View Full Version : What defines an essential appliance?

4-9-11, 1:42pm
So there's all kinds of kitchen gadgets and appliances out there vying for previous kitchen counter- and cabinet space. Where do you draw the line?
Is it like deciding about other 'stuff' in your life? -- i.e. if you truly love something than it's not frivolous and you should keep it, right?
For some people a deep fryer would be superfluous, but for others who got to get their wing fix on (;)), it may be essential.
How about the whole spectrum of 'rotating choppers'? coffee bean grinder, hand mixer, slap chop, mini food processor, blender, food processor ... oh my!
For some people a toaster oven may be all they need, for other people they may need 2 wall ovens, a regular toaster, and a bagel toaster.

Is it truly all subjective, or is there a line in the sand where everyone can agree, 'wow, that's just ridiculous"? :)

One of my "frivolous" appliances is a hard boiled egg cooker. It was my mom's and it's this ancient metal and Bakelite thing (I joke that it probably has asbestos in it ;)) but wow does it make *perfect* hard boiled eggs! Plus you can plug it in and forget about it, don't need to worry about watching a pan on the stove top.

A crock pot is an essential appliance for me. I use it multiple times each week. (Is it possible to cook rice in a crock pot? My friend bakes bread using one!)

So how do you define an essential appliance? Sentimental value? Usage rate? Dollar value?

4-9-11, 2:07pm
My kitchen is too small to house many things that only have sentimental value. Appliances have to have a function that nothing else does equally well. For me, a rice cooker is not essential and we don't have one. We eat rice about once/week but I think a pot on the stove does just as well as a rice cooker.

4-9-11, 4:09pm
I LOVE my rice cooker! It makes perfect rice, quinoa, polenta, etc., while I sleep or am at work. Plus I live in a neighborhood that's largely Asian American, and I feel like I fit right in with my Zozirushi Neuro Fuzzy on the countertop... :) I found it on craigslist for about 1/4 the retail price.

My espresso machine - also a CL deal - is a Rancilio Italian machine. It makes incredible espresso, and as a coffee addict, I have even taken it with me when we've gone on vaca in the car... I'm still searching for the optimal burr grinder on CL. I burned up a really good one grinding a lot of coffee for a cold brew batch one summer, didn't let it cool down in time. Very sad. In fact, I think I'm gonna hop on over to CL now & look for one!

I can do without a toaster, microwave, blender, etc., but not my rice cooker & espresso machine.

4-9-11, 5:35pm
I use the electric kettle daily, the rice cooker a couple of times a week, and the stand mixer about once a week. And I love my waffle iron!

4-9-11, 6:10pm
We have a VitaMix, which we use often, sometimes daily, always every couple of days. Other than that, except for ordinary pots and pans, etc., we actually have NO "appliances".

I do have a portable mixer down in a drawer, but probably should give it away because I haven't used it in several years, and a whisk, which I use often, could really replace it, or a potato masher for thick stuff.

Our "toaster" is a sheet metal comal that I bought in Mexico about fifteen years ago and use to toast bread on the stovetop. Our "coffee maker" is an old plastic deli cup from Mexico with a hole made in the bottom with a hot nail, just the right size to put a coffee filter in and place over the cup. It's served its purpose well since our Melitta filter was stolen many years ago, and now we don't even make coffee on a regular basis, so need something else even less.

Yet, we manage to cook all our meals from scratch, bake all our bread and baked goods from scratch, cook rice, etc., without needing any special appliances to do it, so I guess I'd say that actually we don't need ANY (except I WOULD hate to give up the VitaMix because I love it, and love making smoothies in it). And it's good for other stuff, too.

I guess if you have plenty of room, or don't mind spending the money, whatever floats your boat is fine. For us, we have very limited kitchen counter and storage, and few appliances would "make the grade" of being worth taking up the space. And since we manage to turn out delicious food without them, our position is, "why bother?"

edited to add: I guess our Sun Oven would qualify as an "appliance", and that is something I'd hate doing without, because I use it virtually every day for something, and since it is used outside and when not in use is stored in a compartment under the floor of the motorhome, it doesn't take up kitchen space.

4-9-11, 6:28pm
We don't have a counter, so nothing gets to live on the counter (although we have one cat who likes to hang out on the ledge of the cupboard). Everything gets put away in the cupboard and taken out when we need to use it.
I think it is truly subjective. With all due respect Marsden, hard boiled eggs are one of the only things I can cook (it's a VERY short list), and I can do it fairly easily with a saucepan on the stove. So I just mention this to point out the subjectivity factor. We do feel like we need our coffee grinder, toaster, and blender, but they all live in the cupboard. We love our waffle iron too, but it lives on the storage shelves in the basement, because we only use it a couple of times a year.
DH does just about all the cooking in our house, and he likes high quality knives for chopping, and pots and pans for cooking. We don't have a microwave - I joke that he will have to buy me one if he ever leaves me:)

4-9-11, 8:19pm
Essential appliances?

A knife, a pot, a mug.

That's about it.

4-10-11, 10:14am
I thought a coffee maker was essential until ours stopped working a month ago. We opted to buy a Melitta manual system so no electronics needed. Just pour almost boiling water through filter into carafe. The only appliances we use on a regular basis now are the toaster oven and a blender for making smoothies. Honestly, none of them are essential though as one can be resourceful and figure out "manual" ways of doing things.

4-10-11, 1:06pm
I have an electronic pressure cooker that's quickly becoming a fixture on my counter. I love its speed, ease, and power savings.

ETA: Yeah, I think it's subjective. What someone else considers silly or superfluous may be interesting in passing, but it won't influence my choices.

4-10-11, 2:11pm
A kettle, a stove and a Kitchen aid mixer for making our homemade bread. I used to make bread manually but found it was getting to be too much a a hassle with the kneading required for four loaves as I like to fill the oven when I bake.
I have a toaster oven that we use for a number of and increasing times that replace the large oven. It is supposed to be more efficient energy-wise and for two of us the oven is just too large for one smaller dish.

4-10-11, 7:54pm
A toaster oven, small chopper, small juicer, stovetop, fridge, vacuum cleaner, 2 space heaters, hair dryer for winter.

4-11-11, 3:10pm
I have a toaster, and since I have a small kitchen it hides in the cabinet. I toast bread pretty infrequently, so maybe I should just try the loosechickens version and unload the toaster.

I have a microwave. It is definitely not essential, but I use it fairly often...mostly to steam veggies or heat up some leftovers quickly. I know a lot of people have gotten rid of them, but it serves its purpose for me.

I don't have a cofeemaker or a food processor. I do have a blender that gets used rarely. I have the standard stove top, oven and refrigerator.

I secretly lust for a double oven, but its never going to happen.

4-14-11, 4:10pm
I've always been a fan of simplicity no matter where inside/outside the home simplicity applies.

A few sharp knives.
A selection of quality mixing bowls.
An electric hand-held mixer for small jobs.
An immersion blender for speed, ease, and convenience.
Electric stove.
In my world I apply essential (appliance related) to any/all things used regularly (all the time) which are integral to any well functioning kitchen environment. Basic necessary items. (Must have items).

4-14-11, 5:17pm
Kenwood mixer. A blender. A pestle and mortar. Coffee machine. Electric kettle. Coffee/spice grinder.

4-15-11, 9:29am
I am 45 and never had a dishwasher until five years ago. Obviously, it wasn't essential, but now I really like it and don't really want to go back to the days of doing dishes by hand. Same goes for the garbage disposal...I grew up with one in the house, then moved into American apartments in college that didn't have one, and then to Europe where I never had one. Now that I've got one again, I like it, but I don't really need it. We don't have a garden or houseplants anymore, so there's no real need to compost.

I do appreciate the microwave and don't want to go back to life without one...it uses less power and is easier to clean, and doesn't heat up the kitchen like stoves do. I use my blender every day, an electric kettle several times a week, and my husband uses the toaster several times a week. He LOVES his electric hand mixer, which has a great dough hook he uses when making bread. Other than that, every other gadget I've bought in the past (crock pot, rice maker, bread machine, food processor, air popper) has gathered dust and has eventually gotten donated or sold. I don't even bother buying them anymore, since I know I won't use them, despite my monkey mind's vain attempts to convince me otherwise!

4-15-11, 11:48am
I love the microwave, toaster and electric can opener. I also use a George Foreman grill a couple of times a week.

4-15-11, 12:16pm
I live in an efficiency with kitchenette: <2 feet of workspace, built in 2 burner stove top. My essentials are the

mid-size conventional oven I bought to put in the space where the microwave usually goes;

4-15-11, 5:13pm
I thought we were talking about smaller gadgets!

I couldn't do without my 5 burner gas hob, including a wok burner, my double oven, the dishwasher, a great washing machine. I have a microwave, but use it only for scrambled eggs and frozen peas! I also have a dryer, but only use it in the depths of winter.

early morning
4-15-11, 8:45pm
Big stuff: washer, fridge, stove - don't want to do without those. Love the dishwasher, but it's last on the list of big stuff. Smaller stuff, in order of use/importance: coffee pot, toaster-oven, Kitchen-aid stand mixer, microwave, coffee grinder, small food chopper. My blender, large food processor, and crock pot could go missing and I most likely wouldn't notice for several months. Still they are handy, and get extensive use at certain times of the year. The older I get, the more I'm grateful for the ease these electrical wonders bring me.

4-18-11, 6:10pm
Originally posted by IshbelRobertson.
a great washing machineYes! Shame on me for overlooking mentioning it.

4-26-11, 8:37pm
I love this post because we are all consumed by having all the gadgets! Well frankly, I think people who have small kitchens really can understand the importance of space! Most of us don't have the room for all of these frivolous appliances (http://www.hhgregg.com)! Do we really need something that we really use once a year???? I think that we get caught up in what looks cool and forget that it takes up space and eat up our bank accounts! I even think that a dishwasher can be frivolous at times! We still wash dishes at my house!

4-27-11, 12:51am
I don't mind working, but I hate cleaning up. I HATE CLEANING UP. Any "appliance" that can be substituted for one that requires more cleaning is a winner in my book. Anything that will rinse clean in five seconds or less is pleasing. I prefer my oster stick blender to any jar blender I've ever had. I prefer a knife to a food processor, a fork to electric beaters. I think I would like that melita system, which only "dirties" a small filter thingie and then my mug, which is obviously going to get dirty anyway. I prefer to cook in the bowl I'm going to eat out of. I even prefer foods that will rinse clean to foods that cause me to scrape and scrub and apply soap to the dishes. So you could say my main criteria is a matter of laziness - or appealing use of my time, in any event.

4-27-11, 12:58am
I like gadgets. That is, I like well designed, easy to clean, logical ones, and ones I will use a lot. And we have ample counter space...

My favs:
Rice cooker - fuzzy logic one. Use it nearly constantly, for rice or quinoa.
Yogurt maker - basically a steady temp, timed incubator. I use it weekly.
Espresso machine, though it hasn't gotten much use lately.
Crock pot - winter mostly.
Kitchen Aid mixer - heavy duty & awesome. use it when the baking binge hits, and it cranks it out.

I just got a stick blender from Craigslist for $5, and am looking forward to using it. We have a cool countertop blender that I don't use much - may sell it.

4-27-11, 4:51am
I don't really have any kitchen gadgets, but I consider my pots and pans, stove/oven, microwave, and electric mixer, all to be essential appliances. I love to cook/bake and I use these things daily.

4-27-11, 3:51pm
The only applicances I have aside from the large ones that come with the apartment (stove, fridge, dishwasher) are a coffee maker and a microwave. The microwave was a gift after not having one for quite some time, it is really nice for heating up frozen vegetables but if it died I don't think I would purposefully replace it. The coffee maker is a must, although I'm open to trying other coffee brewing methods like french press. Everything else I can and do make on the stove/oven: rice, toast, popcorn, etc.
In the past I have had toasters, stand mixers, toaster ovens, rice cookers, fondue pots, all sorts of stuff...for me, all of it is a waste!

4-27-11, 5:43pm
I'm not much into gadgets/appliances (don't even have a micro-wave), so there are only three smaller ones that have a home in my kitchen:

a mini chopper, electric
an electric juicer
a hand mixer

Oh, and the toaster, of course.

Thinking about a toaster oven, though, as they are supposed to be more energy-efficient than using the big stove oven...very into saving money on my utility bill.

4-27-11, 5:50pm
I'd like more than I have. I posted asking advice on this once, on desirable appliances and months later I've still bought nothing. I'd like something to cook with without heating up the place the way an oven does (it is not lost on me that summer is coming!!). This is actually pretty high priority as I don't want to eat nothing but salads and I don't want to have to run the A/C just because I've run the stove (that's crazy).

I'd also maybe like a crockpot someday. I'd like a food processor perhaps (because SO many recipes call for it, so many recipes I can't make because I don't have one ...). I'd also like a mortar and pestle. I ordered a replacement part for my blender because doing without a blender made me realize how much I use it.

4-27-11, 10:11pm
ApatheticNoMore, seems like a solar oven might be a good one for you.

4-28-11, 3:52am
This is what is in my kitchen right now:

Appliances: gas stove/oven; fridge/freezer (small -- shorter than 5 ft 7 inches tall); and crock pot. All of these are used daily in some fashion.

Tableware: 3 sets of silverware (we lost a set, no clue. probably the kid!); 3 drinking glasses; two tea/coffee mugs; 3 plates (used as serving dishes/platters), 4 salad plates (eating), 4 bowls; one picnic blanket/table cloth (no table, so we picnic every day); 4 cloth napkins.

Cooking supplies: 4 knives for various kitchen jobs; kitchen scissors; wooden spoon and spatula; metal spatula; cutting board (bamboo); whisk; potato peeler and potato masher; 4-sided grater; mixing bowl; muffin tin, pie plate/cake tin; measuring cup (one wet; set of dry); measuring spoons; iron skillet; stainless steel pot with lid; stove top tea kettle. coffee press and grinder (hand grinder).

Storage: reused brown glass cod liver oil bottles for spices; reused mayonaise jars for larger batches of spices, nuts, seeds, almond flour, etc, etc. I have old yogurt containers (with lids) that we use for food storage of left overs (which we strive to never have anyway). I think i have 4-5 of those. :)

Cleaning supplies: scrub brush, broom and dust-pan, 3 washing clothes; 3 dish towels; all purpose castile soap (i'm learning to make my own -- so I might need soap-making supplies eventually -- a pot, mold, and immersion blender.)

that is my kitchen currently.