Gadgets ~ Timesavers or space wasters

Three totally unnecessary kitchen gadgets

Every week I receive the latest Aldi sales catalogue in my email inbox. Aldi is an European based grocery chain that operates in Australia and many other countries in the world including the US. In the United States, Aldi Nord is the parent company of the Trader Joe’s niche food stores. Oh, how I wish they would open stores like Trader Joe’s here in Australia. I would go out of my way to shop there.

But I degress. I am not sure why I continue to receive their online catalogue because I rarely shop there and even more rarely go there to buy something that I saw advertised in the catalogue. My mum however shops there all the time and swears that she saves hundreds of dollars by doing so rather than shopping at major grocery chains. And that could possibly be the case but for me their store location and hours are inconvenient. This week the catalogue arrived and the above picture depicts some of the items on sale.

I wanted to point out to you that not one of these items is a necessity in the kitchen. Everyone of these functions can be easily performed using a simple kitchen knife. Stop now and think about the amount of space these three item require for storing. Then think about the amount of space one paring knife takes up.

If you were running a restaurant in which you cored and slice apples all day, pealed and sliced avocado adnausium and chopped up boiled eggs by the hundreds I could understand the need for such gadgets. As it is, I am sure none of my readers are doing that in their kitchens.

But look at these items don’t they just scream “TIMESAVER”! And that is the trick the sellers of these product are constantly trying to pulling on people. Making them believe that their lives will be so much easier with a kitchen full of “timesaving” gadgets. When actually they are selling you a kitchen full of SPACE WASTING gadgets.

Don’t be fooled. Stop and think before ever buying an item such as this and do the math on rationality. How much time saved verses how much space wasted. And don’t forget to take into consideration the money wasted as well on buying a gadget that does a job that something you already own can do. Remember <=> (that is less equals more).

Now stop and think how many of these gadgets do you already have taking up space all over your home. Maybe it is time you assessed the usefulness of these items in your life. Perhaps you can free up some valuable space in your kitchen right now. Take a look and see what you find.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding the usefulness of these items…

  • How often do I/will I use it.
  • Do I own something else that can perform the same task.
  • How hard is it to clean. Do I waste as much time cleaning it as I save using it.
  • Can I afford the space it takes up.
  • Will it just add to the clutter making it harder to find the items I do use regularly.
  • Does it/will it actually save me enough time to warrant its existence.
  • Could you borrow one should the rare occasion arise where you had a use for it.

Go now and check out your kitchen drawers and see what you can come up with. Just remember these items aren’t always small. Salad spinner for example.

Today’s Declutter Item

In keeping with today’s post subject I would have put a kitchen gadget as today’s item except I took a look and am fairly confident that I have already decluttered any items that aren’t in constant use. So instead I am getting rid of this roll of black contact. It has been around for years and is in danger of the adhesive becoming ineffective if not used soon. I donated it to the thrift store.

A roll of black contact

Something I Am Grateful For Today

While answering a comment from Lena today I remembered something to be grateful for. Sometimes when you attempt to do the right thing, in this case for the environment you get a little added bonus. On the weekend I went out the add some vegetable peelings to my compost heap and found a Blue Tongue lizard hiding among the scraps. I hope he had a good feed.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow


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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. How right you are, Colleen. We have a bunch of these things that I would love to see Mom ditch. 1. She doesn’t use them. 2. Why have them is she doesn’t use them? 3. She doesn’t use them. 4. She doesn’t use them. 🙂 You get my drift. Drives me nuts. She did make that comment that after the holidays we need to do some more decluttering. Yippee!!

    • I think that what you are trying to say here is “She doesn’t use them! So why are they still cluttering up my kitchen!” I can only imagine how frustrating that is for you. So after Christmas the first place to start with the decluttering with her is the kitchen. In the meantime just weave into the conversation occasionally (without judgement or emotion) that you think there are far too many gadgets in the kitchen that aren’t being used. Perhaps you will plant the seed of thought and she might quietly come to the realisation you are right before the task even begins.

    • Just found an egg slicer in the kitchen drawer. Married four years ago and I didn’t know I had one when I moved in and not a wedding gift. Boy the things we find.

  2. Oh the shame! I literally bought an egg slicer last night. Clara loves hardboiled eggs, and she wanted to know why mine were never nicely sliced like at her friend Grace’s house. Oh, the shame, the shame!

    I used to have an apple slicer, and I decluttered that, but at least two of my friends have them and love them. I once hand a mango corer / slicer and I was able to sell that on Craigslist. Avocado slicer? No thanks.

    • Ah Cindy, what can I say. OK, here is your mission. You must use your egg slicer, you must focus on how effective it is, how often it is getting used, its ease of use, how impressed Clara is about how much more attractive her sliced egg is, how much better the eggs taste when cut nicely 🙄 its ease of cleaning and if it gets in the way while you are searching for other more often used items. Maybe you can justify this purchase after all. Please get back to us on these observations after about two months. I will mark it on my google calendar. Good luck!

    • Your confession made me laugh so much Cindy – very brave of you! :O)

    • Dear Cindy,
      I love my egg slicer. I use it all the time. It does mushrooms, too, much thinner than I have the patience to do by hand. And it is easy-peasy to clean. Three swipes in in soapy water and it it done. Remember, it is not clutter if you USE it! (But that apple slicer? Ridiculous! Heehee! I do have a corer, though!)

  3. And, I will also confess that the gadet I would buy in a heart beat, if I had any faith that it would work, is an “Eggie” which is a egg cooker where you drop in raw egg and get back a perfectly hard boiled egg, no shelling needed. (Again, Clara loves these, and they have no carbs, but peeling the buggers can be a real chore.) http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/product.asp?SKU=18463750
    While I was searching to find the link for this product, I discovered that there are free-standing egg cookers. You can buy one at Williams Sonoma for $36, and they look big. I don’t understand why someone needs a separate tool to cook eggs.
    http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/5193685/?catalogId=83&bnrid=3120901&cm_ven=Google_PLA&cm_cat=Electrics&cm_pla=Specialty_Electrics&cm_ite=ChefsChoice_Egg_Cooker&adtype=pla

    • Let me think, a minute of two to peel an egg or add more unnecessary plastic to the environment. That’s a no brainer for me. And that second gadget doesn’t even bear thinking about.

      • If I cut them with a knife, I’m afraid we’d all chock on garlic chunks, rather than having little pieces that disappear into the food. Because the one I bought allows me to smash a clove with the peel still on, It’s easy to just grab the peel back out and toss it in the compost bucket. Then I put the press into the dishwasher in an open position. A friend of mine never washes her press. She says it’s always used just for garlic so why bother. I’m not convinced about that.

        • My cutting method is to chop the hard end of, gently smash with the flat side of the knife when the peel comes away easily, I then julienne the clove then chop into tiny pieces by slicing the julienne from one end to the other. If I want crushed garlic I once again use the flat side of the knife the squish it. Probably sounds complicated but it is all done in a matter of seconds. Each to his own though,

    • Hi Cindy, there’s something you can do to make your hard-boiled eggs much easier to peel. When they have finished cooking and you remove them from the heat, drain them and run cold water over them in the pot until the water is no longer warmed by the eggs. Then fill the pot one more time with cold tap water. Let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. Then smash each egg lightly – with a rolling motion – on a hard surface such as the counter. Usually the shell will split in half and be quite easy to remove. The other tip I’ve read but really can’t say whether it’s true is to hardboil your oldest eggs, not the freshest.

      Another benefit to soaking them in cold water immediately after removing from the heat is that you will never get those grey yolks 🙂

      Hope this helps, and helps avoid the temptation of the “Eggie” (haha)

      • Hi Jo,
        that seems like some pretty sound advice. The only problem I can see with it is the amount of water going down the drain. I think the good folks of Texas have being going through a drought for just about ever now and I imagine there are severe water restrictions. Even where there are good water supplies the purification process is not good for the environment, so the more we waste the worse effect we are having.

        • Ack! My bad! What about putting the eggs in a bowl with some ice cubes? Or just refrigerating for 30 minutes. The object is to cool them rapidly.

          Shame on me for wasting our water; you’ve given me something to think about for sure 🙂

          • Hi Jo,
            it is so hard to keep track of all these things we need to do to protect the environment these days. If only we had always been aware and doing the right thing then we wouldn’t find ourselves in this mess. I must be so blissful for those who just don’t give a hoot. Well that’s not us so I suppose the refrigerator or even the freezer might be the answer. The rolling to crack is very effective though for sure.

          • I’m always using water like this to water my potted plants. Maybe that’s a solution for you as well?

            • Hi Sanna,
              having a bucket in the shower to capture what otherwise would be wasted as the water heats up is also a good way to use it wisely.

              • Another worthy drought tip! I also save all the ice cubes and watery ends of drinks that people have abandoned for the plants.

          • It IS hard to keep up with all the ways we can be “bad.” I save all my clean kitchen water, and it either waters the plants or goes into the animals’ bowl or is reused in hand washing. Colleen’s right: We’re in an “exceptional” or “extreme” drought – the two driest categories – throughout Texas, and I do not let clean water go down the drain.

  4. Thankfully, we don’t have too may kitchen gadgets, but my mom sure loves to get us small ones as stocking stuffers! As for one gadget you could use a knife for & takes a little time to clean–the garlic press. However, that thing is used several times a week & beats chopping garlic any day! Eventually, I’d love to get a dual blender-food processor, but for now have one of each.

    • I have a garlic press too. I’d gotten rid of it, but purchased another after several years of using “fresh” bottled garlic. I realized the bottled stuff was being imported from China. Oops. I got a nice strong Zyliss press that does not require me to peel the cloves first. Now that’s a bonus!

      • I am curious Cindy as to how easy it is to clean. Are you actually saving any time. I like you stopped buying garlic in the jar for two reasons… 1) because fresh is best 2)because fresh doesn’t require packaging. I use a knife to prepare mine because it takes about 30 seconds and I feel I don’t need a gadget to save me however much if any of that time. My knives are in a block on the bench where i just grab and go while the gadget would be in the draw where I would have to open & locate. The knife I whip clean with the microfibre cloth and slip straight back into the block. Where as the press would have to be tapped clean and either hand washed or put in the dishwasher. How much time do you think it is really saving?

    • Hi Megyn,
      the garlic press is one of the items I do not like, but perhaps the one I had was cr**p. I use garlic in nearly every meal I cook and I use a knife. I found the garlic press I had was too hard to clean and seemed to waste a good bit of the garlic. The question is are our lives really that hectic that we don’t have a spare minute to do things the old fashioned way. I admit I don’t have a kitchen devoid of gadgets but the ones I do have save me a lot of time not just 30 seconds. I am not sure what a duel blender food processor is but I do have a Kenwood hand blender with two attachments that I would never part with because it is so effective, easy to clean and saves me a lot of time.

      My kitchen now houses all the kitchen items, the items that weren’t decluttered from my now gone china hutch and there is space to spare. Things are easy to find and get to when I need them.

      • Megan,
        I bought a combined food processor/blender some years ago, to replace those two (smaller) items. I took the old ones through to our holiday cottage where I don’t think I ever used them. They now sit here at home, regularly in use, and my large combined food processor/blender is (at her request, when I was about to send it on its way) at her flat. Too large, too heavy for me to lift from the cupboard to bench, so had to live out in the open (taking up valuable bench space), and way too much work to clean up again after use. Sometimes “more is less”.

        • Hi Ann,
          I also had a big food processor, without the blender though. Even alone I found it cumbersome and didn’t get enough use out of it. Maybe because my mother gave me a handblender and that was enough for me. My old handblender died a while back and that was when I replaced it with my Kenwood model. If you look at the link, I am trying to sell the three attachments on the right on ebay because they are excess to my needs. The beaker and chopper on the left are the items I use all the time. I used it to crush ice for iced coffee last week and it absolutely pulverised it. Maybe it will come in handy for Cinco De Mayo next year. 😉

          • You celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Australia? Wild!

            • If by we you mean Australians then no. I am sure most Australian’s have never heard of Cinco de Mayo. I am sure it they did they would jump on board that train real quick though. Australians do seem to have a reputation for loving a drink.

              Having lived in America my family are familiar with Cinco de Mayo and have been known once or twice to bring out the Tequila so celebrate the day just for the fun of it.

          • any excuse for a margarita works for me!

            • That is the beauty of travelling the world and sampling other cultures. The best of both worlds is how the expression goes but I think the best of lots of worlds is even better. Now if we could just revert back to shops closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays and adopt the 2 hour afternoon siesta the world would be a much better place for sure.

  5. I used to have an apple corer/slicer like the one pictured. I found it to be a waste of time, space and apple! We have many “home grown” apples, and unless the apple was pefectly shaped, I could never get it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

    I received a small electric chopper as a gift. The only thing I have found it able to chop is onions, but only if you get them pre-cut into a certain size. Plus, there are many pieces to wash when finished. It will be going to the thrift store soon!

    I personally think that many gadgets end up working less effectively than their sales pitch implies and take more time to use/clean/maintain than doing the job with just a knife.

  6. My Grandma Clara LOVED Aldi’s. We don’t seem to have them in Texas.

    • I used to go there just to purchase muesli bars because they were so much cheaper and I would pick up other groceries while I was at it. But I decided in the end it wasn’t worth going out of my way for. Sometimes time and gas is more precious than a couple of extra dollars spent at a more convenient location.

  7. Crystal Apple :

    We love our apple slicer and use it regularly. I love how my young kids can help themselves. I don’t have to worry about them using sharp knives or using sharp knives around them. I use it, rinse it and let it dry. Apple cores go to the horses — no waste. 🙂

    • Hi Crystal Apple, for you then it makes sense. So why not have one. Mind you when I was a child the only thing I used for eating apples was my teeth, no preparation required.

  8. Gosh, Aldi. Known brand over here, I could tell you the nearest from where I currently sit (at home 🙂 ).

    I never get the non-food stuff they carry. I only like those eastern bunnies filled with little coloured discs. And I won’t be buying them, because I actually never go there.

    But, more ontopic, I couldn’t wrap my head around what that thing was. I read in the comments that it is an advocado slicer. Ah well, I would rather peel the skin with a knife, or use a spoon instead to get the flesh out.

    Nothing beats the good ol’ knife 🙂

    • I agree Nurchamiel. I would imagine one would need the knife to cut the avocado open in the first place and to get the seed out before you could even use that ridiculous contraption so there is even more cleaning to contend with. What a complete waste of time.

  9. The avocado slicer seems particularly silly, since you have to use a knife to get into the avocado, and perhaps a knife to get the pit out as well.

  10. Don’t you think dear readers, that they are selling the sizzle, not the sausage here? “Buy one of these gizmos and you too can have perfectly sliced avocados at your next summer party, where everyone will admire your fab homemaking skills”. Complete tosh of course. Reminds me of a toilet cleaner ad on air here in Aus at the moment – “Everybody is judging your loo” – REALLY? If that’s the case, then my visitors need psychiatric help.

    But in defence of Aldi, they do rotate this special offer stuff and that has saved me from buying on impulse many a time – I just think, “oh Aldi will have it on sale (again) eventually – I’ll just wait til then” and of course half the time you find you never need it anyway.

    I shop there all the time and I have saved LOTS of money on groceries, but I admit you have to be well trained by Colleen and Cindy to avoid the “bargains” sometimes.

    • Oh Calico ginger, great minds think alike. And what a lot of sizzle it is. Are people really that concerned about how perfectly shaped their avocado slices are. That is a big part of the problem when it comes to the overconsumption in the world. People attempting to appear perfect, gotta have the nice car, the big house, the designer clothes (worn once), the fancy gadgets blah blah blah. If we tried a little harder to be better humans than better equipped the world would be a better place.

  11. Too funny – I saw that photo and thought – I’ve seen that! On tuesday I looked at an Aldi catalogue (from top of a bin, as they are in the ‘exit’ part of Aldi and I was just walking past). I decided that maybe a rubbish bin may too be clutter for me, if I work hard at recycling and composting, no ‘real’ bin may really challenge me to work out how to have less trash!

    Oh no you don’t! Salad spinners – I bought mum one. I just can’t/haven’t worked out a better way to dry washed lettuce. Admittedly it doesn’t get a heap of use – so she must have a way (and I so seldom need lettuce…)

    Oh Calico Ginger – I talked to the TV when that ad came on – I agree, if my friends are judging my loo, silly them. I mean, their loos aren’t perfect and we’re still friends!! I hate those in bowl thingies no matter what!

    • Ok, time to fess up here. I was given one of those apple slicers 2 years ago by my mum. Thought it was a complete waste of space for a year…but of course hung on to it because my mum gave it me… only to find once I started drinking daily green smoothies (raw leafy veg sweetened with fruit) I use it every day to prep apples for my juicer to add to the smoothies and juice the core too. Saves me time, so quick and more importantly, I do find I love using it. I have put up a hook especially to hang it on.
      And anothe vote for the salad spinner here – I totally love mine and is the only way I find to dry salad leaves – don’t like soggy leaves. I have the push button variety and it it gives a thrill everytime I push down and it spins round, lol.
      But I would laugh in the face of a banana slicer or avocado one ;O)

      And I adore this gadget: (beware you might be seduced to the dark side)
      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lurch-010303-Spirali/dp/B00008WVUT/ref=sr_1_2?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1323293116&sr=1-2

      I use this regulalry to make vegetable ‘spagetti’ with corgettes, beetroot etc. It helps me boost the anmount of raw food I eat. Lovely with dressing etc or pesto, (so carb free if that matters to you).

      Basically I have gadgets, but I use them. If it doesn’t get used, it goes: the popcorn maker went, the breadmaker(freecycle freeby) went, the george forman grill went….etc.

      • Hi Katharine,
        I get that you have a use for the apple slicer and the salad spinner because of your diet requirement but a Spirali, really? But so long as you are using it on a regular basis I suppose why not. I am thinking that the courgettes and beetroot would taste just the same julienned with a knife but each to his own.

        • I’m sure you are right Colleen. I guess I just love it: I eat quite a lot of raw veg so to have a ‘spaghetti’ meal is very tasty and visually pleasing and appetising to look at. Raw beetroot is quite hard to cut thin. I find food prep quite wearing at time and this makes it fun and quick. It have trebled the amount of raw food I eat, and ditto the range of veg I eat regularly.
          I couldn’t possibly claim it as an essential though in any way shape or form.

          • I think in this case Katharine that it is a very good investment for you. If it is encouraging you to eat more healthily then it is well and truly serving its purpose. There are certain things we should all do in our lives that we probably wouldn’t if we make it too hard on ourselves so the odd gadget that encourages us to do the right thing is worth having around.

    • Hi Snosie,
      that is one thing that annoys me at Aldi, they do the right things by making people buy bags if they don’t bring their own but then the stuff one of those catalogues in your bag without asking every time you go there. Let people take on if they want one but don’t force it on everyone.

      I speak of the salad spinner from experience. Big, bulky and not much use if you don’t eat a lot of salad. Even when my husband was taking salad for lunch everyday I found it so cumbersome. I got rid of it when he changed his diet. I little bit of forethought takes care of drying lettuce when I do use it.

      I hate those in bowl thingies too. And I really don’t understand what is so hard about keeping a toilet clean. I clean mine once a week with maybe a quick rim wipe mid week if necessary and it comes up sparkling every time without flushing other chemicals all week long.

  12. Since we are in to confessing our nasty gadget secrets today, I have to confess that I have three microplane graters. The most used is the zester for finely grating parmesan cheese, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, citrus rinded etc. The least used is the medium ribbon grater for shaving parmesan and vegetables for salads. The two way grater for cheese, carrots etc. I admit that I could live without the medium ribbon grater but my utensil drawer has been decluttered to the point where I don’t find it necessary to minimise anymore so I am happy to keep it. Sadly enough I have decluttered two other graters in the meantime that got tossed aside because I like my less bulky Microplanes so much. Consumerism at it’s worst I am afraid. I know better these days.

  13. I used to love visiting kitchen shops because I loved drooling over all the funky gadgets. These days I don’t even bother going into kitchen shops because I realise that most of those funky little gadgets do what I can do with my knife!

    I got rid of my garlic press ages ago because it was so hard to clean, and then my MIL bought we a new one (without knowing I’d got rid of mine) for Christmas. I still don’t use it, because it’s easier just to chop a clove with a knife, or buy a jar of minced garlic (yes, sometimes I do 😮 ). And to think once upon a time I thought you NEEDED a fancy gadget to chop garlic.

    The other gadgets I hate are all those little free things that you get from Tupperware parties (oh, I hate Tupperware parties!), most of them are fairly useless.

    The one ‘gadget’ I do really like is one that my husband bought me, that I would never have bought myself. It’s a little egg timer thingy that you put in the water with the eggs, and it has a marker to show when the eggs are cooked to soft, medium or hard. It works perfectly, but if I lost it or it stopped working I wouldn’t replace it.

    • Hi Susan,
      I must have missed answering you yesterday among all the responses I wrote so sorry about that.

      Clearly we agree on this subject. However the only thing I do like about tupperware are some of their free thingies. They are the only things they sell at a reasonable price. 😆 Used to have one of those rubber jar opener things they also work well to stop things sliding on benches when necessary. Mine died fo old age and I replaced it by cutting the top of an old pair of rubber gloves that had a hole in the finger. I still have one of their egg separators but it is another item I could live without. Eggs come with their own separator so long as you break the shell correctly. For all the eggs I separate I think I could easily live without it.

  14. I had to laugh when I saw the picture on your post this morning.
    Not two days ago, my other half (who is not into decluttering, but is usually happy for me to get on with it) was flicking through the junk mail, and pointed this same item out to me in the Aldi catalogue, saying, “what happened to the avacado slicer we used to have?” At that point I had to fess up that I had gotten rid of it and not told him. I think we had used it twice in about as many years. As for the garlic crusher, bought one a couple of years ago, and used it for the first time ever the other day. Will be decluttering that also, as it was a pain in the neck to clean! Love your blog Colleen, it inspired me to finally declutter my study after being too scared to even open the door for fear of being completely buried in piles of paperwork.

    • Hi Bec,
      we’ve only just met but I like you already. Perhaps that is because you agree with me but that’s as good a reason as any right? On that note may I extend to you a warm welcome to 365 Less Things. I am so glad that you found the inspiration to declutter your scary study. Paper clutter can really be the worse kind of clutter. That and those pesky photos Cindy wrote about the other day. Both don’t take up all that much space but are plentiful per square foot nevertheless and tedious to go through. I have the paper under control in this house but those photos, aside from the odd short declutter here and there I have done a good job of ignoring them so far.

    • Actually Bec you can put your garlic press to better uses than getting rid of it.
      I use to use it or my children did for squeezing playdough through it to make worms. Now as I make cards I use it dipped in paint or ink and make backgrounds for my cards.

  15. I don’t have many kitchen gadgets: no apple slicer, no avocado slicer, no pineapple core remover (have you seen these?), no egg thing either. But I do have a salad spinner that is used everyday, and a garlic press. I use the garlic press only if I am going to eat the garlic raw, because that’s the only way I know to get “garlic juice” which has so many beneficial properties. Otherwise, I just chop it with my knife like my other veggies. I also use the garlic press to get juice out of other veggies, like onion (it is antibacterial and sometimes helps with ear infections).
    I don’t have a bread machine although I make my own bread. I don’t have a thermometer, but I think I might end up buying one because my pinky testing method has ruined some yogurt batches (I don’t have a yogurt maker, don’t need one if I just could get the temperature right..). And I am dreaming of a dehydrator, because it is very hard to find quality dried fruits in bulk without additives. I am still on the lookout for one of these second hand, but so far, no luck.

    • I “inherited” a ginger grater from a Japanese friend.
      It looks something like that: http://www.ypsilon-asiatika.de/warenkunde-asiatische-produkte/Ingwerreibe-Japan.html
      It’s also suitable for garlic and produces the ‘juice’ as well. I don’t know, if I would have bought it, though, as I find an ordinary grater or a knife works fine enough. You can also press the garlic with the flat side of a knife before cutting, that will also produce ‘juice’. In case of bruscetta, I’m using the toasted bread itself as ‘grater’, which works perfectly.

      As for the salad spinner, I never had one, I don’t need completely dry salad, but like it, if there is still a little water left in it. I just add less fluid into my dressing for that reason.

    • NatalieinCA,
      my heavens I feel like a real slacker as I read all the things you do in the name of a healthy, natural diet. I only hope you get that dehydrator because I am sure you of all people will get good use out of it. Good luck my friend.

      • Colleen, you have no reason to feel like that. I am a real slacker for decluttering (remember a few months ago, when I confessed here that I finally disposed of my diaper genie pail ! kids are 10 and 9!)
        What I meant to say was that some items might seem gadgets to some but are really essentials to others. And the opposite is also true.

        Sanna, thanks for the tips and the link. I am curious how you drain the water from your salad so that’s just a little wet. In a strainer? My grandma had a kind of strainer that you could close, with handles, and I was in charge to go shake it outside to drain the water.

        • Hi NatalieinCA,
          I guess we all have our strengths and our weaknesses and that is why we are here helping each other.

        • Hi NatalieInCA!

          I’m using a strainer. I just put the salad in, cover it with one hand (I place my hand on the salad, it’s not big enogh to cover the whole strainer) and shake the whole thing. (not necessarily for a long time but with abrupt moves)

          • That’s what I do too Sanna. I have lots of uses for stainers so I have a couple on the go all the time. This is one of the uses.

  16. Thank you, Colleen!

    We already got rid of excess things, but there are still many near-duplicates in the kitchen. This is due to the fact that both my boyfriend and I cook in there (equally often) and we prefer different tools for some tasks. So far we’ve mostly kept both favourites, especially if they don’t take up too much space.
    For some things, like ordinary knifes and so on, I find it difficult to find the perfect number. We often have cooking parties, i.e. friends over who help cooking, so we need more than one knive at a time for everyone to join in the vegetable chopping sessions. 😉
    Still with some items I’m not sure, how many are enough for our needs and if we might be able to get rid of one or two of a certain kind. This might need further consideration… I rather have a few excess knives, chopping boards or bowls though than one-purpose-items that don’t get used.

    • Hi Sanna,
      I have a set of at least eight knives for preparation. This is probably excessive but they all fit nicely into my knife block along with my 6 steak knives. All get used often. I have three chopping boards and sometimes all three end up in the dishwasher together, they slide in almost out of sight beside my microwave oven. I have a set of about 12 prep bowls, they all fit neatly inside one another so they take up very little space.

      If you ever wonder how many is too much just read this blog post.

  17. dear Colleen,
    You are going to hate me for saying this but I’ve got one of those apple slicers and i love it! Funnily enough, my mum had bought it for me (she has every gadget going and yes, they don’t get used so I can understand your antipathy towards useless gadgets taking up space). It hadn’t been used and then my daughter noticed it and suggested trying it and I really enjoy using it so it will be a keeper I’m afraid!

    I have used salad spinners and garlic presses in the past and found them to be pretty useful but I agree, salad spinners do take up an awful amount of space.

    Cindy, I remember my parents using one of those egg slicers when I was a girl and I always used to ask to do the egg slicing when we prepared salads, I used to find it fascinating how the egg would come out in such neat, even slices. Simple things for simple minds!! So, I suppose if it makes it fun for your little girl then it is not a total waste of space.

    Colleen, the micro-plane graters you said you use, are they the ones with the wickedly sharp slicers on them? My mother-in-law had to go to hospital for stitches after she’d sliced her knuckle on one (one which has a large V-shaped slicer in the middle. Now those gadgets I would definitely not give house room to.

    I’ve got to say that basically I’m with you in that I’m not a gadget fan, in fact my kitchen is pretty spartan ( I don’t even have a micro-wave!) but I do like my apple slicer!

    • Hi Fee,
      I have no problem with you having gadgets that you use all the time. Gadgets that aren’t being used are the problem when it comes to clutter. In some ways though I wish there weren’t so many produced in the world, they just add to the wanten waste of our earthly resources, produced only for profit by often unscrupulous companies that don’t make quality items that just end up breaking quickly and ending up in landfill.

      You are right Fee those Microplanes are sharp but I am very careful with them. I do however often cut myself with my sharp knives though but I haven’t lost any fingers yet so I’ll take my chances with them too.

      • Fee, It’s funny that you don’t have a microwave, while I have two full-sized ovens and a microwave and was telling my husband the other day that a better use of space would be to get rid of one of the ovens and put a second microwave in its place. (Not that I NEED two, but I “need” it more than I need two ovens.) I always microwave our veggies for dinner, so if there’s anything else I want to heat at the same time, I could use a second. They are more energy efficient than ovens (electric, I our case) and probably more so than our cooktop. In the race to boil water, the microwave wins over the (gas) cooktop.

  18. This is a great post to help people remember before they start buying things as the fun, happy Holiday music plays in stores. I pared my kitchen down to the basics and got rid of a lot of things this past year. It is so easy to keep clean and to find what I need.

    • Absolutely Spendwisemom, that is the whole point of this exercise. My Kitchen is the same, a place for everything and everything in its place. Easy to find, easy to retrieve and easy to put away. I love a decluttered kitchen.

  19. Fee mentioning a microwave reminded me of my favorite and most valued kitchen gadget (small appliance, really): my toaster oven. I use it multiple times every day and if it stopped working, I would have another one in my possession before nightfall. I rarely turn on my big oven (hence, the real ridiculousness of having two large ovens) because the toaster oven holds a pizza or a 9×12 pan. It doesn’t heat up the house, and it reaches full temperature in just a couple of minutes. I love it!
    http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-TOB-155-Toaster-Stainless-Black/dp/B000PYISIW/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1323356963&sr=8-4

  20. Cindy, regarding toaster ovens, I’m in the UK and they aren’t really common over here. I get the impression that they are very popular in America although I have seen some being sold in Lidl supermarkets over here (ironically aren’t Lidl connected/part of same family, as the Aldi supermarket discussed here?) They do sound like they are more useful and cost-effective than turning on your main oven. I suppose I thought that not replacing my microwave when it died meant that I could have more space in the kitchen (less clutter!) but they are undeniably very useful, I’m just enjoying the extra space!

    • Hi Fee,
      I think toaster ovens are so popular in America because they are great for cooking a batch of cookies and or cinnamon rolls from the tubes you can buy in the supermarket. Also frozen pizza is big over there.

      Mmmmmmm yum cinnamon rolls, I could really go a couple of those. I can’t wait to go the Cinnabon when we are in America next year.

  21. Great discussion on gadget clutter. If any of you read Unclutterer, they spotlight a new useless gadget every week. Some of them are really ridiculous.

    I bought a garlic press years ago, back in the day when everyone was making salt dough ornaments. The garlic press made excellent “hair”. (I do use the garlic press for garlic these days, but often it’s faster just to use a knife.)

    Gifts to me in the past have been a food processor, and a mini food processor. Though I liked what they chopped, I never could stand cleaning all those parts, or storing the bulky things, so I got rid of them, and now just use a knife for everything. Much faster.

    My mother used to like to get us gadgets for stocking stuffers at Christmas. One year she gave each of us a tiny, decorative iron thing that none of us could figure out. Turns out it was to hold a match while you lit a candle. I’ve never used mine. 😉

    • Hi Becky,
      I ma familiar with unclutterers Unitasker Wednesdays. The items they showcase and their comments on them are very humorous. I used to visit the forum at unclutterer quite a bit when I first started blogging but in the end I was just constantly astounded on how many threads seem to be about organising clutter and justifying purchases rather than actually reducing clutter and shopping more consciously. I took a look yesterday as was appalled by this thread about organising handbags. There was hardly a mention of actually reducing the amount of handbags one owns. I suppose though that if you google the definition of clutter you will find entries like this ~ courtesy of the Free Dictionary by Farlex
      clut·ter (kltr)
      n.
      1. A confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble: sorted through the clutter in the attic.
      2. A confused noise; a clatter.
      v. clut·tered, clut·ter·ing, clut·ters
      v.tr.
      1. To fill or spread over in a disorderly manner: Boxes cluttered the garage.
      2. To make disorderly or hard to use by filling or covering with objects: I cluttered up my desk with old memos.
      v.intr.
      1. To run or move with bustle and confusion.
      2. To make a clatter.

      So maybe that is what unclutterer is all about. Organising your stuff rather than having less of it. It still makes me want to scream when I read some of those threads though.

      • Colleen, you may be right about the perspective at Unclutterer. I used to read the forums too, but haven’t in a long time.

        I’m more towards the minimalist end of the spectrum, so am always more interested in GETTING RID OF stuff rather than trying to figure out new ways to organize it.

        I know exactly what you mean about people that would rather organize than get rid of!

        • Hi Becky,
          I am glad it isn’t just me who thinks this way about those forums. Organising what you do keep is also important, who wants a cluttered mess everywhere so you can’t find what you are looking for easily. But really, recovering from chronic consumerism would be a better solution. Like I always say, once you declutter your life the organising pretty much takes care of itself.

        • I am another who used to read Unclutterer but stopped – for the same reason 🙂

  22. Wow, Colleen, this post has really hit some chords!
    Being on the road today I could not comment right away but kept reading into the discussion and it got me thinking …
    Result: The garlic crusher will go! I have not used it for almost all of the year.
    Conclusion: Sharp knives are the first step. I have gadgets that I found very useful before I invested in really sharp knives but now I don’t use them anymore.

    • Hi Ideealistin,
      thanks for dropping in with your two cents worth. A good set of sharp knives is one thing that truly is essential in any kitchen. Here’s some irony for you. One of the best items (gadgets) in my kitchen is a ceramic wheel sharpener for my knives. I hesitated to buy it because it was about $40 and a gadget, but in Australia it costs about $8 each to get your knifes sharpened once they are used past being able to hone them with s sharpening steal. This gadget has therefore saved me far more than it cost me and I store it on top of my knife block where it is most needed. Were I still living in America I probably would have it because over there you can get your knives sharped for $2.

  23. Oh, the other gadget I refuse to buy is an apple slinky, no matter how much my son says he wants one!

  24. Hi Colleen and Cindy,
    I have been following the blog for about a year now, but don’t think I have ever commented before.

    I’ll give you a brief history of my last two years. My husband and I have attempted to move from Washington to Idaho twice. The first time I went over ahead and took some stuff. The second time was this summer and we took ALL of our stuff. To get down to the acceptable stuff for the move, we had 3 garage sales, gave away a bunch of large stuff on Freecycle and had 2 charities come and take away a pickup truck load each. The remaining items went with us in two 8 x 8 x 16 PODS. Getting to the other end, we had considerably lightened our load. However, the move did not stick and we are in the process of moving back to Washington. We think we are stuck in some kind of vortex.

    Because I have gone ahead again and my husband is still in our rental house in Idaho, I was only able to bring one carload of stuff to live with until he moves the remainder back (which could be months out). When I started picking and choosing items to bring, I realized that we still had too much stuff, many duplicates, etc…. I filled the back of my SUV twice to cart MORE stuff to the thrift store, realizing that I had paid in dollars and valuable space in the PODS to transport the stuff to Idaho. I loaded my car with enough to get me by and left the remainder with my husband. Like I said, many of these items are duplicates. When he does move back, much of what I left him with in the way of household goods (linens, kitchen items, etc) will go to the thrift store instead of being transported back to Washington. This is a good thing.

    Now to the real issue. I am now finding that I am missing some items and really have to take the time to determine if I want to purchase a new item here. For example, we have no seating, none, zip. All of our furniture is in Idaho. After some discussion, we bought a loveseat and some inexpensive little tables and a desk chair. The decision was a good one since we gave away our sofa when we moved to Idaho and will probably need one here for long-term. I have no table and chairs. My dining set is large and in Idaho. I thought about buying a card table and chairs, but after some consideration, decided to save my money. I have 2 sets in the garage in Idaho. We will be only 3 on Christmas and will be sitting on what we already have. To play a card game after dinner, we will be making a “table” from one of my large packing boxes and sit around it on the floor. Is this a permanent solution? No, but it is workable for the need at hand.

    Ultimately, though both of us are disappointed that our relocations did not work out, I have chosen to see this as God speaking to us “Lighten the load”. Every item that I have “sent off” into the universe has found a new home. Very little went into the trash.

    Every new thing entering must serve a purpose and earn their place in my household.

    Time and relationships are valuable to the point of preciousness. Junk accumulating and sucking my life energy has none.

    Merry Christmas to All!!

    Carol

    • Hi Carol,
      thank you so much for sharing your story and may I say a very belated welcome to 365 Less Things. My, you have been through the mill when it comes to moving but I like that you have viewed it from the cup half full point of view. I couldn’t help thinking the same about your seating arrangements. I think you should just stick with the makeshift arrangement you have put together with the packing box and make sure you take photos at the time. You will look back on this for years to come and laugh and think how unique is was. It is just one odd Christmas out of many normal ones in which you will do it a little tougher but in the long run and maybe even at the time you will enjoy it for what is was/is. Look at it this way, you have probably wasted enough money already moving back and forwards so why waste any more on stuff you already own and will be back with you soon enough. Maybe if you get in good with the new neighbours before hand they might lend you an outdoor setting they they won’t be using over the winter.

      Good luck and a merry merry Christmas to you and your family.