5 Kitchen Appliances That Will Save You Money in the Long Run
Technology makes our lives easier in more than one way and kitchen is definitely a place to observe this. We now have appliances that take care of certain tasks with only the push of a button which would otherwise be hard or take a long time. In addition to the convenience aspect, some of these appliances also save money in the long run by making it possible to obtain certain products from raw materials so that you no longer need to buy these products prepared, eliminating the middleman. In some cases, they make it convenient to prepare food which can still be prepared without any additional tools but would be either hard or time consuming to do so and in some cases, they make it possible to obtain a product which is otherwise impossible to produce at home. If the money saving benefits are not good enough for you to invest in these appliances, most of them also have additional benefits such as producing fresher and healthier food that contains all natural ingredients and no preservatives or other additives.
Here's a list of these appliances:
A Personal Memory
Last year, during Hurricane Sandy, the town in which I was living was declared to be a disaster area and a curfew went into effect. Not surprisingly, people raided supermarkets and all the bread was gone in a matter of hours. Luckily, none of the ingredients for making bread were sold out, not that I needed any since I am usually stocked up on these ingredients. That was one time I was glad I owned a bread maker.
1. A Bread Maker
Wikipedia defines bread as:
"A staple food prepared by baking a dough of flour and water which is popular around the world and is one of the world's oldest foods."
We need it to make sandwiches. We need it to make French toast. We even need it to make Thanksgiving stuffing. Most types of breads need around five ingredients, how much extra money are we spending in addition to the cost of these ingredients each time we buy prepared bread?
We can definitely make our own bread if we have the ingredients and an oven, but kneading the dough by hand, waiting for the dough to rise and baking it in the oven every time we want bread sure takes a lot of time and effort, something that is too much to ask from someone who has to work all day. This is where a bread maker enters the picture.
Just to note, a bread maker is different from a dough mixer; the latter will only knead dough which you still need to shape and bake in an oven, while a bread maker will take the ingredients and give you a bread, baked and everything. All you need to do is measure the ingredients and place them in the machine.
For a household that consumes a lot bread, a bread maker will definitely pay for itself and start saving money in a decent amount of time. The ingredients can be bought in bulk, which will further increase the savings.
Money saving is nice, but it is not the only nice thing about owning a bread maker. Take the health aspect, for instance. With a bread maker, you know exactly what goes in your bread. The bread made with a bread maker goes bad much easier than store bought bread, which shows how much preservatives and other additives are used in store bought bread. By the way, there are methods for preventing your home made bread from going bad, such as freezing it after slicing.
Another nice thing about bread makers is that you get to eat fresh baked bread every time. Have you ever tasted bread which came right out of the oven? It is delicious. By using the timer function which most of the bread makers have, you can place the ingredients in your bread maker the night before and have your fresh baked bread ready for breakfast in the morning. How nice is that?
2. A Grain Mill
Another kitchen appliance that saves money is a grain mill, which is used to make flour from whole grains. If you own a bread maker or if you are convinced to buy one, you can stretch your dollar even further by grinding your own flour.
Just to make a quick comparison, 25 lbs of whole wheat flour costs $17.44 while 25 lbs of hard red wheat berries by the same manufacturer costs only $14.72. If you can find a farmer to sell you wheat berries from the wholesale price, it will be even cheaper than the above price, much cheaper in fact. For a household where a lot of baking is done, the savings would be substantial.
Grinding your own flour, just like baking your own bread, has a lot of additional benefits other than saving money. For example, everyone who owns a grain mill agree that bread which is made from fresh ground flour tastes much better than bread which was prepared from store bought flour. Furthermore, wheat berries keep fresh much longer than wheat flour, because unsaturated fats in the wheat germ go rancid after a few days. There are also claims that the nutritional value of the wheat flour starts to decrease after being ground, which can be another reason to favor fresh ground flour.
Although it can be used exclusively for grinding wheat berries, a grain mill can also make rice flour, cornmeal, soybean flour and more.
3. A Meat Grinder
Working on the same general principles as a grain mill, a meat grinder can also amount to savings in the course of time. Most of what applies to grain mills also applies to meat grinders: Instead of buying the end product, you go up on the production line and buy a less prepared product, which usually saves money.
For the saving aspect of meat grinders to kick in, however, you need to either stock up on meat when there is a sale or look for ways to obtain meat directly from the producer from wholesale prices. Without a meat grinder, you can only obtain ground beef from the sale price if there is a sale on ground beef but if own a meat grinder, you can buy any cut of meat that goes on sale and use it to make ground beef. You can even buy a whole animal and keep the best parts for steaks and roasts and grind the rest. Heck, you can even buy a live animal and do the slaughtering work yourself, if your living environment can accommodate it (and if you have the personality). If you have any interest in hunting, a meat grinder will be especially useful for you.
The additional benefits of owning a meat grinder is many, in fact most people will buy a meat grinder for these benefits, rather than to save money. The first example that comes to mind is flexibility. If you own a meat grinder, you won't have to stick with the usual 80%, 85% and 90% lean ground beef, you can make ground beef of any percentage of leanness. If you want you can prepare 99.99% lean ground beef or 50%. It is hard to imagine what you would do with 50% lean ground beef but the point is, you can make it if you want. Apart from the leanness, you will also have control over the cut of meat that goes into your ground beef. Some recipes of hamburger call for ground beef obtained by mixing different cuts of meats and fats in a certain ratio, the easiest way of obtaining it is with a meat grinder.
There are some health benefits of using a meat grinder as well. Since ground beef has a greater surface area, the oxidation process is faster and as a result, it has a shorter shelf life. It is also susceptible to cross-contamination, depending on what it comes to contact with during the grinding process. With a meat grinder, you are in direct control of everything. As an added bonus, most people agree that hamburgers cooked from beef that was ground just prior to cooking tastes superior compared to those made from ground beef that had been sitting for a while.
4. A Soda Maker
Next up on the list is a soda maker. It is used for making carbonated drinks such as flavored sodas and seltzer water, which will eliminate the need to buy any kind of carbonated drinks from the supermarket.
Any time we buy prepared food, we also pay for its packaging. This is the main reason why large sized products, which are often labeled as "familiy size" or "value size", are less expensive compared to buying the same amount of that product in smaller sizes, such as "individual size" or "fun size". This is a double-edged sword when it comes to buying soda: Either you buy a lot of cans at expensive prices, or you buy large 2.5 liter bottles which goes flat very quickly and leaves you with sugar water. A soda maker effectively solves this problem, making sure you have fizzy soda every time without having to buy it in cans.
Some research is necessary to be able to properly save money with this appliance. Soda makers use carbon dioxide cartridges to carbonate water and some manufacturers have weird refill policies that will make it difficult to save any money at all. You should look for models which have reasonable costs for refilling the CO2 cartridges. At the cost of voiding your warranty, you can install adapters to your soda maker so that it will work with ordinary paintball CO2 tanks, which can be refilled for just a few dollars.
Soda maker manufacturers usually emphasize the environmental aspect of their products, in that you will produce much less waste using their product as opposed to buying soda in cans or bottles, and they are right. There is also the added benefit of not having to carry heavy cases of sodas, something to consider especially if you live in a big city and have to carry everything you buy from the supermarket to your home.
Another nice thing about soda makers is that you get to choose the ingredients that will go in your beverage. In addition to the flavoring syrups sold by the manufacturer, you can make your own syrups using natural ingredients such as fresh ginger, lemon or lime. You don't want your soda to be too sweet? Add less sugar. You want to use a Splenda instead of sugar? No problem! You are only limited with your own creativity and imagination.
Are You Vegan? Then Make Vegan Ice Cream!
If you are vegan, you can use your ice cream maker to make vegan ice cream. You need to make substitutions, such as coconut milk instead of dairy milk and starch instead of egg yolks, but it can certainly be done. You can experiment with different choices to see what gives you the best result, or simply look for vegan ice cream recipes in the internet. An ice cream maker, along with the rest of the appliances in this article (with the exception of the meat grinder), is an excellent way to make sure no animal product finds its way to your food.
5. An Ice Cream Maker
An ice cream maker is another appliance which helps you conveniently obtain a product from raw materials as opposed to buying it prepared. An ice cream maker is very similar to a bread maker in the sense that it is still possible to make ice cream without it, but it is extremely inconvenient to do so.
Ice cream makers come in a variety of sizes and prices, but the common principle is the same for all of them: churn the ice cream base by paddles while freezing it at the same time. Some models are hand cranked while others have an electric motor. Some models require the bowl containing the ice cream base to be frozen prior to operation and some models achieve freezing by operating right inside the freezer. There are also models, usually expensive ones, which have their own freezing mechanism. These machines can prepare many batches of ice cream without a long delay between the batches.
Though the number of flavors for ice cream is beyond count, there are some main ingredients common to all of them; such as cream, milk, sugar and egg yolks. Whether you can save any money with an ice cream maker is closely related to obtaining these ingredients at a discount price, as well as the ice cream amount consumed by the household. Obviously, the more ice cream you prepare in your machine, the more you save.
Much like the rest of the appliances, the control factor is also strongly present with ice cream makers. Knowing exactly what is inside your ice cream, being able to use natural ingredients instead of atrificial ones and avoiding preservatives and other additives are benefits which make it tempting to buy an ice cream maker, even if you don't care much about saving money.
A Comparison Table
Saving money in the long run
Having to spend more money up front
Complete control over the ingredients
Increased preparation and clean up time
Ability to alter recipes and make variations according to taste
Some skill and kitchen experience may be necessary
The end product is usually fresher, healthier and tastes better
Appliances requires storage space and increase kitchen clutter
A word of caution is in order. Just because the appliances discussed in this article have the potential to save money, it doesn't mean that they will actually save you money. If you are considering to buy these machines to save money, you should carefully evaluate your needs and consumption patterns and make a proper research about the machine you are looking to buy before making the actual commitment. There are different models designed to meet different needs, you should buy the machine that is best suited for your specific needs. You certainly don't want to end up with a machine which will gather dust in the top shelf after a few months of usage.
Also keep in mind that you need to use these appliances frequently and for a long time before you will see any actual savings. For example, if the soda consumption of your household does not even exceed a few bottles per month, how can you expect to save any money on soda when you spend around $50 on a soda machine? If, on the other hand, you have a large household that consumes soda or seltzer water with every meal, you will definitely see a lot of savings.
Having said that, I think these appliances are good alternatives to buying prepared food and are good investments that eventually pay for itself. The end product is generally healthier and tastier than its store bought counterpart. You know exactly what is in your food. You know exactly what came in contact with your food during preparation. If you have a large household which consumes a lot of these products, you should definitely consider buying these appliances instead of buying the prepared product.
For your household, which appliance is most likely to save the most money?
© 2013 Ozgur Evren