Money saving gadgets for a frugal kitchen

Save the pennies with Sarah Sysum's tips for a more economical kitchen.

coffee machine kit

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...

Kitchen equipmentBecause 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?

Comments, questions and tips

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18th Aug, 2017
you forgot the pressure cooker,much better results than a slow cooker
17th Aug, 2017
I already have a slow cooker, a halogen oven, a coffee machine, a mini chopper and a bread maker. I make the dough in the bread maker then transfer it to a greesed 2lb loaf tin and put it in the halogen for 10 minutes, or so, to rise then cook it on 200 degrees for 35 minutes. I do a lot of experimental cooking in the hologen oven, mainly with chicken and fish. Some don't turn out good but I force them down as a punnishment as not to waste food and a reminder to not do it again.
14th Jun, 2015
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6th Feb, 2014
I would add a pressure cooker to the list in place of the bread maker. Given the cost of fuel anything that saves cooking time is a godsend. It makes short work of cooking certain meats, pulses, stocks and some veg, marmalade is a doddle and Christmas puddings cook in a trice without steaming up the kitchen. Great for bulk cooking for the freezer too . Old fashioned it may be but it's time for a come back!