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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- Bread Machine: Sometimes I can’t believe that I needed this either. My homemade sourdough comes together so easily with very little effort.
- Crockpot: 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!
- 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)
- 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.
- 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.
There 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:
- hot water heater
- garbage disposal
- food dehydrator
- electric skillet
- toaster oven
- bread machine
- grain mill
- ice cream maker
- snow cone machine
- food processor
- magic bullet
- hand mixer