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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - My Essential Small Kitchen Appliances

Frugal Kitchens 101

Small kitchen appliances have an actual lifespan and depending on the quality one brand may more than outlast another.  I recently replaced our Melitta One:One single serving coffee maker with a Keurig single serving coffee maker.  Given our entertaining life style the Keurig was the frugal choice because I can offer a guest coffee without having to brew a percolator of coffee when no one else wants any.  That purchase has me thinking about replacing the slowly dying food processor and small kitchen appliances in general.  I'm honestly not fond of single use small kitchen appliances.  Some single use small kitchen appliances can save a lot of money but when kitchen counter space and storage are stretched, a multi-use small kitchen appliance may be a better value for your kitchen equipment dollars.  In other cases the choice is between manual and electric.  Manual will save you the cost of electricity but may not be the best choice for those with motility issues.  With that in mind here is a listing of what I consider my frugal small kitchen appliances.  I've listed brand names as well since these are the ones I have experience with and have been tested extensively in our home.

  • KitchenAid® stand mixer - This small appliance is one I would replace without blinking if it ever quit.  I use almost daily sometimes a few times a day.  It replaced my bread machine and manual food strainer as well as the broken portion (shredder/slicer) of my food processor.
  • Melitta espresso maker -   We do a lot of entertaining so being able to offer specialty coffees is a plus for me.  We can enjoy specialty coffees at home for a fraction of the price of coffee shop coffee.
  • Keurig single serving coffee maker - This small appliance is almost a must for entertaining.  I bought the reusable filter system that takes the cost of a cup of coffee from 79¢ (K-cups) to under 9¢ using regular coffee.  I have the convenience and savings so it is a win:win for those times making a full pot of coffee isn't needed.  
  • Faberware percolator (circa 1958) -  We love percolator coffee.  Drip coffee does not compare to the richness and deep bodied flavour of percolator coffee.  I bought mine at a thrift store for $2 several years ago and it is still going strong.
  • Betty Crocker electric teakettle - I bought my electric teakettle on sale for$19.99.  It has proven to be a real work horse especially when canning.
  • Hamilton Beach toaster - Ours has the bagel and defrosting cycles.  It's sleek, easy to clean and does a lovely job.
  • slow cookers - At one time the brand of choice for slow cookers was Rival and while I had three Rivals when the last one needed replacing I bought a Hamilton Beach programmable slow cooker.  I now have two Rivals and the Hamilton Beach. I also bough a Hamilton Beach for our vaction home.  All save money and from what I am seeing Hamilton Beach is the brand quickly taking over Rival.  They are quality made, nice looking appliances with a lot of features.  
  • Salton yogurt maker - I bought my yogurt maker at a yard sale for 50¢ eons ago!  Hey, it is harvest gold to tell you how old it is and I do have the original box with recipe book.  It sees weekly use.  My only wish is I could find one for our vacation home. 
  • Aroma rice cooker - My rice cooker is a must have.  I swear one of these days I'm going to learn how to cook rice on the stovetop but given the microwave experience, a rice cooker is a must.  The rice is edible too!
  • Cuisinart Easy Pop popcorn maker - Popcorn is one of the most frugal snacks you can make.  It costs me $1.49 for a kg (2.5 lb) of popcorn kernels.   One batch of popcorn uses about a quarter cup of kernels (about 4¢) considerably less expensive than potato chips and other snacks but healthier for you.  The Easy Pop is an electric version of the WhirlyGig so the popcorn stays nice and moist, light and fluffy without the drying effects or noise of an air popper.  
  • Hamilton Beach countertop roaster - This small appliance has proven to be a real budget stretcher.  I use it year round not only to save on the costs of running the big oven but during the summer to keep heat out of the kitchen.  Anything I can cook in the regular oven can be cooked in the countertop roaster.  
  • Osterizer blender - My blender is about 20 years old if not older.  It has special little containers that can be attached for grinding coffee or blending small amount.  Better yet a mason jar of which I have plenty can be used for sauces, salad dressings, dips, grinding coffee and so much more. 
  • FoodSaver vacuum sealer - My gosh this is one of my absolute must have small appliances.  Vacuum sealing prevents freezer burn but can also protect dried foods from rodents, insect and moisture damage.  
  • Black & Decker food processor - Mine is likely close to about 20 years old if not older.  The shredder/slicer attachment broke so I can only blend but it still works so I won't replace it until I really have to.  Part of that comes to the fact that this food processor has been a real work horse. 

2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

Thanks for this post, GG!

If you don't mind, could you do a post on how your electric tea kettle helps during canning? I have a stove top tea kettle that I really need to replace, as I think it has started to leak just a bit.
But mostly, since I will be learning to can, I want to know about anything that will help me do it. :)

And I keep thinking I really need to get a food sealer machine.

Thanks again! :)

Garden Gnome said...

Hi Linda, I use my electric tea kettle for multiple purposes during canning. I'm old school in that I still wash and sterilize my jars before using them. Current recommendations state that if processing for over 10 minutes, sterilizing jars is not necessary but I believe it is. The newer two-piece snap lids no longer need to be boiled, only heated. Pouring boiling water over them solves that problem without having to use another burner. I also use the electric tea kettle for small batch blanching when canning and dehydrating foods.