Kitchen Tools That Simplify Your Life

Part of having a SimpleFrugal home is also deciding what things are useful and what things just take up space or are “eye candy”.  If you have a large kitchen that has lots of storage behind closed doors, then bless you, you may not need to be as particular here  (though you may still find your life more simplified if you “lose” some redundant or kitchen “candy” that is gathering dust).

The thing is, we often buy kitchen tools because of some well-crafted advertisement that makes some gadget seem indispensable.  We soon become enamored with the idea of owning that nifty (is that word used anymore?) tool. We buy it; use it once or twice and then it is relegated to the back of the counter or stowed in the pantry. Then when our sister in law mentions she is having a garage sale, you dig through the closets and pantry for likely fodder and out goes the electric tortilla press, noodle maker or whatever.

So how do you evaluate the usefulness of a tool or appliance?  For me any tool has to have regular usage and a simple obvious example is a kitchen knife set.  Even then you don’t need the big block full of fancy knives.  I have found there are three basic knives you need: the Chef’s knife, a general purpose slicer and a smaller peeling knife.  Since we bake our own bread, we also have a good quality bread knife.  I have two of each because I have a kitchen full of helpers – but you may only need one set.  Other than that keep your knife inventory simple.

Here is a look through several items I use to give you an idea of what to keep:

Food Processor – I use this daily.  At first I thought it was just a big space user but I found a dozen things to do with mine very quickly.  I prepare large batches of food daily for my large family.  It just plain makes slicing and chopping so much simpler. Additionally I would puree the food my mother in law needs (she has trouble swallowing).

Tip: While it may be tempting to use a food processor for onions, a  knife still works best (something about over processing the onions make them bitter).

Vita-Mix – This is used for a dozen different things.  Leftover rice is blended more smoothly into cream of rice cereal.  I use it to stir together the wet ingredients for nearly all recipes: milk, eggs and oil for pancakes; water/milk, honey and eggs for breakfast cake; scrambled eggs (yes, just turn it to medium low to get a uniform blend).  Of course we make, smoothies daily too.  Some might say I could use it and get rid of the food processor but some things just turn out better using one or the other.

Grain mill and Bread Mixer – We make bread twice a week.  So it stands to reason we keep these specialty items.

Toaster – we toast our bread for nearly every meal (just a preference)

Apple peeler/slicer – Even though we only use it for a few weeks out of the year, it makes quick work of all those windfall apples that neighbors offer us (now, I am talking wheelbarrow loads!!)  We could do without it but it is such a huge time saver and the kids love to use it (and I say if it makes work “fun” then by all means keep it!)

Juicer – I use my juicer twice a week for my vegetable drink.  But in times past I only used it say once a month.  Since I believe fresh is best, I juice my own.

Rice Steamer – we use brown rice but it tends to be tough for my mother in law so I make a batch of steamed brown rice.  Then I cook it a second time in the casseroles or soups.  This way she can eat it and we like how much more like white rice it becomes (meaning more tender).

Those are just some of the items I use daily or at least several times a week that make meal prep so much simpler.

Tips for deciding what to keep

Is it eye candy? Perhaps all you really want is a microwave and a few mixing bowls fine.  Just don’t feel obligated to purchase a whole kitchen full of stuff just for looks.

Do you use it, really use it?  If you use a tortilla press or a noodle maker on a regular basis then, by all means, keep them.  All I am suggesting here is that we keep our lives simpler. If your noodle maker is getting dusty, then maybe you really bought it on a whim.

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