old photo of woman in the kitchen
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
February 2, 2024 ·  5 min read

9 Things We Used To Do in The Kitchen That Just Don’t Happen Anymore

As the world evolves, so do our kitchens. With the rise of technology, our cooking and baking processes look very different from our grandparents’. Yes, some things haven’t changed at all, like the need for oven mitts or hiding cookies before little snackers eat them all. Our stovetop kettles haven’t evolved much, neither has our whisks, measuring cups, pots, and pans. But with the advances in kitchen appliances, some traditional cooking methods and utensils have become almost non-existent. Here are nine things that chefs don’t need in the kitchen anymore. 

Read: Fire Safety Tips for Preventing House Fires, from the Laundry Room to the Kitchen

Cook with Real Cookbooks or Recipe Boxes  

Cookbook concept. Wooden ladle and a cooking recipe
Credit: Shutterstock

Nowadays, whenever we need a recipe, we look it up online. From Pinterest to Facebook videos to cooking tutorials, and to blogs dedicated to food, cooking has taken its own corner of the internet. Among all of the various recipes, we could find one that perfectly suits our needs, such as substituting ingredients we don’t have or can’t eat, or even finding a beginner version. Back in the day, if you wanted a recipe, you had to crack open a cookbook. Yes, we still have those today, but most of us turn to Google a lot faster than we’d turn to an actual book. Many people also kept recipe boxes where the ingredients and instructions were hand-written on cue cards. These recipes came from friends and family members and added a special, homely touch to these foods like “Aunt Ellen’s Almond Cookies” or “Grandpa’s Sesame Chicken”.  

Read: The Can Opener Key: An Old School Way to Open Your Favorite Tinned Food

Storing Bread in a Breadbox 

Fresh baked bread with seeds (sesame, sunflower seeds, linen) in white wooden bread box. Breadbox with cutted bread, tomatoes, olive oil in glass bottle and red bell peppers on the wooden background.
Credit: Shutterstock

Before bread was sold commercially, many people would store their homemade bread and baked goods in a bread box. While the cookie jar has remained in many modern kitchens, the bread box has disappeared from people’s counters. (However, it’s still a staple in the game 20 Questions, where the second query is “is it larger than a bread box?” Today, our bread is kept in the plastic bags we buy them in, which is honestly a huge downgrade.  

Storing Flour, Sugar, Coffee, Tea, and Other Foods in Canisters 

A pantry cannister isolated against a white background
Credit: Shutterstock

Like bread, we keep most of our food in the containers and bags we buy them in. However, back in the day, storing flour and sugar and other ingredients in matching labeled containers was the way to go. This trend is actually coming back into the modern kitchen and anyone could see why. They provide easy access, which is a must for morning coffee or tea. They are also aesthetically pleasing and give a sense of quaint organization to the countertops. 

Canning and Preserving Food 

Various canned vegetables, meat, fish and fruits in tin cans. On a wooden background.
Credit: Shutterstock

Most people hate when good food goes to waste, but it’s anxiety-inducing for those who live through less bountiful times. There are people alive today who remember wartimes and the Great Depression where every morsel of food counts. So they became experts on making food last so none would go to waste. Additionally, certain foods weren’t available all year round like we are used to. Canning food for the winter was a yearly custom that hasn’t caught on for most of this generation.  

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Baking with Manual Hand Mixers 

Retro Hand Mixer
Credit: Shutterstock

Mixing dough and batters by hand is a baking method that holds true today. However, we have more options now. Food processors, stand mixers, and even blenders can speed the mixing process and save our poor tired wrists. Back in the day, they had hand mixers and not the electrical kind. Their mixers looked like two whisks tied together with a manual crank to spin them. It was also known as the egg beater and it was barely a step up from a regular old whisk. With the rise of baking technology, they have fallen out of favor although they are still available for purchase. 

Home-Make Butter 

Healthy wholemeal toast with butter.
Credit: Shutterstock

Butter is one of the many things most people buy instead of making from scratch. And for good reason. Butter-making included pouring cream into a churner and turning a crank until it turns buttery. It’s incredibly time-consuming and probably more exhausting than using the manual hand mixer. Still, the end result was well worth the work. Homemade butter tends to be lighter and creamier than store-bought, which is why some people churn their own butter nowadays. [1] 

Make Coffee with a Percolator 

Lady hand pouring freshly brew coffee with Moka Pot with blur country side forest background. Morning brew coffee. Italian classic vintage coffee maker
Credit: Shutterstock

Coffee has become its own hipster subculture that brought back percolators. Meanwhile, most people have Keurig, drip, French press, or even instant. But percolators were the first, appearing in 1818. It’s essentially a pot designed to cycle the boiling coffee through the grounds until the brew is as strong as the drinker likes it. Those who remember it from way back when — or use it today — can testify that the coffee aroma is heavenly. [2] 

Read: 10 of The Best Ways To Remove Grease From Kitchen Cabinets

Grinding Meat 

Bowl of mince with electric meat grinder in kitchen interior
Credit: Shutterstock

The meat grinder was once used regularly in the average kitchen and it was quite a workout. The first grinder was invented in the 1800s and required strength to achieve those long meat chains. Some say home-ground meat takes better and results in tastier burgers, meatballs, and sausages. But few people of this generation could attest to that. Today, pre-ground beef is readily available and so are electric grinders that take the exertion out of the process. [3] 

Pounding Meat with a Mallet 

beating raw steak with meat mallet in kitchen
Credit: Shutterstock

Another tool no longer found in most kitchens is a meat mallet. Beating beef and chicken tenderizes the cuts before cooking. They also make the food easier to chew and digest. Some people pound the meat to thin it for a crispier texture. While these benefits sound reasonable, it’s a step that has fallen out of favor nowadays. Although many still hold to this process — and you’ll be able to hear them at it from miles away — most skip it. [4] 

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  1. “How to make butter.” The Guardian. Darina Allen.
  2. History of the Coffee Maker.” Coffee.org
  3. “Grinding meat: All in a day’s work.” Star Tribune. Lee Svitak Dea.
  4. 9 Things We Used To Do in The Kitchen That Just Don’t Happen Anymore.” Tip Hero.