Today’s kitchen scene represents quite a different picture than it did 100 years ago. Back then, home life revolved around extended time spent in the kitchen. These days, we want to spend as little time as possible there. And creators of cooking gadgets and tools are cashing in at every turn to make it happen.
Browse through Amazon.com or any home goods store, and you’ll discover more kitchen gadgets and tools than you ever thought existed. But before you accumulate an expensive clutter of kitchen tools you will never really use, ask yourself: which ones are truly worth the investment, and which ones actually cost you more in the long run?
It all depends on your goals. If you want to save time, or money, or a little of both or you just want to start preparing healthy delicious meals for you and your family, take a look at these fully vetted, highly recommended kitchen gadget must-haves that deliver value and versatility:
1. Food Processor
Of all the kitchen gadgets to make life easier, none deliver the versatility of a food processor. This essential kitchen tool cuts your prep time, grocery bill, and excess calories by helping you make healthy store bought alternatives.
Easily whip up potato or veggie chips, salsas, soups, sauces, guacamole, nut butters, and spreads right in your own kitchen. You’ll know exactly what’s in your food and won’t have to worry about harmful additives or preservatives. Simply enjoy fresh, all-natural snacks and meals for about a third of the cost of pre-made foods.
A food processor saves you precious time by taking over your manual labor. Let it slice your spuds for scalloped potatoes or shred an entire block of cheese in minutes. Puree all your vegetables for a soup before you can blink twice. Whatever thickness or consistency you need, a food processor can deliver.
Look for a food processor with a wide chute to handle bulky items like potatoes. Also, make sure it come with the attachments that fit your needs. Be sure to see how many of the parts are dishwasher safe, as this will contribute to your overall time savings.
Smaller processors might boast a more attractive price point, but don’t handle as well as the larger ones. In this case, you really do get what you pay for, so invest wisely the first time.
2. Hand Mixer
If you’re looking to build some muscle, by all means continue stirring your cake and brownie mixes by hand. But if you truly prefer to save some prep time, a hand mixer tops other kitchen gadgets hands down.
Small, compact, and much less expensive than a stand mixer, you can mix up delicious baked goods in less than half the time of manual mixing. Shred chicken breasts, scramble eggs, or mix dough in seconds. You get a more evenly blended product with fewer lumps than you would by hand, and in less time. And cleanup couldn’t get any easier: just drop the attachments in the dishwasher.
When choosing a hand mixer, opt for one with several attachments, like a whisk, paddle, and dough hooks. You can also choose between electric, which gives you more power, or battery-operated, which gives you maneuverability and flexibility. Also, make sure your mixer gives you plenty of speed options you can easily toggle between to give you all the power you need.
3. Food Slicer
Meal and snack prep will never be easier. Invest in a food slicer to make healthy chips, deli style lunch meat, or meal-ready fruits and vegetables in seconds. You get uniform cuts as thick or thin as you like with every pass. It’s quicker, cleaner, and more precise than a knife, and saves you from buying the more expensive pre-sliced options.
Pre-sliced deli meats and vegetables aren’t cheap. Grocery stores tack on quite a bit to the price to cover extra labor costs. On average, people usually shell out twice the price for pre-cut produce, and $6.99 or more for a pound of fresh shaved turkey or chicken. Food slicers can help you cut unnecessary costs from your grocery bill while also reducing your workload in the kitchen.
One piece does all the work. And when you’re done, simply wipe it clean with no scrubbing. Roast your own meat at home for 1.99 per pound, and use the slicer to get thin deli-style sandwich cuts. Slice and bake potato and veggie chips to avoid unhealthy frying oils, excess sodium, and additives. Plus, enjoy a bigger, fresher variety than what you find in stores.
If you plan on slicing only fruits, veggies, and small meats, a mandolin slicer should work just fine. For larger meats, look for a small household version of what you would find in your grocer’s deli. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a commercial appliance to get great results.
4. Instant Pot Pressure Cooker
Unlike the exploding pressure cookers of decades past, the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker offers safe, convenient cooking in less than half the time of traditional cooking methods. You can serve up delicious meals that retain more nutrients during the cooking process with less time and effort.
One machine can do all the work of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, stockpot warmer, and saute pan – a cost savings of at least $250 when buying these items separately. In addition, the Instant Pot Pressure Cooker uses up to 70% less energy to further reduce your costs.
Why buy grocery store soups, sauces and nut milks when you can make your own for less than half the price using your blender? Blend your own at home and know exactly what’s in them. You can save yourself some calories by omitting heavy, fatty creams and excess sodium, while getting the taste you love for less.
For shake and smoothie aficionados, you could pay upwards of $5.00 for a beverage at a fitness club, or make your own for about a quarter of the price. Smoothies and shakes from your own kitchen are a great way to help you sneak in a few extra veggies for the kids or spouse. They will be none the wise their perfectly blended smoothie actually contains vitamins and nutrients to keep them healthy.
If you only plan to sate your smoothie addiction, a personal-sized blender offers the best bang for your buck. Some of them come with portable blending cups you can easily transport without having to transfer to a regular cup. For larger recipes, like soups and sauces, opt for the full-sized machine.
6. Food Shears
Scissors aren’t only for arts and crafts. Food quality shears work better and quicker than a knife in some instances, especially when it comes to fresh herbs. Growing your own herbs costs pennies (grocery store prices tell a different story), and you’ll notice a difference in your favorite dishes.
Grab a pair of food shears to trim basil, rosemary, thyme, dill, or any of your favorites. Cut your way through fresh pasta like ravioli, phyllo pastry, sushi wrapping, cheese, flesh, or bones as easily as cutting through wrapping paper.
Just like with good knives, quality matters in your kitchen shears, so make sure you get a good pair that will last. Opt for ones that offer hefty blades and are dishwasher safe.
Stick to the Basics Cooking Gadgets & Tools to Make Cooking Easier
Every tomato slicer, strawberry stem remover, french fry cutter, and hands-free battery operated stirring utensil screams “Your kitchen can’t survive without me!”, all with the promise to save you money and minimize your time in the kitchen. With as many different kitchen gadgets and tools as there are people, you don’t have to try them all for yourself to know which ones make the best solutions.
While some of these nifty one-trick tools sound appealing, you’ll find the basic kitchen gadgets can handle a variety of chores just fine. When you stick to the basics (they’re called “basic” for a reason), you won’t be disappointed.