Five Of The Best Kitchen Gadgets Under $50

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Busy moms, bachelor cooks and college students can all agree that in the kitchen, simpler is better. When a culinary tool can do more than meets the eye, meals instantly become quicker, cheaper and easier. Whether it's a multifunction knife, processor or baking tool, a few key gadgets are quickly replacing more expensive and space consuming collections of single-use tools. It's no wonder multi-use utensils, appliances and instruments are becoming increasingly popular in kitchens around the country.

Food Processor: Your food processor isn't just for making smoothies. Some of your favorite dips, spreads, sauces and soups can be blended and chopped in a matter of minutes with the use of this one appliance. Processors typically range from $40 to $400, and offer the following uses:

  • Salsa: Use the food processor to quickly chop tomatoes, onions, herbs and peppers.
  • Nuts: grind nuts for dessert toppings, salads or dinner recipes.
  • Grinding flour: The processor can take the place of a grain mill when used for small portions.
  • Pasta and pizza dough: Mix and blend dough with half the time and effort of using your hands.
  • Shredding cheese: Avoid using a difficult and sometimes dangerous hand grater.
  • Grinding meat: Perfect for hamburgers, chili, stuffed peppers and lasagna.
  • Puréeing sauces: Quickly blend your favorite sauces to compliment an entrée.

Multi-Use Knives: New designs of a classic tool, multi-use knives are now incorporating some of the most used functions of other kitchen utensils into their construction. Regular knife sets typically range from $30 to $400, depending on size and quality. A set of chef's knives designed by Caroline Noordijk incorporate 5 other uses into only three knives.

  • The six inch cook's knife includes an etched grater and herb scoop along the blade, allowing for a seamless transition between slicing and grating cheese, as well as measuring herbs and spices. 
  • The four inch paring knife incorporates a vegetable peeler along the top of the blade, quickly letting the user switch from slicing to peeling vegetables, fruit, potatoes and more. 
  • The three and a half inch paring knife includes both a zest and decoration tool along the top of the blade, quickly transitioning from slicing to zesting fruit and vegetables.

Dough Scraper: Originally intended to shape and scrape dough, this scraper offers a multitude of uses around the kitchen. Usually only costing between $4 and $10, even at luxury kitchen retailers, this tool remains one of the most cost effective multi-use utensils available.

  • Crushing garlic
  • Grinding herbs
  • Slicing frozen butter
  • Drawing straight lines in pastry, bread and cookie dough
  • Cutting brownies
  • Slicing pizza
  • Slicing lasagna

Multi-Use Scissors: Not just for cutting paper, these scissors offer an array of handy kitchen uses, and quickly replace several other separate utensils. A pair designed by Trademark Tools, available for as little as $11, offers a detachable function, allowing freer use of the many built in features:

  • Bottle opener
  • Wine stripper
  • Nut cracker
  • Cap turner
  • Flower cutter
  • Fish scaler
  • Knife
  • Can opener
  • Juice can puncher
  • Screw driver

Breakfast Makers: Perfect for college students or anyone on the go, three in one breakfast makers offer one of the easiest and most compact options for making coffee, toast, and eggs all at once. The multifunction option combined with its space saving packaging and $30 to $70 price tag make this kitchen tool a necessity for dorms, RVs, offices and apartments. Each single unit includes:

  • A one cup coffee maker
  • A one slice toaster oven
  • A one egg frying pan

A good tool is essential anywhere in your home, and nowhere is this more rewarding than the kitchen. With the help of a good food processor, any number of sides, sauces and dips are possible. With the quick flip of a multi-function knife, fruits, vegetables and cheeses can be sliced, grated and measured. Tools like the dough scraper and multi-use scissors transform from ordinary utensils to kitchen chameleons, while three in one breakfast makers create an entire meal in one unit. It's easy to see why these five products have become essential cost and space effective kitchen tools. 

Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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About Alexandra Kerr Through Ideal Home Garden, Alexandra covers topics ranging from interior design to home improvement, gardening and cuisine. Having a passion for cooking and entertaining in her own life, she hopes to communicate her love of home design and decorating with her readers. 

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