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Frugal Kitchen Magic

It’s Friday again, and in millions of homes all across this fine land that means there’s going to be something special for dinner. Maybe it’s a dessert, maybe it’s the main course – or maybe it’s a plan to dine out.

As we all know, though, dining out can get pretty expensive, especially when the whole gang is involved. The kid’s menu has gotten smaller while the overall bill has grown, and these days you’re giving Ben Franklin a goodbye kiss for every family night at the local pizza parlor.

So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some kitchen appliances that cost less than a family night out (or $100) and will last for many family nights and weekends to come.


The kids are going to boo and hiss at this one, but dehydrating is cheap, fun, easy and takes very little time. Plus, the variety of foods that taste awesome when they’re dried out is pretty wide.

Assorted fruits and jerky are what usually come to mind, but food dehydrators are also great for drying out herbs and vegetables for seasoning and soups, too. If you’re feeling crafty, you can kick it up a notch by making fruit roll-ups, crackers, peanut brittle, potato chips – you name it.

Is it healthy, you ask? Scientists are still studying whether it can get any healthier than this.

Deep Fryers

These are not healthy. You’re probably better off eating the fryer itself and that’s just the way it is … but it’s Friday! If there’s ever a national Deep Fryer holiday, it’s going to be on a Friday.

French fries, onion rings, chicken strips and egg rolls are common goodies that come out nice when deep fried, but again – the sky’s the limit here. Fried cheese, fried candy bars, fried Twinkies (that hurt), fried fish, fried veggies … double-fried Belgian frites. Mmmmm … fried whatever.

Naturally, these are not meant to be the main course, unless you live on Heart Attack Island, but a deep fryer can provide a great way to whip up a quick and delicious side to a Friday-night family meal.

Slow Cookers

This may be the granddaddy of them all. Yeah, it’s slow (they put it in the name, so we have a heads up), but the food that comes out of these things is amazing.

Of course you’ve got your soups, stews, chili and chowders, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Delicious and inexpensive meals and treats of all kinds come out of slow cookers: pulled pork and shredded chicken for sandwiches, casseroles, bread pudding, pot roasts, pasta dishes (believe it) and chicken wings and ribs with meat that literally falls off the bone.

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