What Is More Important: Being Simple Or Being Frugal?

In this article, I talked about the tools I find useful in my kitchen. Many of you have asked how can I say that owning all those appliances could possibly be “simple” or frugal. Good questions need good answers.

For me (and note that it is my personal choice), sometimes an item or tool serves one purpose but I use it all the time – like the rice cooker. But does it really simplify my life that much that it can justify keeping and taking up space? They have to answer yes to two or more or the following questions:

  1. Does the tool add convenience to my project?
  2. Will the tool be used at least once a week if not daily?
  3. Does the tool have more than one use?

So, in the case of my rice cooker, it does add convenience to my recipes as it cooks the rice flawlessly where I might otherwise over- or under-cook it on the stove top (even though I am a multi-tasker, I can often lose track of some aspects of the recipe). I do use it at least once a week, making a full pot, then saving the leftovers for other recipes later in the week. While it doesn’t have more than one use for me, I have read that you can fix hot cereal in it.

[June 2017: I’ve since upgraded from rice cooker to Instant Pot and multiplied usefulness and also eliminated the rice cooker!]

My rice cooker is a tool that makes my life simpler and it adds to being frugal in that I can make two or three meals worth of rice ahead of time.

Another tool that may seem frivolous is the grain mill. It only does one thing – grind grain. But it does add convenience to my life. It comes down to what is important to you. For us, it is important to have whole grain bread that is made of fresh rather than stale wheat flour.

Besides the taste difference, stale flour (meaning prepackaged flour you buy from the store) is not a healthy choice as the oils in the grain become spoiled or rancid. This is not a treatise on what rancid food does to the body. Suffice it to say, once I became educated about how the body deals with spoiled food (it treats it like a toxin), it became important to me to eliminate it from our diet. Back to the subject…

So, since grinding grain fresh is important to me, we saved to buy a mill. We use it two or three times a week milling up to 20 pounds of flour at a time (we share a lot of bread, too). And yes, we do use it for other things: we grind popcorn for our cornmeal baking. It is so much sweeter than stale store-bought cornmeal.

A grain mill might be a dust gatherer for you but as you can see it is an essential item for us. I don’t use a tortilla press or a noodle maker but you might. So these things will have their place in your life and in your pantry.

I do have a marginal “dust-gatherer”. I have owned several brands of juicers over the years. They end up gathering dust for one reason or another. I have given away all but one. I keep my Champion juicer for those times I want carrot juice. But sometimes I wonder if it would have been less expensive for me to buy the stuff at the local health food store.

Ultimately, when I choose an appliance for my kitchen it makes my life/job simpler and is therefore frugal. My hand can opener was carefully chosen to make my life simpler. I never saw the use of an electric can opener (noisy, clunky, takes up space) when it takes just as long to use the hand model. But I did spend extra to get a good can opener (I shop using Amazon as my Consumer reports, of sorts).

Is that frugal? Yes, because I will use it often, it does its job well and will for years to come.

So ultimately, being simple and being frugal walk hand in hand. I love what Mr Myagi told Daniel: “All of life is balance”. Sometimes you have to balance simplicity with frugality to make it all work.

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