When you find yourself walking through the kitchen section at Bed, Bath & Beyond, it’s hard not to pine for the doughnut maker, ice cream machine and pizza cooker. But when living in an apartment – which often means storage and counter space are at a premium – it’s best to channel those urges toward the kitchen gadgets you’ll actually use.
Here are five that will do much more than sit on top of your fridge collecting dust:
Rice cooker: Though a pot on the stove works just fine, a cooker designed specifically for rice will free you from having to check if it’s done yet every five minutes. Just follow the instructions for the perfect ratio of rice and water, press the button and move onto other tasks until it turns itself off. Even if you forget about it for a little while, many cookers will stay on the warming setting long after the rice done. On many rice cookers, you can also set a delay so it will be ready for you when you get home from work or the gym!
Chopper/dicer: With limited space, gadgets performing multiple functions are key. Choose a dicer with multiple speed settings and use it for everything from dicing garlic and basil to chopping onions and apples to pureeing bananas and strawberries. The parts are usually dishwasher safe, and it can be stored almost anywhere without taking up a lot of valuable cabinet space.
Coffee maker: If you’re a coffee drinker, being able to brew some at home every morning is essential (not to mention, it also saves you a ton of money on daily Starbucks trips). The options are endless, from basic drip models to French presses or espresso machines. If you’re the only one drinking it, consider a single-serve model or a drip machine with a small carafe (six cups or less).
Grill pan or electric grill: Indoor grills have come a long way from the ones you had in your dorm room. The countertop versions can be used as presses (for grilled cheese and quesadillas) or as a flat grill for everything from hot dogs to pork chops. If you’d rather use the stove, or don’t have room for a portable grill on your counter, grill pans work just as well, as long as you’re willing to flip your sandwiches halfway through!
Hand mixer: Save that $400 KitchenAid stand mixer for your wedding registry or future dream kitchen. In the meantime, a hand mixer will do just fine and take up much less space. The standard models with two beaters are perfect for mixing cookie dough and brownie batter, and hand blenders are great for soups, salsas and sauces.
What kitchen gadgets do you refuse to live without? Leave your favorites in the comments below.