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Kitchen Gadgets: What’s great; What’s not

Watching info-commercials and walking through kitchen stores can be hazardous to the budget. There are so many new items coming into the culinary market daily that it makes a home cook’s head spin with possibilities.  Before pulling out your credit card or wallet, however, take a step back and really think about your potential investment. Not everything touted as the next “best thing” in kitchen wares is even remotely good or worth the price tag.

What to Consider

When shopping for kitchen gadgets there are several key points for your consideration. First, how much room do you have on your countertop or in storage? Some of the appliances available will use up a lot of your pantry landscape, making them impractical in small spaces.

Second question: how often will you REALLY use the item (be honest here). For example, you may think that a juicer would be great for your diet, but the cost of fresh fruit is pretty prohibitive. Add that to the cost of the juicer and it may be wiser just to buy frozen juice at the market.
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Third consideration – what are buyer reviews saying? Is the implement dependable? Did it live up to expectations and perform as promised? How has customer service been? Have warrantee issues been handled in a consumer-friendly manner? There’s nothing worse than getting a sub-standard product with irresponsive or unhelpful service people attached.

Fourth: How is the price point compared to other similar products? Are you paying for a “name”? Sometimes that’s good if it’s a company on which you can depend, but sometimes you’re paying extra for nothing more than a few extra (and often useless) frills.

Obviously some of these considerations boil down to personal opinion. What constitutes a “must have” in one person’s home collects dust in another person’s home. Avoiding impulse buying protects you from a waste of money and kitchen space.

Good Ideas

Items that save space are always welcome, particularly in kitchens with limited countertops. One example is a breakfast station that perks coffee, has a toaster oven and a space for making eggs on top. It’s an effective use of space and energy. Another similar product is a countertop rotisserie. If you love the taste of barbecue but don’t have a grill, these work great and some even cook your vegetables on top of the unit. When you’re done, simply store it away.

Speaking of barbecue, items designed with safety in mind earn high marks too. There are now full sets of barbecue tools that offer heat shields that protect your hands from flare ups. Some designs cleverly include a temperature gage in the handle of the spatula with which you can check your food too!

Some other tools that people seem to adore include a rice cooker (no more sticking or burning), stick free pans, protective cookbook holders, portion control bowls and small food processors or a coffee grinder that also grinds up fresh herbs perfectly.

The Not-so-Good
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Products that focus on one type of food and offer no flexibility to your kitchen are often called point of purchase items meant to inspire that whimsical buy. These are the things that end up in yard sales. Who really needs a S’more maker, a special meatloaf pan, a pickle picker (to get them out of the jar – what happened to forks?), asparagus peeler, banana slicer (because they’re so tough?) or a Quesadilla maker?

While such items seem tempting go back to the tried-and-true consideration list and save yourself some money. Go treat yourself to ice cream instead.

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