Do you ever feel like your kitchen is a place where appliances go to live out their lives in dust-catching ambiguity? Do you question what that is in the cabinet and you’re not sure how to use it?
Over the last year I’ve been cutting back on the amount of “stuff” I own. I found that if I had to have this gadget or that hummamablager, was I really creating foods everyone can enjoy or replicate, or was I just goofing around with technology? Following are the 10 things I own and use on a regular basis. I’m not affiliated with any of these companies, but I love their products and want to recommend them as one option in your overall search.
Ninja Master Prep
No, it won’t kill me in my sleep, but my cheapo Target-purchased Ninja food processor/blender (you can find them everywhere now), with its two container sizes, blades, and hand held motor make processing food so easy. I use this little gadget for everything from making coleslaw to making frappuccinos, to milkshakes, to dressings, to my gluten free deep dish pizza to even the marinades for my meat dishes. It’ll even make snow for snow cones. I love this little device so much, I sold my other appliances. Why not? It has a smaller footprint and is easy to clean. And for the low price tag, if anything ever happens to mine (it’s been going strong for 2 years of regular use), I’d buy another one in a heartbeat.
Replaced my: Food processor, snow cone machine and blender, a $320 savings.
Kitchenaid Stand Mixer/pasta attachment
(Above is actually the grinder attachment which is amazing for making your own ground meats and sausages). The sexiest appliance in the galaxy, this expensive, but sturdy fixture has spent almost 22 years in my kitchen and is running strong. I even have the pasta making attachment which allows me to press low carb noodles made from scratch. I have used the pasta attachment once, but the mixer has served me well over the years.
Replaced my: PlayDough Fun Factory. Face it; those make crappy noodles.
Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator
My dehydrator has more than paid for itself in jerky alone. The ease of use and clean up ensure that I can spend more time enjoying the finished product than rueing the day I had to clean all of the oven racks. It can also be used to make fruit roll ups of the natural variety, but I’ve had bad luck with that thus far. I’d say buy a couple of extra trays if you plan on making jerky in bulk, but don’t go higher than 9 trays, rotating them every so often to ensure proper drying and air flow.
Replaced my: Purchases of expensive jerky and/or hours of cleaning the oven the last time I tried to use it as a dehydrator. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
We’re not breading it up over here, but waffle makers still make delicious, sugar free, gluten free waffles, perfect for special occasions. A lot of the makers come cheap (mine was only $20) and offer a secondary set of plates for making other, fun items, like paninis. I use mine maybe once a month, but there’s something about waffles that makes them the high heels of the breakfast world. The brand likely doesn’t matter, but this nonstick waffle maker is good to me so long as I allow adequate heating and cook time.
Replaced my: Nothing, but if you can find an older waffle maker with the flip trays that allow you to make grilled foods on them, you might be able to replace the stove top, at least occasionally. See the Black and Decker below? It has an awesome feature: It folds out flat to give you a griddle, too. Had that been available when I bought, I would have gone for that one.
Donvier Yogurt maker
Ah, the maker of yogurts! When I purchased my yogurt maker, with its beautiful glass cups and lids, I immediately purchased even more glass jars and lids. Why? Because I planned to always have yogurt percolating on the counter. Well, that was the plan anyway. I am still considering selling this beauty since I’ve had a firm handle on where to buy Greek, plain yogurt. Donvier makes amazing yogurts, but for the amount of gear I purchased to make it and then never do, it might be on its way out–but I’m always a skeptic since stores tend to not carry things on a whim as well…
Replaced my: Many trips to the store to buy yogurt.
Hamilton Beach Crock pots (2)
Two?! Yes, two. It might sound a little OCD, but my crock pots serve different purposes. The Hamilton Beach 6 quart Stay n Go is terrific for meats and big stews and the lid clamps down for travel. My Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 crock pot comes with three bowls in 2, 4, and 6 quart sizes and is wonderful for cream-based chowders and soups and smaller dishes. The three bowls which makes me sound like some kind of a crockery hoarder, but the bowls come in handy for fruit, potatoes, or even bathing your cat. Not that you’d bathe your cat in your crockpot bowls…
Replaced my: Stove top for cooking and burning half of what I made due to forgetting I had something on the stove. It’s not easy being me… look! A squirrel!
Presto Options Electric Multi-Cooker/Steamer/Deep Fat Frier
Splatter me with science, I didn’t enjoy frying until I finally broke down and asked for a fryer for Christmas. I spent $30 for my fryer (it also allows you to use it as a mini crockpot, and I’ve boiled veggies in it, too) and ended up with a great machine. The beauty of the deep fat fryer is its temperature regulation. While I’ve made nice with my thermometers, keeping grease at a constant temperature is a science, and one maybe only Thomas Dolby and Alton Brown will ever understand (and hey, they kind of look alike too).
Chef’s Choice 609 Food Slicer
I am a perfectionist. Like an insane, crazy-freaky perfectionist. Couple this with being awful with a knife and disliking huge slabs of beef, and you now understand why a meat slicer was in order. Saving us money on everything from sliced cheeses to meats, this slicer even makes those beautifully thin slices of veggies, perfect for making into chips, au gratin, or even the noodles for lasagna. Cleanup is super easy as well on the model we bought. For most applications, hubby just wipes down the blade with white vinegar and we’re good to go. As with all of my appliance purchases, I did my research and we bought the Chef’s Choice 609 (I bought the serrated blade, too).
Replaced my: Inept slicing skills and helps me ruin less foods, getting perfect slices every time.
Breville Juice Fountain Plus Juicer
I love my Breville juicer, and I like vegetable and herb juicing. I juice veggies, and will very very rarely, I’ll toss an apple or a pear in there, but for the most part, I go for the nutrient-infused veggies in liquid form when I want to drink my nutrients. It’s especially perfect for those days I don’t feel like chewing celery or carrots but I want a little bit of the pulp and the vitamins. Juicing also makes an amazing base for soups and sauces, so its uses are many. Adding fresh, raw ginger makes almost everything taste that much better.
Replaced my: Great dislike for vegetables into something palatable.
Mr. Coffee 3 Quart Iced Tea Maker
My precious. I’m on my second one because I wore the first one out, and at only $20 for a decent Mr. Coffee iced tea maker from WalMart, you’re spending the cost of coffee filters and the tea itself. I was an avid soda addict for years and find it’s incredibly easy to fall back into that habit. Enter iced tea. Even unsweetened, the kick to my caffeine brain centers makes me almost instantly happier, and the addition to fun, flavored bags make each pot a different, enjoyable experience. Peppermint black tea is my current favorite, but I buy the mixed fruit teas for other options, from pear, to orange, to blueberry and raspberry zinger.Iced tea is also something many people like to drink; I know when we visit friends, they ask us to bring iced tea!
Replaced my: $2/day soda addiction (and that was the cheap stuff; if I drank Zevia, it’d be a $6/day addiction).
As you can see, it’s good to research what you buy and stick with what you really need, but that’s not to say it’s not easy to purchase the really exciting, fun gadgets out there! For me, I’ve pared down what I own to ensure that my recipes are able to be replicated by you and your families.
What do you have in your kitchen? What are you thinking of paring down? Share in the comments!
Disclosure: I’m not affiliated with any of these companies; I’m sharing the brand names to get anyone looking for appliance ideas.