Swiss Army Knife

My Favorite Kitchen Money-Savers

I’m crazy about gadgets—everything from quirky can openers to smartphones. Hand me a Swiss Army knife and I’m in heaven—the more blades and utensils the better.

Swiss Army Knife

 

And how about that One-Second Needle? It was a great idea, but sadly that is one gadget that needs to be put out of its misery, in my humble opinion.

My favorite gadgets, of course, are ones that actually help me to save money and/or time. I’ve been fooled from time to time, spending good money on things that just did not perform well. Or the gadget turned out to be so cumbersome using it actually complicated rather than simplified my life.

But now and then I strike on a gadget that is so magnificent in its functionality and money-saving properties, I can’t wait to tell you about it.

Today I want to tell you about four gadgets for the kitchen that I consider to be wise investments—money savers!

All four are inexpensive enough to pay for themselves in a short period of time—and then to continue paying off in food savings, which is saying a lot as food costs continue to soar.

Vacuum Sealer

I’ve depended on a vacuum sealer in my kitchen for so many years, I cannot imagine getting along without it. Now and then I get lazy and I get an immediate jolt that reminds me why I do this.

Take strawberries for example. If I put them into a rigid container and vacuum out all of the air, fresh strawberries will last for at least two weeks in the refrigerator—remaining as fresh as the day I bought them. Placed in the refrigerator in their original container, strawberries often start to show mold in just a couple of days.

FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer 4800

My FoodsSaver gets a workout every day. Depending on the type of food, I use FoodSaver containers and canisters, plastic bags and also canning jars to seal food items (this requires the jar sealer accessory).

I vacuum seal raw rice, sugar, spices, meat, baked goods (I freeze them first so the vacuum doesn’t crush them), fresh fruits and vegetables.

I even vacuum seal silver flatware to keep it from tarnishing. I vacuum-sealed my Birth Certificate and my Social Security card.

About a year ago I upgraded to this FoodSaver Vacuum Sealer 4800 and all I can say is Wow! At well under $200, this is one fantastic piece of kitchen equipment—highly improved over my older FoodSaver Pro. I think it just might have a brain with its liquid detection system. It also functions more automatically than the older Pro version. And it looks great sitting on the counter.

A vacuum sealer, when used diligently, will extend the shelf life of every type of food imaginable. That means your garbage disposal and trash can will cease to be the best-fed members of your household!

Blender

I am more convinced than ever that healthy eating is one of the most cost-effective things we can do to reduce healthcare costs. That’s why I thought we needed a powerful juicer to make healthy smoothies every morning. So I purchased a highly rated juicer. And used it exactly two times before it became a dust collector and space-occupier.

Cleaning the thing was so difficult and time-consuming it became more of a problem than a solution. Whoops.

Another problem? Juicers don’t make smoothies! Professional grade powerful blenders, do.

So six years ago, I donated the juicer to a friend who could use it and replaced it with this Blendtec Total Classic Original Blender with Wildside+Jar. This exact model Blendtec* is still available at a much-reduced price of under $200.

Blendtec Total Classic Original Refurbished

 

*This Blendtec Total Classic Original is certified refurbished and comes with a 3-year comprehensive warranty. New is twice the price.

Dehydrator

No one was more surprised than I by what a terrific money-saver a dehydrator can be. Of course, you have to actually use it. But when you do, you’ll be quite amazed.

The cost of dehydrating your own food is a fraction of the cost of commercially dehydrated foods and with no additives or preservatives.

NESCO Snackmaster Dehydrator

If dehydrating is something you’ll actually do, my pick for Best Inexpensive food dehydrator is NESCO Food Dehydrator Model FD-75A. Now you can dry fruit, vegetables, and jerky in hours instead of days.

For about $60, this food dehydrator is compact, comes with 5 trays but expandable to 12. It’s powerful enough to be super useful, but small enough to allow for easy storage. I love this gadget money-saver and I think you will, too.

RELATED:  Make It Yourself: Beef Jerky, French Salad Dressing, Steak Sauce


Food Slicer

I’ve been using my new electric food slicer for about six months and oh boy, what a lovely item it is. I’ve pretty much used it every day since I pulled it out of the box. I know what you’re thinking: Why?!

I would have asked the same thing before I did a little cost evaluation. At our home, we eat a lot of deli-style turkey—$6.59 per pound at my local Costco. The same brand roast turkey breast unsliced is $3.99 per pound. The exact same thing!

I discovered the same price difference for cheese—sliced vs. bulk. Calculating how often I purchase these items, it didn’t take long to see that slicing at home would pay off big in lower costs. What I didn’t calculate was the fun factor. Seriously, fun.

I looked at a multitude of food slicers from manual to electric. After much consideration (and slicing), this Chef’sChoice Food Slicer is my pick for Best Inexpensive. At about $125, I calculate that it will more than pay for itself in about 9 months.

More than just turkey and cheese, these days I am slicing leftover steak and roast for sandwiches. I slice raw vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions to make the most perfect slices ever. This machine is so versatile I can set it from paper thin for sandwich meats up to a 3/4″ slice, which is just perfect for homemade bread. I get perfect slices from my 5 minute artisan bread for sandwiches and toast.

PREVIOUSLY: You Can Use This for That in the Kitchen

 

Question: What is your favorite kitchen gadget money-saver?


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7 replies
  1. bigmama-chicago
    bigmama-chicago says:

    Just a quick note to those who find a mold problem with berries…………any berries!!! Mary mentioned vac seal, well thats great for long term, but a quick bath/rinse with vinegar water (1/2+1/2) (white or cider) will eliminate mold problems. And no, if rinsed immediately, they don’t taste pickled. LOL Cheap, too!!!!

    Reply
  2. K R
    K R says:

    I agree totally about the food slicer-I have the same one and love it! I have no desire to pay $8 or $9 a pound in the deli for sliced meats. I buy large cuts of ham, turkey and sometimes roast beef and slice them myself, then vacuum seal meal sized portions and freeze. I also buy 5 pound chunks of cheese and sometimes slice them. It will also slice my homemade breads, but I usually just use my electric knife and a bread guide to slice the loaves. I do disagree with you on the dehydrater as the type you show here is not as efficient as the Excalibur brand. It does cost more, but it works so much better, plus the way it’s set up to blow the air is much better than the round type, that it’s worth the extra money. I’ve had mine for years now and it is amazing. I also have had a VitaMix 5200 for more than 7 years and will never buy any other brand blender. The VitaMix is so superior to any blender on the market today that it’s worth the money. They come with a standard 7 year warranty, and now I hear you can pay a little more for a 10 year warranty, which you’ll likely never need as they just last and last. I also have a FoodSaver vacuum sealer, but recently bought a chamber vacuum sealer as I was tired of freezing all liquid things first in bulky shapes in containers, then putting them in bags and vacuum sealing. A chamber vacuum sealer can vacuum bags of water without needing to freeze them first. I can now vacuum all my meats, soups, stews, etc, in flat packages instead of bowl shaped packages without freezing first. Plus, the bags used in a chamber sealer are a lot cheaper than the traditional vacuum bags.

    Reply
      • dawn
        dawn says:

        Don’t think I’ve ever tried chopping ice with nothing else in my Vitamix. But I do a tray full in my smoothies and no issues. The tamper that comes with it works great for mixing that while it grinds away and pushes the ice into the blades. I even make “ice cream” in mine with frozen chunks of banana and peanuts.

      • K R
        K R says:

        My VitaMix does a great job with ice cubes in smoothies. I originally went through a bunch of blenders, none of which did a decent job and all of which were returned as not doing the job they stated they could do. I broke down and bought the VitaMix at that point and have never regretted it for a second. That was almost eight years ago now and my machine is still going strong.

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