Do Kitchen Gadgets Really Save Time?

Some kitchen gadgets save time and trouble; others are a waste of space. Which are worth spending some money on and which will just clutter your kitchen?

I love cooking and I do quite a lot of it, and yes, I do have a few kitchen gadgets. But just recently I was browsing the web and realized how many things I didn’t have.

Kitchen gadgets have always been around. In the land of the flint knife, a flint knife with a stick strapped to it is a gadget. We humans are forever looking for easier ways of doing things, and inventing stuff to that end. I’m sure that throughout history, just as now, there have been some really useful kitchen gadgets, and an equal number of totally useless utensils that seemed like a good idea at the time but didn’t take long to become interesting artefacts.

Every kitchen is full of gadgets from the potato peeler to the bread making machine. And we get new cool stuff every day – or at least we are led to believe it’s cool by the slick advertising – but how much of it is any use.

It’s Your Kitchen

Many of the utensils and gadgets we use are a matter of individual preference and circumstance; personally I use a potato peeler but hardly ever a garlic press. I have a friend who always uses a knife to peel potatoes but does use a garlic press.

What do you do in your kitchen? If you never cook Chinese food then a wok is not going to impress you much no matter what special features it has. But if you really love fresh homemade bread then you might be interested in a bread making machine.

Little Kitchen Gadgets

There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of these things that fill up your kitchen drawers. A large number of these do a job that can be done with a knife. The potato peeler and garlic crusher I have already mentioned, here is a small selection of some of the other gimmicks, in no particular order, that you can clutter your kitchen with: bean stringer, egg slicer, avocado slicer, onion chopper, cheese grater, apple corer, pineapple slicer, cherry stoner, orange peeler, lemon zester, nutmeg grater and, my personal favourite, the truffle slicer – still if you can afford truffles then the odd 60 quid for something to slice them probably won’t hurt too much.

Nearly all of these seem like a good idea and I’m sure a professional kitchen wouldn’t be without one or two of them. I have owned a good number of these devices, they are generally not too expensive, but when, over time, some went missing, I really didn’t notice too much. I guess if they were in constant use then they might not have gone missing.

The things that I replaced, because they really did save me some time, were the apple corer and lemon zester, I don’t use these very often but there is no easy substitute.

Depending on your circumstances, if you run a restaurant, or cook for a large family, or have a particular penchant for pineapples, then a selection of these gadgets might save you some time. Mostly I would invest first in a good set of knives.

Electric Kitchen Gadgets

Again there is a multitude of these. They range from smaller items such as electric pepper mills and hand whisks, to microwave ovens and bread makers. Of course there are items which are now so commonplace that they are not regarded as gadgets anymore – you wouldn’t be without your kettle and toaster for example.

Some of the smaller items are very useful for those with say arthritis or otherwise impaired dexterity. An elderly relative of mine was eternally grateful for the electric can opener I once bought for her. But for me an electric pepper mill would be a tad indulgent and I never figured out the point of an electric knife; I guess they have their place.

Quite a few of the bigger kitchen gadgets are very purpose specific; a bread maker, an espresso machine, you can even buy a soup maker now (this is a blender with a heating element). These are personal choices. I have been baking bread since childhood and love homemade bread, I never thought I would use a bread maker (bit of a purist) but I was given one and I absolutely love it. It produces excellent bread and really saves time. One the other hand, I also like soup but see no advantage in a soup maker over using my blender then putting the resultant gloop into a pan or slow cooker.

I would find it difficult without my microwave or my slow cooker, and my blender, my grinder and my steamer are all incredibly useful, all multi functional, no real substitutes and they do save time.

Ask Yourself: Is It a Time Saver?

This is the question to ask before you buy a new kitchen gadget. You should think about how often you would use it and does it really have an advantage over how you do things now. As I said it’s a matter of preference and circumstance.

To a restaurant an electric potato peeler will be a godsend. If you really like smoothies then a smoothie maker might be a good investment – or could you just use your blender? I often cook rice but I see no advantage in a rice cooker; it isn’t quicker and the results are no different. Whether large or small I generally look for kitchen gadgets that are multi functional. Except my bread maker – I love my bread.


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