The Minimalist Kitchen Part 3: What Appliances Do You Actually Need?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Appliances can be a sticky subject.  Lots of people have very strong opinions about what appliances you should have and what you should not.  That being said, this is not a definitive guide to what you should have, nor is it a guide for what to register for on your wedding registry (that will be the next post in this series).

Hopefully this guide will help you look with a clear eye to determine if your applainces are actually serving you the way they should, or just collecting dust in your cupboard, and leaving you with a sinking feeling of guilt for not using them.


Let me first tell you a little bit about some of the appliances that I have in my kitchen.  I have a number of single function appliances that I no longer feel guilty about (at one point, I wondered if it was okay to have them, especially as a minimalist).  I have a yogurt maker, a rice cooker, and an ice cream maker. What once brought me some guilt, now brings me joy and constant delight by making perfect rice, yogurt, and restaurant grade ice cream on a weekly basis (I actually don't make ice cream that often, which is a good thing.  I make ice cream about once a month or once every two months).

I also have a Blendtec blender and a Kitchen Aid mixer.  The Blendtec was a Christmas gift a few years ago, and I never knew I needed a great blender until we got one.  We had a cheap one that I sort of despised, but once we got a nice one, it kind of rocked my world and I use it all the time. I don't think I will ever be able to go back (and hopefully with my Blendtec, I won't ever have to!

One time someone asked what I use our Kitchen Aid for.  I think most people make yeast bread in theirs.  I infrequently make bread in mine, and I make bread all the time.  I usually make quick breads (like zucchini bread, or muffin batter), pie crust (I make this almost every week), and cookies/brownies.  The Kitchen Aid is also great for beating eggs or whipping cream.  I love having my kitchen aid, but don't think it is necessary for every kitchen.   A bowl and spoon will work just as well for most people.

So what should you have in your kitchen?

Here are a few questions to help you deciding if an appliance is really worth keeping in your kitchen: 

1.  Does it work?  If it doesn't, it should be a no brainer to throw it out and buy a new one, unless you didn't miss using it, then rejoice in your new-found cupboard space! And if you have planned on fixing it for 6 months or more, you very likely never will fix it, so throw it out or fix it right now.

2.  How often do you use it?  As a general rule, if you use it less than twice a year, you shouldn't keep it.  You probably know someone who wants it that will use it way more than you will and you can borrow it from them once a year.  Then you don't have store it, it will get used often and they get to feel super nice by letting you borrow it when you want to use it!

3.  Does it have multiple uses?  We have a few one-use appliances, and as long as they get used a lot, I think that is just fine. I mentioned earlier that we have a yogurt maker that serves just one function:  to make yogurt.  However, I use it at least once a week, and it makes yogurt better than any other tool in my kitchen will, so it stays.  On the other hand, having appliances that serve multiple functions is a great way to save space and money when you are purchasing an appliance.  I hear great things about the Instapot, which apparently is a pressure cooker, crockpot, steamer, warmer and rice maker all wrapped up in one pot.  That sounds pretty rad for one pot, and will save you boatloads of space and money that you would have spent on each of those appliances.

4.  Are your appliances overlapping in their functions?  Do you have two or three appliances that do the same sort of thing?  Do you need all of them?  Maybe you do, but maybe you don't.  If not, keep the best one and donate the others immediately!

A kitchen full of guilt-inducing appliances that fill your cupboards to overflowing do not a happy kitchen make.  Make your kitchen a easy place to work, and a place that has functioning appliances that make cooking pleasurable.

So now I have to ask, what appliances are necessary in your kitchen?

36 comments

  1. I definitely love having a KitchenAid mixer (with the ice cream maker attachment!), blender, crockpot, and waffle iron. The one I'm torn on is our bread machine. I grew up in upstate NY and used one all the time in high school - it was amazing. For some reason, I've never been able to successfully make bread in my own bread machine, and I wonder if it's because I live in Colorado, and breadmaking is extra tricky with our altitude. I keep hanging on to it in case we ever return to a lower altitude :)

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  2. I never had a rice cooker (I don't think they're very popular in the Netherlands), but once I moved in with my fiance, I saw how useful they could be! Especially since I'll hopefully be swapping in my work-from-home job for an actual office job soon, and I'm pretty sure the slow cooker and rice cooker will keep us from slow starvation. I also like our bread machine. When I'm working, I could make the time to do all the steps myself, but it interrupts my flow too much and I just don't get around to it.

    also, to the poster above (Grace), yes, altitude probably has something to do with it. We modified all the bread recipes (amount of liquid and yeast) when we lived in Utah.

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  3. I didn't think an electric mixer (hand or stand, kitchen aid or other) was a necessity until I had to whip cream, beat egg whites, or cream butter without one. After beating egg whites to stiff peaks with my handheld whisk, I went and bought a hand mixer. Now I have a kitchen aid stand mixer and I'm obsessed with it, but I don't think it's a necessity for everyone. I'd recommend a good-quality hand mixer to save on cost and space if you're not up for a stand one, but I find life without any electric mixer at all to be pretty unpleasant.

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