With ads all around you and stores carrying every imaginable modern kitchen tool, it is tempting to get your hands on any seemingly useful kitchen appliance you come across. In the end however, you clutter your kitchen counter with things you rarely use.
Whether you are kitting up a new kitchen, remodelling your old one or just adding a few kitchen appliances to make your life easier, don’t go on a shopping spree. Sit down first and decide what you need in your kitchen. Take into account how many you are in the house, your kitchen space, how often you cook, what kind of foods you prepare often and your budget.
There are of course the basics that every modern kitchen should have. Start with these and then add to them as you see necessary.
1. Fridge freezer
Fridge freezers come in numerous styles. There are the classic double door fridges with the freezer at the top or you can opt for the bottom-freezer varieties. If you have a big family, consider the spacious side by side American fridge freezers or French door types.
Generally, if you have a bigger family or you go grocery shopping several times a week, get a larger fridge freezer. On the other hand, if you live alone or just you and your partner, a smaller one will do. For a modern style, go for integrated fridge freezers though you should expect to spend more.
Whichever style you go for, make sure it is frost-free. It will save you a whole lot of cleaning and maintenance work.
Note that if you already have a separate standalone freezer, you can get a larder fridge. This is a type of fridge without an ice box.
2. Oven and Cooker
Unless you have a separate cooktop or hob, I recommend getting an all-in-one cooking range. It’ll come with a fan or conventional oven and electric plus gas burners at the top. Some more expensive models also have an induction hob.
As with a fridge freezer, the most important factor here is size and this will depend on your cooking needs.
Large family that eats plenty of home-cooked meals? Buy a large oven with at least 5 or 6 burners plus a grill.
Moving into your first apartment after college? A compact oven with 4 burners or an electric mini oven is good enough.
For a modern seamless style in your kitchen, buy an integrated range. But it’ll be more expensive.
Freestanding dishwashers are the most popular and usually the cheapest. You can get a good one for less than £300. For a modern look, go for an integrated one though it will cost more.
As with other large kitchen appliances, size is one of the main deciding factors. If your sink piles up with plenty of dirty dishes after every meal, get something big enough to handle the load. If on the other hand you are just two or three in the house, a compact or mid-size dishwasher is perfect.
Other important features to look for include water and energy efficiency, programming settings, cleaning time, child lock protection, adjustable racks and anti-flooding protection. If you are buying a pricey model, look for features like WiFi and dirt sensors.
4. Multi-tasking food processor
Onto the smaller appliances.
When it comes to preparing your food, there are dozens of different appliances you can buy. There is a blender for your fruits and ice, food chopper, food grinder and so on. You could get all these or you can save money and time and just get a good quality multi-purpose food processor.
The best multi-tasking food processors can blend fruits, crush ice, mince meat, chop veggies, whisk eggs and so much more. You may have to spend a bit of money to get a good one but it’ll be worth it.
Think of microwaves and fridges as sibling appliances. They pair up perfectly. But a microwave is not just for thawing frozen foods; it’s also great for quick cooking. If you get one with a grill, you can even go further and toast bread or grill some pork chops.
There are three basic types of microwaves. Solo microwaves which are for simple reheating, grill microwaves that can reheat and grill foods and combination microwaves that can grill, heat and bake.
Decide which one best fits your needs. Of course the more functions it has the more expensive it’ll be. Also consider size. Get a big one if you’ll be reheating lots of food for the family and a compact one for yourself or a small family.
6. Sandwich toaster (or Panini press)
Sandwiches are perfect for breakfasts, kids snacks, picnics and quick meals. When buying a sandwich toaster, make sure it’s big enough for your family. Buy a larger one if you think you’ll be making thicker sandwiches. I recommend one with a Teflon surface and stainless steel handle.
If you love really thick multi-layer sandwiches, get a Panini press. It’s bigger and can even grill raw sandwich ingredients like shrimp or bacon.
If you love your cuppa, get a kettle. Don’t use the microwave; it’s tedious, takes forever and you may not get that perfectly rich cup of tea.
Decide if you want a stove or electric kettle (hint: electric kettles are more popular because they are easier to use and have more features).
If you can’t stand less than perfect tea or coffee, look for a kettle with temperature and keep-warm settings. If you live in a hard water area, get a kettle with an integrated mineral filter to prevent scale build-up. If you are tech savvy enough and/or like various mobile apps, try a smart kettle.
If you got lucky and found a good food processor with a mixer function, you can jump this one. If not, plan for a food mixer. It will take all the hard work out of preparing mixes for bread, muffins, cakes and desserts.
Most people can do with cheaper models with basic functions. If you bake often, get a pricier mixer. It’ll have a more stable base, it’ll come with extra attachments and you’ll get extra functions like pause and countdown timer.
9. Kitchen scale
Don’t just throw in ingredients hoping your inner sense of estimation gets the measurements right. Your recipes will never turn out the way you want.
A kitchen scale is great for measuring baking and cooking ingredients. You can also use it to measure out portions for storage or to ensure you eat the doctor-recommended amount of food.
There are several types of kitchen scales but just buy a digital one with an LCD display. They can measure very small amounts and even switch between measurement units.
10. Kitchen vacuum sealer
Here’s one that most people don’t think about but which can make your kitchen life so much easier.
Air, and specifically oxygen, makes your food rot faster. A kitchen vacuum sealer sucks all the air out of the bag and lengthens the life of your stored foods. Instead of refrigerating a full chicken, you can store smaller pieces in vacuum-sealed bags and use only those you need at a time.
You can also use it to store fruits and vegetables for longer.