Save the pennies with Sarah Sysum's tips for a more economical kitchen.
We all know that making your own food at home is great for the budget, but with more labour-saving kitchen appliances about, we don't necessarily have to sacrifice time in order to save money. This got me thinking: what would my favourite thrifty gadgets be? It was tough making a final choice, but I settled on four...
Because slow cookers use a small amount of energy over a long period of time, they use much less electricity than a traditional oven. But they save money in other ways too. Slow cooking means you can use cheaper cuts of meat (which become meltingly tender after a full day of cooking at a low temperature) and you'll relinquish that takeaway as you have a lovely home-cooked meal waiting for you as soon as you come through the door.
Of course the classic in the 'make vs buy' argument is the coffee machine. If you drink two cups a day of chain shop coffee, you'll spend around £110 a month. For that amount you can buy yourself a decent machine, plus an electric milk frother if you're a latte addict. Forgo the takeout coffee for three months and you can buy a seriously good piece of kit.
You might be surprised when I suggest that a mini chopper is also a great thrifty buy. But it allows you to grind your own spice mixes (so much cheaper and nicer than anything bought) and whizz up the ends of bread to make crumbs to freeze. Mini choppers are great at making pastes too. You could say that buying all the ingredients is more expensive, but if you're anything like me you'll have six different half-used jars of ready-made pastes at the back of the fridge at any one time.
Finally we come to the breadmaker. I know it's better to make it entirely from scratch, but if you don't have time to bake bread by hand, it can save a lot of time. There have been plenty of studies on how much it actually costs to make a loaf in a machine. Generally it works out at around 40p for a 10-slice loaf.
So there you go, my frugal four providing cheaper and tastier food. Now who's going to argue with that?