I cannot begin to tell you all that I’ve learned over the last few months about kitchen appliances—both major and small. My husband is remodeling our kitchen (yes, lucky me). Now, wouldn’t you assume that selecting new appliances would be the easy, fun part of the planning process? It’s not! In fact, it’s been rather mind-numbing.

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Oh, what I have learned—and do intend to share with you in the very near future—is epic. Let me just say that I’m more convinced now than ever that determining the “best inexpensive” option in every category is the way to go; that “most expensive” does not guarantee better longevity or trouble-free performance.

For today, and due to popular demand, let’s tackle basic countertop appliances that toast, roast, bake and broil.

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TOASTER. The goal here is to find the Best Inexpensive traditional toaster where you put slices of bread in the slots and in a few minutes up pops toast that is perfectly toasted on both sides. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, not really because there are so many options and many of them not good. That’s why you need me to test, research, review and narrow this down to the best, which in this case is also the most inexpensive.

My pick is Cuisinart Compact Plastic Toaster, which comes in a 2-slice option and also 4-slice. The slots are wide enough to accommodate bagels, English muffins, Texas toast but also regular-width slices of bread.This toaster is just the right size, toasts effortlessly and looks nice in any decor. Don’t let the “plastic” part scare you. The toaster remains cool to the touch and is super easy to clean. Cuisinart Compact Plastic Toaster, 2-Slice, about $30; 4-Slice, about $40.

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