by using a hand-operated version.

2. Kitchenaid mixer: I bake quite a bit, but I am still perfectly well served by an ordinary $15 hand-held electric mixer that stows easily in a drawer.

3. Microwave oven: This one still occupies a space on our counter because I don’t wish to start a war in my household over getting rid of it. {smile} There are numerous studies suggesting that microwaving food causes deleterious changes in its cell structure and nutritional value, and I lived for many years without one with no problem. It requires a little planning when utilizing frozen foods for meals, and re-heating refrigerated foods or drinks takes a tad bit more time on the stove top…but sometimes those quiet moments are a nice pause in the day, when you think about it.

4. Toaster oven: Unless you really use a toaster oven a lot, it is probably a waste of space. A regular toaster works just fine, though I do appreciate one with wide enough slots to accommodate a sliced bagel.

5. Espresso machine: Talk about a judgment call! The point here is that if you only enjoy an espresso drink once a month, you might consider making it an entire experience of a visit to a quaint coffee shop. I used to have an espresso machine and I used it daily for not only coffee but also instantly hot water for other things.

6. Multiple sets of measuring cups: I have two, and honestly I never use them both at the same time.

7. Apple corer: I am not referring to the type that mounts to the counter top and can process bushels of apples at lightning speed for preserving. I am talking about that roundish thing that you just press down over an apple and hopefully it cuts out the core intact while slicing the apple into six equal pieces. A paring knife that I use for a million other things too, takes up far less drawer space.

8. Knife block: Takes up a lot of counter space to hold only about eight cooking knives and a set of steak knives. If you don’t like knives in a drawer, using a magnetic knife strip that mounts to a wall or side of the fridge is a great space-saving solution, and preserves the sharp of your knife blades.

9. Excessive pots and pans: Admittedly, I would never willingly part with a 120 year old set of seasoned cast iron pans, even if some of them are used only rarely. They can still be in use by my descendants five generations from now if cared for properly. Otherwise, pots and pans are an item of necessity, and most of us just don’t need several of the same size. Discern those you truly need and use from those that are constantly being shifted around but seldom meet the stove top. *I am definitely a strong proponent of cast-iron cooking, not only because the pans last forever but also because of the negative health aspects associated with teflon.

10. Excessive casserole/pyrex type dishes: An assortment of these in various sizes is convenient to have, but do we really need several duplicates of the same size? Or how about that odd-sized/shaped dish that just never seems right to use? Be practical. These kinds of cookware take up space, so if you have pieces you don’t use then consider passing them on.

11. Bread maker: I am passionate about bread. In our current cultural climate, carbs have gotten a bad rap, so let me be clear: I am not saying we should eat a loaf every day, and I favor whole grains and unprocessed ingredients. That aside, there is also an art to bread, a history of using basic ingredients to form a product that sustains and energizes…like a slice of true nurturing dropped into the toaster and spread with apple butter to fill a hungry belly before the day’s work begins. Knowing when bubbling yeast is ready to be added to the flour…feeling the dough spring to life under the warmth of your hands as you knead it…seeing the loaves rise as they breathe like a living thing…these are all a part of experiencing bread and they are missed completely when a machine takes over. Moving on…

12. Grilled cheese maker: Remember those skillets you have? Yup, they work great for grilled cheese sandwiches.

13. Panini press: Again, the skillet. For  pressed grilled sandwich, just put a piece of tin foil over the sandwich and set another skillet on top of it…press down. Voila, a panini press.

14. Rice cooker: Unless you cook high volumes of rice every day, a simple pot with a lid works just as well. Put both the rice and water in, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and turn down to lowest heat. In about twenty minutes, perfect rice. *Don’t take the lid off, and don’t be tempted to stir during cooking.

15. Excessive coffee mugs: We all have our favorite mug! maybe two or three. But most of us do NOT have coffee parties wherein we need twenty mugs all at one time. Save the cupboard space and pare them down to a reasonable number.

16. Electric food processor: No doubt, these can chop mountains of food, puree gallons of more food, and grind piles of dry crumbly stuff in less time than they can be pulverized by hand. If you routinely cook for an army, you might need one of these…otherwise, some simple knife skills will do just fine.

17. Old knives you never use: Yes, about those knives we just mentioned! Different tasks require different blades, of course, so an assortment is a good idea to have around. But if you have a drawer full of knives you never use because they have been replaced by newer or better quality tools, consider donating those older ones to someone who might need them. *We personally know a gentleman who re-conditions old knives and donates them to individuals who need them. It is a blessing to see them brought back to life and put to use.

18. Saucers with small teacups: Some folks host dainty tea parties, but most of us don’t. Those tiny saucers take up space and their tiny receptacle counterparts usually just gather dust. Consider using them as gifts: Fill with candy, a small plant, or extra change and bless someone with a surprise treat for no reason at all!

19. Excessive pitchers: Do we ever serve eight different types of juice at once? Probably not…the extra pitchers could probably be put to better use elsewhere. *The availability of inexpensive plastic makes it easy to accumulate “extras”. Consider buying better quality glass or stainless steel pitchers that will not only last longer, but also reduce the inevitable scuffed up plastic in a landfill somewhere.

20. Aerosol non-stick spray: Aerosol is bad for the ozone layer, remember? using it to propel olive oil might SEEM good, but…well. Not really. How about just using a little oil on a brush for that baking pan?

21. Disposable paper coffee cups with plastic lids: Consider buying a thermal travel mug just once, and save not only the space but reduce the throwaways.

22. Paper plates: I do buy these occasionally for large outdoor picnics and camping trips. Unless we are hosting so many guests for a meal that we don’t have enough regular dishes, please consider the impact that frequent use of disposable one-time-use items have on natural resources.

23. Paper towels: Again something to use sparingly or consider saving only for very specific occasions. If you have access to a washing machine, a stack of white flour sack style towels cost much less, last much longer, and are more economical on many fronts. Keep a few set aside specifically for greasy use…we all know grease needs mopped up on occasion. Try it, even for a while, and you will see just how  you do NOT need these disposable towels as much as you might think.

24. Paper napkins: Again, a one-time-use disposable item designed to replace its washable cloth counterpart. Our society has become accustomed to paying for an item at a store, using it once, throwing it “away” (Where is”away”, actually? Everything goes somewhere…), then paying for the service of having it taken away in the trash (Again, it just goes “away”…), then paying for more. If you sew, great-looking napkins can be made from tons of different fabrics, even scraps leftover from other projects. If you don’t sew, cloth napkins can be purchased in sets quite economically. Just consider it.

25. I better duck for this one…Ziploc bags: We do have these at our house, but have greatly reduced the number of them that we use. Consider collecting several lidded containers for storing leftovers, wrap lunchtime sandwiches in waxed paper, and utilize plastic bags that accumulate with other products purchased in them. (Why not keep that bag those hamburger buns came in and use it the next time you really DO need to store something wrapped in plastic?) Also, many times a used ziploc bag can easily be washed out, dried, and re-used instead of reaching for a new one just because there is a whole box of them in a drawer. Remember, plastic lasts more than a human lifetime in a landfill.

So, what do YOU choose to clear out? What have you already avoided using because you didn’t need it? Share with us your ideas and thoughts so we can all learn from different perspectives!

Blessings all ’round,
Lorrie

 

About Simplicity Rebel

At our house we enjoy simplicity. We enjoy spending time together, sharing great meals and fun in the garden, including friends and family to relax and revel in good company and low stress! Of special interest to me is the art of what I refer to as "prosperous frugality". In other words, living simply and inexpensively while maintaining an attitude of prosperity and abundance. Frugality does not mean doing without necessities or feeling deprived. Rather, it is a lifestyle of using what we NEED, graciously sharing with others, and cultivating an attitude of gratitude in all things. This mindset led me to establish The Community GATE...a Give And take Experience, an organization dedicated to strengthening our communities one at a time through personal involvement and neighborly responsibility. I live in the suburbs. I do not live on a huge farm, nor do I have the luxury of an unlimited budget. However, we believe that even with a small piece of ground and a bit of ingenuity, we can bring a significant amount of produce to our table and have enough to share with our neighbors and loved ones. Also dear to my heart is the statement "a penny saved is a penny earned". Sometimes we need to reach out and create more income, while at other times we simply need to carefully reduce wastefulness so that our income goes further. From creative use of kitchen leftovers to thrifty uses of water for the garden, sometimes it is a matter of trimming the waste and using resources we didn't even know we already had! I enjoy bringing old skills back to the modern age, always learning new things along the way! Many skills such as bread baking, sewing, even gardening without excess chemicals or machinery will soon be lost altogether if we do not purposely keep them alive. Not everyone will employ all of these skills, but self-reliance and personal independence demand that someone carry the torch...it is my goal to carry it well and pass it forward!
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