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Five Appliances That Rock in a Bad Economy

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Small home appliances are hot right now! Appliances that save you time and money. So it's no surprise consumers are catching on.

Chef and mom Susannah Locketti shares her five must-have appliances when times are tough.

Five Appliances That Rock in a Bad Economy

Crock Pot

The slow cooker has been reinvented in the recession! The good news is dinner cooks while you work --for busy parents that is a huge plus. Not to mention you can pick one up for under $50, crock pots last and the cleanup is a cinch! You can put ingredients in frozen when you leave for work and come home to a hot home cooked meal! I have a girlfriend that tosses in frozen sausage, chunk potatoes, garlic, frozen peppers and onions in addition to some water. In the last half hour of cooking she adds milk or cream to create a sausage and potato stew that she says is to die for. I've tossed in frozen chicken plus a jar of barbecue sauce, frozen pineapple and sliced onions for a yummy shredded BBQ chicken hours later. The meat falls apart when pulled with a fork.This summer, I'll use it to make homemade spaghetti sauce with tomatoes from the garden.

Bread Machine

I never realized how much I loved this appliance until I ran out of bread and didn't have a dime to pick up a new loaf. Luckily I had everything on hand to make a homemade loaf the kids devoured hours later. I've also used my machine to make bagel dough, sweet breads and pizza dough in under an hour. My sister-in-law gave me her old Kenmore bread machine years ago because she said she never used it. I use it at least once a week and it's also a great way for me to get creative with herbs, vegetables and other pantry items like olives, dried fruit and nuts I don't want to go to waste. I own an older model so it's large and a bit bulky, but I find it's worth it every time the smell of fresh bread wafts in my home. Nowadays you can pick up a bread machine for short change online or try hunting one down at a yard sale.


I have no idea what I would do without a microwave! Aside from the constant coffee heat-ups to keep me functioning on a daily basis, I use this appliance constantly to warm leftovers with minimal dishes. I am test trying a Panasonic microwave right now with Inverter technology. This bad boy boils water for my husband's cocoa in less than two minutes, defrosts ground turkey completely in under ten minutes and cooked a chocolate cake in six minutes. The cake even passed the kid test--I was shocked! I soften frozen butter in a flash, cook eggs for a quick breakfast sandwich and the kids use it to whip up something safely and quickly on busy nights in between music lessons, homework or sports.

Showtime Rotisserie

Yup, I love the ole "set it and forget it"! My husband gave me this appliance several years ago for Christmas and I secretly wanted to cringe. Turns out this appliance kicks ass! My rotisserie will cook a 3 ½ pound chicken in about an hour and fifteen minutes. The skin is crispy, it bastes in its own juices and the meat is so unbelievably tender. When whole chickens are under a dollar per pound, this makes a great dinner on a dime with zero effort. I like to rub the chicken with dried herbs to add tons of flavor while it turns. The cleanup is easy and a tray on the bottom conveniently collects all the fat that drips off. This appliance will cook up to a four pound piece of meat with ease. Pork roasts are phenomenal on this as well! This is another appliance to look for inexpensively online.

Hand Chopper

Ok--I know this is a small appliance but this gadget saves me so much time in the kitchen chopping small amounts of food finely. I use it almost everyday to chop garlic, onions, red peppers, nuts, and olives. I love that after a few bangs I have finely minced garlic. My kids LOVE when I let them be in charge of the hand chopper. I have boys so they get all their aggression out on finely chopping things. My youngest son now asks how I'd like things chopped and he loves when I leave it entirely up to him--so he pulverizes everything! Anytime you can save time chopping, take advantage of it. This is a small and safe appliance kids can use which is why I couldn't leave it off this list. I use a KitchenAid model I bought for under twenty dollars and it is sturdy, easy to clean and chops really well.

So these are my top five...what are you all using the most right now? Has your toaster oven come out of storage? How much use is your blender, juicer or food processor getting? I'd love to hear what small home appliances you're relying on most to get a meal on the table.

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3 comments so far | Post a comment now
Carol February 10, 2011, 7:36 AM

I really like the combination convection microwave oven. I don’t know if there is no order of those 5, but I would put the convection microwave oven at the top for me. Definitely need a crock pot and I wish they could combine a rotisserie into the convection microwave oven because I don’t have a lot of space and try to get multi appliances in one.

Stacey February 23, 2011, 12:53 PM

This is so true! I can’t imagine life without my microwave!!

dion February 25, 2011, 7:41 PM

Microwaves are the most useful of these five. Be careful with using them for cooking though.

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