What´s missing when you look at your kitchen? Chances are, it´s not a miniature donut maker or an automatic butter slicer, which are in fact real gadgets on the market today. Because of the proliferation of kitschy kitchen appliances, it´s more important than ever for homeowners on a budget to choose the ones that they need — and will use — the most. Below are the three main criteria for choosing appliances wisely, as well as three smart ways to save money no matter how you want to outfit your kitchen.

What Will You Get in Return?

This is perhaps the most important question to ask yourself before purchasing a new appliance: what is the return value? This means that what you buy should not only warrant how much you spend on it, but it should exceed its original value by making your time spent in the kitchen easier.

The ceramic skillet is one accoutrement that is up to the task. Ceramic skillets are not only easy to clean, saving you time after you finish cooking, but they also help keep food warmer for longer by retaining heat. Most importantly, though, ceramic skillets have none of the toxins that scientists have found in some varieties of non-stick cookware. Want more bang for your buck? Consider investing in a pricier skillet that could last a lifetime (depending on your warranty), rather than a cheaper model that will only last a year or two. Easier clean-up, extended warmth and non-toxic make-up give the ceramic skillet a high return value.

How Often Will You Use It?

In a similar vein as return value, frequency of use can help you decide whether or not an appliance for your kitchen is worth it. To calculate this number, divide the cost of an appliance by how often you intend to use it. For kitschy or seasonal items, the cost per use might not warrant the initial price. For things you´ll use every day, it´s worth the investment.

One such item is a microwave. Heating and re-heating food is something that we do every day, so investing in a nice microwave would most likely be worth the cost. Furthermore, the microwave makes time spent in the kitchen more efficient, thus raising its return value as well.

Do You Really Need It?

When it comes down to it, there are some things that you just don’t need an appliance for: a strong arm can replace an electric mixer, a French press can replace a coffee maker, and a little bit of elbow grease can replace an electric can opener. Sometimes, though, you simply need an appliance´s help.

The blender is a perfect example of this. It´s most likely impossible for you to liquefy your own fruits into smoothies, or turn garbanzo beans, garlic, and oil into a smooth batch of hummus. If many of your favorite recipes incorporate blended ingredients, this is one appliance that´s worth the investment.

Another product that all bakers should invest in is a non-slip hot pad. Typically heat-resistant up to 500 degrees, these silicone pads protect your hands and your casserole by providing much more grip than their cloth-made counterparts.

What Else Can You Do?

Of course, there are other ways to save money in the kitchen. For one, you can buy used appliances. Peruse thrift stores, garage sales, and for-sale ads, but, be diligent: a discounted item should still be evaluated with the above criteria in mind.

Another money-saving option is to spruce up the appliances you already have. This pointer mostly applies to larger pieces, such as your refrigerator or stove. Let’s say you’ve remodeled your kitchen and your white or black appliances no longer go with the color scheme. Rather than purchasing all new stainless steel versions of the working pieces you already have, you can purchase stainless steel film and cover your preexisting equipment. This will modernize your space at a fraction of the cost.

Finally, you can save money by growing your own fruits and vegetables. Sure, gardening organically and on your own might require more work than zipping off to the store whenever you run low on produce. However, there are many benefits. Besides saving money, home gardening can be a stress reliever, as well as an activity that the entire family can enjoy.

Featured photo credit: Kitchen Interior Home Architecture Stock Images, Photos of Living room, Dining Room, Bathroom, Kitchen, Bed room, Office, Interior photography.via Shutterstock

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