My naturally minimalist self has become ever more so since moving overseas. Something about having to give up nearly everything you own makes you very reluctant to expend time, energy, and money acquiring things all over again. In America, I had a normally-stocked kitchen with all the normal appliances and cans that had been in the cupboard so long I couldn't even remember putting them there. The appliances were mostly wedding gifts and the food...I still don't know how it got there.
Now, I've been living the minimalist kitchen lifestyle for more than a year and a half. In China, we bought the groceries we needed for the day on the day itself--or else bought enough for two days at a time. That's what you'll do if you live across the street from the grocery store and have to carry anything you buy up three flights of stairs...and have a kitchen that isn't quite big enough for two adults to stand in at the same time.
Here, we buy more food at once, since we do have a car, but our kitchen remains noticeably bare. We have two knives, 6 pans (I only bought two, but then was given hand-me-downs, hurrah!), and a fridge and a stove, but gradually have almost forgotten that specific appliances exist to do the things we've found other ways of doing.
We held off on buying a microwave because they take up so much counter space, and at this point, I've found that heating up leftovers on the stove just seems normal. After all, that's what everyone did before microwaves, right (although we can't take that line of reasoning too far or we'll be trying to convince ourselves that we can live without refrigerators). Some things don't heat up as well as others, I'll admit (ever tried heating cold mashed potatoes in a frying pan?), but overall, I don't notice the inconvenience--Angel does, but that's because he dislikes washing the pot after he warms up his food. All of our plates are metal, so we'd have to get new microwave-safe dishes if we bought one, anyways, so I'm happy without one.
If we want toast, we 'toast' the bread in the frying pan--works just fine. Who need an entire appliance to satisfy random toast cravings? Pretty much everything goes in either the soup pot or the frying pan. I have tried experiments that were only semi-successful concerning trying to make hot hoagies in a frying pan (a baked sandwich is usually baked in, you know, an oven? That baking thing?). Turns out, frying pans don't make the best ovens. Who woulda thought? We still ate the frying-pan-baked sandwiches.
Angel got a blender for Christmas, so now we have smoothies. Our parents might occasionally regret giving that gift, as we used to make all of our smoothies at their house, using their blender, and then we shared with whoever was around. Now we keep them all to ourselves.
Minimalism has taught me that a frying pan can be a microwave and a toaster in a pinch (though not quite an oven...), but it's also taught me that sometimes it's plain old worth it to spend the money and devote the counter space to the really useful appliance that will make life better and easier. There is a point when minimalism goes beyond reason and functionality, and it's important to stop it before it gets to that point. We have a rice cooker and a slow-cooker, an electric tea-kettle, a blender, a stove, and a fridge, all of which certainly add to our quality of life. For now, a toaster wouldn't because we go weeks at a time without buying bread, let alone wanting to toast it. The blender is cool. I'm not sure if I could go back to sharing my smoothies, although sharing is better for my character than keeping it all to myself in my naturally greedy way.
The 6-appliance kitchen works for us. Many people have fewer appliances than we do, others have many more. Ideally, those of us who are naturally minimalistic won't let the desire for nice clean empty spaces deprive us of perfectly useful modern conveniences, and those to whom stuff-accumulation comes naturally will have the self-restraint to realize when it's not worth devoting counter space to an appliance used once every two months. It's very possible for minimalism to be taken beyond what's reasonable, and it's important not to view minimal belongings as the goal, but rather as a tool by which some of us find it easier to live a peaceful life.
What appliances are worth buying and storing in your kitchen because they add to your life? And which do you wish you could just get rid of already?