Designer kitchens remain the rage, thanks in part to all those home remodeling shows that flood the cable TV airwaves every weekend. Home cooks can’t help but covet a truly fancy kitchen complete with every small appliance imaginable.
I’ll confess that after I’ve watched a remodeling show or browsed Bon Appetit magazine, I start dreaming of pasta arms above my stove. Or maybe I have visions of high-powered blenders and top-dollar juicers dancing in my head.
But the truth is that most small kitchen appliances aren’t worth the money or the counter space. That’s especially true of the following seven appliances:
1. Panini press
A panini press flattens and grills, turning a regular sandwich into a hot panini. In theory this sounds like the perfect way to turn your kitchen into an Italian deli on a Saturday afternoon.
But in reality, a panini press can be heavy and difficult to lift. And it’s not something you really need.
Oprah.com offers a cheaper way to make a panini. Assemble the sandwich, butter both sides and put it in a hot skillet. Cover the bottom of your heaviest pot with aluminum foil and place it on top of the sandwich. If it’s not heavy enough, fill a kettle with water and place that in the pot.
You’ll get your panini without having to splurge on the extra appliance.
2. Stand mixer
Many home cooks swear by their KitchenAid stand mixer, but I’ve never been able to justify the cost. Instead, I mix and mash ingredients by hand. It’s more work, but theKitchn thinks hand mixing might be better. Here’s why:
When you’re working by hand, there’s more control over each step. You can see for yourself exactly when the egg whites reach a stiff peak and feel when the bread has developed enough gluten. You’re a part of the entire process from start to finish, and that creates a certain satisfaction that we feel is different than when we’ve zipped it together in a mixer.
3. Electric kettle
An electric kettle is plugged in so that it can heat up water. That’s it. The rest of the time it takes up space on your counter.
If you want to make a cup of tea, heat the water in the microwave or in a pan on the stove, not in a special kettle.
4. Popcorn maker
With a popcorn maker, whole kernels are heated and then fluffy popcorn emerges at the top. It may seem like the best way to get ready for movie night, but you can get the same results with a pot on the stovetop.
5. Baby food maker
At first, baby food makers seem like a great idea. With one little appliance, you can give your baby fresh fruits and vegetables. But you can still do that even if you don’t have the actual appliance.
For example, boil or steam carrots, then smash them. How simple is that?
A couple of years ago, I was dead set on having a blender and ended up getting one as a gift. I was thrilled.
Six months later I had used it only once. Turns out that my food processor does a better job of crushing ice and blending fruit for smoothies than the blender does. Plus, my food processor does a better job of fitting in my small cabinets.
7. Electric grill
I’ve seen electric grills advertised as two things: either a way to grill indoors for apartment dwellers or the best way to cook healthy grilled meals.
In reality, they’re bulky, expensive and hard to clean. Plus, Oprah.com warns that electric grills may actually steam food rather than grill it, so you may end up getting different results.
Have you bought a small kitchen appliance and then later regretted the purchase? Share your story in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.