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Don’t Break The Bank

March 28, 2011

Watching cookery shows on TV one can see all kinds of awesome little tools and gadgets.  Then you can buy these same tools and gadgets at some stores, usually decorated with the name, face and signature of a Food Network favorite.  And usually, these things are priced pretty hefty, but our economy today is not that forgiving.

Let’s see a picture here:

Tools and Gadgets For $1 Or Less

What's in common in all these tools?

What can be common in these little goodies here?

The fact that I got them each for $1 or less.

Let’s see in a little list, what all this loot is, why it’s great to have, and, most important, where to find them.

  1. Oil bottle:  I use this bottle so I can keep my vegetable oil on hand at the counter, but I don’t have the clunky and tacky plastic bottle hanging out, taking up a lot of precious counterspace.  You can also use such a bottle to infuse oils with herbs.  My favorite is garlic oil: half a head of garlic, coarsely chopped, goes in the bottom, then fill it up almost all the way with vegetable or olive oil.  Shake it together every other day for two to three weeks, then use it for roasting, salads or marinades.  99 Cents Only Stores, $0.99
  2. Cheese slicer: Making even, thin slices of cheese for sandwiches, cheese trays or omelets has never been so easy.  I prefer the wire roller ones to the spatula-like cheese slicers, but it’s mostly a matter of taste.  A purely metal one is also dishwasher safe.  My local grocery store, $0.89
  3. Pastry brush: A proper pastry brush makes baking a whiz.  From oil or butter on your breads to egg or milk wash on pastries, a proper topping makes your baked goodies look and taste better.  Upon buying, make sure the bristles are soft, but well-set in place, otherwise you end up with a hairy bread.  Some people like to keep one for savory and one for sweet items – I just make sure I wash my brush immediately after use and rinse it out really thoroughly.  By the nature of the bristles, these brushes are not safe for your dishwasher! Cost Plus World Market, $0.79
  4. Wooden Spoons: I use wooden spoons for stirring everything that’s cooking – I much prefer them over the vinyl or melamine stirring spoons.  Whilst they are not dishwasher safe, they are extremely resilient to heat, hence safe even to stir candy (into which I have melted a vinyl spoon before), you can leave them on the edge of your pots without them deforming.  If they take up the smell of some fragrant food, like fish, just soak them into a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar overnight, then wash them as usual – the smell is gone!  I got mines for a little over the price limit, $1.25 at Wal-Mart – it was a set of 4 spoons and a spatula, however, sticking to the original budget, I found a set of just 3 spoons at Dollar Tree for $1.
  5. Wire Whisk: One of the kitchen gadgets you can never have too many of.  From your breakfast scrambled eggs to your lunch cookies and the gravy with your dinner, these whisks serve you all day.  The benefit of having more than one?  No need to hand-wash them, just toss the used one in the dishwasher and grab a clean one!  Dollar Tree, $1.
  6. Pinch Bowl: Probably the most versatile item in my cabinet.  Just a quick list of uses:  Readying small amounts of ingredients.  Serving dips or salsa with chips.  Saving those last few bits of onions or garlic that I didn’t use today, but will need tomorrow.  Preparing egg wash.  Separating eggs.  And a lot more – let your imagination go wild with them.  Cost Plus World Market, $0.75 (singles), Dollar Tree, $1 (set of 3)
  7. Egg Slicer: Beautiful, even slices of hard-boiled eggs, no hassle, no slippery eggs, no yolks shooting out…  Sounds like a scene from a dream?  That’s exactly what egg slicers do.  Turn the egg crosswise after the first slicing, and you got the small cubes for your salad topping.  Upon making a casserole with sliced eggs in it, I always thank whoever invented this tool.  WinCo Foods, $0.99

These tools are just the first ones that came to my mind and turned up from the depths of my drawers.  As a tip on saving, I make regular trips to the dollar stores of the area, and I always check the “dollar deals” section at my local pharmacies as well.  Also, keep an eye out for “just-out-of-season” tools: for example, turkey basters and lifters, as well as pie dishes and crust protectors tend to be on steep sales after the Thanksgiving/Christmas rush is over – stores don’t want to have their money sleep in it, but don’t forget, yours doesn’t.  So snatch it on sale and use it happily even mid-year, then drop the saved cents or dollars in a piggy bank – or treat yourself to a brownie.  You deserve it.

Enjoy your meal!

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Janaru permalink
    September 22, 2011 06:28

    All great gadgets and very versatile. You can also use the “egg slicer both ways” to make egg salad. I’ve also used it to make butter pats. 🙂

  2. March 28, 2011 01:02

    Excellent tip! Thanks for sharing

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