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Kitchen Tools That are Worth the Dough

These days, it seems like there's a kitchen gadget for just about everything. From fancy egg slicers to $200 waffle makers, it's easy enough to spend a small fortune outfitting your kitchen with tools and convenient items. Now you may be thinking that kitchen appliances are a good investment, since, conceivably, they'll encourage you to do more cooking at home, thus saving yourself money on ordering in and dining out. But while there's some reasonable logic there, the fact of the matter is that you don't need to go on a major buying spree to whip up a host of good meals at home. The next time you're out shopping, skip the overpriced gadgets you'll probably only use twice a year and instead focus on the items that offer the most bang for your buck. Here are a few worth purchasing: Coffee Maker Love coffee? Who doesn't? Brewing your own coffee at home is far more economical than buying coffee from a local chain or café. You can score a decent coffee maker for $100 or less and save anywhere from $1 to $3 or more per day on your morning cup of joe. However, while a coffee maker is certainly a wise investment, you're better off avoiding the Keurig fad and sticking to a traditional model. Sure, the single-serve option may seem more convenient, but if you go that route, you're stuck paying a premium for those little pods that can really add up over time. Toaster Oven The regular old toaster's more elaborate cousin, the toaster oven can be an invaluable tool when you're short on time and patience. You can find a compact toaster oven for under $50 and use it to warm up everything from frozen chicken nuggets to leftover pizza. Not only do toaster ovens heat up much faster than traditional ovens, but they also tend to cost less to operate. In fact, think of your toaster oven as an eco-friendly investment that'll make your life much easier. Crock Pot Imagine being able to take a whole bunch of random ingredients, toss them into a single pot, walk away and come back hours later to a rich, wholesome stew. This kitchen fantasy could be yours if you spend $40 or less on a slow cooker or Crock Pot. Crock Pots are among the most convenient, easy-to-use kitchen gadgets in existence. You can cook everything from soup to lasagna to dessert in your Crock Pot and have enough leftovers to last all week -- which, incidentally, will save you time and also work wonders for your budget. Food Processor It slices. It dices. It does everything a knife can do, only much, much faster. If you don't already own a food processor, stop what you're doing and find one for your kitchen. At just $50 to $100 for a large, 12-cup model, owning a food processor can cut your prep time in half. Plus, using a food processor can actually help you avoid injury, as you'll spend less time wielding a knife with your fingers on the chopping block nearby. So there you have it: You can skip the fancy pasta maker and popcorn popper and focus on kitchen gadgets that are far more useful and versatile. Although a lot of the tools you'll see out there might sound nice in theory, unless you're running an at-home catering business, there's no sense in acquiring gadgets you'll use on occasion at best. Remember, cooking at home is supposed to save you money, and overspending on kitchen tools is only going to put you back at square one.