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by sitecore\kmcgrigg on May 16, 2011

When it comes to new kitchen gadgets, I understand how it may be hard to say no. The pretty designs and novelty are quite alluring. It seems though that the most interestingly designed tools are only made for a single purpose, and for what they cost, buying all of them can be really expensive. In fact, the kitchen gadgets I have in front of me today cost more than $100 to purchase.

As much as I love the idea of having a kitchen full of cutesy gadgets, I’ve come to accept that I don’t need EVERY one. After all, the word gadget refers to something that appears useful but is often unnecessary or even trivial. So how do you know when to say no? The answer is simple: if you can do the job with an everyday utensil, the gadget is probably not worth purchasing.

Here are some examples of kitchen gadgets whose function that can easily be tackled with a decent knife:

  • First, the apple corer. A knife can get the job done just as easily. Even easier is to just take a bite right out of the apple.
  • The second unnecessary tool is an avocado slicer. Slicing an avocado is easy, plus, you’ll probably need the knife to remove the pit anyway. As the chef and cleaning crew, I usually try to limit the number of things I need to wash.
  • The same argument goes for cheese and egg slicers. While these tools might give you nice even cuts, they can hardly be called “necessary” objects.
  • The next tool is a mango pitter. There’s no doubt that cutting mangos can be tricky, but I’ve learned the hard way that using the pitter isn’t any easier than using a knife.
  • Next we have a melon baller. This gadget is totally unnecessary since everyone knows that melon cubes are just as delicious as melon balls.
  • And finally, we have the strawberry huller. Although cute, I can’t believe this gadget even exists. After all, you wouldn’t buy a banana peeler, would you?

While a lot of kitchen gadgets are unnecessary, I did find a few that might be worth buying.

  • The first one is a garlic press. Sure, you can use a knife to chop the garlic, but if you use a lot of garlic, this handy tool is probably with the money.
  • Next, is the potato masher. I haven’t found another way to effectively mash potatoes.
  • Finally, the one gadget I really can’t live without is my peeler. I use this tool to peel a lot of different kinds of produce including cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, kiwi, and apples. Thankfully, this little gadget is also one of the least expensive to buy so it is a good use of my money.

However, more often than not, kitchen gadgets are designed for a single purpose, so you’ll be better off spending your money on something that won’t just take up space in your kitchen drawer.

And for more frugal food ideas, be sure to check out our free Cheap Eats eBook. You might also enjoy reading the post by Anna Kronzer that inspired this video.


Carl says:
August 17, 2011

The video was informative and I agree with much of it, but I would certainly include the comments by Caroline as balance. I also use a potato masher, but to finish the job I pull out my hand mixer to make real creamy potatoes.

Caroline says:
May 19, 2011

OK, it's obvious that you aren't a cook or do more than heat things in the microwave! A melon baller is a great tool for small cookies, preparing bite-sized appetizers (it makes cracker-sized mounds easily); if you make potato salads and other salads, you are really going to get good use out of an egg-slicer (it also cuts strawberries, etc.); the apple corer is a great tool if you are trying help your child be self-sufficient (they can use this without cutting themselves, where I would never have small children try to cut apple pieces with a knife -- if you don't have children, you don't really need one of these). I wouldn't own an avocado slicer or mango slicer, but I have known people to seriously cut themselves using knives to accomplish the task -- if you have coordination issues and eat a lot of either of these items -- buy the tool. I don't own, nor would I ever WANT a garlic tool -- a knife always works better and is faster, with less cleanup. A potato masher can also be used to make pastry dough, so, yes, I have one of these. A good set of knives will work for most of these tasks, especially if you seldom do any cooking that requires the tool, but there is no way that I would go through life without my industrial-sized cherry pitter -- I make tons of jam and I couldn't imagine using a knife to cut each, individual cherry, to make jam. Please add qualifiers and think outside your own specific circumstance on these articles.

Anonymous says:
May 16, 2011

a hand mixer does an excellent job of mashing beans and potatoes

EGSJR says:
May 23, 2011

I dont think these items are going to break your bank account. However I do think you can save your money by not buying that Mango slicer and spend it on a Grande Mocha at Starbucks.

Leigh says:
July 11, 2013

I own every one of these items, decent quality & they probably were $30 for the bunch. Really? Not saving much & I will have them for 20 years. I want to know how to save money large ticket items & commodities that are purchased routinely.

MT says:
May 20, 2011

I have a strawberry huller – it’s called my thumb nail! My “to buy or not to buy” guideline is, “if it takes longer to find the gadget specific to any job that could be finished by the time you FIND the specific gadget, you don’t need it.” Or whatever—you get the idea! Oh, you like those things that let you squeeze out the water or oil in a can of tuna?!

Susanne says:
March 15, 2012

I was expecting an article involving why not to buy appliances. You've really missed the boat on some of the multiple uses some of those items can have... like the strawberry huller... I use it as an apple corer and a melon baller. Maybe mine is different than yours. I'd have appreciated an article about the excessive appliance issue more. I guess I'm saying I'm with Caroline here.

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