11 May 2012

Make-do Kitchen Tools

In line with the Saving Revolutions UWMW creed (Use it up, Wear it out, Make do or Do without) today I am going to look at some kitchen gadgets that serve more than one purpose, often being used for a job completely alien to their original use.

It is easy to get caught up in the hype surrounding kitchen gadgets, especially this time of year around Mother's Day. The junk mail has been full of gadgets, all designed to make life in the kitchen easier and prettier. And they do.  But sadly many of these gadgets end up sitting in drawers or at the backs of cupboards forgotten and unused, wasting money and space simply because they are advertised and marketed as a single purpose item, often an item that might only be used once or twice a year.

That is a huge waste of money and of cupboard space.

For example I have a lemon juicer, the metal type where I put the lemon half in upside down and bring the top of the juicer down and it pushes the lemon inside out. It was advertised as a lemon juicer. Next to it were a lime juicer, an orange juicer and a grapefruit juicer. They all do the same job. The only difference was the size - the orange and grapefruit juicers were a little larger. We don't like grapefruit so I don't have to worry about fitting them in the juicer.

I bought the lemon juicer and it gets used for lemons, limes and oranges.

I can imagine though, someone buying all four because they haven't thought the purchase through.

Before you buy any new gadget ask yourself these questions:

1.Do I really need it?
2.Will I use it often enough to warrant the purchase price?
3.Do I already have something that will do, or can be adapted to do, the same job?
4.Do I have the cash to pay for it?

If you answer yes to questions 1, 2 and 4 and no to question 3, then perhaps it is worth your while buying it.

But if you don't, then apply the $100/24 Hour Rule (even if it's just a couple of dollars) and wait. Chances are, as with most spontaneous purchases, you'll find you either don't want it, can't be bothered going back to get it or will find something you already have or cheaper.

So what are some UWMW gadgets?

Biscuit, Cookie and Pastry Cutters - they are really cute in all those pretty shapes and sizes but really a drinking glass or small jam jar serves the same purpose and costs nothing. Use a saucer or bread and butter plate for cutting pie crusts, measuring tortillas etc. Egg rings can be used to make English muffins and small crumpets, cut both ends off a 185g tuna tin to make a larger crumpet ring.

Cake Rack - use the rack out of your baking dish or turn a muffin tin upside down and cool your sheet cakes on it. Cake racks are expensive, so why spend the money if you don't have to?

Rolling Pin - a long neck wine bottle does a great job as a rolling pin. And you can chill it in the fridge if you are going to use it to roll pastry.

Garlic Press - handy to have but hard to clean!  Use a large, flat bladed knife to give the garlic cloves a whack. They'll break open easily, you can peel them and then dice or crush them.

Icing Bag - use a (clean) ziplock with one corner snipped off to pipe icing and cream. If you have piping tubes they will slip into the corner so you can pipe decorative shapes.

Funnel - paper coffee filters make great funnels for dry goods. Snip the end of the filter off and place it into the jar or bottle you are going to fill. For wet items cut the top off a clean, empty soft drink bottle.

Vegetable Steamer - put some water in the bottom of a saucepan. Line the saucepan with foil that has had some small holes punched through it, hanging foil over the sides of the saucepan to create a basket. Put the veggies in the basket, place the lid on the saucepan and steam.

Necessity really is the mother of invention.

Next time you think you "need" a kitchen gadget, stop and think carefully. Use your imagination and get creative. Take a good look at the gadgets and tools you have and think about how you can use them to your best advantage.

And keep your money in the bank.

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