best kitchen appliances for the money

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The kitchen is often much more than just the place where food is prepared. It is the place where food is eaten, the dishes are done and the clothes are washed, and the family gathers together. For many it is the heart of the home. Creating your perfect kitchen starts with the appliances that you place in it. They need to be fit for purpose, as well as fitting into the space and matching any design ideas that you have. How much you can change your kitchen to fit your needs may depend on whether you are a home owner or a tenant, but the right appliances can make all the difference to any kitchen space. Follow this handy guide to get the kitchen of your dreams and the right appliances, both large and small.

How Will Use Your Kitchen?

You need to start by considering how you use your kitchen; do you like to cook lots of exciting dishes with fresh ingredients, or are you more of a microwave meal for one? Do you cook for a large family, two of you, or hold regular parties? This decision won’t just affect the type of oven you choose, but also whether you need a dishwasher and the size of fridge-freezer you opt for. Consider the number of people that will be using the kitchen and what their needs are. Large range style ovens are beautiful, but they take up a lot of space and are unnecessary if there are only two of you the majority of the time.

As your kitchen isn’t just about cooking, consider what else you will need. Will your washing machine go in the kitchen? Do you need a tumble dryer? If you have an outside space to dry clothes, you may only need the dryer in bad weather, in that case you might want to consider a combination washer / dryer.

Apply the same considerations to smaller appliances. Before you rush out to buy the latest coffee bean grinder and percolator, are you going to use it? Do you even drink coffee at home? Making these types of decisions will help prioritise your needs when it comes to considering the space you have available.

How Much Space Do You Have?

Once you have an idea of what you need, you have to marry this up with the space you have available. If you have a small kitchen you may need to get creative with your solutions. Just because a kitchen is small doesn’t mean you have to compromise on everything you need. There are a range of modern slim-line dishwashers that take up very little under counter space. Alternatively, you can get counter top dishwashers that are on average no bigger than a microwave. Built-in ovens, where possible are also great space savers as they allow you to work vertically with the space you have available. Combination appliances, such as washer / dryers also save space.

Another way to deal with a small space is to consider whether the appliance needs to be in the kitchen. Washing machines can be placed in bathrooms, garages and even basements to increase your available space. The same is possible with separate freezers, and condenser tumble dryers can be put in cupboards.

Having too much space can also be a problem. The temptation here is to buy more and fill up the space. Avoid this and instead go for quality over quantity. If you have the space for a bigger freezer, and it is something you would benefit from, then go for this rather than purchasing something else that you don’t need just to fill a blank space. Apply the same ideas to smaller appliances, utilizing cupboard and worktop space carefully to fit those small appliances that you can’t live without.

What Is Your Budget?

Both the space you have and the items you need are reliant on the budget you have to spend. This is where you need to prioritise the most. List the appliances you want to buy in order of how important they are. Remember, some smaller items, although nice to have are not necessities. The toaster is one example; if your oven has a grill, then this will make your morning toast just as easily as a toaster. However, it is the bigger appliances that cost the most and it is these that you need to consider in more detail before making any final decisions.

Ovens, Hobs and Hoods

When looking for your oven the first consideration needs to be the fuel options you have available to you. Does your kitchen have the option of gas, or do you only have electricity outlets in the restaurant? Next consider whether you are looking for a free standing self-contained unit, or separate built in hob and oven. This decision may be partly out of your hands depending on the layout of your kitchen and whether you are a home-owner or renting.

If the choice is yours then a built-in oven and hob are great space savers and have a variety of other benefits.

Available as compact, single or double ovens to suit your space
Choice of gas, electric or dual fuel
Hob can be placed separately to oven giving better use of space

However, a free standing unit also has its advantages

  • Quicker and easier to install
  • Often much cheaper to purchase
  • Also available in a range of sizes
  • Dual fuel, gas and electric models available
  • Great if you have little control over the modelling of your kitchen

Finding a Fridge-freezer

One of the most important aspects to consider with your fridge-freezer is how much space you need inside each part. If you buy fresh food regularly then you will need more space in the fridge. If you tend to do large monthly shops, or cook up meals in advance, then a larger freezer would be an advantage. You also need to consider whether you need a single unit, or individual under the counter units. In addition, when looking for your perfect fridge-freezer consider:

  • The energy rating of the appliance. The more efficient, the less it will cost to run
  • Type of shelving – glass shelves are easier to clean and offer less chance of cross contamination
  • Basket options in the freezer – solid ones, rather than wire, will retain colder temperatures
  • Frost free – this option cuts down on defrosting and general maintenance time
  • Fast freeze – cuts down on ice crystal formation and preserves the quality and nutritional content of your food
  • Added extras – such as water dispensers and ice makers – these ideal if you entertain

Dealing with the Dishes

Washing dishes can feel like a thankless and never ending task, especially if you have a family. An easy answer is to invest in a dishwasher. The variety of sizes that are now available means that it is easier than ever to find a dishwasher that will fit your kitchen space. As well as making life easier a dishwasher will often save you money and cut down on the amount of water you use. However, you do need to check the following before you finalize your decision:

  • Check the plumbing in your kitchen – will you need additional plumbing before you can install a dishwasher
  • Look at the capacity of the dishwasher as well as its external size
  • Check the different wash cycles – do you need options such as half load, economy or intensive washes
  • As with your fridge-freezer look at the energy rating
  • Check elements such as the presence of a cutlery basket and removable racks – will your crockery fit?

Making Room for a Microwave

One of the most versatile appliances in your kitchen is the microwave; from heating up drinks to producing quick meals its uses are almost endless. However, it is also one of the easiest appliances to get wrong. Before you even start to look at microwaves you need to decide what it is you want yours to achieve. Then you need to consider the following:

Size – check the size of the internal oven, not just the outside of the appliance. Microwaves are available up to around 1.2 cubic feet; big enough to cook a family casserole. However, they can also be found as small as 0.5 cubic feet; these are only going to fit drinks or individual soup portions.

Wattage – ideally you want a high wattage as it will cook quicker and ensure more even cooking of your food. The average for a good microwave is 1000-watts; anything under 700-watts is likely to be inefficient and runs the risk of producing unevenly heated items.

Programs – Microwaves can do much more than just heat. They are available with defrost, grill, cooking by time, and by weight. The more options you have available the complex the settings can be to work.

Operations – Microwaves are generally either operated by buttons or dials. The choice is really a personal one that depends on your dexterity. Buttons or touch screens tend to be easier, but much depends on the quality and size of the display.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

It is very easy to over buy items when it comes to the small appliances in your kitchen. How many of your friends and neighbors have a waffle iron they never use, or a sandwich toaster that is gathering dust? If you are short on space, or on a tight budget think twice before buying anything that you don’t really need. Also as was mentioned earlier, remember that some appliances have dual purposes.

Once you are ready to start looking at individual items there are a few other checks you need to carry out before you commit to buying anything.

The product – Always check out the product on the manufacturers site. Look for details on efficiency, usage, size and ease of use. Check that these details match those on the seller’s page. Look for customer reviews of the product. How has it performed in real world situations? If the reviews raise any questions, then ask either the manufacturer or the seller before committing. Also check out the dimensions of each appliance to ensure that they will fit through your doorways and can be easily maneuvered into place.

The seller – Take the same approach with the seller. Look at their selling record and reviews of their previous interactions. You can’t expect perfect feedback, but you do want mainly positive feedback before you go ahead with an individual or company. Check elements such as how you can contact them and what their returns policy is, just in case there is a problem. Look to see if there are existing questions on their selling page. If there are, and they haven’t been answered, then consider a different seller.

Delivery – Always check for delivery costs. Even the cheapest appliance can end up costing a fortune if you haven’t checked for additional delivery costs. Also look at where and how the item is delivered. Will the seller deliver to your door if you are on a top floor apartment? Do you need to give warning of difficult entrances, stairs or awkward parking?

Installation – Some appliances, especially those that run on gas, need to be installed by an engineer. Do you need to organize this separately, or is it included in delivery?

Guarantees and warrantees – many items, particularly electrical items will come with a manufacturer’s warranty. Look at the terms and conditions of the warranty, and of any extensions to it, before agreeing to part with any additional cash.

By taking the time to choose your kitchen appliances carefully, and by following these tips you will have the kitchen of your dreams. It will combine the appliances you need with perfect use of the space and budget that you have. Moreover, you will have it for years to come, without having to replace unsuitable items and experiencing additional costs.


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