Frugal AND clutter prevention

puzzlefanApril 2, 2013

I really can't stand extra gadgets, cookware, etc. that do only one thing. I won't own a bread maker, the oven works fine and no knead bread is a breeze. Rice cooker no. Rice is too easy to cook on the stove, My pans must all do double duty. What items have you been able to remove or never buy by using another item for more than one thing?

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I'm frugal, but also an unrepentant gadget person when it comes to kitchen stuff. I'm more inclined to purchase quality items for the kitchen than buy clothes, shoes and purses (that's where I'm a minimalist and don't like clutter).

Many of my tools-of-the-trade would not be found in most kitchens because most people don't cook, bake, or do food preservation these days. BUT, the "gadgets" and appliances have to fit in my small kitchen without taking up counter space. Thankfully, I have a tall utility cabinet and a pantry.

--When my ancient Sunbeam Mix Master (a wedding gift) went to "appliance heaven" I didn't replace it with another stand mixer. I can do everything I need with my small hand-held electric mixer. In fact, I can whip egg whites with a whisk in a stainless steel bowl faster than using my mixer. What I DO find indispensable is a Danish Dough Whisk, and well worth the price for making yeast breads by hand and stirring all kinds of dough, quick breads and pancakes.

--A good chopping knife and a box grater will generally do the job of a food processor, but I find a cutting mandoline indispensable for slicing food for the dehydrator. It's fast and the even thickness of sliced food on a mandoline dries more efficiently than food sliced by hand with a knife.

--In order to save about 80% on cooking energy I incorporate several low-energy and thermal cooking methods. I sewed several "Wonder Ovens" (aka "Wonder Box Cooker" - see link below) and use those quite often. I use a Thermal Cooker and Thermos bottles for short-cut, low-energy, "cooking". I also have 3 solar ovens which require no energy. These items will replace a slow-cooker, oven, and reduce or eliminate the time needed on the stove-top.

--By taking the extra step of sprouting grains/seeds/beans first, I increase nutrition AND cut cooking time.

--I make homemade kefir instead of homemade yogurt and all I need is a quart jar with a lid. It ferments at room temperature, so no yogurt maker, special heating or constant temperature is needed. Plus, the kefir grains last forever (you have to renew yogurt starter periodically) and kefir is better for you. I make kefir with powdered milk purchased in bulk amounts at a lower price than store-bought milk. I use kefir as a substitute for buttermilk, plain yogurt, cream cheese and sour cream for even more savings.

-I find an electric kettle a real money saver and a must-have in the kitchen. It heats water more efficiently than using a kettle on the stove or heating water in the microwave because the water comes in contact with the heating element. When you heat water on the stove, a lot of the heat is lost in the air, and the pan or kettle has to heat up in order to heat the water.

We use "saved" water (water you run down the drain waiting for the shower to get hot) to do dishes. We can do after-meal clean-up and dishes we don't put in the dishwasher using 1-gallon of water. We heat 5-cups of water in the electric kettle (which is faster and less expensive than the microwave or the induction hot plate - I tested them with a Watt-A-Meter) and place it in a small plastic tub. Add 5 cups of cold water. We use the remainder of the gallon for rinsing the dishes. We only run our dishwasher once a week.


Here is a link that might be useful: Thermal Cooking

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 9:59AM
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Thank you Puzzle fan. I agree with you completely. I bought a regular mixer one time and I hated it because I had to stand there with a spatula to keep the stuff off the sides. I gave it away and used my hand mixer. No more fancy tools or even specialty cleaners. I keep my life simple.

If your name means jigsaw puzzles, we are both puzzle lovers.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Well, if you have a Forman Grill, it's pointless to buy a pannini press--the Forman does a fine job.

I bake most of our bread, and it's not always the no-knead recipe, so I personally could not be without my KA stand mixer--but it's an appliance that's used so frequently, it's in almost every load of dishes in my DW

While I still do have a Food Processor--it's mainly because I got it free--and it's only there because it hasn't died yet. But really, I prefer chopping vegetables and meat by hand. for mixtures that need to be pureed, I use my blender (which has a smaller footprint, anyway). I only use that FP maybe 2X a year--not really worth having.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:20PM
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Goes to show that everybody's got their something...
things that they feel ARE necessary for THEIR lifestyle, even when others feel differently.

That does not mean they are less frugal or more cluttered...

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 1:22PM
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There are two (often) conflicting sayings in evidence here:

1) For every job, there's a proper tool.

2) Every tool needs to be multi--use.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 2:40PM
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Lu Ann is correct. we all have at least one thing we can't do without. I don't need a grill as I still use my mother's cast iron stove top grill, Makes great panini sandwiches, I just put a heavy pot on top. No mixer, hand mixer is fine. BUT I do need my food processor. I use it a lot as a mixer I guess, and I have to have it to make peanut butter every week. Most of the time when considering buying something, I ask myself; do I have something already that will do the job!

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 7:39PM
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I just read a brief on research for cooking rice using 22 different methods and measured the energy input required for each method. Ironically, the winner was the electric rice cooker, for those of us who have and use one and want to justify using it.

To go along with that electric rice cooker so it's not a "one trick horse" - The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook : 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risottos, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann.

Another tip from the research paper for cooking rice faster is to soak it in cool water for 30-minutes first. This will reduce the cooking time by 7- to 18-percent - which ever method for cooking you choose. Sprouting brown rice first (which also increases the nutrition and is tastier to people who don't like brown rice) will keep the cooking time using a stove-top method to around 10-minutes.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 5:11PM
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Generally I am against one-trick-ponies, but I love my rice cooker. It is genuinely easier than rice on the stove because you don't have to watch for the water to boil and for the 20 minutes to run out. It sits on the other side of the kitchen and doesn't need any effort at all once it's set up.

We use it 2-3 times each week, so it isn't just sitting around.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 10:13PM
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It all depends on your own cooking habits and physical limitations. I use machines to make up for bad hands.

I would not consider a rice cooker to be a 1-trick pony ... we use it to make rice and steamed veggies or teriyaki chicken. And we eat a lot of rice.

The grind and brew Capresso - two coffee drinkers who like gourmet coffee.

CrockPot ... used frequently for stews and soups.

Blender, food processor, KitchenAid mixer and bread machine ... I'd cripple myself if I tried to do manually what these do for me.

What we do not use often: the oven

I frugalize on the cleaners: washable scrub rags, minimal generic cleaners

    Bookmark   May 20, 2013 at 6:52PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I have a lot of different appliances; if it doesn't get used, it gets moved to the basement where I probably will never use it-George Foreman grill, pasta maker, assortment of crock pots.
I think it all depends on what you eat and cook.

Heavy duty mixer and FP stay out on the counter, but those are the only small appliances out. I have quite a few fancy cake pans that don't get used often and are cumbersome in the cabinet, but I really enjoy them when I do use them and they will last forever.

The dehydrator is bulky and one thing I could easily do without but it's invaluable to others here.Love, love, love the three different waffle makers!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 3:54PM
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My daughter "stole" my blender. But I have a hand mixer that works just as well, I'll insert one or two beaters. One beater is all you need for mixing beverages (smoothies,milkshakes,etc).If you watch cooking shows, Alton Brown shares your opinion, he hastes "Uni-taskers."

    Bookmark   June 12, 2013 at 10:10AM
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"Goes to show that everybody's got their something...
things that they feel ARE necessary for THEIR lifestyle, even when others feel differently.
That does not mean they are less frugal or more cluttered..."

What was your tip?

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 7:51AM
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I've noticed there's been a rash of "unitaskers" lately; the baby cupcake maker, cakepop maker, mini pie maker, donut maker etc.Whenever I see them I think,"if only someone would invent an appliance that did it all...oh wait, they have. They call it an oven!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 3:50PM
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Gadgets and being frugal can be coexistent. I've found gadgets and pans at garage sales that were perfectly adequate.
I'm not a gadget collector just for the sake of having them,(well, except for my decorative copper pot collection) but I have some bread and pizza pans I use that to me are better suited for their purpose than regular pans.
While I don't like clutter, I do love to display stuff. I have baskets in the kitchen that hold produce, the copper pots displayed in the dining area. But the ordinary gadgets such as mixers and the like are all put up in cabinets. I have a small house and limited cabinet space so that is one way to keep the number of gadgets down.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2013 at 8:44AM
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