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Kitchen Appliances, Who Needs Them?

Do you know how many electrical appliances you have in your kitchen?  When I lived in an electric house, I couldn’t believe all the things that I needed to plug in.  How could my kitchen function in a “power grid goes down” emergency?  I would have a very hard time.  I would be unable to cook anything, and over a prolonged outage all my food would spoil.

I had 19 appliances and I didn’t even own a microwave or coffee maker!  Can you come up with your list without looking at mine?  If you have never thought about this before, you probably don’t realize everything that is electric in your kitchen.  After you’ve looked in your kitchen, check out my list (at the bottom of this article).  Did you miss anything?  Did something surprise you?  What I didn’t realize until I began to dig into off-grid living was that a lot of my electrical kitchen appliances were draining a lot of power, which means they cost more money to operate.  Anything that has a heating element requires more power to operate.

When we moved off grid, I had to figure out how to function without my appliances.  How do I do this?  Through a combination of man power and my propane stove and oven.  Here’s my list of every appliance that my stove/oven replaces.

  1. Hot Water Heater and Dishwasher:  Boiling water is essential for cooking and doing dishes.  I generally boil a gallon or less of water for a counter full of dishes.  In the summer, I set bottles of water outside to heat with the sun.  This heats up my house less, and requires less boiling water which saves on propane.  One day we hope to build a wood fired hot water heater.  It is on the list of things to do.
  2. Electric Skillet: I look back now and think it’s kind of crazy that I needed this!  Now I use my cast iron griddle on my stovetop.
  3. Toaster Oven:  This used to be one of my favorite appliances.  Now, I make toast in a dry skillet.  Just heat to desired crispiness and flip.  It’s pretty easy!  My favorite thing about it is it’s easy to clean!
  4. Bread Machine:  Sometimes I can’t believe that I needed this either.  My homemade sourdough comes together so easily with very little effort.
  5. dutch-ovenCrockpot: I use a couple methods for slow cooking, depending on the time of year.  In the winter, I place a heavy metal trivet on top of my woodstove and place a cast iron dutch oven on top.  The contents will slow cook all day as the fire heats my home.  In the summer, I use an old-fashioned concept called a hay box.  I place my food in a dutch oven and bring the contents to a full boil on the stove.  I place the lid on and put it inside a cooler that is stuffed with insulation.  I use old towels and blankets.  The insulation will retain the heat and the food will slow cook all day.  Genius!
  6. Waffle Iron: I actually bake pancake or waffle batter in a baking pan in my oven.  It is easy and I don’t have to stand over the stove, pouring and flipping until they are done.  Just bake and cut or break into pieces.  They taste the same with a lot less effort.  (See Baked Pancakes)
  7. Coffee Maker: I used to use a percolator, but now I make it even more simply and don’t even have to use any energy at all.  It’s called cold brew.
  8. Popcorn Popper:  We have used a stovetop popper for years.  My husband makes all the popcorn in our house and we really believe that it makes the best popcorn ever with a little coconut oil and salt.

I don’t think about the appliances I left behind very often anymore.  I feel like I do just as well without them.  But do I miss anything?  Yes, there are things that I can’t do without an electrical appliance.  I miss my blender and/or magic bullet that we used to make smoothies.  Yes, we miss smoothies.  But without a freezer for ice or frozen fruit, we can’t make them anyway.  In the dead of winter, we can keep our food frozen outside, but then who wants a cold smoothie to drink?  I also miss my juicer.  We used to make fresh veggie and fruit juice.  There is no way that I know of to do this without an appliance.  We just eat the fresh veggies and fruit.

wondermillThere is one appliance that I kept and I use regularly (at least every month).  It is worth starting the generator to operate this appliance.  It is my Wonder Mill grain mill.  I grind my own wheat to make my own bread.  This tool saves me so much time.  Our generator is very fuel efficient and it only takes me about 30 minutes to mill enough flour to last two weeks or more.  Keep in mind that I do a lot of baking and never buy bread.  This is so worth it to me.  In a long term, grid goes down situation and we can’t get gas for our generator, we also have the Country Living Grain Mill.

Do you really need and use all your electrical appliances?  Could you save some money on your electric bill by doing something differently?  How would you cook if the grid goes down in an emergency?  Could you go without your favorite appliance for a few days and learn how to perform the task differently?

Electrical Appliances that I left behind:

  1. stove/oven
  2. refrigerator
  3. freezer
  4. dishwasher
  5. hot water heater
  6. garbage disposal
  7. food dehydrator
  8. electric skillet
  9. toaster oven
  10. bread machine
  11. grain mill
  12. ice cream maker
  13. crockpot
  14. snow cone machine
  15. food processor
  16. blender
  17. magic bullet
  18. hand mixer
  19. juicer

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About JaimieB

Jaimie lives with her husband on their off-grid homestead known online as An American Homestead. They live with their two sons and her parents Tim and Joann on 50 acres located deep in the American Ozark Mountains.

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14 comments

  1. You are amazing woman. I thought I was doing good. But would be lost without fridge and freezer. Even though can a lot still have a long way to go but so hope to be off grid someday. I also want to be as self sufficient as I can. Do to the sad state of are economy.

  2. Great info! I too would miss the blender and food processor the most. Followed by my kitchen aid, it just makes the perfect dough. Need to learn to make waffles in the oven, very interesting!

  3. I think my two favorite appliances of all are the washing machine and my Kitchenaid mixer. I could get rid of a lot, but these would really be missed. We have done a lot to get less dependent on electricity, much easier living in an Amish area, but how exceptional to be completely unplugged. Bonnets off to you! Several of my Amish friends use the Coleman camping coffee makers. I personally use a French press. Grace and peace!

  4. I live in Northern Ireland and have several problems- I have a very standard cooker and no skillets. I don’t own a wood burning stove and have oil fired heating and it’s not hot enough even in summer to heat water outside! What’s Dutch oven?

    • The dutch oven is what I call a soup pot with a lid. It can be used over coals, with coals heaped on top of it to bake bread inside.

  5. i have a hand crank juicer and prefer it over my electric juicer because it squeezes the juice out rather than chopping up the veggies. and it has very few parts to clean after, i bought it 4 years ago and love it. also i have a hand crank mill for grain, yes it takes longer but its so worth it to live off the grid, also i get the kids to help, lol.

    • We may need to invest in a hand crank juicer for next summer’s harvest. Which one do your recommend? Sadly, my kids are not yet old enough to turn my hand crank grain mill. One day!

      • I understand that the Vortex Manuel Blender is a good one for making smoothies. CottageCraftWorks carries an Amish designed food processor that looks like a good feature but, it is expensive as in a few hundred dollars. The only electric appliances I have in the kitchen is my fridge, a blender and small food grinder. Am hoping to be rid of those soon.

  6. Jen Simpson, a Dutch oven is a cast iron cooking vessel. They are amazing, and will last several lifetimes if treated with care. I’ve used the camp stoves from the website below, for camp cooking, for a few years now. I enjoyed them so much I got cast iron skillets and pans for the inside kitchen. Cast iron can’t be beat.
    http://www.lodgemfg.com/seasoned-cast-iron/dutch-ovens

  7. Great article and inspiring to see the simplicity of the way you’ve figured out how to accomplish all those tasks just using your stove/oven.

    Curious on the hay box method, sounds neat for sure but do you feel there’s any fire risk there?

    • There is no fire risk because there is no fire in the cooler. The heat comes from the contents of the pot that have reached boiling point. The towels and cooler provide insulation to keep the pot hot so that the food slow cooks all day.

      • Great, yeah I wasn’t thinking there was fire in the cooler, I just wasn’t sure if the heat from the just-off-the-stove dutch oven and its contents might have been enough to get the towels/insulation to a flash point. Guess you guys wouldn’t be using it if there was a risk there though, so it was a dumb question 🙂 Thanks for the response.

  8. Just started reading your posts. I can’t remember how I found them, but very interesting so far! So, what do you do for refrigeration, if anything at all?

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