With the holidays around the corner, your relatives may be nagging you about your wish list. Instead of requesting electronics or gift cards, consider asking for gifts that keep giving: kitchen appliances.
Cooking from scratch saves a lot of money, but it does require more effort. The following six appliances won’t do the work for you, but they can bring down your food budget if you plan your meals carefully, shop smart, and actually use them—instead of letting them collect dust in the pantry.
1. Slow Cooker
You can do slow-cooker things without one, but they make it easier to cook big batches of soup, chili, pulled pork, rehydrated beans or lentils, and much more. All of these meals are much cheaper when made at home.
Plus, you don’t need to check slow cookers constantly like with stovetop cooking—toss in the ingredients, turn it on, and let it do the work. (Cook things overnight or while you’re at work for extra ease.)
Typically, slow cookers also leave you with abundant leftovers, which you can portion into frozen meals for packing lunches.
2. Coffee Machine
Depending on your likes and needs, the coffee machine for you could be a drip coffeemaker, an espresso/latte machine, or a good coffee grinder.
I don’t think I’ve spent under $4 for an espresso drink at Starbucks or any other coffee shop in at least 5 years. And even when I buy a $1 coffee at 7-Eleven, I know I could be saving money if I make the coffee at home.
The ingredients for one latte at home can cost under a dollar, depending on the coffee you use. And the cost of a cup of drip coffee is just pennies. Making coffee at home can also be faster than waiting in line to buy a cup during the morning rush.
3. Immersion Blender
Up until recently, I would have added a regular blender to this list, but a stick blender is just as useful and more convenient for cleaning up and living in a small space.
You can use it to make homemade smoothies (for less than half the cost of spending $5 on one). In addition, stick blenders are great for pureeing soup, making whipped cream, mixing salad dressings, and lot’s more.
4. Food Processor
These serve a lot of the same purposes as a stick blender, but this guy will do a better job with heavy duty and chunkier chopping.
Use a food processor for homemade salsa, hummus, nut chopping, or even grinding nuts all the way into butter. It can also grind meat for homemade meatballs, sausage, and hamburgers.
Processors also have attachments for easy slicing and grating—like for cheese, potatoes, and carrots. I use mine often for cutting butter into flour for pie crust, but I also just learned you can use it for pizza dough.
5. Soda Maker
Obviously, this is only a big money saver if drink a lot of soda or sparkling water. You can buy flavor syrup in bulk or use fruit juice to make healthier soda alternatives.
Additionally, not only is it good for saving money, but it’s also good for saving the environment. Just think of how many bottles you’ll save. (Even if you recycle, that costs a lot of energy, too!)
6. Chest Freezer
This is a big item on my wish list. It’s not typical for a young person to own, but if you’re settled in a big place, it’s a hugely practical investment.
My dad and stepmom use a chest freezer to store food they buy in bulk (often from local farms), such as meat, berries, and butter. Having a big freezer also allows you to stock up when frozen goods or freezable foods are on sale at the grocery store.
Which kitchen appliance saves you the most money? Share in the comments.