I feel like we all think about purchasing new kitchen products every time we see something different that is supposed to make our lives a little bit easier and less messy. Sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t, and there is no sure fire way to know except through trial and error and the experience that comes with knowing what you and your family will actually use beyond an introductory level. However, hopefully these tips phrased as questions will help you maximize any dollars you do spend.
1) Ask yourself: Will this make us a healthier family? It is no secret that the cheapest foods you can buy at the grocery store, especially when there is a sale, are the least healthy options. This means that buying an ice cream freezer may not be the best and most economical option for your family given that ice cream is usually quite cheap given the frequency with which it would be eaten. Unless you have a secret ancient family recipe that will make your crew the next Ben and Jerry’s or an unlimited amount of cash , skip on the candy, dessert and soda makers as the extra effort you will expend doing it “by hand” will at least help you burn off some of the calories you will eat and make you think about what you are putting in your body. On the odd occasions where a treat is merited, spending three dollars on a wax carton half-gallon will not kill you.
2) Ask yourself: Is the effort saved worth the money spent? There is no doubting that Keurig makes a mean cup of coffee and that you get a single serving lighting fast and fresh. However, if you are thinking about using a Keurig to make repeated cups of coffees throughout the day you are likely overspending for both the unit and the single-serve cups and not really adding up super bonus minutes of your life. A better option is to buy a nice “regular” coffee maker and an insulated thermos. You can go all out for these (from an average consumer perspective) and come out between a third to half of the price of the Keurig, and the money you save on coffee will win out. Ultimately, many similar machines end up losing their value because the cups get too expensive to continually purchase when/if your family finds a need to budget later.
3) Ask yourself: Does this store have a good return policy? If you buy an item online from Amazon or from a retailer like Walmart, you know that you can make a quick and easy return within a set time period. This allows you wiggle room to completely return a product that does not meet your expectations in any form or to get a replacement for a product that was broken or defective inside the box.
4) Does it have a warranty and is buying an added warranty worthwhile? Most items clearly state on the box something like 90-day warranty, 1-year warranty, etc. This warranty is not the added warranty most stores offer you the option to buy and will usually involve your needing to pay to have the product shipped to the manufacturer for repair or replacement though some companies (like HP in terms of higher end purchases) will pay for shipping both ways via prepaid shipping labels and containers. If you are offered the chance to buy an extended warranty on a product, you need to examine if the cost is worth it.
For example, if you buy a $50 product and are offered an extended one-year warranty for $7, this is likely not a good value for the following reason. The store you purchased the item at will provide a refund for at least 30 days, possibly 90. If you have a defective product, it is likely to break down in this initial time frame and would be replaceable at the store or via the online retailer. This makes your extended warranty good for only nine months, and it is been my experience that if a product doesn’t break down within 90 days, it will keep going for a few years. The main exception to this is a product that you are only going to use for five minutes the first 3 months and then get heavy into later.
You should always get an extended warranty on major purchases like lawn mowers, expensive air conditioners, or chain saws unless you know how to service these devices and can do so in a manner that maximizes both your money and time.
5) Will we use it regularly? As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, this is a question that you can only really answer after buying a few items that seemed liked must haves but ended up languishing in the back of the cupboard. If you are a busy mom or dad, husband or wife, or just a busy single person, the best guide to tell if you will use something is whether or not it runs a high chance of making your life easier.
An example from my own life is our buying a steamer. I felt like it would work out great because you can put food in it and forget about it until it is done — something I am prone to doing anyway. A bad example would be our buying a an expensive juicer that presses out juice (which my husband wants to do from time to time) because we do not want the expense of buying all the leafy greens we would feed through one — we want to be able to grow part of these. Spending good money on something we can’t use to its full capabilities would be foolish, even though we both know it is something we want and would use eventually.
Hopefully these five questions will help you make up your mind about What to Buy and What Not to Buy for the kitchen, particularly when you want to live healthy. Warranties, needs, and overall health boosting factors are the most important factors in this decision making process.