I’ve previously mentioned the outstanding Mini Cooper billboard that I pass everyday on the way to work. While it’s no longer functioning, it used to flashes new quotes. A couple of examples would be, “The Next Big Thing in Small” or “Small is the New Big.” I like to think that I’m completely impervious to advertising, but sometimes I wonder. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to buy a Mini Cooper, but I’m thinking that the sign was really onto something.
When my wife and I were planning our a wedding a year ago, we made a registry like many couples do. The main purpose of the registry was to avoid getting useless gifts. Some people said that we shouldn’t make a registry if we couldn’t think of anything, but after going to more than 20+ weddings with registries, it seemed the socially appropriate thing to do. Long time readers might remember that we had a lot of difficulty in choosing items to put on the registry. Since we are both in our early 30s and had recently consolidated our two condos into one, we had pretty much two of everything. None of the typical registry items stood out as necessities – it seemed like a terrible waste to add a third pizza cutter. Even worse, many of the things that people register really seemed like a huge of waste of money. We didn’t want people to spend hundreds of dollars on the nicest china or Waterford crystal.
We found a couple of solutions to our registry problem. Yesterday I mentioned that it may be possible to get rich by thinking small. Today I’d like to write about how we applied that philosophy to save space in our home.
- The food processor – The first thing we saw was a food processor that we once were given but have never used. It’s not that we didn’t have food that needed processing… it’s just that we didn’t use it often enough to devote the counter space that it required. It sat in a closet, out of sight and out of mind. Even if we did think about it, by the time we got it set up, we could have just chopped up the vegetables. The solution was the Cuisinart SmartPower Duet blender/food processor. Since we already had space devoted to a blender adding the small food processor jar only takes up a tiny bit of extra room. My wife has already taken advantage of the food processor to make hummus several times. It’s much better fresh and much, much, less expensive. If we make hummus twice a month, it will pay for itself in a year. We’ve also found that by shredding cheese ourselves we can buy blocks of cheese. This is cheaper per pound – an additional savings. We are also able to get rid of our old cheese shredder, saving space.
- The colander – The next thing we noticed was a collapsible silicon colander. Colanders in general don’t take up a lot of space, especially when nested with pots, but every little bit can help. The one we got is around an inch thick, so it can fit in some tight places. It’s also a normal grey and white, not the weird cherry color on that link.
- Microwavable containers – We had tons of microwavable dishes. We must have easily had 50 pieces when you count the lids. It was a mess, which made it difficult to match up containers and lids. I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out because they still served their purpose. That all changed when we found these Rubbermaid collapsible food storage containers. Like the collapsable collander, they shrink down remarkably small. We ended up getting rid of the 90% of the other containers – I just couldn’t completely shed my pack rat ways. In the process, we gained a whole kitchen cabinet without losing any functionality.
- All-in-one photo printer, fax, copier, and scanner – I’ve mentioned this already a couple of times. Our fax machine was unreliable (we later found that it wasn’t made for VOIP phone like Vonage – it also said that it would work line that have Caller ID or Call Waiting). We never had a scanner, copier, or a photo printer so this opened up a world of possibilities to us. In the first month we’ve had it, we used the scanner to deposit checks into our USAA account. (Really! You just scan the checks in, and they put the money in your account. Technology is amazing!) We used the copier to file our insurance claim for the robbery of my wife’s car recently. We would have used the fax, but I need to set it up properly to work with our Vonage phone service.
I’m always on the the lookout for products that are innovative like the ones mentioned above. Do you have any favorites that you just can’t live without? Let me know in the comments.