Kitchen Basics: Appliances

An important part of this blog is dealing with a small kitchens, like those found in most bachelor, or single’s, apartments. It’s usually a galley kitchen, meaning everything is pretty much on one side along a wall. On a boat, the kitchen is called a galley, while the dining room or area is called a mess. Galleys usually are a model of efficiency and compactness because there isn’t much space available. We don’t know why the dining area is called a mess, except that’s probably what you get when people are finished eating on a rocking ship on the open sea.

There’s no one pattern for a galley kitchen because how things are laid out will depend on the available space. It also depends on the layout of the building, where apartments often are arranged like Tetris pieces.

The one common element in a small kitchen is a lack of counter space and cabinet space. That means you have to make careful choices, not only about what sits on the counter, but what gets stashed in the cabinet.

We asked readers what appliance they had gathering dust in the back of a cabinet. Diane in Texas wrote, “My Braun hand mixer. Occasionally I will use the chopping attachment with it but not much. It sits at the top of my pantry gathering dust.”

That’s typical. Most people do have an appliance they don’t use. So, what do you do when you only have a small amount of counter space?

Our rule is never to have more than three appliances on the counter at any time. In this stage of our discussions, we’re talking about Kitchen Basics, the minimum things you need to cook a meal and eat it. That means there are lots of useful appliances we won’t discuss here.

Remember your ideas and comments are always welcome.

The Rule Of Three

So, what three appliances do we think should take up that valuable counter real estate? A lot is going to depend on your own lifestyle and the things you like.

At the top of our list is a microwave. We know people did without this modern convenience for a long time. But the microwave is great for cooking frozen items or quickly heating water for almost anything. It can freshen up baked goods, heat leftovers, melt cheese on dishes and sandwiches, and melt delicate things like chocolate without a double boiler. There are also some things it does not do well. Eggs can become rubbery, the meat turns gray, meat can explode, baked potatoes get hard, and so on. We use it every day. We recommend getting one with a turntable and large enough to contain a medium size bowl.

For coffee drinkers, the next choice is a coffee maker. We’ve seen the fancy ones, the programmable ones, and the very, very simple ones. Coffee has become a big business and has gone from a diner staple to a gourmet experience.┬áBut there are some of us who just want a simple cup of coffee, fresh and well-brewed. You can spend a little or a lot, depending on what features you want, how much, and whether brand names matter to you. But we think the Bachelor is more interested in a cup of coffee than impressing anyone with a fancy contraption that takes up a lot of space with features that are never used. And we think money might be a big consideration for lots of bachelors, especially if you’re setting up your first kitchen.

common toaster

My third choice, even though I don’t use it every day, is my humble toaster. You could also have a toaster oven, some people think these are very useful. I just make toast.

Your countertop is valuable real estate and you should give consideration to which ones you put up there. Also, it’s easy to accumulate appliances that you don’t use. The only time you should buy a new appliance is if you know you will use it. Too often, we buy appliances thinking that’s what we need to do something regularly, and then it sits in a corner. If you don’t drink fruit smoothies now, owning a blender won’t help you actually make them if you don’t already.