Minimalism Mini-Project: Rethink Kitchen Appliances
Larger appliances like stovetops/ovens and refrigerators are necessities for most people. With two of us in our family, we fill the refrigerator every week. So my focus for this mini-project is smaller kitchen appliances.
1. Starting with safety in mind, there are two non-negotiables that even the barest of minimalists should have in their kitchen.
- Be sure to install a quality smoke detector, even a combination smoke & carbon monoxide detector, in or near your kitchen. And test that detector regularly to make sure it's working.
- Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Know where you keep it and how to use it.
Sure, these items may not be the first things you consider when you're rethinking your smaller appliances, but not having these items could be fatal.
2. Do you remember the last time you used each appliance?
- Bread machine
- Ice cream maker
- Rice cooker
- Waffle maker
These appliances look so shiny and their marketing convinces us that we'll use these things every day.
And if you are using it every day, then great! You've purchased an appliance that's adding value to your life. But I know for me, I've made these novelty purchases before, used the item a few times, and then tucked it away in the back of a cabinet.
When I purged most of my extraneous stuff in Denver, I did donate or give away more than one small appliance. I even ditched my tea kettle. Years ago I did go through a mint tea phase to relax after work. When I was looking at my smaller appliances, though, I saw that tea kettle on my stove and I couldn't remember the last time I drank tea. And I really tried. No memory of tea? Donate! Gone.
3. For truly smaller appliances, do you use them every day justifying their placement on the countertop?
One of the aesthetically pleasing parts of being a minimalist is having countertops free of clutter.
But keep in mind, clutter is the stuff that's getting in your way. If you're using that tea kettle, coffee pot, or juicer on a daily basis, then keeping it out makes sense for you. You may be saving time and cabinet space by having that item easily accessible.
4. For bulkier or heavier small appliances, is the appliance used often enough that it's easier to keep it out?
Microwaves and toaster ovens are the two that come to mind. Moving these appliances around would be inconvenient for most people. And setting the clock every time you plugged in could be irritating. Mixers and blenders can be heavy too. Plus they have pieces that can easily drop and get damaged in moving them.
Assess how often you use these items and determine if keeping them on the countertop is easier for you. That is one of the reasons you're a minimalist, right? Trying to make your life a little simpler.
5. Do you use this appliance often enough to justify storing it in a cabinet?
I love my crock pot, but I don't use it often enough to have it cluttering up my countertop. At the height of my crock pot usage, I was slow cooking once a week. Now it's every few weeks.
If you're using an appliance for various recipes and reasons throughout the month, then keeping it stored in a cabinet or pantry makes sense. Don't obsess over the number of appliances you store, if you know that those appliances are ones that you use consistently.
6. Determine if any of your appliances could serve double-duty.
- Could you eliminate the juicer and use the blender instead?
- Do you need the full-size mixer and the handheld one?
- Do you need a slow cooker and a pressure cooker?
- Could you get rid of the microwave and keep just the toaster oven?
I'm embarrassed to report that My Person and I have a microwave, a toaster oven, and a toaster. We've cut so many carbohydrates from our diet that we haven't used the toaster for waffles or English muffins in forever. I don't think we've used the toaster since we've been back in Tucson. Hoping this post may prompt My Person to at least store the toaster away. If we don't use it for another six months, maybe he'll consider selling it.
Our microwave is built-in over the stovetop, so I'm hoping to make the case to eliminate that unnecessary item when we eventually redesign the kitchen. I'm a huge fan of the toaster oven, especially in the Tucson summers!
If you have any appliances that you use for one recipe, then maybe some research is in order. Go to your favorite food blogs, cookbooks, and trusted friends, and figure out if you could adapt that one recipe. Use a different approach in preparing the food or cooking the dish. Experiment. And remember to keep notes. You may find a perfect solution that allows you to sell or donate another small appliance.
7. Create a forward-thinking appliance plan.
- Evaluate your appliance usage a few times a year. Determine if you have appliances gathering dust and take action to declutter.
- Stop buying the shinies, those novelty appliances that you don't really need.
- Find a brand or look that you love, so that you can replace appliances as needed. My Person identified Breville as a company that makes high quality appliances that are beautifully designed. All of our smaller appliances are Breville, which creates a uniform look and appeal to our kitchen.
What smaller appliances are MUSTS in your household? Any brands that you love? Please share in the comments.
Read the other Minimalism Mini-Projects: