My oven died. It put up a good fight and was faithful enough to tough it out through a heavy Easter dinner, but it just couldn't go on. I was crushed. The signs had been there for months but I held my breath and believed that my oven could over come. The struggle ended with my dear friend no longer able to function.
This was a dilemma I did not want to face. Sure, I could have been saving all this time for a new oven, but I felt like it would be a betrayal (and I didn't have any extra funds). Now the oven was dead and there was no money to replace it.
The first week we ate out. We didn't really have the money for that either, but I didn't want to have to deal with the empty shell that was now my oven. The bank account was close to bleeding when the week ended so I knew I had to come up with a plan.
Necessity may be the mother of invention but creativity has to be a second child or at least a cousin. I knew we couldn't afford a new oven so it was time to find ways to utilize the other appliances in our home to meet our needs.
1. The crock pot - ever an appliance of convenience it now became a key tool in my kitchen. I found ways to make lasagna, bake a taco pie and even back a cake all in the crock pot. It took a little tweaking of existing recipes and the discovery of new recipes online but I managed to create a wonderful menu for the family time and time again.
2. The toaster oven - it was no longer for just warming things. I used the toaster oven just like my regular over and even cooked casseroles (albeit tiny ones) in the toaster oven.
3. The electric skillet - I had always used it for cooking things like pancakes but now it was my ONLY tool for frying or boiling. I tried everything in the electric skillet that I might otherwise have cooked on the now cold and quiet stove top. The best thing about the electric skillet is that I could set the exact temperature with the control.
4. The microwave - this was my second place for boiling items (especially vegetables).
5. The grill - ever the summer cooking tool, the grill became one of my favorite ways to cook meat and vegetables (second only to the crock pots) and even to toast bread.
Eventually I received a new oven as an early Christmas present from my father-in-law (I don't think he appreciated my creativity of cooking Thanksgiving without one). Although I now have the ability to cook the traditional way, I have found that I prefer many of my other tools more. The death of my old oven brought new life to my kitchen in the form of new recipes, new dishes, and new ways of preparing meals that give me more time and more flexibility.
Kathryn Lang is a freelance writer working for several companies around the globe. You can view some of her links at http://www.kathrynlang.com She also has a website with tips and resources for family budgets and personal savings at http://www.bestfamilyfinance.com