Necessary kitchen appliances

Sometimes, it feels like I’m the only person in the world who doesn’t own a waffle maker.

There are SO MANY yummy looking recipes for making your own waffles, and I want to try them all, but I don’t really want to shell out $50 for an appliance that will only get used once a month, and take up cupboard space the rest of the time. (I haven’t yet been able to find a waffle maker that costs less than $40, except for those cast iron ones that you put on a gas stove… and because I don’t have gas, I can’t get those either.)

Which got me thinking – what appliances are “essentials” for me, and what could I survive without, but would rather not?

One thing to note – I haven’t included “fridge” on this list, because as far as I’m concerned, that isn’t even something that should be considered as optional, EVER. It’s a case of food safety, particularly when you live somewhere that never leaves the “danger zone”, even in the coldest depths of winter. (The “danger zone” is 5-60°C – this is the favoured temperature range for bacteria growth. I’m afraid I have no idea what that temp range would be in °F.)

Essentials:

Hotplate
For the record, I have never lived somewhere that didn’t have a hotplate. If I was looking at rentals, and the kitchen did not have a stove/hotplate setup, I would not even consider it.

Oven
This is tied to the hotplate thing – I’ve never lived anywhere that didn’t have some sort of oven. I love baking, so a lack of a decent-sized oven at a house would be a deal-breaker for me. If we were buying a house and there wasn’t an oven/hotplate in the kitchen, they would be the first things I bought.

Deep freezer
This probably has a lot to do with how I was brought up – Mum would always make extra/buy in bulk and freeze everything. The 6mths I spent without a deep freezer was hell (old one died and we had to save up the money for a new one) – we spent so much money on food, because I couldn’t buy/cook in bulk to have easy meals for days when we were busy, so we ended up eating so much takeaway food.

Toaster
This is the single most-used appliance in my kitchen after the kettle. I have been known to survive on variations of toast-and-toppings during busy uni times, or when my mental health takes a crash. Toast is an easy, quick food that requires little or no thought and invites minimal decision fatigue.

Could survive without, but don’t want to:

Dishwasher
Yes, I can survive without a dishwasher. I have done so for the past 2 1/2 years. BUT now we have one again, even though it’s only a little one, I don’t want to have to go without it again. It saves a heap of time, and when we have a dishwasher, Hubby actually does the dishes (i.e. packs and unpacks the dishwasher).

Blender
I don’t use this a lot, but when I didn’t have one, making pureed soups was incredibly annoying. You CAN do it, but it takes FOREVER and involves a colander, a potato masher, and a spoon. And the puree is never as smooth as you get it from the blender. The one I have also has a kitchen whiz bowl and all the associated attachments, but I think I’ve only used those maybe twice in the 5 years I’ve had the thing. I keep them, but they’re in the back of the cupboard and hardly get used.
Hubby also likes the blender, because it means he can make his “Death by Chocolate” thick shakes, though I’m surprised he hasn’t killed it yet because of how thick they are. No kidding, you can stand a spoon up in one, and it won’t touch the sides of the glass.

Microwave
This is another one where when our old one died, we were without one for a month and it was such a pain (the only reason we were without one for a month was because it died a week after payday, and we got paid monthly at that point so we had to wait until the next pay run to get a new one). I do not advocate having a complicated microwave, or even a strong one. Ours is only 700w, and is seriously the tiniest thing in the universe – it barely fits a dinner plate inside, you have to tip the plate on an angle to get it through the door – but it does what it’s designed to do. It reheats food, and occasionally cooks something (mainly steaming veges when the idea of cleaning the full pot-and-steamer-insert setup is way too painful to contemplate for a single serve).

Handheld beaters
I would LOVE to have a stand mixer – but realistically, it’s not a necessity. However, if I don’t have access to handheld beaters I avoid recipes that call for extreme amounts of beating. They make certainly things so much easier on the arms! They also don’t take up a lot of room – mine is smaller than one of my shoes (which is saying something, since I’m only an AU size 6 – which is a 4 in Converse sizing).

Rice cooker/slow cooker
I’ve included these under the same category, because it is possible to get ones that do both. I currently have a “do both” on my wishlist for my birthday, because I have 2 separate appliances atm. Slow cookers are a god-send for busy weeks, and are fantastic for bulk cooking. I love my rice cooker because we eat quite a large amount of rice, and it makes life SO much easier when I don’t have to worry about yet another thing on the stove. I will personally be keeping my large 6L slow cooker when I get my “do both”, because the large one is great for doing soups & roasts, while I will use the smaller one more for things like pasta sauce, curries, and other similar things that I don’t want to make 20 serves of.

Sandwich toaster
This looks sort of like a baby George Foreman grill, but with flat plates. I have cooked way more than just sandwiches on this – we have also used it for bacon, steak, sausages, eggs, and pancakes.

Electric kettle
I actually don’t have one at the moment. Mine got invaded by ants, and I couldn’t get the taste of them out, so I just bought a cheap stove-top kettle. The stovetop one works fine, but I can’t wait until I can get an electric one again. Electric kettles use less power, and are rather less noisy (I have gotten very good at taking the kettle of the heat the moment it even THINKS about whistling, because I hate the sound), but are also more expensive. Particularly seeing as I refuse to buy a plastic one – fussy fussy me just thinks the water from them tastes yucky. The nice metal one I’ve got on my wishlist is $30, and that’s not even the most expensive!

That’s my thoughts on what is necessary for a decent kitchen set-up, and those appliances do everything that I need.

Most of these appliances don’t have to be expensive – I bought my 6L slow cooker 8 years ago, and it’s a no-name brand and only cost me $20. The rice cooker and sandwich toaster both only cost $10, and the toaster we currently use was $5. The blender cost quite a bit more, but it was a birthday present the first year after I moved out of home.

Does anyone have other appliances they can’t live without?

~K

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18 thoughts on “Necessary kitchen appliances

  1. Seconding all of this except the slow cooker because I have absolutely no room in my kitchen 😦 Right now I’m hunting for one of those sandwich makers that also doubles as a waffle maker, you know with those interchangeable plates, but those don’t come cheap around here either.
    I can’t live without my washer-dryer, but that’s not really a kitchen appliance 😀

    • I totally agree about the washer-dryer! I have them as separate appliances, and with a busy schedule the dryer is indispensable!
      I’d seriously recommend a small slow cooker/rice cooker combo though, you make so many cheap meals in them!

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