5 Great Gifts for your Foodie Boyfriend. Power tools for the kitchen not the man-cave
Every year brings a slew of gift-centric holidays - Christmas, Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Mother's Day, birthdays, very happy un-birthdays... Unfortunately, frequent practice doesn't make gift selection, wrapping or giving any easier.
Gift-giving is a Catch-22 situation. On one hand, you want to give something super awesome. You want to respond to weeks and months of hints and give something the recipient has been begging for, pleading for, or ogling during trips to the mall.
On the other hand, you want to give gifts that keep on giving, gifts that promote a healthier lifestyle or more frugal lifestyle, and improve lives for years to come. You want a gift that makes things better instead of worse.
Even though dear ol' Dad is dying for a bottle of 15-year old Glenfidditch (expressly forbidden since his last check-up), you want to give him something equally pleasing that will help him stick to the new diet he hates and keep him around for another decade of skirting the doctor's orders.
Boys and their Toys
One simple phrase makes male gift-giving much simpler "Boys and Their Toys." Keep this phrase in mind, and you can give awesome gifts that guys are afraid to ogle (kitchen gadgets have no place in the man cave grunt-scratch), but really enjoy using - really.
These 5 gifts are some of the most useful kitchen tools for men (and women, too). They're the power tools of the kitchen. Most men love them, but would (almost) never buy themselves. They're whiz-bang, noisy food-prep toys that make healthy eating a snap, and frugal groceries fun.
What makes a good guy gift? There are the three basic requirements for kitchen stuff for men:
- Machine-y noises. Motors whirring, gears grinding, big pieces crunching against other pieces very loudly. Reaffirmation of the Industrial Revolution. No bird chirps or animal songs.
- Power. We're moving from imaginary manipulation of the environment to real-world power tools that make man master of the kitchen.
- Black. The only acceptable color for male kitchen gadgets. Other dark colors work as well, just not pink or red or white... or the wife/girlfriend/mother's favorite color.
Because the goal is healthier, more frugal living, we'll also throw in a frugal-meter ranking anticipated cost-savings from the gift investment and effective usage.
Browse Electric Meat Slicers
#1 Electric Meat Slicer
Electric slicers are the heavy-duty Power Tools of the kitchen. Not every garage has a pressurized nail gun or a paint machine, and not every kitchen has an electric slicer. Not everyone can be so lucky.
Electric slicers transform ungainly hunks of meat into the perfect, thin, uniform slices found in deli aisles. Whether you prefer thick cuts or thin, chicken, beef or turkey, having an electric slicer on hand makes it easy to have what you want, when you want, cut to your exact specifications.
How's It Measure Up?
Noise: The faint of heart and weak of limb might describe the Kalorik as loud. But to the male ear attuned to revving engines and gunning motors, the Kalorik's rumble tells you it's really working. Overall it's no worse than a blender, mixer or food processor.
Power: Did we mention the 200-watt gear motor? It's worth mentioning again. The Kalorik is designed to cut through a wide range of consumables, including meat, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and (unfortunately) fingers - don't forget the Kevlar gloves. The slicer won't saw through bones, but who needs paper thin slices of splinter and marrow?
Color: The unit doesn't come in black. But among electric slicers in this price range, it's a steal. Some faults are forgivable, and silver is better than pink.
This unit is a great buy all around, but it really shines as a tool for making a healthy, frugal lifestyle fun.
Healthy: Deli meats are loaded with sodium. One serving of Oscar Meyer Rotisserie Chicken Breast has 530mg of sodium, 22% of the daily value. How many sandwiches have just one serving of deli meat? Add a bit of ham, some turkey and maybe some bacon, and you've maxed-out your sodium intake with a single meal!
Frugal: One 9 oz package of deli meat costs $3.00. That's $5.30 per pound! Besides steaks, no cut of meat costs as much. Rotisserie an entire 3lb chicken, and at $0.99 per pound, you're still only paying $3. Buy a brick of cheese for $4 per pound instead of slices that cost twice as much. Pizza night? Buy the length of pepperoni instead of slices.
A powerful, high quality electric food slicer provides better quality food at a lower price. IT's a win-win situation. Both your heart and your pocket will thank you!
Browse Electric Knives
#2 Electric Knife
Have you ever tried to carve a Thanksgiving turkey and ended up with a pile of scraps interrupted with jutting bones and a couple flaps of skin?
It's not (completely) your fault. Most kitchen knives aren't sharp enough or strong enough to handle large cuts of meat. Sawing back and forth to work the blade through shreds the flesh and creates a whole lot of mess. In steps the electric knife!
Electric knives are an affordable alternative to electric meat slicers. A more versatile tool overall, they don't deliver perfect uniform slices. They do, however, let you cut things up wherever - on the counter, in the pot, or even on the dining room table.
How do they measure up?
Noise: The blade on most electric knives is actually two blades side by side. When the knife turns on, the blade saw rapidly back and forth, creating a motion that cuts through meats, cheeses, veggies and pretty much everything except bone. This isn't a quiet process, but no sword is silent.
Power: Luckily, the noise never lasts long, because electric knives make cutting a snap! Power isn't a significant factor. A knife is pretty much a knife. The real distinguishing factor is durability. The knife's motor forces the blade through materials. Tougher materials require place greater strain on the motor. The motor on a cheap knife will burn out in no time if you're trying to cut frozen foods or bones. The motor on an expensive knife will burn out just as quickly.
Color: All electric knives may be created equal, but for best results, buy a black one. The Cuisinart CEK-40 is a best-seller for 2 reasons: 1) it comes with a nifty display stand, and 2) it comes in black. It's more expensive than its competitors, and reviews are lukewarm, but hundreds of people keep buying it. Men like black kitchen tools, especially knives. It brings out their Chuck Norris, and keeps the fingerprints from showing.
Frugal Meter: You can buy a great electric knife for under $50, and the knife will pay for itself in less than a month. Being frugal no longer means eating roast 4 days a week. An electric knife turns a roast into steaks in no time. Instead of buying pork chops for $5 per pound, buy $2 per pound pork loin and cut chops yourself. Hosting a barbecue? Roasts become juicy, delicious and affordable steaks.
Browse VitaMix models
#3 The VitaMix
The Vitamix is the ultimate blending experience. For $500, it'd better be.
The VitaMix meets any culinary challenge. Want fresh flour? Grind some grain. Want fresh juice? Don't bother with a juicer, just liquefy your fruits or veggies. Want mix 50 margaritas without a special ice blade? The VitaMix has you covered.
How's it Measure Up?
Noise: The VitaMix roar is distinctive. Like the vroom-vroom of Harleys during Rolling Thunder, it conveys power and pride with a dare to measure yourself and admit you're lacking. If you're feeling zen, try the . For $1,000 you can grind grains and everything else in blissful silence. Quiet One
Power: The VitaMix packs a Commercial-grade 2+ Peak Horsepower Motor. I don't know what this means in gear-head terms. But in the real world, this translates to effortless blending of pretty much everything. With the VitaMix, you'll never worry about the blender motor overheating. You'll never settle for ice chunks in your smoothies or fibrous bits in your vegan raw food cabbage drink. The VitaMix can handle it - and more.
Color: There's a range of colors available, but black is best. Trust me on this one.
Frugal Meter: At $500, the VitaMix price tag is nothing to sneeze at. Add $145 for the dry grains container and this gadget could cost more than your entire kitchen. But if you're truly focused on food quality, you'll recoup your investment in less than a year.
High quality food is expensive. A 2lb bag or organic flour costs $2.39, compared to $2.00 for a 5lb bag of bleached, enriched talcum. Feeling adventurous, or just committed to whole grains? Whole wheat bumps the cost to $2.69. Looking for gluten free flours? Rice flours cost nearly $4.00, and chickpea/garbanzo flour is almost $5. A bag of almond meal/flour costs $10 or more!
If you're a high-end shopper dedicated to consuming the best food possible, not just empty calories, the VitaMix isn't just a worthwhile investment. It's an opportunity you can't pass up.
Last but not Least
These last two items make the cut because guys love them. They don't make noise, and they're not particularly powerful, but they come in black. They're easy to use and fun to play with. Overall, they're great gifts for the guy who looks longingly at the kitchen (when your back's turned) but isn't quite sure how to approach the foreign domain.
Browse Panini Grills
#4 The Panini Grill
The Panini Grill is an extremely versatile tool. It tucks away into a corner of your counter space, but once you get used to it, it'll become a go-to gadget.
Panini sandwiches are a snap, just layer and press. They're much cheaper than the $5-$6 sandwich shop sandwiches, and with lots of fresh micro-greens they'll be healthier to boot!
The panini grill makes all the traditional foods you associate with traditional folding grills like the George Foreman. But it's also a handy tool for cooking all types of food fast. Here's just a glimpse of my favorite recipes:
- Egg sandwiches. Two eggs cracked directly onto the grill cook in two minutes. Best of all, they're flat - the perfect shape for breakfast wraps or sandwiches.
- Kale chips. Greens pressed on the grill turn to crispy chips in about three minutes. For a snack, mix seasoned salt (like jerk seasoning or cajun spices) with water in a shallow bowl. Drag the leaves (kale, dandelion, cabbage) through the water. Toss on the grill. Close the lid and wait for the steam to stop. Voila! Krispy kale chips.
- Flatbread. The Panini grill flattens everything, including bread. For perfect wraps, mix flour, water and baking powder. Pour on grill. Close. Wait for the steam to stop and Eureka! No fuss flatbread.
#5 The RockStar Spatula
The mysteries of the male mind elude me. I don't know what makes this so special. I bought it to make fun of male kitchen gadgetry. The jokes on me. I'm not allowed to use it, touch it or even breathe on it lest my female cooties undermine the abject masculinity of this implement.
I would love to be kidding, but I'm not. Guitar-shaped spatulas are serious business.
The spatula doesn't make any noise and it has no power of its own. Besides the occasional air guitar riff, it's not particularly inspiring. Nevertheless, it's the best gift I ever purchased. It's lasted for years and gotten me plenty of pancakes. As a return on investment, I'd say that's pretty swell.
#6 Pressure Cooking is Pleasure Cooking
This is a Top 5 list, not 6, but this classic cookbook has been a hit in my household for years. It's one of the best beginner cookbooks for men. It's just a simple book with basic recipes and a black cover, but no one who picks it up can easily put it down.
These tools aren't exactly essential kitchen tools, but they are extremely handy. These tools for men will help you on your way to a healthier, more frugal lifestyle.