Fresh fruit grows on the orchard grove in California

Kitchen Gadgets That Really Save Money

Some food-specific items seem unnecessary, but in some cases they save you cash.

Fresh fruit grows on the orchard grove in California

If you're tired of wasting slightly-used lemons, there's a gadget for you.

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Do you find yourself throwing away the other half of avocado because it has gone bad only after a few days? Or do you find your recently purchased basil completely wilted? Don’t feel bad, because it’s a common scenario in most households, and it can be fixed.

In some cases, you just need to care for your grocery items better by storing them at the appropriate temperature. But, the truth of the matter is that most people don’t have the time or energy to find solutions to keep their produce and other grocery items good until their next grocery visit.

If you want to keep your food fresh without doing any research yourself, here are five kitchen gadgets that I tested to see if they actually can help save you money. They all cost between about $7 and $30.

1. Avo Saver. Price: Around $7.

The package claims that it can keep avocados fresh for longer. We’ve all experienced the dreaded browning of our avocado. For me, it’s a constant issue that I am faced with because I like using slices of avocado in my salads and sandwiches, but I don’t love it enough to use the entire thing. The browning occurs because once the fruit is exposed to the air, it starts oxidizing. This is also a common problem with apple, bananas and other fruits.

The biggest dilemma for any avocado lover is to extend its freshness, as avocados do not come cheap (they are priced anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50 each). While most people use plastic wrap to seal their avocado half or use lemon juice to preserve them, those solutions don’t last more than a couple days.

So when I came across the Avo Saver, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Would this be the ultimate answer to keeping my avocados fresher for longer? Or is this just another product that claims that it can, but at the end of the day, it really doesn’t come through? I went ahead and put it to the test. I cut a half of my avocado and placed it in the Avo Saver and I put the other half in plastic wrap. The next day, I took both of them out and both had a tiny bit of browning on the edges but still looked good. Two days later, I took them out and the one in the Avo Saver was slightly better, but not significantly better than the one in the plastic wrap. At the end of the day, would I recommend buying one? Only if you like cool-looking gadgets. If you’re looking to save money, I would tell you to pass on it.

2. The Original Herb-Saver. Price: Around $30.

The package claims that this gadget can triple the life of leftover herbs. If you’re a big herb person like me, trying to keep your herbs fresh is no easy task. I frequently buy herbs, including basil, parsley and mint. When placing it in the fridge, within a few days they wilt and only a few days after that they go black. While herbs aren’t horribly expensive, you’re still wasting money if they go bad before you can use them.

Over the years, I’ve tried cutting off the stems of herbs and placing them in about an inch of water in a Mason jar. That helped the herbs last about a week, or even longer if I covered them with a plastic bag, too. This Herb-Saver gadget proved to help the herbs last even longer, partly because it prevents any air pockets from getting into the herbs. The stopper also makes it easy to freshen the water. In my test run, the herbs lasted almost two weeks. I recommend this product if you’re looking to avoid waste and save.

3. Chef’n Spice Cube. Price: Around $10.

The package claims that you can easily freeze fresh herbs for later. This may not be good for any recipes that call for freshly chopped herbs to place on top of already cooked food, but it will be perfect for any recipes that integrate the herbs in the cooking of the food.

I usually try to freeze fresh herbs after buying them on sale, which can save a lot of money. In the past, I’ve tried putting them in Ziplock bags, as well as ice cube trays. But they never turn out quite as fresh as I’d like. When I tried this product, they came out in perfect cubes and with the herbs still intact, which is why I recommend it.

4. OXO Good Grips Salad Dressing Shaker. Price: Around $15.

The package claims that this tool makes it easy to shake, pour and store dressings. I’ve personally spent a whole lot of money on dressings that I did not like and am interested in making my own. Most of the dressings that I purchased cost anywhere from $2.50 to almost $9, which means I could save a lot by creating my own variations.  

The OXO shaker has measurements on the side and once you have all your ingredients in it, you shake it and it’s ready to pour with an easy one-handed open and close seal. You can also store it in the fridge and when it comes time to clean, the mouth is wide enough to actually scrub. If you’re an avid salad eater, I would recommend this for yourself and even as a gift.

5. Lekue Citrus Sprayer. Price: Around $15.

The package says that this sprayer will make it easy to flavor your drinks or salads with a “light mist of fresh citrus.” If you love lemons and hate wasting them, them this is the perfect solution to saving your lemons and using them when you need them. Often times, I find myself needing to put a little bit of lemon juice on fish or even some of my drinks, but I only end up using a little bit of the lemon or half the lemon. The other half is wrapped in plastic wrap and goes into the fridge. When it comes time to use the other half of the lemon, it’s gone bad.

With this sprayer, you just stick it into your lemon and once you get it tightly attached to the top, you’re ready to go. You can spray as you need and when you’re done, you can put it back into the fridge. It’s such a simple concept but it works really well. If you don’t use lemons often or like the old-fashion method of squeezing lemons, don’t waste your money. But if you like cool gadgets that you can show off, I would buy it as a splurge.