home-cooked.jpgMy family used to eat out a lot, and if you asked me what ‘a lot’ is, I’d say eating out more than 4 times per week is getting into the ‘a lot’ range.

The main pull to eat out all the time is convenience, because it’s much simpler to have someone bring you a meal in a restaurant or to a drive through window than it would be to get the groceries and make it yourself.

But times, they are a changing, and groceries can now be ordered online and delivered straight to your door. Even better, appliances aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the standard, one-dimensional slow cooker or simple set of pots and pans: with custom small kitchen appliances, you can do more than just steam rice, cook stew, or blend a simple smoothie. Today’s small kitchen appliances make restaurant-quality home cooked meals easy, and you’ll even have fun in the process.

If your New Years Resolution is to make more home cooked meals but you don’t know where to start, here’s a list of small kitchen appliances that will set you up so well you’ll be happy to skip eating out.

If you head out for a smoothie or juice every daybrevile-juicer.jpg

There are a lot of smoothie and juice bars around, and it’s really convenient to go and pick up a drink every day to give you that nutritional boost you’re looking for. But when you pay anywhere from $5 to $10 per drink, it really adds up on your monthly budget.

It’s easy to make your own custom smoothies and juice at home: all you need is a powerful blender or juicer. Take the Breville 850-watt juicer fountain for example: just pop in your fruit and vegetables and it pulverizes them into your favourite juice. Because you get a 1L juice pitcher, there’s enough to share with your spouse or roommate, and it’s easy to clean because you can put it all in the dishwasher.

Smoothies packed with nuts, fruit, or greens are easy to process if you have a powerful blender. The Vitamix is worth its weight in gold because it can make everything from ingredient-packed smoothies to soup and more. The blades spin at 240 mph, so there’s nothing it can’t handle.

ricecooker-slowcooker.jpgIf you’re a fan of take-out rice bowls

I’ve never been the best at making rice bowls at home, but there’s no reason not to when you have the Risotto Plus Cooker from Breville. Just like so many of the amazing kitchen appliances hitting the shelves in the past year, it’s an all-in-one device. That means you can make perfect rice, creamy risotto, or use it as a slow cooker.

The trick to making easy rice bowls at home is to use the Breville to simmer your chicken or beef all day while you’re out or at work, then when you get home throw it in the oven on low to keep it warm while you use the rice cooker option. Within minutes of you walking in the door, you have your favourite meal on the table. Clean up is a snap too-just throw everything in the dishwasher and you’re done.

When you always just grab a rotisserie chickencuisinart-toaster-oven.jpg

I am guilty of becoming addicted to Nando’s chicken salads this past summer. We were in the middle of a renovation and we didn’t have a real kitchen, so eating out because a daily thing for us. The only option I found that seemed somewhat healthy was Nando’s Casa salad, and we ate it a lot.

Now that I have a kitchen, I can’t justify running out to grab Nando’s every day, but I can recreate the same salad at home with minimal effort when I use my Cuisinart’s Rotisserie Convection Toaster Oven.

I know what you’re thinking; toaster ovens are so 1990’s, but I can honestly say that the latest toaster ovens have nothing in common with mom’s toaster oven. Yes, the Cuisinart’s Rotisserie Convection Toaster Oven will toast your bread, bagels, or anything else you want to eat in the morning, but it also can roast up to a 4-pound chicken to perfection.

To recreate my favourite salad, all I had to do was buy a bottle of Nando’s sauce and I was off to the races. When it’s that easy, it becomes very simple to eat at home.

cast-iron-pan.jpgIf you love skillet steak or chicken

There’s nothing quite like having someone serve you a seared steak or chicken breast right in the cast iron pan. With steam still rising and the peppers and mushrooms still popping in the pan, there’s no doubt you’re about to have a hot, delicious meal. But you can recreate that experience at home with very minimal effort, and all you need is a great cast iron pan in your kitchen cupboard.

The Cuisinart 28cm Cast-iron grill pan lets you fry, grill, or sear everything, and you can make steaks, chicken, breakfast skillets, pancakes, the best fried eggs and more, all without leaving the house. We’ve even used our cast iron pan to make delicious brownies and other desserts, and you can’t beat how it goes from stove to oven to table to keep everything hot and ready to serve.

Even the perfect latte is easy at homeDe’Longhi Dedica Pump Espresso.jpg

I just reviewed the De’Longhi Dedica espresso machine over the holidays and there’s one definite thing I took away from it: I am a better barista than a lot of the places that have served me $5 coffee. Why? To start, the De’Longhi Dedica made it very simple to make amazing espresso, and that shot of espresso was the basis for so many beverages.

All you have to do is load the espresso maker, hit a button, and you’re done. By the time Christmas was here I had perfected an Eggnog latte that had my friends popping by with their own mugs, and it was so easy even I couldn’t believe it. My Vine video shows perfectly how simple the De’Longhi Dedica was to use.

If your New Years Resolution was to make more home cooked meals, these small kitchen appliances will be your new best friends. Eating out is fun, but there’s nothing quite like being able to walk into your own kitchen and make it yourself.

If you need some great recipe ideas, I’ve got them every week on Shelly’s Friday Favourites, and for more great small kitchen appliances, head on over to Bestbuy.ca.

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Editor Appliances and Lifestyle
I'm a Vancouver freelancer, tech enthusiast, and one of the biggest home appliance fans you'll ever meet. When I'm not wearing through keyboards writing for Best Buy, The Globe & Mail, and The Vancouver Province, you'll find me on my farm with my llamas, chickens, and ducks. Visit my website Survivemag

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