Have you ever had a relative or someone ask you what you want for Christmas yet you have no good answer? Well if you don’t already have these items, I would suggest asking for either a bread maker or a rice cooker. Each of these items allow you to make staple food items at a fraction of the cost of purchasing the same items in the store. I personally received both as gifts last year and I must say they are two of the most frequently used kitchen appliances we now own. If you are like me and enjoy a quality food and cooking, these are must have items.
First, the rice cooker. Rice goes with almost anything and it is quick and healthy. The problem is too often people end up purchasing rice in small quantities or little one meal serving size flavored rice kits that can cost anywhere from 1 to 3 dollars. With a rice cooker it is easy to simply buy a bag of good rice from your local Asian market and it will last months and cost maybe 5 dollars. Then when you are pressed for time or don’t know what to make for dinner, throw in a cup of rice and some water, hit the button and forget about it. In about 15 minutes you have perfectly cooked rice to accompany almost any meal. So instead of paying a dollar or two for a one-time rice side dish at the store you can have your own rice for pennies on the dollar.
While it is cost effective, it also is nearly hassle-free. Instead of watching another pot on the stove or worrying about when the rice is done, you simply throw it in and hit a button. Go ahead, take a shower and unwind after coming home from work while your dinner cooks. After you’re done eating the cleanup is almost as effortless. The non-stick container pops out of the machine and in about 30 seconds you can run it under some hot water with soap and you’re done. Save time and money with that quick gift idea.
Another great idea is a bread machine. At first when we got this as a gift I was skeptical. I had no idea if I’d ever make my own bread. I’ll tell you one thing, and that is we bake bread weekly in this house now and it costs virtually nothing. Buying a whole loaf of bread from the store for just two people can often be a waste as loaves are large and you can’t eat enough sandwiches before it goes bad. Why spend a dollar or two a week just to keep bread on hand when you can make it yourself, fresh, and far better tasting at a fraction of the cost?
Not only does it make fantastic bread, but it makes great dough. We generally have pizza once a week and the closest pizza place is about 20 miles away. We can’t get delivery, and buying a pie on the way home from work not only costs 10 or so dollars, but it is not that great tasting either. The solution? Make your own pizza dough in your bread machine. a couple cups of flour with some water, salt, sugar, oil and yeast and in about 50 minutes you have a perfect ball of dough. Throw it on a pizza pan with some sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings and you have yourself a great homemade pizza at a fraction of the cost. Pizza isn’t your thing? That’s fine, you can make your own French bread dough, sourdough or biscuit dough and throw that in the oven. Why pay a few dollars for a Pillsbury canister of pre-made dough when a cup or two of flour can do the same thing for almost nothing?
Now I know this sounds very frugal and it is. But if you are without a gift idea you’d like to receive and enjoy quality food as well as saving some money along the way, then these are great options.
Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle
My name is Jeremy Vohwinkle, and I’ve spent a number of years working in the finance industry providing financial advice to regular investors and those participating in employer-sponsored retirement plans.
I know this article is quite old now but I think it's couldn't be more relevant than it is now. Christmas may be over but with the economy looking like it is these ideas for birthday / wedding presents are perfect.
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I, too, love my rice cooker, and not just for cooking rice dishes as a side dish (though it's fabulous for that). There are some terrific rice cooker cookbooks and one of my favorite dishes is risotto in the rice cooker. Purists may cringe, but it's pretty darn good.
To the list I would also add a crockpot with a recipe book to go with it. Find a few good slow cooker recipes and you are set for hectic days. (I have a fabulous slow cooker Asian stew recipe I'll post on my blog today. :-)
Or, learn to make bread in a rice cooker (http://www.kejut.com/resepjapan2), just buy the rice cooker, and kill 2 birds with one stone!
Yeah, we have tried to cut back on carbs before, it never works. My wife and I just love carbs. I could stand to lose a few pounds I'm sure, but it is hard to break away from a fresh piece of baked bread.
We have a rice cooker, but haven't used it as much recently. It does make great rice. However, after reading Ray Kurzweil's Fantatic Voyage, I've decided to try to cut down on my carbs. I'm not going to Atkins or anything (the saturated fat will kill you too), but making sure the few carbs that I have very low glycemic indexes.
I still eat rice and bread, but they are becoming less and less of a staple for me.
Our bread machine is this one: Breadman Stainless Steel Bread Maker, 2Lb.
If you go with any product that will get used frequently, I would stay with a fairly well-known brand such as Breadman, Cuisinart or Kitchen Aid.
As far as a rice cooker goes, they are very simple machines and don't need to have all the bells and whistles. The only thing I would recommend here is a cooker that has a closing and locking lid.