5 needed kitchen appliances for a nourishing summer (and what to do without them)

Discloser: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Portland is going through the usual drizzles and then sunshine days, but on those hot days I am already reminded of how hot our house gets during the summer. Being committed to eating a healthy diet means cooking through the summer too, and that is as much of a joy as you make it.

Certain appliances help make it more of a joy for me personally, but it took me a long time to collect them all. So, for 52 ways to save money on a healthy diet series, I thought I would not only give recommendations for different appliances and how to use them when making nourishing food this summer (because helping keep you making your own food this summer is going to help you save money!). But also, I’d like to give some suggestions for what to do if you don’t own these appliances (whether because you like to keep things simple, or because of finances). It doesn’t have to take a lot of money to eat well!

(And, if you’d like a just “for fun” appliance, I have to say that my Mother’s Day gift, the isi whipped cream dispenser  -click here for a coconut whipped cream recipe– has been a huge success! I am thinking of dolloping this beautiful whipped cream on top of smoothies, homemade blended coffee drinks, and top homemade cobblers with it too.)

But let’s take a look at my top five.

Cookie Dough Ice cream 

Ice Cream Maker

Okay, okay, I know. I recommend ice cream makers a lot. But this really is a favorite appliance of mine. I have owned it for 4 years or longer, and I just love it. It allows you to make ice cream that is nourishing, sweetened naturally, and really delicious very easily at home. And let’s face it people; ice cream is a luxary food that makes you feel rich – but it really doesn’t cost that much to make. It’s nourishing, makes you feel like you own a million dollars, and it’s simple to make. What more do you want? I own a Cuisinart ice cream maker, and love it. (I don’t really have the kitchen space, but their soft serve ice cream maker has me day dreaming of beautiful, nourishing soft serve….with organic toppings.).

What to do without: However, if you don’t own one, you can still make your own at home with great results! It just takes a little more work. Follow this link to find out how.

Having a blender that works well is a major plus in a summer kitchen. With it you can blend a wide variety of smoothies for delicious snacks, breakfasts, or even dinners. Or you can quickly whip together savory chilled soups. I use mine to make raw sauces, blend up batters (like for pancakes), and more. If you have a high powered one, you can use it to make mock sorbets and ice “creams” out of frozen fruit too! Mango (shown above)and bananas are personal favorites because they become so smooth. I am blessed to own a Blendtec that I was given for review, and I have really, really enjoyed owning one. But there are a lot of inexpensive blenders that will do the job for most of your needs (just expect to replace them more often). In fact, if you own an inexpensive blender and love it, please let us know in a comment! You just may help another reader out! One blender that we owned for several years and really liked was this Oster Beehive blender. I love how it looks (so classy), and that it has a glass jar instead of plastic (which can be hard to find) and it worked really well for us. But like most modest priced blenders, it lasted a couple years, and eventually died. But we definitely got our money’s worth.

What to use without one: While nothing can really replace your blender, if you do own a food processor, you can use that for making fruit sorbets, raw sauces, chilled soups, and many other things.

Spiral Vegetable Cutter 

My spiral cutter literally gathered some dust during the winter, but I have been using it weekly already despite it not even being that hot (and I am not grain-free!). My favorite way to use mine is making zucchini noodles (shown in top photo). Zucchini noodles are so light and refreshing that I enjoy them a lot during the summer months (I compared them to other grain-free noodles here). I really like the one that I own and if you were going to buy one, I’d recommend it. And if you were going to use it to make spiral potato fries, fried in tallow, invite me over, okay?

What to do without one: You can use a common vegetable peeler to make ribbons from zucchinis (or carrots). Then simply stack them up, and cut into noodles. Obviously takes a little longer, but it is cheap!

Quinoa, Orange, and Arugula Salad 

Salad Spinner

Alright, I know that not everyone loves salads as much as I do (though sometimes I think people just think that because they haven’t had a good salad before), but I love salads. They make me feel energized and nourished at the same time. Some people claim their salad spinners are a space waster. Mine? No way. I use it all the time. You can see a video I made on how to wash and spin a head of lettuce in about 2 minutes here using one. During the summer, I really eat a lot of salads and I especially appreciate owning one. We broke ours during the winter, and I was very sad without it until we finally bought one again. My favorite one is this one, although this collapsable one is intriguing too. If you need salad inspiration, check out my book, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for all Seasons. 

What to do without one: There’s the old towel drying trick, but I find it hard to do without bruising the leaves. Instead, use a clean lingerie laundry bag (one that isn’t too small) that has a drawstring. Put all of your lettuce in it, and close the bag tightly. Go outside and twirl the bag over your head or to the side of your body very rapidly. The water will go flying everywhere. It’s a salad spinner called you. I am told this also works with a clean pillowcase.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Slow Cooker

Not only will a slow cooker not heat up your house as much as your oven (put it on your porch or in your basement to really remove the heating up the house issue), but you can also be gone having a fun family day and come home to a full meal deal. I also use mine to make a lot of homemade broth, which we still eat during the summer. (How to get broth in during the summer). I own a large Hamilton Beach slow cooker that is supposed to be lead-free, and I love that it is not expensive, and works well. I’ve been really happy with mine. In fact, it’s coming with us to our cabin on our short vacation to the beach so that I can let it do the cooking for me.

What to do without one: Cry. Just kidding. But seriously, it’s one appliance that everyone may want to own because they are that useful. If you don’t, you can still make one pot meals on your stovetop which doesn’t eat up the house like the oven does. Make chicken pot pie in a big pot with biscuits instead of pie dough. Make skillet dinners, or stir-fries. Get creative on the stovetop and you will have less need to heat up your house with the oven.

The next summer appliance I’d love to get? A grill. I’d love to hear what grill you’d recommend!  (Gas, charcoal, and brand names) in the comments! Plus, let me know if you own these appliances, or know of other ways to make do without them.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!


  1. says

    Seriously, the salad spinner is the best purchase I’ve ever made (or had made for me). I made sure to keep it when I got divorced. Anyone who considers a salad spinner a waste of space doesn’t eat enough greens. It’s seriously the only way you’ll get me to deal with prepping cabbage for any reason.

    As far as grills go, I love the basic kettle grill, with a chimney to get it lit and an abundance of natural chunk hardwood charcoal.

      • Rachel says

        I’ll second Barefoot on her recommendation. This is exactly what we use. Make sure to get a nice, big charcoal chimney that holds a lot of briquettes.

  2. Gina says

    We have an Oster blender with glass jar as well and love it. Have had it for more years than I can remember. Fifteen maybe? It’s held up very well. We do love our smoothies! I also like my hand held oster blender my family gave me for Mother’s day especially for blending soups and sauces and hopefully mayo one of these days soon. An ice cream maker is on the list,but not sure if we can swing it right now. Your blog is one of my new favorites! Enjoy making nourishing food for my family. Although baking bread right now is not so easy. It’s 82 outside and 68 in my house,but once I make my bread…. I think an outdoor oven is on my list too 😉

    • KimiHarris says

      Welcome to my blog! I can’t believe your blender has lasted so long! That is amazing. And an outdoor oven would be awesome. I am thinking of trying to bake bread in my slow cooker this next week in the meantime.

  3. Marcy says

    I used a pillowcase to spin my salads for years! And I still will if I have a lot of lettuce to do! It’s been a fabulous spring for lettuce in my garden this year!
    And, yes just like the previous commenter, I get the ice cream maker when I hit the spiral cutter link. (And I love my ice cream maker, too. Especially since we now have food sensitivities here.)

  4. says

    I also have an Oster blender that I have been very happy with. It is the basic 10-speed with a plastic jar, and much to my surprise has lasted me well through several years of abuse! (I even bought it used at a yard sale for $2, so I’m pretty sure I got my money’s worth the first month!)
    I use a grill a LOT in the summer, and not just in the typical way. Besides grilling meats, I also grill homemade pizzas, artisan breads and various other baked goods. I have a nice 3-burner Kenmore gas grill and am very pleased with it. Although I would also love to experiment with charcoal, I have been spoiled with the ease of gas and the accurate temperature gauge on the outside of the grill, which makes it possible to use like an oven!

  5. Michelle says

    We were given a Traeger wood pellet grill last year as a gift, and I LOVE it. It has a digital thermostat, cooks with indirect heat. and holds a temperature well enough that I don’t turn on my oven from June through September. I can cook bread and cookies on it, throw on a whole chicken or roast right on the rack. And is has a smoke setting, so you can add that smoky flavor if you want, or opt not to for things like cookies. :-). Even before the Traeger, though, we would make grilled pizzas on our gas grill regularly, or use old pans to cook roasts or chicken in the summer outdoors, to avoid heating up the house.

    Also, we have a Bosch mixer, and I just replaced the blender on that. It was more than 20 years old!

  6. Kathy says

    We have a basic Weber charcoal grill and love it! But I am intrigued by the Traeger mentioned by Michelle.

  7. says

    Our Oster blender with a glass jar has lasted almost 7 years so far! We got it for our wedding registry and we will be celebrating 7 year anniversary this summer 🙂 I am surprised it has lasted this long and I’ve secretly waiting for it to die so I can splurge on a high powered blender, lol

    Oh and when you said “it’s coming with us to our cabin on our short vacation to the beach” about the slow cooker I had a light bulb moment! We’re renting a cabin on the beach by a lake end of July and I’m like “Why didn’t I think of that!?” Thank you!

  8. Katie Brugger says

    Hi Kimi, The link to the Oster blender goes to the ice cream maker – I’ve been looking for a good, reasonably priced blender, so am going to purchase the one you recommended – but want to make sure you get credit for it – I don’t know how the affiliates links work, but I appreciate your blog so so much – and want to make sure you get compensated wherever possible!

  9. Carol Bosmeny says

    You should check out a Yonana machine. I got one as a gift a couple of months ago. You make unbelievably creamy desserts using frozen bananas, other frozen fruits, and all kinds of other ingredients to mix things up!

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