The retro 3-in-1 Breakfast Station and the joy/pain of single-use kitchen appliances

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When I saw this uber-adorable, super retro-styled 3-in-1 Breakfast Station my heart simultaneously leapt with joy and sank with bitter grumbles. SO ADORABLE! A STATION! FOR YOUR BREAKFAST! — but really, who needs another single-use kitchen appliance, even when it’s a retrotastic 3-in-1 station?

I mean yes: the robin’s egg blue-ness just screams “Barbie’s Dream Kitchen” all grown up, but I had a thing like this a few years ago — although it wasn’t as cute, the Back to Basics TEM500 Egg-and-Muffin 2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher was a pretty magical little device. I loved that fucking thing: it toasted my english muffins AND poached my eggs simultaneously, so I could have this awesome perfect little breakfast sandwich done as I was braiding my hair before heading out the door to my dayjorb.

But when my magic mcmuffin maker died after a couple years, I just couldn’t justify replacing it. It just felt silly to take up counter space with this appliance that really did ONE THING really well: make egg mcmuffins. I mean, it made regular toast too, but we already had a toaster oven that could handle a much wider range of bread products…so how could I justify having a silly single-use toaster?

Then again, it wasn’t as cute as the 3-in-1 breakfast station

Anyway, all this pining over appliances brings me to my question: which single-use appliances do you have and love? When does it feel worth it, and when does it feel like a gimmick?

Comments on The retro 3-in-1 Breakfast Station and the joy/pain of single-use kitchen appliances

    • Those things are such a pain in the butt to clean and store, but SO worth it. I love setting up 5-6 of them at the Sons of Norway and cooking buttloads of lefse! Same with krumkake grills. Those types of things are worth it.

      • Mine is pretty easy to clean (I think it has some kind of coating) and I still have the original shipping box, so it has a nice place in my pan cupboard. It was the first thing I put away when I moved in. ha!

        It would be so great to have lots of people to make it with! The lady who taught me said that in Norway, they think its cute and quaint that she would actually spend her time doing this. It’s fun once you get going!

  1. Our house feels like appliance central some days. Some get used frequently, some rarely

    I love:
    * our theatre-style popcorn maker. It’s cute and makes yummy popcorn. I don’t care that it takes up way more space than an air popper.
    * our Soda Stream (not technically an appliance, but it gets used all the time). Hubby can cut down on sugar, cut down on recycling and we can have whatever pop we want (assuming we have the syrup).
    * our Keurig. Christmas gift this year and I may only make hot chocolate with it really, but I still love it.

  2. We’re pretty good about keeping only things we use (and then using those items), but I am stuck with a waffle iron that I don’t use too often. It was a gift from my mother-in-law, and while it’s a great idea, I haven’t mastered it yet. Maybe time to dig it out this weekend and freeze some waffles!

    Also, my husband really wanted to get me a K-cup machine for Christmas this year. It was a sweet sentiment, but I appreciated him running this by me first because I think they’re wasteful and take up space. He compromised and got me a Bodum teapot instead πŸ™‚

    • In regard to the K-Cup maker… I originally hated the idea of having one in our house too. But when the SigO’s Mom sent him one for Christmas, what was I gonna say/do? Well, we’re both avid coffee drinkers, so at least it gets used… But then we found one of the reusable k-cups that you put your coffee in, and I’m SO much happier! No more filters, no more ‘Oops, I left the pot on!’, none of that! I love it now…

      Now, if you want to talk useless, we can talk about the k-cup drawer we bought before we found the reusable cup! haha!

  3. My boyfriend has been splurging on all sorts of 1-use devices. I don’t love them as much as he does, but he’s over the moon.
    He has the Mypressi Twist Handheld Espresso Maker, which makes the most adorable little cups of espresso. (Of course, he had to buy adorable little espresso cups to go with it.)
    He just got the Bodum Water Kettle in vivid effing orange, which he adores because it allows him to make espresso in the bedroom, in the nude.
    I’m so much more into multi-use stuff. I inherited this crazy Oster blender/mixer/food processor station from my mother that I hope lives forever. Thing has parts that swap out to make it do ANYTHING.

    • Oh I am trying to find a replacement gasket for our Braun stand mixer/blender! My partner got it from his parents. The blender is awesome! And the mixing bowl turns, instead of the blade swooshing around the bowl. It’s great.

      • Yay for keeping alive appliances that should’ve bit it years ago!

        Their website doesn’t list replacement gaskets, but you might have luck in emailing them. Sometimes they can’t/won’t help you, but occasionally, they offer some good leads! Braun Email Form

  4. I love our Soda Stream too. Technically a one use machine, true, but I drink soda water every day. Not soda with the syrup, just plain fizzy water. I hate plain tap water. Honestly, I’d give up both my Kitchen Aid stand mixer and my Cuisinart food processor before I’d give up the Soda Stream.

  5. I think as long as you use it, any single-use appliance can be worth it. We have a BreadMan Ultra Bread Machine that I got for $8 at a church bazaar and I use that thing all the time – we never buy bread anymore. I just made a commitment to make it instead of buying it, and the bread machine does a great job without me having to knead or do anything except dump ingredients in and turn it on. We also have a rice cooker/veggie steamer that gets pretty regular use. It’s easy and electric so it keeps the stove burners free for other parts of the meal (vital if I’m cooking for a large-ish dinner party).

    I feel that appliances become gimmicky if it’s something you won’t use on a semi-regular basis (which I define for myself as once a month at least).

    For instance, my cousin own TWO hard ice cream makers and one soft-serve ice cream maker and only uses the hard ice cream ones on Thanksgiving. He only bought the second one because one year he wanted to make two flavors, but forgot to plan ahead and make them one at a time. The soft serve got used once, to my knowledge. In cases like that, just buy the damn ice cream from a store. If you’re gonna have a single-use appliance, make sure before you buy it that you A) have a place to store it and B) can realistically picture yourself using it a lot.

  6. While I try not to clog up our kitchen with too many single-use appliances, here are my favorites (and any alternative uses):

    1) Bread machine. It’s huge, but sooo worth it; we haven’t bought a loaf of bread since we got it last year. It also has a jam setting, and we used it to make all 70ish jars of jam for our wedding guests last year. I also love the dough setting when I’m not making a regular loaf (like pizza dough, bagels, artisan bread, bread sticks, etc.) as we keep the house quite cold in winter and it’s nearly impossible to get dough to rise otherwise.

    2) Waffle iron. It’s the real-deal old-fashioned kind that’s all cast-iron to be used on a stove top. I love that I don’t have to worry about killing anything electronic if I dare to wash it, and we can take it camping with us and use it over a campfire, or just on the grill at home. I’ve only used it for waffles so far, but hope to try using it as a panini press and hash brown pattie maker eventually, too.

    3) Glass tea kettle. It just boils water (nothing our regular pots or coffee maker can’t do), but it’s so pretty compared to the steel ones my mother always had. Maybe someday I’ll splurge on some blooming tea and make an extra pretty pot for guests, but for now I’m happy with its single-use-ness.

    4) Electric wine bottle opener. We really use this thing more than we should…but all it does is yank corks out of wine bottles. It takes up about the same space as our old corkscrew since we can stand it upright in a cupboard, and now I can open bottles myself with success (except anything bubbly- hubby still has to open those.) My husband thinks it’s a bit gimmicky; I love it and would replace it in a heartbeat.

  7. 1) coffee maker. my wife (who doesn’t drink coffee) made me get a percolator with a “delay brew” setting because, let’s be honest, my coffee access affects her more than me. doesn’t taste as good, but there’s coffee when i get up (if i remember to set it up).

    2) sodastream. love. lovelovelove. love. and as a bonus, we drink a lot less sugary, caffeinated soda and a lot more fizzy concoctions with juice and tea (and alcohol).

    3) toaster. i’m ambivalent. it’s too small to toast good quality bread, but larger toasters are enormous space-sinks and expensive.

    and we just got rid of the lovely cast-iron stovetop waffle maker. took up too much space for very little use.

    but, um, that thing is adorable. and could replace the toaster and coffee maker, so i bet it would be a near-wash on counter space…

  8. Can’t live without my coffeemaker, although it could also make hot water if I ever wanted it to.

    I use my wafflemaker about once a month, but that’s more because I make big batches and throw the extras in the freezer. And because I can’t make pancakes. Not for lack of trying…

    We have a griddle because my husband likes to use it for pancakes. I don’t ever use it, but I can’t complain too much, because my pancake talent = 0.

    Oh, and I’ve heard you can put cookie dough in a waffle maker and make waffle cookies in like a minute and a half, but I have yet to try that. But that makes it multi-functional. πŸ™‚

  9. I think our only single-use appliance is the espresso machine, and even that’s debatable because we use it for steaming milk in hot chocolate too. Considering how often we use that machine, it’s not all that bad. Other than that, we’re fans of multi-use items. So much so that we don’t even have a toaster or a microwave because we just use the oven.

  10. waffle iron. i got one for my 15th birthday (because apparently my parents couldn’t think of anything else?) and it’s been a delicious-but-cumbersome addition to all of my apartments…takes up a lot of space, and is a TOTAL pain to clean…but hey, waffles! =)

  11. I really HATE single use items- especially electric ones. I could write a dissertation railing against quesadilla makers, hot coco machines, yogurt makers and the like. Its fine if that’s your thing, but in my opinion these machines co-opt your innate creativity by limiting us to one method or approach. My guiding rules are:

    – if you cannot make it without one (waffle iron), fine

    – if you use it so frequently that its a major time saver (garlic press) go for it

    Otherwise, I seriously avoid anything with only one purpose. Its fun to get creative with the items you do have to figure out how to accomplish a task.

  12. My uncle actually just got me a mini pie maker for Christmas – he knows I love baking (although cupcakes are usually my thang) and thought I’d love it. I do – but it’s been interesting trying to figure out what to do with it – I’ve used it to make mini cupcakes so far and have heard it’s great for doing empanadas and pot pies in addition to dessert-y pies. I’ve also been wondering if I could use it to make baked falafel. Hmmm. It’s fun to think of what to do with it.
    I guess my point is – I generally avoid getting one use type kitchen appliances as well, but if it’s something you can adapt to do other things as well as its intended use, it could be worth it!

    • I’ve had a little pie-maker for years, my only problem is that mine only makes 2 pies… My mum got it for me for i think my 17th birthday, cuz, like someone said above, she couldn’t think of anything else?

      I’ve used it to make all manner of pies out of left-overs… puff-pastry + anything = awesome alternative to boring sandwiches…

      i’ve put cooked bacon pieces and cheese and a whole egg in puff-pastry for breakfast on the run…

      mini quiches, cupcakes, sweet muffins, yorkshire puddings…. i put anything in that thing… i suppose you could even do stuffed dumplings in it….

  13. Oh, I love a lot of small kitchen appliances. I try to be pragmatic about acquiring them, though. Most have a few useful functions: my toaster, rice cooker, crock pot, toaster oven, Magic Bullet, etc. My greatest only-does-one-thing indulgence is my popcorn air popper. Oh how I love popcorn! I use it at least once or twice a week, so it’s so worth it.

  14. I wish we had some multifunctional kitchen appliances, but other than the microwave, they’re all one purpose.

    We have a toaster oven from when my roommate and I lived in the apartment complex owned by our college and only had a stove-top. Now that we have an actual oven, I’m still baffled as to why we still keep the toaster oven. Then we have two coffee makers, a single serving one that my roommate has had forever and the standard coffee pot my fiance just brought back from his parents house. The latter of which is never really used and just takes up more space. Not being a coffee drinker myself but the one most often using the kitchen, I feel so cramped in there.

    Still, if I had one wish, it would be that we could somehow combine all the game systems so they weren’t so cluttered. Even if we bought an entertainment system, I still would feel overwhelmed.

    • So much yes to the games systems!
      We have a SNES, N64, Wii, Dreamcast, Xbox AND Xbox 360 under our TV and it just looks crazy. I’ve got my eye on one of those customisable Ikea entertainment systems, but I worry if I get one and we move again it won’t fit.

  15. I’m a student and the first thing I knew I had to take when I was moving out was the toaster. It’s an ugly old thing that is so old, that my father had it when he went to uni, but it makes the best toasts. My roommate hates it.

  16. aaaaahhhh my stick blender with food processor/whisk attachment. i am a soup making MACHINE with this thing. plus, to not have to spend another $100 on a food processor is amazing.

    • This OMG. The stick blender is the most amazing thing in the world for a single woman — I can stash it anywhere and make everything with it! My dinner routine has gotten so much more awesome since I bought a good one.

    • OMIGOD yes! I had never heard of it before but then I got one for Christmas…. WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE?! Although mine has attachments to swap out (a whisk and a mini food processor) so I guess it’s multi-functional. I love it!!

  17. 1. Slushie maker. It’s a glorified Magic Bullet but the cup has the measurement markings for syrup, liquid, and ice so I don’t fuck it up. Slushie/slurpees have been a pregnancy craving of mine so I LOVE my slushie maker. Oh yeah, maybe will like slushie too.

    2. Mini donut maker – essentially a waffle iron that makes mini donuts. I LOVE donuts, but am usually too lazy, poor, or not wanting to clog my arteries to get them all the time. If I have milk in the fridge, I usually can whip up a batch on Sunday mornings.

  18. I think we only really have 3:

    1. Toaster. Yes there are multiple things you can do with a toaster but we only ever use it to make bread hot and crispy. But I love toast so I don’t think I could ever go without it.

    2. Sandwich toaster. This one makes bread hot and crispy with stuff in the middle! Again something we randomly have cravings for, especially when our house insists on being freezing cold. Plus it was free (yay freecycyle!) and is small enough to fit in a draw when not in use. Only downside is it’s a pain to clean.

    3. Smoothie maker. It’s basically a high-powered blender with a tap on the bottom, but it’s awesome. We originally got it because my husband is allergic to fake strawberry flavouring, but loves strawberry milkshake so we originally got it for that but love making smoothies with it as well.

    I was highly skeptical of the blender and food processor attachments that came with our Kenwood Chef mixer; the blender because I thought the smoothie maker (which we had already) did the same thing and the food processor because I’d never had one before and didn’t know what you did with it. At the time I thought all 3 were basically the same and pretty much one-use items.

    But then we got a Thai cook book, and you pretty much can’t make anything in there without a blender and a food processor, and once I got the idea I’ve been using them for other stuff too.

    I suppose technically the electric kettle is one-use as well, it can only boil water and we could do that on the hob, but it’s much faster this way and gets used all the time.

  19. our rice maker is single-use, not pretty and takes up a fair amount of space for our tiny kitchen, but i love rice and i always screw it up when i cook it on the stove (don’t judge me). Plus, it makes PERFECT rice every time. and if i’m feeling really lazy, it’ll even steam my veggies as its cooking my rice and then i have a complete meal that takes zero effort.
    i’ll never give it up.

    • Rice cookers are totally worth it just for cooking rice, but I also use my rice cooker to make lentils, quinoa, etc. (especially if I’m blending them with rice). Mix in canned/cooked beans, veggies, broth/bullion/seasonings and boom! dinner.

    • when we first got a rice cooker, i was worried it would be too single-use and not worth it. i was SO wrong! we actually use it much more as a steamer than as a rice cooker (though we still do that from time to time) and it’s definitely one of our most used appliances.

  20. I have a set of those magic-bullet like cups-attached-to-blender thingies. I only use them to make smoothies. I am the only one who drinks/eats (do you eat or drink?) smoothies. I don’t care… like the egg mcmuffin, it gets me out the door with homemade, healthy food in a hurry when I might normally rush out and then have to stop for something greasy or sugary. Totally worth it. If it ever breaks I will be at the store *that same day* getting another one.

  21. I have a waffle make I use to use all the time to make kids waffles. It was lost for 5yrs and I recently found it but have yet to clean it so I can use it again.
    I have a thing for novilty gadgets. I have circus/carnivl style popcorn maker, cotton candy maker I got for Christmas, I want a hotdog maker, and I want a slushy maker.
    The one item that I could not live without is my snowcone maker. I have at least 4 snowcone makers. They range from children’s to adut supervision to adults use only. I have at least 2 hand crank, 1 electric but ice is pushed down by hand, and my favorite the leave and go. My best snowcone maker (has carnival look) just requires placing ice inside and turning the lid. No effert on my part. I love it!!! I make snowcones with syrup, with juice, with lemon juice, with soda, alcoholic, etc. I plan to even make a margarita this weekend by adding to the ice a mix/syrup, adding alcohol, and adding strawberries. I even sometimes put some of the plain snow in my dog’s water dish. He loves to eat snow so I thought, “why not?”.
    I also love my toaster but it has settings for bagels and waffles so it’s not single use. Plus I make grilled cheese sandwiches for packed lunces with it by making toast and putting a cheese spread on it. It tastes great at lunch time.

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