No Kitchen Gadgets? Here’s How to Cook without the Bells and Whistles

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By the author of The Ultimate Guide to Frugal Living and What to Eat When You’re Broke

We all know that cooking from scratch can save us a fortune, but all the latest kitchen gadgets can be pricy. Many people have cabinets and cabinets full of gadgets that do everything from chopping to air frying to creating plant milk. You could spend hundreds – or even THOUSANDS – of dollars equipping your kitchen like this.

But do you really need to? Can you cook delicious meals from scratch without all those bells and whistles?

I believe you absolutely can, and I’m speaking from experience.

Here’s how I know.

I’m living the nomad life right now over in Europe, and often, my kitchen leaves something to be desired when I compare it with my well-equipped cooking area back home.

So, I’ve had to be creative using the things that I have on hand to make the food I want to make. There are all sorts of ways you can skate by without gadgets and cook delicious food, even with a very limited kitchen. I rarely have things like blenders, food processors, and a different cooking vessel for everything I wish to make. And yet I still manage to make tasty, healthy, and filling meals.

Substitutes for common kitchen gadgets

You may not be bopping from stay to stay, but you might be in a position in which buying things for your kitchen is financially out of reach. Here are a few of the things I’ve done to be able to cook without the ideal tools.

Skillet: I arrived at one place, delighted to see that there were eggs, butter, and bread left by the host. Alas, there was no skillet. The only cookware was a baking pan. I used aluminum foil to make a little cup to break my eggs into, and then I laid bread right on the rack for toast. It turned out delicious!

Whisk: You can whip up a mean crepe or baked good using just a fork.

Food processor: Go old school and just use a knife and a cutting board to mince your veggies or fruits.

Blender: Want to make a puree? Chop whatever you want to puree finely, then put it into a cooking pot with a little bit of water and simmer it until you can mash it. For mashing, use either a potato masher or a fork.

Crockpot: One thing I miss desperately is my slow cooker. I haven’t seen one the entire time I’ve been in Europe but I talked to a lady who cooks at a traditional restaurant to ask her what she uses for making a delicious stew. She told me she puts it all in the oven on lowish heat – about 325F –  sealed up with foil. It generally takes 4-6 hours for her stew to be perfect. (And boy, can I vouch for the perfection!)

Rolling pin: Need to roll out some dough? No rolling pin? Don’t despair. Use a clean can of soda or beer or even a bottle of wine, and roll away to your heart’s content.

Miscellaneous slicers: I’m always kind of stunned when I see kitchens with such gadgets as egg slicers, avocado slicers, and the like. It should go without saying but for the love of penny pinchers, just use a knife.

Toaster: I love toast with the passion of a thousand love stories. Sorry, not sorry, no gluten-free for me. Toast with butter, toast with peanut butter…YUM. But I haven’t been to too many places here in Europe that are equipped with a toaster. I’ve got three different substitutes. One apartment had a sandwich press or meat grill – one or the other, the kind that folds shut on your food and cooks both sides at the same time – it works GREAT for toast. You can also throw your bread in the oven right no the rack at a low heat to make toast. And finally, make it like a grilled cheese sandwich without the cheese. (Or with cheese, I won’t judge you.) Slather both sides with butter and fry it up in a skillet.

Vegetable peeler: Go old school and just use a paring knife. Better yet, scrub your potatoes and leave the peel on – just tell everyone it’s healthier!

Bread machines: Admittedly, they’re really nice to have, but you can easily make bread without them. Just whip up your favorite dough and pop it in the oven!

Use your ingenuity and you’ll probably be able to make anything you want without splurgy gadgets!

What kitchen gadgets do you think are unnecessary?

What are your thoughts on this? Do you swear by some of the gadgets that I suggested you could do without? Are there other commonly used gadgets you wouldn’t allow to take up your valuable kitchen real estate? Have you made do with some oddball things in the kitchen?  when you were without the “perfect” item? What are your must-haves in the kitchen?

Let’s talk about it in the comments section.

About Daisy

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, adventure-seeking, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty; 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived; and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. Her work is widely republished across alternative media and she has appeared in many interviews.

Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books, 12 self-published books, and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses at SelfRelianceand You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Picture of Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is an author and blogger. She's the single mom of two daughters and credits extreme frugality and a good sense of humor for her debt-free lifestyle. She is the author of numerous books, the editor of, and is the founder of a small digital publishing company in the emergency preparedness niche.

9 thoughts on “No Kitchen Gadgets? Here’s How to Cook without the Bells and Whistles”

  1. While I’ve not gone nomadic … I do try to keep my kitchen gadgetry to a minimum. However I did put aside all my aluminum pots, pans, and foil after seeing some very disturbing health warning about it:

    So now I stick to stainless steel or cast iron. Most cooking these days is a combination of using rising steam to steam-cook some items while also using that same rising steam to heat a double boiler above. That allows two two groups of foods [like first time foods versus leftovers] to be treated differently at the same time over the same column of rising steam powered by a single stove burner, or portable camp stove, or open camp fire, or even a solar heating system. One Chinese rectangular steel cleaver is incredibly versatile. Besides chopping and slicing it can pick up and transfer that processed food. Even the knob on the handle’s end makes a useful hammer to break up frozen items into smaller sizes for quicker steaming. The other very short bladed knife is perfect for things like peeling onions, etc.

    The point is that except for the freezer, the rest of that minimalist system is highly portable if ever needed.


  2. After washing out tuna cans, I save them for baking over-sized muffins. My husband’s grandmother used clean (well greased) cans (the size that green beans come in) to bake small loaves of bread. A few weeks ago we were staying at a cabin with our son’s family, high up in the Smoky Mountains. I was baking Snickerdoodles (cinnamon cookies for our grandchildren and needed a cooling rack. There wasn’t one in the kitchen, but there was a pizza pan with a perforated bottom, so I turned it upside down and use that. Worked perfectly. My mother (who never owned a rubber spatula in her life; she simply used a big spoon) always said “necessity is the mother of invention.”

  3. my mom taught me to cut shortening into pastry dough using two table knives held parallel between my fingers. it worked better for her because she had skinnier fingers, but it just took me a little longer, lol!

  4. I love these! I also learned how to cut shortening into pastry dough with two knives. My mom didn’t hold them parallel either, she just had one in each hand.

    Potato masher: Heavy bottle (be careful and make sure it’s sturdy) or the end of a big dowel.

    Toaster: I’ve seen people use a hair straightening iron or a steam iron.

    Bread maker: Wooden paddle or heavy wooden spoon. I mention this because it can be a lot easier to handle stiff dough with something that has some body.

    Yogurt maker: Insulated bottle, starting off with a well warmed container, and keeping it out of drafts overnight.

    Pureeing device: Long ago, cooks used to cook food down and then push it through a sieve before they had blenders. I was kind of interested to find that out.

    Cheesecloth or anything that needs to be strong, yet let liquid through: Clean nylon stocking.

    1. I forgot about the pureeing devices! I have an applesauce mill from my Mother in Law that is a cone-shaped sieve with a wooden dohickey for mushing the apples against the sides.

  5. Generations of women managed to cook sans gadgets. It has only been in the past few decades where males do more than grill burgers/hotdogs/steaks/chicken on the grill.
    Most gadgets end up just taking up space, being garage “saled” and/or given to thrift shops etc. I don’t consider a crock pot a gadget. Invest in a quality knife for chopping. And I agree a fork does the job just fine though it might take a little more time and effort.

  6. I dint like a lot of kitchen gadgets. Most of
    Them are gimmicks anyways. I do love my blender, crockpot and cast iron pans. I would travel with a small cast iron pan and have. Or I would just buy one and then leave it when I fly back.

  7. My grandmother and her children lived through the Great Depression; they had farm animals and grew their own vegetables until my grandfather died, then the animals were sold (inc. the kids’ pony); couldn’t even afford seeds for a garden, while my grandmother waited on survivor benefits re: my WWI veteran grandfather; the local grocer allowed her to run a tab. From my grandmother, Mom, and aunts, they taught us kids all sorts of things.

    When I didn’t have a potato masher, I used a fork. Instead of lard or solid shortening, butter was melted and it was stirred in with dry ingredients using either a fork or spoon; I’ve made bread the old-fashioned way – with my hands, for the oven or microwave; I still look at amazon’s bread-makers after reading about them here, but so far, still undecided. For some recipes I used applesauce to reduce fat calories. Due to problems w the stove, the microwave and crock pot are used a lot. Yrs ago, a girlfriend sent me a microwave cooking item that ‘fried’ porkchops; it was nice but these days meals are quasi-vegetarian.

    Anyway, forks, spoons, knives were used in place of many gadgets. Muslin was used when I experimented in making milk recipes using instant milk, for straining out whey. To make yogurt, I got a starter packet from a company that sells things relating to milk. Used a small igloo ‘lunch box’/holds 6-pk of soda, and a folded towel (warmed in the microwave) wrapped around a recycled yogurt tub and kept that in a quiet place 5-8-12+ hrs until ready.

    Here, the water is heavily mineraled, so it’s filtered several times before the store-bought filterer is used, so it lasts longer. Like my older relatives way back during the Great Depression, I’ve drifted back to using canned goods and still read labels closely.

    Since there’s lots of talk about our country being attacked (from within or from abroad), research is still being done for emergencies of all kinds. Recent ex: when temps dropped below freezing for Texas, water was drawn to last for 10 days or so, then the well was turned off, lines drained. It’s always best to have more water, etc. on hand than you think you’ll need. Order supplies while you can now. So, let us continue to learn from each other. Have a good day.

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