Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Downsizing Small Appliances (with a few more thoughts added)

I think I've written before about how hard it can be to let go of things, even if you don't use them, because they often represent money spent and/or opportunities not taken.

The Riot For Austerity group posted a question about small appliances, which caused me to evaluate what I have, what I really need, what I can let go of, and what I can't.

Keep because we use: Vitamix, toasters (one for GF), rice maker, slow cooker, pressure cooker, bread maker, ice cream maker.

It would be hard to let go of the Vitamix; I'd probably take it with me everywhere I moved until there was no electricity. I use it often, and could probably use it more. The rice maker is a workhorse around here; it creates convenience food for me. I often program it to make porridge for breakfast, thus providing a nourishing meal as soon as we wake. A slow cooker can do this, but uses electricity all night long. I suppose that I don't really have to have a slow cooker; historically I haven't used it much. It is our lifesaver when we know we'll be out all day and want to come home to a pot of beans, thus saving us the expense of eating out. The pressure cooker is a must have, although I could switch to my stove-top model if push came to shove. The bread maker has been wonderful as I can make wheat bread without having to knead the dough (I get hives from wheat and yeast). Still, if forced to downsize I would probably choose the Kitchen Aid and an oven over the bread maker, even though I actually use the bread maker far more often. Ice cream isn't a necessity, but I'll hang onto the electric maker I have until I find a good used ice model with a hand crank. Then again, in a post (or very expensive) electric world where am I going to get ice?

Keep for occasional use: stand mixer, coffee maker, spice grinder, hot water pot, electric skillet, small food processor (these are all items that I probably would choose not to take with us if we moved, unless I consolidated appliances and kept the most versatile).

Honestly, I use the stand mixer for cookies, and I only do it 3-4 times a year. I know they are more versatile than that, but not so very much in my gluten free world. The coffee maker is a cheap one and is kept on hand to satisfy the coffee fiends when they visit. I'm not sure about the spice grinder anymore; I suppose I could find a dedicated mortar and pestle. The hot water pot is pure luxury, and we only use it when we have a crowd over. The electric skillet was a wedding gift (a hand-me-down gift!) and proves its usefulness every now and then. We definitely don't need it. I actually have used the small food processor often over the past 18 years; it's perfect for a small batch of hummus or flavored butter, or for grinding nuts. It is the best for making frozen banana shakes. I found an extra bowl and blade for it at the thrift shop, so I now also use it for making personal care items.

Sell or give away: juicer, soymilk maker, coffee grinder, second slow cooker, popcorn maker (learn to make it on the stove).

It's a love-hate thing with the juicer. I won't use it for months, an then I will everyday for a week or so if I am ill. The soymilk maker was a mistake; I bought it, tried it twice, then forgot about it as we struggled with J-Baby's health issues. It was only after the 30 day trial was up that we realized that three of us are soy intolerant. We don't need the coffee grinder; we don't drink coffee and if we're going to buy some for company we just buy it ground or grind it in the store. I was keeping the second slow cooker for the trailer, but we might not keep the trailer, and it draws too many watts to run off battery anyway. Finally, we don't really like air-popped popcorn because it gets so dried out. It's a convenience thing and I just have to take the time to learn to stove-pop it.

Undecided: Cuisinart.

Getting rid of the juicer and Cuisinart will be tough; these are appliances I saved for and bought with my personal allowance. I worry that I'll get rid of them and wish I hadn't. Sometimes I juice when I am feeling nutritionally low. Every now and then I'll drag the Cuisinart out to shred cheese for a crowd. I don't really think I'd miss them, though.

I need to experiment a bit more. I use the bread maker because touching the flour and yeast gives me hives. perhaps I could find a way to make dough in the Kitchen Aid (I've tried, they didn't like it as well). If I had a flat cover for the Cuisinart I'd probably use it a lot more often. Then again, I'm trying to reduce my electricity usage, so I probably should just let it go.

The scary thing? I decluttered the appliances sometime in the last year, and got rid of 2 indoor grills, a waffle maker, and a few other small appliances.

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