It’s the same kind of mentality that demands granite countertops and $5K Viking stoves and Sub Zero refrigerators in household kitchens where the families never or rarely cook at all.
That said, there are a few gadgets I do recommend having because they can save you money in the long run.
The list is not long, and you’ll find no single-purpose countertop appliances here. I am not a fan of those at all, and find them rather silly, in fact.
So you’ll find no bread-makers, or pasta makers mentioned. I can make bread very cheaply and easily without the need for these enormous counter–hogging devices.
And, as for making pasta from scratch, well, let me just say that’s something that has generally struck me as a task suitable only for people with tons of time on their hands. That doesn’t include most families I know, including my own. So I draw the line at making my own pasta. The time it would take me would offset any savings I might realize.
So here’s my short list of recommended kitchen cooking appliances:
A whisk or a potato masher is the easiest tool for most things that require quick beating or blending together, such as eggs for a recipe.
But there’s no question that an electric mixer is a great thing to have for some cooking processes. It removes a lot of the effort and shortens the time needed to accomplish some tasks, like whipping or beating at high speed for any length of time.
An inexpensive, hand-held one does most jobs just fine. It also has the advantage of taking up little space, unlike a full-size mixer.
I recommend checking the consumer guides for ratings on the different brands, and consumer reviews as well to learn which brand and model does the best job.
If you do happen to decide on a full-size mixer, then do your homework before buying so you don’t spend more than you need to. These appliances can be expensive.
To be sure, there are some excellent deals to be had out there. Recently I was thrilled to buy one as a gift for a mere $35 when it went on sale for 70% off, and I used a coupon besides. That’s huge savings over the original $280 price tag.
In fact, purchases like this are among the very few times I recommend using coupons at all.
Keep your eyes peeled for such bargains if you’re in the market for a kitchen appliance of any kind. There is absolutely no need to pay full price when there are sales to be found.
To be honest, I don't actually use one much, but when I’m grating tons of potatoes or sweet potatoes for my latke recipe, I am happy for the way it saves me fatigued arm muscles.
For everyday use, though, I think the clean-up involved with a processor outweighs the convenience it offers. I find a hand grater or a knife is usually enough – and very easy to clean – for most daily cooking tasks. For that reason, I don’t recommend spending a lot of money on a food processor, or investing in a very large one. An inexpensive model will do just fine.
As an alternative to a stand-alone processor, you could also consider buying the chopping attachments that some full size mixers offer, so bear that in mind if you decide you want a food processing option in your kitchen.
This is a great convenience for certain recipes. It’s particularly great for achieving the right consistency for things like my hummus.
I also use it to grind up tomatoes from our garden for sauce; to partially puree some of the soups I make, and for drinks and smoothies.
This appliance is multipurpose and a time and cost-saver. My husband and I once lived in an apartment with only a cooktop, so the toaster oven we owned was the only way we were ever able to bake anything.
But we continue to use our toaster oven on a daily basis to this day. It not only allows us to make several slices of toast at one time, or bake a loaf of garlic bread, it also can be used to roast a small chicken, or bake potatoes, or just about anything that a regular oven does, with far faster heat-up times and far less energy use.
It also does not heat up your kitchen in the summer the way a full-sized oven does.
It's a gadget definitely worth having on hand.
We all know the scenario where we arrive home from work just plain too tired to cook or too hungry to wait for the meal to be ready.
With a slow cooker, you can assemble the recipe in the cooker the night before, plug it in just before you go out the door in the morning, and presto, when you get home at night, dinner is essentially ready.
So this appliance can save you a lot of money and keep your diet much healthier than convenience food or take-out can. The ceramic insert that comes with most of them can also double as an attractive serving dish.
The slow cooker is also a great device for cooking during the summer months when the last thing you want is to turn on the stovetop or the oven to add heat to the house. If you have a covered porch, a hallway, or a basement, you can plug it in there so that it does not heat up your living space.
I recommend looking for a couple of different features when you shop for a slow cooker. Reliability and ease of use are two of them.
But perhaps just as important to have as a feature is an automatic shut-off that senses when the food is done and switches to a “keep warm” setting at that point. This is one way to avoid your food becoming mush if you’re going to be gone for a very long time.
Just be aware that some meat dishes should not be sitting for hours at less than high temperatures if you want to avoid high bacteria counts and the chance of food poisoning. So use this option only if you will be home within a safe period of time, or if you are cooking vegetarian options.
And I also recommend buying a large capacity slow cooker, since it gives you the option of making enough for at least two meals. Always, always try to get as much mileage out of your time spent in the kitchen as possible.
Many people do not even know about thesewonderful time and energy saving devices for the kitchen.
They can shorten the cooking time enormously for just about any food, from stew meats, to legumes, to rice and potatoes, saving you half the normal cook time or more. So they’re great to have for those times when you’re running behind, as well.
They also keep most of the steam contained within the pot while they cook, so along with the shortened overall cook times, they help to keep your kitchen cooler by not adding tons of humid air from their contents during the dog days of summer.
My Mom used to cook entire stews in hers, in addition to using it for vegetable cooking. I use mine primarily for dry legumes, brown rice, potatoes, and some other vegetables, like mashed carrots and turnips.
So there you have it. That’s the extent of my list.
I said it would be a short one, and so it is. Again, not one of these appliances is essential to cooking, but they are a help for when you can afford them.
And if they’ll make you more inclined to cook from scratch, then they will pay for themselves in a very short time.