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Four Reasons to Not Buy that Unitasking Kitchen Item

egg slicerOver the past year, I have changed the way my family eats. I do a lot more cooking of whole foods and a lot less opening of boxes from the freezer. My time spent in the kitchen has increased dramatically. There have been many times that I’ve thought “making this would be so much easier if I just had the right gadget.” But I’ve refrained. Often the item I’d like to have is what Alton Brown of Good Eats calls a unitasker – a kitchen gadget that is only good for one purpose.

Why shouldn’t you go out and buy a unitasker? I’ve got a few good reasons.

  1. You most likely already have something in your kitchen that will do the job. I recently returned a panini maker still in a box to a friend who was lending it to me because it had been sitting unused in her cupboard. I had the idea that I would be making loads of tomato, mozzarella, and basil paninis this summer. When I finally got around to making one, it occurred to me that I could make it in my grill pan and use my cast iron skillet as a weight to press it down.
  2. Your kitchen doesn’t need to be any more cluttered than it is. I don’t have a single friend who has extra space in the kitchen. I certainly don’t. That panini maker was huge. I really had no place to store it after it was used. I already have a place to store my grill pan and cast iron skillet. Unitasking items are generally used very infrequently. Do you really need to take up precious kitchen space with them?
  3. You’ll save money. Some unitaskers (like that panini maker) can be really expensive. Others, like an egg slicer, only cost a few dollars. But money is money and if you can save a little and slice those eggs with a knife that you already have, you’ll have more money for better quality food.
  4. You’ll be helping out the environment. This is probably the most important reason. Lots of resources are used to get a gadget to your kitchen. There are physical resources that are used to create the item. There are resources used to create the packaging. Fuel is used to ship the item to the store or your home. The less stuff you buy, the better it is for the environment.

I do have one unitasker in my kitchen. My waffle maker. I don’t know how else I could make waffles without it, and it does get used frequently.

What’s your take on unitaskers? Do you have any that are must haves? Have you ever found an innovative way of getting around needing one?

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11 comments
  1. Kelli Best-Oliver

    I totally agree. As much as I love Sur La Table, I know that cute-but-unnecessary utensils and tools will add to my already-cluttered kitchen. There are things that are legitimately useful, but I’m a firm believer in multi-tasking materials. Right now I’m jonesing for a dutch oven so I can do some slow braises.

  2. PaniniKathy

    Hey now – a panini maker is a total multitasker! Or at least the one I use is (Breville Ikon from Williams-Sonoma). Beyond sandwiches, I’ve used it to quickly grill vegetables, steak, chicken, fish…even cookies and brownies. It’s definitely not a unitasker in my kitchen! :-)

  3. Mara

    I am so into this, partly because I’m too lazy to go shopping! I definitely try to get by with less (and actually didn’t even replace my really crummy stove until one of the burners broke and I was worried it would start a fire).

    My favorite multi-use of a single-use item is my salad spinner. I love to use the deep bowl to put bread in to rise. Did it today in fact.

  4. Robin Shreeves

    Kelli – I jones after a Le Cruessett dutch oven – an orange one – to make soups in all winter. I just think the soups will taste better. But I haven’t given in.

    PaniniKathy – I really didn’t know you could do other things on a panini maker – I never opened it. I did not mean to offend your machine!

    Mara – mmmm. homemade bread. YUM..

  5. Bonniejean

    I’ve found that I can use my veggie peeler as a cheese slicer. And I found an egg slicer on the street in a “free” box that I use as an egg slicer and cooked potato slicer. I do love my salad spinner. It’s a small one, so I don’t really use it for anything else, but it beats the plastic bag and washcloth routine!

  6. Robin Shreeves

    Bonniejean – well know, if you got the egg slicer from a free box, it kind of negates #’s 3 & 4. Yay for used items.

    Emily – I’ve toyed with the idea of a George Foreman grill because it so versatile, but there’s that whole small kitchen problem

  7. Bridget

    The most important thing is that you use the item. Sure, for some people a blender is absolutely indespensible, but for others, it’s a useless bulky thing they have to store. My brother has a quesadilla maker, and he uses it (no joke) five nights a week…just puts all the leftovers (from steak to chinese food) inbetween two tortillas). It works for him. It’s just something you have to gauge the usefulness of…if you are a vegetarian and eat egg salad three times a week, then hey – an egg slicer saves precious time (and possible finger injury). Bottom line? Conscious consumption is where it is at.

  8. Ken

    I don’t mind having a few unitaskers in my kitchen, but with my creativity, even a percieved unitasker can me used for other things.
    My favorite multitasker (I think it’s one) is my George Forman Grill ($5.99 at Savers). I use it to make grilled cheese, steaks, hot dogs, brats, and cooasionally liver.

    My space-taking unitaskers: Coffee pot and toaster.

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