RIP Mr. Choppy–A Very Special Money Saving Monday

Readers, I have experienced loss. Such loss that I can not even accurately describe it, and so I must resort to this dramatic reenactment:
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Oh Mr. Choppy, how could you ever leave me? Don’t you know how much I loved you???

Some background on this harrowing tale–Mike and I were without Olive for the weekend, and it was WONDERFUL. I mean, I spent every hour missing her and wishing there was a four year old screaming in my kitchen. No, I’m lying, it was wonderful. Sunday neither of us had to work and so we did what any super fun couple would do on a day with absolutely perfect weather–we played catch for about an hour in the park and then hit the batting cages for another solid hour. I played quite a bit of softball in my youth, as it was the one sport where it didn’t matter that I was as slow as a turtle, so I was extremely happy to be swinging again and sending Mike further for long throws. It was, all in all, a magical afternoon.
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Unfortunately, I forgot one simple fact…

You see readers, I am not 15 anymore. I am *gasp!* 26.

I am not old by any means, but I was clearly using muscles that had not been used in years and were very, very underdeveloped. Why didn’t I take this into consideration, you might ask? Well, I’m really not that bright. I pride myself on being fitter than I was at fifteen, so I just kind of went in with a “I even get exercise in my leisure time!” sort of blind enthusiasm that turned out to be my demise. Readers, I am in so much pain that I am seriously considering asking you to mercy kill me.

Please? Please?

Anyway, Mike and I got home in dire need of sustenance. After nearly dropping my blender due to how heavy it was and the burning sensation making it’s way through my entire right arm (while making tomato soup) I wisely decided that I also needed some hummus. Mr. Spinny, unfortunately, isn’t very good at making hummus. He can do it, but he gets incredibly mad at me whenever I put solid materials in without enough liquid to make it soupy, so I pulled out Mr. Choppy. Reliable, wonderful Mr. Choppy. And then my arm gave out and I totally dropped him. Poor guy cracked in half on my kitchen floor. I never should have held out for ceramic tile.

The whole thing was actually very stupid. I watched him fall, tried to catch him with my still good left hand, missed, and felt an immediate pang of loss. It was as if I’d dropped Mike on the floor and watched him crack in half. Except instead of Mike it was a freaking food processor, which just made me feel more ridiculous. I looked at it dumbly, heard Mike go, “Oh, that’s too bad. We’ll have to get you a new one this week,” and fought the urge to yell, “But I don’t WANT a new food processor!”

You see, I bought Mr. Choppy when I went vegetarian three years ago. Mr. Choppy taught me how to make hummus, various soups, and doughs. Whenever I needed grated carrots and was afraid of losing a finger to my grater (an unfortunately reasonable concern in this house) Mr. Choppy was there! I can’t even begin to tell you how easily he helped me get through the massive pile of zucchini I had this year from the garden and turn it into loaf after loaf of bread. I used him to make oat flour–how am I supposed to make fig newtons now??? I learned how to cook real food with Mr. Choppy by my side, I even named the damn thing! Obviously, my feelings toward Mr. Choppy were both irrationally strong and over emotional.

So, in honor of Mr. Choppy, I’ve compiled a short list of kitchen gadgets that are worth the money, by a long shot, in the crunchy and broke kitchen. Hopefully, you’ll find some things that will stay faithfully by your side while you learn to embrace a new, healthful lifestyle.

Crap Worth Having in Your Kitchen

1. A Decent Food Processor Mr. Choppy was an excellent tool to have on hand, if only because when I needed a weird kind of flour, it was a snap to just throw whatever I needed in there and let it go to town. My blender is not a Vitamix–I can not afford that thing!–so it just can’t handle making things that aren’t actually liquids, like oat flour, or chopped almonds. But, I could foot the $25 necessary to get myself something that would make me hummus in a snap. I also used it to make my own energy and granola bars (which I was going to post the recipe for this week, but I can’t make a new batch to show them to you yet! ARG!!!), puree squash for soups, and slice apples for the one and only time I attempted to make apple chips. Was it the nicest food processor in the world? Well, after three years I managed to crack it completely in half, so that should probably tell you something, but for $25 bucks he worked and saved me tons of cash on stuff I would have had to buy pre-made, otherwise. Besides, once you learn the true potential of a good food processor, a whole world of healthy food opens up. You can even make “ice cream”!

2. Silicone Muffin Cups Until another blogger mentioned having them I had no idea such an item existed. I immediately found a pack of twelve for $5 (they were cheaper in store than on amazon, so search around!) and they have CHANGED MY LIFE. First off, if I don’t feel like dealing with my muffin pans, I don’t have to. I can actually just pop these on a baking sheet, bake whatever I’m making (look for chocolate banana muffins soon!), throw the sheet back in the cabinet without washing it and throw the muffins and their cups in a storage container. So convenient! I can also use these to make candies just by melting chocolate chips, adding whatever I want to the cups, coating them with the chocolate, and throwing them in the freezer (again, recipes coming soon!). The best part? Not only are they cheaper in the long run than paper, they are green, as green, as green, can be! Hooray!

3. A Blender For years I used Mr. Choppy for everything, including smoothies. This was a mistake. Mr. Choppy made horrible smoothies. For that, I now have Mr. Spinny. He was about $30 and a gift, but I know you can get a working one for cheaper, including cool single cup sizes. Why is he important? Well, I can puree different soups that were just too awkward in the food processor (tomato soup always turned out kind of poopy in Mr. Choppy, the spinach never really blended properly) and I can hide kale inside any smoothie with Mike and Ollie being none the wiser. Hahahahaha! I also sometimes use it to make salad dressing really fast, and to smooth out sauces and oat bran (sometimes). It’s actually quite the time saver, because if we aren’t broke on money, we usually are on time (Though most of the time, it’s both :-/ ).

That’s the end of the list, actually. See, I have some other gadgets I’ve acquired over the years, mostly by being very mindful at thrift stores and being in the right place when family members are cleaning out their kitchens. Do I adore my ramekins, casserole dishes, rubber spatulas, fancy whisk, bread pans, and awesome stock pot (thanks mom!)? Yes! But do you need to make a huge effort to have those things RIGHT NOW? No, not really. Just get some basic kitchen supplies, and try to save a little room for the extras I mentioned in the list. The extras are totally worth it because they can open up new food options you may not have access to otherwise. Craving ice cream? Try the recipe above in a food processor, and you will be doing great! Desperately need a really quick lunch? Throw some peanut butter, frozen fruit, and kale in a blender with some almond milk and you’re ready to leave your house in a fraction of the time and cost of a value meal (I clearly have a huge “beef” with value meals. I’m sorry I made that pun.) In the mood for something sweet and freshly baked? Use your muffin cups and save the time and energy you’d have spent peeling tiny bits of paper off your candy or de-gunking your 85 year old muffin trays (if you guys wanted to buy me new muffin trays, I would be really, really ok with that, just saying). I seriously put my seal of crunchy approval on each one of the above items. 🙂

Happy Monday loves. In lieu of flowers please leave comments in memory of the deceased.

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4 responses »

  1. So sorry to hear about Mr. Choppy! He had a good life. When I thought about what I love most in my kitchen (besides my family), the Kitchen Aid mixer, the Swiss Diamond pan and the immersion blender first came to mind (once you’ve had one, you’re never going back). Instead, what I think I would grab if I could only choose three things are my two really, really, good knives and the knife sharpener.

    • You know, it wasn’t until after I wrote this that “Oh god, knives! You need good knives for produce!” came to mind. I’ve had mine for so long I take them for granted, but I’ve been eating so much pineapple lately that I think if one were to bite the dust I’d be in a whole world of hurt!

  2. Pingback: Stop Hitting the Bars!–or–How I Managed to Not Spend My Life Savings on Larabars « Crunchy, Hip, and Painfully Broke

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