We’ve all been there – fallen in love with the idea of waking up to the glorious aroma of freshly baked bread filling every corner of the house, and gone out to buy a bread maker.
It gets used perhaps three times before we admit to ourselves that making bread from scratch is actually rather a faff, and it disappears into a cupboard where it will spend the next few years making us feel guilty for a) never using it b) having to find somewhere else to store the cereal boxes as their previous home is now where the aforementioned bread maker lives and c) spending our hard-earned cash on it in the first place.
The same goes for toastie makers, which get forgotten about for a couple of years before you remember you own one and then have toasties every night for a week before putting it back in the cupboard and promptly forgetting about it for another decade or so.
And don’t get me started on the pasta maker – who on earth has time for that?
But all is not lost; if you’re still holding out hope for a handful of kitchen gadgets that not only do their job of making some small aspect of your life that much easier, and yet are small enough to neatly stow away somewhere without making a long-standing resident of your kitchen homeless, you’re in luck.
This list of kitchen gadgets will only improve your life, rather than become a source of endless irritation and guilt – and they should help you save a few pennies along the way...
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1. Knife sharpener
The AnySharp uses tungsten carbide technology to extend the life of almost any knife. AnySharp works on virtually any knife, including expensive hardened steel knives, but it's real use lies in the suction cup at its base that will attach it securely to any clean, flat surface. This makes it ideal if you're beginning to struggle with arthritis or a lack of strength in your hands; you can either safely attach it each time you use it, or choose an out-of the-way spot in the kitchen to keep it attached, so it's ready to go whenever a knife seems a bit too blunt.
Our tester found it small enough to keep by the sink, and each time a knife is washed, it's quickly run through the sharpener before being put away, to keep them optimally sharp.
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2. Microwave rice steamer
Again, cooking rice on the hob is hardly rocket science – but it is a little time consuming, and comes with the added inconvenience of potentially either having to scrape burnt rice from the bottom of the pan, or mopping up the milky foam when it inevitably boils over.
A microwave rice steamer usually retails at between £6-10, so won’t break the bank, and if you’ve ever found yourself regularly splashing out on the microwave rice packets you can find for between 50p-£1 in the supermarkets, you’ll quickly make your money back.
On first inspection it looks like a simple microwavable bowl, but it’s actually a lot cleverer, with a lid designed to make sure the right amount of liquid remains to steam your rice through.
After the allotted time (I find nine minutes usually works), you’ll open the lid to discover beautifully fluffy, steamed rice that easily tastes as good as anything you’ve had in a restaurant.
A word to the wise: it’s easy to clean immediately after you’ve decanted the rice – I find a quick rinse will suffice – but if you leave it to cool, the starchy liquid left behind solidifies and takes a lot longer to shift.
More advice on how to cook rice
3. One cup kettle
If you’re suffering from arthritis and you’re beginning to find lifting the kettle a bit difficult, or you’re a bit nervous about getting a scalding from the boiling water inside, then a one cup kettle could be for you.
These clever gadgets dispense hot water straight into your mug at the touch of a button, saving you the effort of lifting – and they only heat one cup of water at a time, so you’ll never waste money boiling more water than you need.
Plus, it only takes a handful of seconds to heat the water to boiling point, so you won’t be wasting time waiting for the kettle to boil either.
An added bonus is that it’s the size of your usual kettle, so can simply replace it on the side rather than taking up any much needed cupboard space.
The Breville Hot Cup lights up prettily as it heats up too, if that’s the kind of thing that might seal the deal for you!
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If you’re a keen gardener who benefits from a glut of vegetables at certain points in the year, or if you're trying to adopt a healthier diet, a spiraliser could be the answer.
These nifty gadgets come in a variety of sizes – from the smaller handheld devices that you use much in the same way you’d use a pencil sharpener, to large spiralisers like the Spiraliser Tri-Blade that come with a handle and (as the name might suggest) a variety of blades, yet still manage to pack away neatly.
You can use them to spiralise a variety of vegetables – courgette, carrot and squash are particular favourites – into healthy noodles. Once spiralised, these can be eaten raw, plunged into boiling water for a few seconds, or even pan fried – however you cook them, they pack a hefty nutritional punch, and will be kinder to the waistline than traditional pasta or noodles.
Find out how to cook spiralised sweet potatoes.
5. Cherry pitter
This unassuming piece of plastic can save you hours if you like baking with cherries or turning them into smoothies.
Rather than wrestle with a sharp knife, you simply pop a cherry in, de-stone it, and move on to the next. It works effortlessly in exactly the same way with olives too – and as the olives with stones are often cheaper than those that have already been pitted, again, you stand to save.
Find out more about cherries and other super-foods
So there you have it – five kitchen gadgets that you (probably) won’t regret splashing out on.
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