It's all too easy to spend hard-earned money on unitasking kitchen gadgets that aren't all that helpful in the long run. Use the gear you already own, and some cheap household staples, to make your kitchen a better place.
Photo by cybrgrl.
10. Hang onions and garlic with pantyhose
Culinary stores sell fancy baskets and all kinds of other ideas for keeping onions, garlic and similar staples dry and separated. Kind of ridiculous, considering you're probably not looking to put them on display. Knot up an old pair of pantyhose and use them to hang onions and garlic vertically, while allowing the restricted air flow to preserve your aromatic items longer than an air-tight model. It's one of pantyhose's many alternate uses. (Original post)
9. Make perfect pancakes with a ketchup bottle
Pancakes are fun. Cleaning up after them is not. Lo and behold, the progression of ketchup and other plastic squeeze bottles into EZ-pour, high-volume dispensers makes them perfect for conversion into pancake batter dispensers (discovered via the Crafter-Holic blog). The price is right (free, if you buy ketchup), and the cleanup is as simple as shaking a bottle full of soapy water, or recycling the bottle if you don't plan on future precise pancake pour projects. (Original post)
8. Steam scrambled eggs with an espresso machine
Next time you want to impress your guests with unbelievably fluffy eggs, skip the part where you watch the pan like a hawk on Ritalin. Beat together eggs, butter, and salt in a firm jar, then hold that jar underneath the steamer wand on an espresso machine. Turn the steamer on, then swirl until your eggs are soft but runny. Instant success, and your secret makes for a good morning tale. (Original post)
7. Trap fruit flies with a soda bottle
How-to site eHow explains how to cut a 2 L soda bottle into a fruit fly trap, one that lures the buggers in with sticky-sweet juice and keeps them trapped with, well, gravity and plastic design and such. It's the fruit fly motel — they check in, but they can't possibly find their way out.
6. Clean a dishwasher with lemonade drink mix
It kind of makes one concerned about the thought of actually drinking something like Kool-Aid lemonade, but the citric acid in one drink packet is enough to clean the lime stains and calcium deposits that build up over time in the dishwasher. Give it a try — you'll be surprised how well it breaks through the walls of grime (sorry, couldn't help ourselves).
5. Manage pot lids with vertical files & curtain rods
It's odd that vertical lid and sheet storage is only a recent concept in kitchen design — haven't lids been around for quite some time? Regardless of your kitchen's age, you can upgrade its storage efficiency by creating vertical-oriented storage with very cheap tools. A vertical file holder can get the job done if it fits. If it doesn't, squeeze some spring tension curtain rods into a tall cabinet and stash your cookie sheets, outsized lids, and other hard-to-stash items in there. (Original posts: vertical file, tension rods).
4. Cook pizza in a cast iron skillet
A well-seasoned skillet is a beautiful tool to behold, and it's good for more than just scrambles and stir-fries. The Not Martha blog details how it can be used to cook a small pizza — the perfect size for when it's just you and another eater, and a large pizza from the corner spot sounds like a bit of overkill. Plus, this one's bound to be fresher, since you're the one who pulls it off the heat when you're good and ready to eat.
3. Make a universal knife block with bamboo skewers
Bamboo skewers — from the dollar store or elsewhere — come pretty cheap. If you've got a long container, or can make one yourself, you've got a knife block that can fit nearly any knife you've got, no matter which brand or style. (Original post)
2. Roast coffee with a popcorn popper
Most of us have never truly experienced "fresh-roasted coffee". And that's a shame, since there are hundreds of thousands of unused popcorn poppers waiting to be converted into DIY popcorn poppers. The Coffee Geek site has an excellent step-by-step picture walkthrough. It's not as gourmet or controlled as, say, using a heat gun, but it is a lot more simple, and easy to work into a weekend routine of having the freshest coffee you can get available within 10 minutes. (Original posts: Popcorn popper).
1. Do everything with your waffle iron
It's a wonder they're so prevalent in attics, basements and garage sales, given that a waffle iron can be one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen. Given that it's basically a heated, pressure-added mini grill, it can be put to all kinds of uses: making 90-second cookies, rolling your own waffle-style pizza pockets, and, our personal Sunday morning favourite, making bacon with far less mess than usual. "But," you say, "I need even more waffle iron ingenuity!" We advise you run through the Waffleizer, a site dedicated to feeding your square-pocketed hunger. (Original posts: cookies, bacon).
What common tools find new use in your kitchen? What expensive stuff have you put off buying by making do with what you already cook with? Tell us your money-saving, gadget-avoiding tips in the comments.