How to Shop for the Best Appliances for Your Kitchen

shopping for a refrigerator

On our to do list this week is picking up a new filter for our refrigerator. We’ve had it for 2 years and it’s been working fine, so we have no needs to pick up another. However, I know that some Married Food readers do plan on replacing their appliances, so I wanted to share a few shopping tips on getting the best deal on kitchen appliances.

Get a Deal on Your Next Kitchen Appliance shopping for a refrigerator

Don’t wait until your appliance completely breaks down before you save up for the replacement. Set aside just a little bit of money every month, that way you can take advantage of deals when they become available. Cash can be a great way to get a discount in some stores.

Scratch and Dent Sales

If you want to get a top of the line model, but don’t have the cash for it, you may want to try out scratch and dent models. Some wrote to me how they save 40% on their refrigerator because of the same blemish. They still qualified to get the manufacturer’s warranty. Darwin was able to get a $2800 refrigerator for $1050 by going with the floor model.

 Membership Discounts

Before buying, ask if the sales representative if the store offers discounts to military members, AAA card carriers, or other memberships. It doesn’t hurt to check and it could get you an additional 5-10% off.

Use Mail-In Rebates

Take advantage of rebates offered to get save even more money. Send it out within the first 3 days of buying the item or you’re likely to forget it and lose the money.

Finding Reliable Appliances

Since most major appliance costs quite a bit of money, it pays to take the time to find the best value for your hard earned cash. One very helpful resource is Consumer Reports. You can get a subscription to their magazine with bonus buying guides included or you can get a subscription to their highly useful online site.

Use them not only to find the best value now, but also check to see if the manufacturer has a reputation for providing reliable products that hardly break down.

More Ways to Save

By the way, besides their site, you can also pick up some great apps through them for a variety of items, including:.

  • Mobile Shopper 2012 ($4.99/year) – Get instant access to Consumer Report ratings and reviews on electronics, appliances, and other products. You can also see if the product you’re looking at is considered a reliable model.
  • Babies & Kids ($.99/year) – Parents and family can double check to make sure their purchases for the little ones in their life are safe.
  • Safety News & Recalls (Free) – See if there has been a recall on items that you’ve already purchased and get some peace of mind.
  • Eco-Labels ($.99) – Don’t become confused by the jargon; find out if eco-products do the job or if it’s just hype.
  • Hospital Ratings ($2.99 on iTunes) – Before checking in to a hospital, see how other patients review their stay, check hospital stats, and get a second opinion on patient care.

Thoughts on Appliance Hunting

I hope these tips can save you some money when you make your next appliance purchase. How many of you are planning on replacing your appliances? How long have you had your current ones? Do you tend to save up and buy or do you pay by installments?

Photo Credit: Jo Bourne

Going Over on Our Food Budget

food and grocery bill

Every month, my husband and I check our family’s income and expenses for the previous month. We just finished looking at January’s budget and I noticed that we really went overboard on our food expenses. We use Mint to track our accounts and for January here was the total for food related expenses -> $767.17.

Yep we spent a ton of money on eating. Looking at the transactions, there were some one time expenses plus treating family and friends who visited. That said, I think we can do better with our food spending.

Groceries – Costco and More

We made quite a few trips  (8 total) for groceries this month. The total for grocery shopping last month’s grocery run came out to $454.55.

Most of the trips were to the Food Lion right around the corner, where I grabbed items as needed (plus a bit since I already there….). We did picked up some staples that we needed, but more often than not I didn’t bring a grocery list.

The Costco trip was during the last weekend when we had a dear friend and several members of our family over to hang with us and see our baby girl. Instead of going out, we decided to eat in and have a family cook out dinner. Plus we wanted to give our friend a nice lunch (grilled rib-eye!)  before the crowd came. food and grocery bill

We hustled over to Costco and picked up the following items:

  • 4 Rib-eye steaks
  • Big bag of sweet peppers
  • 12pk of mango habenero sausage
  • 12k of ground beef patties
  • Half & half
  • Creamer
  • Paper plates
  • Stuffed Tilapia
The grand total for that excursion was $158.80.

Eating Out – Not Bad, But……

We did go out quite a bit with our friends and family last month. In fact we only went out for a lunch date once to grab some sushi for their specials. The rest was sit down restaurants that weren’t terribly expensive, it just went went out frequently and treat a few times. We never feel bad about that; we just have to space them out more.

We spent a total of $177.79 in January eating out at restaurants. I believe February will be much lower – we’ll be eating in more and having friends over for meals instead of going out so often.

Fast Food – Munching Away Money

Between coffee shops and fast food we spent about $100 to get a quick bite. Honestly having something once in awhile is fine with us, but we could be smarter about how much we eat out.

Besides shaving off a bit of more off our expenses, it’ll be better for our waists to be more thoughtful about our food selection.

Thoughts on Your Family’s Food Budget

I’m also happy to say a few of the charges were mislabeled, meaning our expenses were just a tad lower. Still, I think we can do better with our grocery and restaurant spending.

How did you do with your food spending last month? Did you stay within the budget or did you go over? What’s your family’s average for groceries each month? How much do you spend on eating out?

 Photo Credit: MSVG

Shopping Around for Baby Food Processor

baby bullet baby food maker

I mentioned earlier this week that our baby girl was starting on solids. Since she started earlier than we expected, we’ve been buying her baby food. However we’d like to make our own baby food for her, not only to save a bit of money, but to also introduce her to more foods than typically offered at the stores.

What that means for us is it’s time to buy a food processor for the job. Our current food processor isn’t up for the challenge. It’s a very small unit that only has one setting and it doesn’t even do that well (we have very chunky salsa).

Our Baby Food Processor List

I started looking around and talking to friends and family to get an idea of what they recommend. After whittling it down here is a list of the contenders that we’re looking at buying.

Baby Bullet

Both my sister and sister in law mentioned this as an option. They figured it could handle pretty much all of our needs and the price seemed reasonable. I checked on Amazon to see what was included:baby bullet baby food maker

  • Power base
  • Batch bowl
  • Baby blend blade and milling blade
  • Easy pop silicone batch tray
  • 6-date dial storage cups
  • Spatula and 1 short cup
  • 1 stay fresh resealable lid and tip proof tray,
  • User manual and recipe book
It’s everything, but the kitchen sink. Based on the reviews, people seem really happy with it. I did, however, notice a review that the Baby Bullet isn’t dish washer safe. Curious to see how hard it would be to clean by hand. I’m looking for something easy to use, clean, and store.

By the way you should really check out their commercial on YouTube, a couple of the lines are hilarious. While I do think it has some handy features for parents, I wouldn’t get as excited as they do about them.

Beaba Babycook Baby Food MakerBeaba Babycook Baby Food Maker

After I had our baby, our moms came to our home to help us out (each had their own time -couldn’t handle both!) as we got adjusted to the new routine. While my mother in law was in for her visit she mentioned this as an option.

The Babycook offers a steamer, blender, warmer and defroster in one compact appliance. I absolutely love how portable it is, but I wonder if it could handle more than just baby food.

The great news about this processor is all the fantastic feedback, customers look to be happy with it.

Baby Brezza One Step Baby Food Makerbaby breeza  baby food

I found this one on Amazon and it seems to be simple and extremely easy to use, which is a big plus for us. Unfortunately reader reviews have it as a big or miss. I’m also wondering if it could help with other food processing work.

Thoughts on Food Processors for Baby Food

What we’re going back and forth on is whether we want the all in one option or if we want a set of stuff. The appeal of Babycook and the Breeza is how little space would be used for them. On the other hand if something breaks, it’s pretty much done and we’d have to replace everything.

We’d like to ask for your advice. Which do you think is the best option? Can any of these do a decent job of pulling double duty and take care of our family’s overall food processing needs?

How to Save Money on Food When Traveling

While a lot of frugality articles focus on the art of saving money on food during travels abroad, few tackle the subject of how to keep things cheap during the actual travel—while moving through places like airports, planes, buses, trains, and the various terminals one might encounter. On any trip longer than a few hours, these in-between spaces can add up to big bucks.

It’s worth looking at a few strategies for lowering costs while moving around. I have some simple, but rarely practiced ideas to get you started:

  • Eat just before leaving, and plan to eat on arrival. Your best bet for cheap food is to eat home (whether yours or someone else’s), or at the very least somewhere outside the airport or tourist district. Try to eat a filling, healthy meal capable of holding you over to your destination.
  • Skip eating during travel, even on longer flights. Some research now suggests that avoiding all foods during a long trip that crosses time zones, and eating breakfast at the appropriate time at your destination, can be the fastest way to beat jet lag. Airplane food is also taste-free, makes many people gassy, and can often cost additional money.
  • Buy water at the airport. Unfortunately, water is one of those things which won’t make it through security, and altitude is notorious for making you dehydrated. If you buy anything at the airport, make it a large bottle of water, even if it’s four bucks. Water will have the added benefit of fighting off hunger during the trip.
  • Invest in a mini-cooler. Something so small that it can only hold a few sandwiches might be more than enough, or go with one size larger to hold a bottled water or soda. Buy a set of flexible freezer “blankets” like those made by Rubbermaid, which can be cut down to size so you only take as many as you need and can stuff them between foods.
  • Pack your foods carefully. If you choose to take food on the trip with you, avoid anything that will trip off security at the airport (most things won’t, but you never know), and things that are overly fragrant and will annoy every passenger within 12 seats of you. Tuna and curry are obvious no-nos.
  • Choose dry snacks. If bringing a cooler is not your thing, pack non-perishable snacks that have some nutritional value. Nuts are a healthy, high-calorie snack that won’t make a mess and will keep you full. If they’re available on your flight, ask for an extra bag to hold you over.

By doing a bit of pre-planning before your trip and not leaving food during travel to chance, you have an opportunity to save money money for what you really want–your destination. Don’t get suckered into paying the high prices at the airport by using some of the tips I’ve mentioned.

Do you have any other ideas I’ve missed?

Photo by emrank

10 Kitchen Appliances You May Never Use

kitchen appliances list

This post is from Bucksome Boomer.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a specific machine or gadget for every task in the kitchen? When you’re improvising this may seem like the ideal, but it is really not.

There are a couple of kitchen electronics we use every day (coffee maker and toaster) while the rest are used occasionally. Our condo has the smallest kitchen we’ve ever had making counter and cupboard space a premium and only for the must-haves.

Then there is the cost factor. $20-$50 sounds inexpensive until you multiply it by number of appliances. Of course, the price could be even higher depending on features and appliances list

Least Used Kitchen Appliances

Here are ten items I’ve had or considered that were eventually deemed unnecessary. Most likely, you don’t need them either.

1. Baked Potato Cooker. We got this as a Christmas gift. I appreciate the thought but we never used it and finally donated it after storing for a couple of years. I prefer the taste of oven-baked potatoes. If we don’t have the time or want to heat the kitchen, I just microwave them.

2. Electric Wok. At one time, I used the wok every 3-4 weeks, but the footprint of it required a lot of storage space so it was downsized along with our home. Now, I use a large multi-purpose skillet and it works just fine.

3. Cappuchino Maker. My oldest son wanted one of these for a holiday present years ago. We gave it to him and I think it got used a handful of times. He liked the drinks but wasn’t willing to go to the trouble to make them regularly. Not too much later, it was at a garage sale.

4. Ice Cream Maker. This may be the most controversial machine on the list. I remember how much time electric makers saved homemade ice cream lovers when they first came out. However, most households just don’t use them enough to justify the storage space.

5. Rotisserie. Chicken broiled on a rotisserie is one of my favorite meals. I get a 3-4 poundbroiled chicken for only $5 at the nearby big box store. Just the thought of cleaning the machine, let alone paying for and storing it, turns me off!

6. Sandwich Press. Who doesn’t love a grilled sandwich or panini? But you don’t need a separate machine. I have a counter-top grill with 5 types of inserts so I can make hot sandwiches, waffles and grill meat all with the same appliance.

7. Wine Opener. If you open a bottle of wine nightly, then maybe this gadget wouldn’t be a bad deal. For box wine or infrequent drinkers, a manual corkscrew is just fine.

8. Ice Shaver. Hawaiian shaved ices are refreshing on a hot summer day. What do you do with the machine the rest of the year? I think it’s cheaper in the long run to buy the occasional shaved ice instead of getting the machine and ingredients.

9. Egg Cooker. When I think about the hundreds of years people have been cooking eggs, an electric egg cooker seems very unnecessary. Don’t limit yourself to cooking them one or two styles. Use a skillet or pot (for boiled eggs) and follow a good cook book. You’ll be making perfect eggs in no time.

10. Quesadilla Maker. We love quesadillas, but it seems silly to have machine just to make them and warm tortillas. That multi-purpose skillet is the perfect size for burrito size tortillas and my husband makes a mean chicken quesadilla!

Take a critical look at your kitchen? Do you have machines and gadgets that are rarely used? Lighten the load and sell or donate them. What is the kitchen appliance you never use?

This post was originally published on Couple Money.

photo: Some rights reserved by jbcurio