If the only thing you typically make for dinner is reservations, then it's time to stop and think about how much money you could be saving by eating more at home. Prepping tasty meals and drinks at home can be easy, and whether you're a cooking genius or you somehow manage to burn a pot of water, useful appliances, gadgets and tools are always welcome. Here are a few of our favorite helpers in the kitchen:
Metrokane Rabbit Wine Opener ($42, amazon.com): Leave the corkscrews to the waiters and pick up this gorgeous silver wine opener set. The Metrokane Rabbit (named because it looks like a rabbit's profile) is a clever tool that can extract the cork from a wine bottle in under three seconds—just clamp it over the bottle, plunge in and out, and you're ready to get your drink on. The gift set also includes a foil cutter, bottle stopper and a drip-free ring, cutting down on the mess and the fuss of opening up a fresh bottle.
Ninja Master Prep ($60, ninjakitchen.com): This food and drink maker's name sounds dangerous, but it's completely safe and immensely useful for chopping, dicing and mixing up awesome smoothies and margaritas. The modular design lets you make frozen drinks right inside the Master Prep's pitcher, so it's a seamless shift from making to serving. Plus there's a smaller 2-cup container perfect for mincing and dicing, all with the touch of one button. And come on, what other kitchen appliance has its own Facebook page?
America’s Test Kitchen ($20): Don’t call it a video game! This interactive electronic cookbook for the Nintendo DS (based on the popular PBS cooking show) has 300 recipes and provides detailed instructions and how-to videos for all of them, step by step. It even reads aloud to you, so you can focus on chopping those onions. And everyone in the family can get involved: The software breaks everything down into separate steps, so you can handle the cooking and knifework while your struggling-chef boyfriend helps your little sister peel potatoes. America’s Test Kitchen will be in stores March 28.
Bodum Chambord 8-cup Coffee Press ($39, amazon.com): There's coffee ... and then there's coffee. If you're tired of your old, grimy coffee maker—and tired of dropping $25 a week at coffee shops—try this classy, elegant French press. A coffee press captures more of the beans' flavor and essential oils, which get easily lost in the paper filter of a drip-brew coffee machine. Available in several sizes, this one will give you enough for two to three American-sized cups of coffee.
Molcajete ($49, williams-sonoma.com): People typically don't think of the molcajete as "technology," but it's been a trusty Latin kitchen tool for thousands of years. This authentic version from Williams-Sonoma is handcarved in Mexico from a single piece of volcanic rock; not only does it help make guacamole, salsa and more a cinch, but it also doubles as a great serving platter. Make Mami proud and show this off at your next get-together.