Many frugal people are also minimalists. In some ways we are minimalists, but when it comes to kitchen appliances you might think otherwise. While some people avoid kitchen appliances that take up space and only perform one function, we have found that many of those kitchen appliances save us money. They are worth their space in gold!
Here’s our list of kitchen appliances that are worth their space in gold.
When we received our Food Processor as a wedding gift, I had no idea how much we would love it. I had never really used a food processor before, so I didn’t know what I was missing. Unfortunately for you, the model I have, which we affectionately call “Gonzo,” is no longer made.
We use our food processor when we puree tomatoes to can, when we puree pumpkpin to freeze, when I grate zucchini, when I grate cheese in bulk, when I make homemade laundry detergent, and when I want thin slices of zucchini, carrots, potatoes, just to name a few!
Since we started having Cold Cereal Sundays instead of having cold cereal everyday, pancakes and French toast became staples. The griddle allows me to cook a lot more at once than I could do in a pan. We made sure to get a griddle that can handle 8 pancakes at a time. Using the griddle and my homemade pancake mix, we can whip up pancakes in no time flat, which saves loads of money.
I use my Blendtec to make green smoothies nearly every night. I’ve talked about how we made our regular blender last for a year of green smoothies before we upgraded. We really, really love our Blendtec. Besides smoothies, we use it for purees, soups, eggs, and frozen treats.
Unlike other blenders, it grinds wheat. My sister doesn’t have a wheat grinder so she mixes her pancake batter, wheat berries and all, in the blender. The Blendtec makes nut butters as well. I love that is has pre-programed cycles, so I can just press one button and the blender adjusts the speed to go through the appropriate cycle. It has a greater capacity than our other blender which is great since I’m blending for five smoothie-lovers. With it’s flat sides, it is a cinch to clean. You can read more about how we eat healthy and save money with our Blendtec.
Rice is the epitome of frugal foods. It is a staple for most of the world. We love including rice in our menu, but making rice on the stove is not our forte. Even when I watch it like a hawk, I still end up with the rice at the bottom of the pan burned or congealed together. With the wise use of a gift card, we got a Rice Cookerabout 5 years ago and it has made all the difference.
Besides allowing us to eat ever-frugal rice, the rice cooker also steams veggies. Just stick the veggies in the steaming basket on top of the rice for the last 10 minutes of the rice cycle and you’ll have perfectly steamed veggies! Our rice cooker also has a delay timer, so our rice can be ready for us right when we want it.
Making home-cooked meals can be difficult for people who work. After a long day of work, the idea of cooking from scratch might not sound like much fun. A slow cooker changes all that. Crock pot meals involve tossing all the ingredients in the pot and plugging it in. When you get home from work or a busy day of errands, dinner is waiting for you. Using a slow cooker will save you again and again as you eat at home instead of ordering take-out.
In addition to making whole meals ahead of time, I use my slow cooker to make homemade yogurt. I can make a gallon of yogurt at a time! I also cook beans in bulk in my crock pot. I freeze them in can-sized portions. It’s much cheaper than canned beans and doesn’t have any weird preservatives!
If you don’t have a crock pot, check out a yard sale or thrift store. Better yet, ask some newlyweds. They probably have several!
Ever since we got serious about paying off our student loan debt, I have been making all of our bread from scratch. A while back, we bought about a year’s supply of wheat at a good price. We store it under our bed which is raised up on cinder blocks (you do what you can when you live in a basement). Needless to say, our wheat mill has played an integral part in making our own bread.
This is a bonus, because it’s an appliance we don’t actually have… yet. My kids love popcorn, but we don’t eat it very often. Our friends have a Stir Crazy popcorn popper that is pretty amazing! I am on the lookout to find one at a yard sale or thrift store.
Even in our small basement kitchen, everything has a place. Besides these money-saving appliances, there’s also all of our canning equipment! I thought about including those items too, because they save us loads of money, but since they don’t plug in they aren’t really appliances. You can read about a few of our favorites here.
What about you?
- Are you a kitchen appliance minimalist?
- What are your favorite kitchen appliances that help your family save money?
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Wendi Sisson says
Are the instructions for steaming veggies in the rice cooker for raw or frozen veggies? I’ve got to try that!! I thought i was pretty frugal but I’ve already learned a lot from your site since i discovered it yesterday. We also have over $100k in student loan debt but thankfully it will soon be forgiven as my husband is in public service.
I never understood why anyone would want a rice cooker because it’s so easy to cook rice on the stove. My slow cooker gets a lot of use for beans and stews and the blender makes purees a few times a year. My biggest money saving appliance is my bread maker. For the same cost I can bake better bread the old fashioned way but it doesn’t happen much because of the work. With the bread machine I add the ingredients, push the start button and I have fresh bread in three hours. It also has a timer to delay the start for up to 10 hours. While it is not as good as hand kneaded dough it is much better than bread from the store for a fraction of the price. Added bonus: no cleanup except measuring spoons and cup.
That’s so funny David– I’m the exact opposite! I make my own bread without a machine (I do several loaves at a time), but I adore my rice cooker! To each his own! 🙂
Paula Plowman says
My husband bought me a stand mixer and i love it! It kneads the bread while i oil my pans no more messy counyer tops. It also shreds chicken in no time.
I’ve heard about shredding chicken in a stand mixer, but I’ve never done it. I’ll have to try that one!!
Susan Halladay says
I regularly see air pop popcorn makers at thrift stores and garage sales. Whenever one of mine breaks (large family — need to run 2 at once) I go hunting for a new one.
That’s awesome Susan!
I am curious about your canned beans recipe. My husband loves a certain brand of canned beans, unfortunately, our store only carries the larger can (and yes, we only have one store we can shop from, though it is only 2 minutes away), and we end up wasting a good bit of it because the kids don’t care for beans. I am wondering if it would be worth it to cook up a pot and try canning the beans in smaller jars for my husband.
I have never canned the beans into glass jars, if that’s what you mean (though we can a lot of other things around here). I would go ahead and freeze the beans. They freeze and thaw wonderfully and you wouldn’t have to waste any!
Wendi Sisson says
in my experience beans cooked on the stove or in a crock pot do not have the same texture as canned beans. But instant pot or pressure cooker beans come close. I believe it is because canned beans are cooked or canned under pressure. I never cared for beans cooked from dry until I got an instant pot and now I love them. It’s a texture thing for me. I also agree with the authors comment that you could freeze the beans from the larger can of the preferred brand.
We do popcorn in the microwave, too, it’s so easy! I also make refried beans in the crockpot and freeze them like someone mentioned.
I expected to see a dehydrator on your list. I don’t have one, but I’d love to do homemade fruit leather and chips more easily than using the oven.
I almost put the dehydrator on the list. I raved about it in my post about making fruit leather though. 🙂
Had my blender sitting in a cabinet for a year and a half. Gave it away. It was too much hassle to wash. Then got married and hubby brought along a magic bullet! We use it every day. Our only other appliance is a coffee maker, although I’m seriously considering getting a French Press to eliminate it. I do have a crockpot sitting in one of my cabinets, but it’s been there also for about a year and I think I’m about to give it away. I find that everything can be cooked without modern appliances.
It’s true that everything can be cooked without appliances. These appliances may not be *absolutely necessary,* but they help me save money because without them, I might opt for *not* doing something from scratch at home. For example, with my food processor, I puree tomatoes from my garden and can them myself. I don’t buy tomato sauce or any tomato products from the store. Doing hundreds of quarts of tomato puree “the old fashioned way” would not be a good use of my time. I failed at rice for years (and thus rarely made this most frugal food), until I got my rice cooker. For us, it is worth it to not be kitchen appliance minimalists and save on our grocery budget over and over, but everyone has their own style and that’s perfectly fine! 🙂
I Have A Small, Simple, Belgian Waffle Maker. We Love The Homemade Waffles And I Don’t Have To But Those Expensive Frozen, Chemical-Laden Things My Kids Used To Beg For! Also, I Make Cakes On The Side And If I Didn’t Have My Stand Mixer (Mine Is A Sunbeam Pro Model), I Would Have Stopped Long Ago, So It helps In Making A Few Bucks. (Sorry For The Caps On Each Word, My Phone Is Goofy!)
We also have a waffle maker (regular kind) and a stand mixer that we use pretty regularly! That’s cool that you make cakes on the side! I’m sure the stand mixer comes in handy, especially for the frosting. Thanks for sharing Trish!
We love our small appliances too. I wish we had the griddle that you have. We use our rice cooker, slow cooker quite often, as well as the food processor.
And we found a powerful inexpensive blender last year that I use every morning for my banana smoothies.
The griddle gets lots of use at our house between pancakes, French toast, and quesadillas! 🙂
We’re definitely kitchen appliance minimalists, but that’s mostly because we only have a few cabinets and no pantry. We never used our food processor, so we ended up giving it to my in-laws. That said, I would love a griddle, because I hate cooking pancakes only 1-2 at a time!
My all time favorite money saving appliance is my food saver. When meat, cheese, etc go on sale or I have surplus from my garden, I can store food longer. It has saved us a significant amt of money. No more freezer burn and food stays much fresher.
That’s great! We do a lot of freezing, but have never used a food saver, just Ziploc bags and plastic wrap. Thanks Lucy!
Oh gosh, would you believe that I only own ONE of these?! Clearly I need some more kitchen appliances!
Let me guess… is it a crock pot? Maybe you are just more of a minimalist. 🙂
We cook our popcorn kernels in the microwave in a paper lunch sack. We buy a package of sacks at the dollar store and they last us a long time. We put 1/4-1/3 cup kernels in the sack, roll down the top twice and put it in the microwave for about 1:45 and it works everytime. You’ll have to figure out the time on your microwave, but it works great! You can also just throw in a little butter and salt with the kernels if you want that. We’ve been making it this way for years because we don’t have a popper and don’t like the expense of microwave popcorn or all the chemicals. We usually then use the popcorn to make “sticky popcorn” with butter, brown sugar and marshmallows, it’s divine! My kids like it plain too and it makes for a quick and cheap after school snack.
That is amazing! We will definitely have to try this! I had no idea you could do that! My kids will thank you. They love popcorn! 🙂
I just saw this post and wanted to mention that you can make popcorn very easily on top of the stove as well using the popcorn kernels that come in a plastic bag. You need a large covered pot (like 4 quarts or so). Put enough vegetable oil in to just cover the bottom of the pot (a few tablespoons), add 1 kernel of popcorn, put the lid on, and cook on medium – high heat until you hear it pop. Remove the cover, add enough kernels to just cover the bottom of the pot in a single layer, put the cover back on. Shake the pot back and forth gently until you no longer hear the popcorn popping. That’s it – add salt and butter to taste.
Sarah Kristen says
Have you done a post on how you cook your beans in the crock pot and freeze them? I would love to start doing that but I’m not sure how!
I haven’t done a post of beans yet, but it’s coming up soon so stay tuned! 🙂
Mom @ Three is Plenty says
We use our rice cooker all the time – we have a fancy Zojirushi though – makes perfect rice, porridge, oatmeal, etc. It has a timer where we can say “we want our rice done at 5:30pm”, and at 5:30 (assuming the clock is correct!) we have rice at 5:30. We also have an electric griddle, although not used as often as yours, is handy for those rare lazy Sunday mornings we cook pancakes – ours is stored in our “extended” kitchen storage in the basement,
That’s cool that your rice cooker makes oatmeal too! On the days we don’t have pancakes, we’re probably having oatmeal or cream of wheat. 🙂
Mom @ Three is Plenty says
Hubby takes advantage of it almost every evening – he likes the slow cooked steel-cut oats vs quick oats, so it’s convenient to have it hot and ready when we wake up.