Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

Mary’s Favorite Kitchen Money Savers

I’m crazy about gadgets, everything from quirky can openers to smartphones. Hand me a Swiss Army knife and I’m in heaven — the more blades and utensils the better.

Today I want to tell you about four gadgets for the kitchen that I consider wise investments — money savers!

All are inexpensive enough to pay for themselves in a short period of time — and then to continue paying off in food savings, which is saying a lot, as food costs continue to soar.

Vacuum Sealer

I’ve depended on a vacuum sealer in my kitchen for so many years that I cannot imagine getting along without it. Now and then I get lazy, and then I get an immediate jolt that reminds me why I do this.

Take strawberries. Placed in the refrigerator in their original container, strawberries often start to show mold in just a couple of days. If I put them into a container and vacuum out all of the air, they will last for at least two weeks in the refrigerator, remaining as fresh as the day I bought them.

My FoodsSaver gets a workout every day. Depending on the type of food, I use FoodSaver containers and canisters, plastic bags and canning jars to seal food items (this requires the jar sealer accessory).

I vacuum seal raw rice, sugar, spices, meat, baked goods (I freeze them first so the vacuum doesn’t crush them), fresh fruits and vegetables.

I even vacuum seal silver flatware to keep it from tarnishing. I vacuum sealed my birth certificate and my Social Security card.

A vacuum sealer, when used diligently, will extend the shelf life of every type of food imaginable. That means your garbage disposal and trash can will cease to be the best-fed members of your household!


I am more convinced than ever that healthy eating is one of the most cost-effective things we can do to reduce health care costs. That’s why I thought we needed a powerful juicer to make healthy smoothies every morning. So I purchased a highly rated juicer — and used it exactly two times before it became a dust collector and space occupier.

Cleaning the thing was so difficult and time-consuming it became more of a problem than a solution. Whoops.

Another problem? Juicers don’t make smoothies! Powerful professional-grade blenders do.

So, six years ago, I donated the juicer to a friend who could use it and replaced it with a Blendtec Total Classic Original Blender.


No one was more surprised than me by what a terrific money saver a dehydrator can be. Of course, you have to actually use it. But when you do, you’ll be quite amazed.

The cost of dehydrating your own food is a fraction of the cost of commercially dehydrated foods, and with no additives or preservatives.

If dehydrating is something you’ll actually do, my pick for Best Inexpensive food dehydrator is the NESCO Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator Model FD-75A. This food dehydrator is compact and comes with five trays but is expandable to 12. It’s powerful enough to be super useful but small enough to allow for easy storage. Now you can dry fruit, vegetables and jerky in hours instead of days.

Food Slicer

I’ve been using my new electric food slicer for about six months, and oh, boy, what a lovely item it is. I’ve pretty much used it every day since I pulled it out of the box. I know what you’re thinking: Why?!

I would have asked the same thing before I did a little cost evaluation. At our home, we eat a lot of deli-style turkey — $6.59 per pound at my local Costco. The same brand roast turkey breast unsliced is $3.99 per pound. The exact same thing!

I discovered the same price difference for cheese with sliced versus bulk. In calculating how often I purchase these items, it didn’t take long to see that slicing at home would pay off big in lower costs.

I looked at a multitude of food slicers, from manual to electric. After much consideration (and slicing), the Chef’sChoice brand is my pick for Best Inexpensive.

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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