5 Kitchen Appliances Where it is OK to Go Cheap

Murphy’s law states that whatever can go wrong, usually will. I have lived by that law for quite some time. When bills are piling up, a lady without a blinker will sideswipe my vehicle. After successfully eliminating a carpenter ant problem, my dishwasher will decide to die. Perhaps God above enjoys poking me a little, just to keep me on my toes. Whatever the case, costs accrue whether you want them to or not.

But a second mortgage is not necessary with all of life’s expenses. Consider the kitchen. Some people feel the urge to “buy the Cadillac of appliances.” I say thee nay. Who am I trying to impress here, Betty Crocker? These five kitchen appliances, great and small, do not need to cause your credit card added stress.

1. The Dishwasher

I do not believe I need to define the function of a dishwasher. That would be insulting to ones intelligence. But equally insulting are companies that feel the irresistible urge to add 12 different settings in order to wash those dishes! True enough, if one possesses fine China (as opposed to my wife and I who buy Chinet plates), then paying a premium for a dishwasher may be warranted. But even then, would you rather just clean expensive dishes by hand as opposed to running the risk in an automated machine? In my case, I will stick to my GE special from Home Depot, $350 installed. Yep, it is a trifle loud (I can hear it sloshing and spinning from another room as I write this), but after 45 minutes, you will never believe what it does: It cleans my dishes! And this is all for the same price as dishwashers that cost over $1000.

2. The Toaster

I believe my toaster has just celebrated a milestone a month or so ago. I have had the same toaster for approximately twelve years. It behooves me to think I know the exact age of a small appliance, and I will not celebrate with cake and candles. Perhaps an English Muffin or a Pop-Tart would be more appropriate. My Proctor Silex special was actually a gift from my sister when I first moved out on my own. It was purchased at Walgreen’s and similar makes and models sell between $10 and $15. And it still makes toast. Tasty toast. Brown on both sides. Exactly like the $100 Krups brand sold on Amazon.com. Catch my drift?

3. The Blender

My first blender passed away over the Christmas holidays when my wife was creating a delicious chocolate tofu pie. It let out a final pitiful whirl and cough. It served its purpose for over a decade and was almost like the passing of an old, reliable friend. The deceased was a Black and Decker I picked up at Wal-Mart for $25. It had 8 settings, more than enough for any sane human being. Does one really need to pay double for 16 extra settings and a motor strong enough to cut through a metal chain? You decide, dear reader. But I have no qualms with my new Rival blender so far, on sale for $20.

4. The Microwave Oven

Can you just imagine a schoolyard scuffle starting like this: My microwave is better than yours! It has more watt power, so it can, um… microwave faster! I giggle just thinking about it! True, some microwaves heat faster than others, but quicker heating can also equate to a dryer or more rubbery food product. (Ever cook a hot dog in a powerful microwave? You’ll be sorry unless you like looking like a puppy with a chew toy!) Also true, some microwaves have multiple settings, making life a bit easier. But does anybody actually use the Popcorn button on their microwave? The potato button? My $45 Sharp Carousel microwave is going on six years old and it has not let me down. Food is cooked, pretzels are puffy, and Kevin Kreusch is happy he did not spend over $100 for a similar product. Add your own sigh of relief as well!

5. The Coffee Maker

Blasphemy! Heretic! I can hear you screaming at the computer screen. How dare you mess with my cup of coffee; what right do you have? you question menacingly. Well, few appreciate a good cup of Joe more than yours truly, which is why I try to beat my wife to the coffee maker on a daily basis (I still love you dearly Sarah, but sometimes you make it too strong!). Keurig has a revolutionary product that makes a “perfect cup” every time. And many other single-serve coffee makers also claim similar perfection, but at what cost? $50? $100? As much as $200 in some cases? I think I will pass. Especially since this is not taking into consideration the additional cost of the coffee “cups” or “pods” placed in the machine. Mr. Coffee performs the same function as these price-challenged competitors. I am not overly lazy; I can put a coffee filter in a basket. I can also fill it with water and coffee grounds. I can set a timer all by myself. And I can do these things and save 75% off the price of the fancier brands and models.

In no way am I advocating the purchase of inferior products. Due diligence is a useful phrase to throw out there right now. Look up honest online reviews regrading products you want to buy. Listen to word of mouth from trusted friends. Go with brands that give you that warm fuzzy feeling. And always ask yourself: Does my toaster seriously need more bells and whistles, knobs and whatnot than my Sony entertainment system?

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