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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, November 28, 2011

Frugal Kitchens 101 - 'Tis the Season

Frugal Kitchens 101

Today is November 25 aka Black Monday which really ushers in the holiday season.  All the stores put on the best possible sales hoping to get you to part with your hard earned money in lieu of wonderful gifts to bless your family and friends with.  The Home Hardware and Canadian Tire sales flyers came out last week and oh my gosh, it is time to do a bit of power shopping for kitchen inspired gifts.  This week's Frugal Kitchens 101 discusses how to make frugal choices when buying kitchen gifts.

  • know the home cook's cooking style - If you don't know how a person cooks then don't buy a kitchen gadget or small appliance for them. Back when my husband brought me home a bread machine courtesy of the Christmas sales he knew I would use it.  Sadly many rather expensive bread machines ended up in the garbage or second had stores because their owners were gifted with an appliance the neither wanted or would use.
  • know the person - It is far easier to gift a person with the perfect gift if you know them.  Those who are elderly or who have health problems may need specialized kitchen equipment.  Ask to see what they need.  It can be something as simple as an ergonomically designed paring knife, easy lid remover, grip extender and even a kitchen step stool.  Seriously, if I were gifted with a bag of unbleached flour, I would be elated!  It's all about know who the gift is going to.
  • avoid the gimmicks - Most home cooks will not use a lot of the gimmick small appliances like cotton candy machines, chocolate fountains, individual pie makers and that type of thing.  My rule of thumb when buying someone a small kitchen appliance is to ask what they need.  I honestly have the fondue set that our kids were gifted with as a wedding present that I have yet to use but it has moved with us twice.  These types of things tend to add kitchen clutter.
  • don't buy knives - Knives are a very personal choice that are best left to the individual person rather than gifting unless you know that person well.  The knife must meet the hand feel for the user.  My husband and I both love cooking but the knives that work well for him are too bulky for me.  I particularly have a knife requirement that it must be one solid piece tip to handle end but that is because of a horrid family event.  
  • choose neutral - If buying kitchen textiles or serving ware go neutral so it will match if the person receiving the gift decides to change their kitchen decor.  Classic white or black always works with most decor as does clear glass.
  • collectables - I collect antique kitchenware, canning jars and glassware so I am alway very appreciative when someone gifts me with that.  The problem is if that person does not know what they are buying they can easily get burned.  This is the time to definitely ask.
  • gift certificates - These are my personal favourite.  Whenever I'm in doubt I give a kitchen/food gift certificate but only to a place where I know that person shops.  If someone gave me a gift certificate to the Bulk Barn I would be in seventh heaven!
  • culinary classes - One year for Christmas a couple of our kids were gifted with enrollment to culinary classes. 
  • brand name - Some including myself are very much brand name oriented when it comes to small kitchen appliances.  Be observant or ask.  If a person has all Hamilton-Beach small kitchen appliances that is a good sign you should buy them Hamilton-Beach if buying a small kitchen appliance.  If however, they have a hodge podge of brands for small kitchen appliances choose the best fitted appliance for their needs.
  • gifts from the kitchen - Homemade gifts from the kitchen (eg. jams, preserves, bread, mixes, cookies in a jar, cookies and etc.) are always welcomed.  I like to include the recipe as well in case the recipient would like to duplicate it.


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