This post is part our series, Helpful on the Homestead (or H.O.H. for short). This series is all about showcasing products, practices, and services that meet our standards for sustainable living. We share products that we use and love (our top 2 criteria) so that you can make informed choices about how to spend your money and time, hopefully in a way that aligns with your values. This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
OK, so this may seem like an odd topic for a blog post, but bear with me. I like to write about things that are useful on the Homestead and a recent acquisition has got me pondering appliances. You see, we recently inherited a toaster oven. Not just any toaster oven - a large counter top oven that bakes, broils, toasts, warms, and practically cooks for you. I might be exaggerating on that last part, but not by too much.
I'm not going to claim we did a lot of research on various models and brands before purchasing our Breville Convection Smart Oven (see paragraph one about how we didn't purchase this at all). But what I will tell you is that this Consumer Search Toaster Oven Review confirms that we lucked out with our inherited model (hint hint).
Here are my top 3 reasons why I think you should consider a multi-function toaster oven:
1. It can cook almost anything: A larger multi-function toaster oven allows us to toast for breakfast, warm up leftovers for lunch, cook dinner, and bake dessert. It has a convection setting, a broil setting, and many others. But unlike our older model which was smaller, this one can actually fit a small meal without having to cook one dish at a time. The other night for dinner I warmed up mashed potatoes, chili, and brussels sprouts all at once for our family of four (see photo).
2. It's faster: Preheating a full-sized oven to cook your dinner or dessert can take anywhere from five to fifteen minutes depending on your model and the temperature. This baby pre-heats its smaller space in 2-3 minutes. When you're trying to feed the kids or quickly warm something up for lunch, you don't want to have to wait for the whole oven to be ready for your small to medium-sized dish. In fact, I often just put the food right in there knowing that it will be preheated in just a moment and I'm just giving it a headstart.
3. Its more efficient: According to this article on toaster ovens by the Energy Star program, most toaster ovens use about 1/3 to 1/2 the energy of a full-sized oven. When it comes to cooking a small dinner, or baking a few of those yummy dough balls I keep in the freezer so we can have warm cookies after dinner, this makes way more sense. Why use all of the electricity for a full oven if you're not filling its space?
4. Food Tastes (and Feels) Better: Here, I'm comparing the toaster oven to the microwave. Sure, a microwave is even faster than a toaster oven and doesn't need to be on as long. But, microwaved food simply doesn't taste like food that has been baked. You're not going to achieve a crispy topping on your mashed potatoes and the noodles in your lasagna will be mushier. I just prefer the results from baking, from both a taste and texture perspective. You might also have some concerns about whether food cooked in a microwave is healthy; this article in The Washington Post points out that its not so much about the microwave itself but what you are cooking and how you are cooking it, that matter. So my argument here is much more about taste and texture and overall quality of dinner.
5. It's a Space Saver (for some): If you are truly living a minimalist lifestyle and want to live in a tiny house with a tiny kitchen, you could choose to bypass the full-sized oven entirely and simply use a toaster oven with convection to meet almost all of your cooking needs. Of course, if you have a full-time kitchen adding a larger toaster oven actually takes up more space, as is the case on our counter top. But there is not doubt in my mind that it is worth the space it takes up.
6. It doesn't heat up the room as much (a point added when I updated this post in the high heat and humidity of summer!)
For help choosing a toaster oven that is right for you, consider the ideas shared in this post by Your RV Lifestyle.
What is your favorite thing to cook in a toaster oven?