Today is “Black Friday” and my husband has been amused by the many pile of ads for junk we don’t need. Consistently asking me if I need anything, I can think of not a single response. While the Target, Walmart, and Best Buy ads flash super-duty appliances to tempt the at-home chef, they look like either overkill or space-wasters to me.
Sure, I have a basic gas stove/oven, refrigerator, and a dishwasher (perish the thought of living without!), but when it comes to small appliances, I like to keep it simple. I cook and/or bake everyday, yet expensive industrial mixers, multi-part food processors, and food killing microwaves have no place in my perfect kitchen. As a matter of fact, of the little appliances we do have, we have found that cheaper is actually better. In my opinion, appliances no bigger than would fit in a New York sized apartment are really all you need for any well-functioning kitchen…
$10 – Spice Grinder – I don’t own a food processor, and haven’t suffered without. Since we are a household of two, I find that my spice grinder does just about everything I need it to, and with insanely quick clean up. Of course, I use it to grind down those cumin seeds, and some may like it for coffee beans (I am a tea girl myself) but it also works in a pinch to grind flaxseeds for a nutritious boost to my smoothies and meals, to grind nuts (even into a butter / paste), and to make oat flour in an instant from my supplies of whole oats. Some may dislike doing things in batches. But considering that I can make 1/3 cup of oat flour in 30 seconds of whirling, and with a quick “wipe it out with a dry paper towel” clean-up, 1 cup is easily ready with my workspace clean in under 5 minutes. Oh yes, and did I mention spice (coffee) grinders, such as the Proctor Silex one I have, can be had for $10-$12 at the supermarket. Go with the cheap ones, they get the job done.
$25 – Blender – I love smoothies. I also love to make creamy soups, and really, it seems as though my blender gets pulled out for some small task almost daily. But we have gone through four different blenders, including two higher end models, only to discover that the cheap Hamilton Beach 10-speed blender from Walmart works just as well, if not better. It has less “juice” then some of the fancier brands, but because of this, the motor doesn’t tend to blow up (like our “high-end” experiences), and it is quieter than many brands. And yes, it really does blend up every last bit of ice. Oh, and do splurge on the glass jar (the plastic will break quickly), but this is the only real upgrade I have found worth the price.
$11 – Rice Cooker – I can always make a healthy meal in minutes thanks to my 6-cup rice cooker. It cooks up grains (brown rice, white rice, millet, quinoa, etc., etc., etc.) with a quick flip of the switch and steams the rest of my meal while it is at it. I can throw just about any veggie in the top basket (including potatoes) and my meal will be ready when I hear the “click.” You can even steam fish or chicken along with the veggies for a major meal that cooks itself.
$11 – Electric Tea Kettle – Oh Canada! My Canadian (now American) husband introduced me to this wonderful invention that I didn’t have the good fortune to grow up with. Boiling water for tea, oatmeal, rice noodles, or any other quick hot water need can be had in just three minutes. We purchased our inexpensive electric kettle on sale, but you can get a perfect household one for $20 or less without a problem. Oh yes, and go with the ones that have a switch. The ones that you have to unplug to shut off are a bit scary!
$15-20 – Hand Mixer – Want those nice toned arms? Skip the clunky stand mixer and go for a cheapo hand mixer. Don’t think for a minute that these don’t pack enough power, ours is actually a little too turbo charged. Make sure you pick out one that has a good range from low to high in power. Really, I mix most things up by hand, but for whipping and creaming, a trusty little mixer comes in handy, and can be taken out and put away with ease.
$10 – Toaster – You just never know when you might want something toasted, so this is always good to have on hand. At times I miss our old toaster oven, and think about upgrading a few dollars to one. But really, must toaster oven needs are far and few between, so this gadget has me covered. Skip the electric eye, one with the basic up / down function, wide slots, and a light to dark guage is all you need.
There you have it. While it may not suit everyone, we have spent less than $90 for all of our small appliances, and haven’t wanted for a thing. Happy deal hunting!