The economy is in freefall, and you're probably looking for relief. The best place to start saving money is to stop handing half your paycheck over to restaurants, who add to the cost of food all that overhead and "ambiance." And that's before you start tipping.
It doesn't have to be that way. You can start with staying home to eat. "But cooking is too hard," you complain? Not so — especially when you have clever gadgets make it easy to feed yourself. You may even end up saving a lot of money and avoid all that work at the same time.
We've found nine of the best cooking worksavers right here, and sure, they're going to cost a few bucks up front, but the time and effort they save means they'll pay for themselves in no time.
9. Zyliss Multipeeler ($19)
This little Zyliss Multipeeler works like an electric band saw, oscillating up a storm and making quick work of peeling potatoes, apples, chocolate, cheese, or your finger, if you don't watch out.
8. Oliso Frisper Vacuum Sealer ($60)
The idea here is to cook one huge batch of dinner, and then wrap up, say, three more night's meals in these airtight storage bags. It's economy of scale in the kitchen. The trick is the way the Frisper creates a professional vacuum seal with a quick click. Its resulting Vac-Snap resealable bags are easy to open and reseal.
7. Adjustable measuring cups ($18 each)
No need to fill up a drawer with an assortment of measuring cups when you have these adjustable cups around. Slide that rubber knob and you can measure out any amount up to two tablespoons with the small cup, or up to a half-cup with the larger one. And the magnet on the bottom lets you store them right where you need them, within easy reach.
6. Modernized pressure cooker ($219)
Sure, this Perfect Plus pressure cooker is pricey, but how much would you pay to reduce cooking time by 70 percent? It also presses all that flavor deep into the food, and you can buy cheaper cuts of meat, because this autoclave-like capsule tenderizes as it cooks. We like this expensive one because it looks so cool, but you can pick a cheap one up at a yard sale for a song.
5. Turkey cannon ($28)
Bake up a big turkey and you can feed the whole neighborhood on the cheap. This turkey cannon makes sure Mr. turkey-lurkey is cooked evenly from the inside, too, and you add your favorite moisturizing agent (think Pabst Blue Ribbon, baby), and it gets infused into the meat for the juiciest bird in all of tent city.
4. Neuro Fuzzy Rice Cooker and Warmer ($175)
Rice is cheap, so this brainy rice cooker will pay for itself in no time. Plus, it's so spiffy it might coax you into the kitchen just to play with it. It's as clever as any sushi chef, using its uncanny fuzzy logic to determine when the rice is flawlessly cooked. A year's worth of fries pays for it.
3. Plate that cooks (design concept, no pricing yet)
This plate has metal film that keeps it hot, assuring slow eaters that their dinner will still be warm at the last bite. Just be sure to keep those hands away from your plate! Now if this design concept would just be modified a bit with wireless power and get even hotter, you might be able to just cook your meals right there at the table.
2. Electric Corkscrew/wine chiller ($50)
Okay, maybe things aren't that bad for you, and you can still drink wine on a budget — if not, there's always Trader Joe's Two Buck Chuck wine. Don't suffer too much, though, with this electric corkscrew, opening 30 bottles of wine (hopefully not all in one sitting) on a battery charge. Sure beats tipping that sommelier!
1. Panini Iron for the fireplace ($28)
If things get really bad and you don't even have any electric power left, you can still enjoy delicious panini sandwiches by the campfire with this panini press. There are also irons for double-wide pies and hot dogs, so all the hobos can join in the fun.