Earlier this year, we experienced a culinary tragedy - our pizza cutter broke. Our initial reaction was to go out and buy a replacement, but we were in the middle of our Nothing New Year challenge so we held off. A few days passed, then a week, then a month. We hadn’t replaced the pizza cutter and somehow, amazingly, we were still surviving.

The truth was, we didn’t really use the pizza cutter all that often. It only came out when we had take-and-bake pizza or made quesadillas and neither of those had made the meal plan in a while.

I supposed that some of this was because we didn’t have a pizza cutter, so subconsciously we might have been avoiding the meals that we’d find ourselves stuck on.

After a couple months, we had forgotten all about the unfilled space in our kitchen drawer where our beloved pizza cutter used to reside. But that forgetfulness led us into a tough situation.

One day after work, we were all exhausted and ready for family pizza and movie night. I was hoping to save a few dollars (and had forgotten about our woefully inadequate kitchenware situation), so I stopped by a take-and-bake pizza shop and picked up a couple pizzas.

When I got home, I popped them in the oven and when the timer went off, I pulled them out, set them on the counter, and went to our kitchen drawer to grab our pizza cutter.

I opened the drawer and realized my mistake.

I had three hungry kids and a hungry wife waiting in the living room with the movie queued up and ready to play and here I was with two uncut, unservable pizzas.

It was time to either be a hero or a huge disappointment.

As the girls escalated their queries of “Is the pizza ready yet?”, I fumbled through the drawer looking for a solution.

Just a minute…” I said, trying to stall.

Standard table knives were too dull. Our serrated knives would make a mess of everything. I even debated pulling out my Swiss army knife, but then finally I saw my solution.

Chef's knife

A chef’s knife was the perfect fit. The blade was sharp, smooth, and long enough that I could probably cut the pizza without too much difficulty.

I gave it a whirl and a few moments later, I was walking out to the living room with plates full of pizza and a smile of pride on my face.

As we watched the movie, I reflected back on what I had learned about minimalism and frugality from our near-disaster of a pizza and movie night.

What I Learned From My Pizza Cutter

We fill our homes with specialized items

Many of the items in our homes are incredibly specialized. I used to have an obsession with kitchen gadgets: garlic presses, melon scoops, corn kernelers, pineapple corers and more. I was amazed at the novelty and optimization that each of these provided.

I marveled at the design and engineering behind each and the creativity, but most of these would have been frivolous purchases because we don’t really need that level of specialization.

Many specialized items are redundant

Our chef’s knife cuts pizza about 90% as well as an actual pizza cutter. (For more precise numbers, please send me free pizzas and I’ll do the testing required to figure out the exact number)

It takes an extra minute to cut and a smidge more arm strength, but we’re not exactly running a pizza place here.

If we were, I’d be all for getting the most optimized pizza cutter around.

But for the 2-3 times a month we’d actually use one, our chef’s knife is more than good enough.

Redundancy is costly

A replacement pizza cutter would only set us back $13, but if you consider all the redundant items in your home, the total cost of redundancy is a whole lot higher.

When we registered for our wedding, we had no idea what we needed, so we used the store’s registry guide to help “educate” us.

One of the most ridiculous things that came out of this was us registering for 72 different pieces of glassware.

We got 8 pilsner glasses, 8 margarita glasses, 8 martini glasses, 8 red wine, 8 white wine, 16 tall tumblers, and 16 short tumblers.

All told, the cost of glassware on our registry was over $600 and because of our generous guests, we got all of it.

But we were just two people.

Two people that didn’t have any desire to host big dinner parties. Two people that didn’t even like margaritas, martinis, or white wine.

Two people that are perfectly happy drinking beer from the bottle and wine from a regular old glass tumbler.

We got $500 in redundant glassware on our registry and that $500 could have been put to much better use.

Questions to help you identify and eliminate redundancy

If you want to figure out what’s redundant in your home, use these questions as a guide:

  • How often do I use this item?
  • How well does the task this item is used for need to be done?
  • Is this item used for other things as well, or specialized for this purpose?
  • If it broke right now, could I find another way to finish what I’m doing?

Other redundant things we’ve eliminated

Using this thinking, we’ve eliminated quite a bit more from our lives, which saves us on replacement costs and on clutter. Here are a few examples:

Microwave and Toaster - we have been able to heat and reheat all of our food using just our oven and stove top for the last 18 months!

Jackets - we used to have multiple jackets to cover the different seasons and different occasions (dress-up, dress-down). Now, Jaime and I each own one good, warm winter jacket that looks nice enough.

Dress shoes and clothes - there’s no need to own both black dress shoes and brown dress shoes if you just pick one color and commit. We picked black, so we were able to get rid of my brown shoes, khaki pants, and brown belts.

Can Opener - remember that Swiss army knife I mentioned earlier? We use that instead for the one or two times a month we need it.

What redundant things could you eliminate from your life?

If you’re looking to simplify your life and save yourself from future purchases, take a look at how the things you own can be used in different ways. Consider what you own that’s redundant and see what you can do without.

You’ll find your space less cluttered and your bank accounts a bit fuller.

What specialized or redundant items do you have in your life? Which of these are truly worth it to you and which ones could you do without?