Smart devices around the home are a boon, of course, but they can be especially helpful in the kitchen. The oven that already knows how to cook the perfect chicken, the fridge which you can peer into to see if you need milk while you’re actually in the dairy section of the supermarket, and the bin which updates your shopping list when you throw packaging into the recycling certainly make keeping ahead of the housekeeping easy.
But can you do it without investing in brand new white goods?
If you’re refitting your kitchen with a raft of new appliances it is certainly tempting to buy those which have all the Smart Tech available already installed: Fridges with built in cameras, ovens which are programmed to know the cooking times of all your favourite meals, along with cameras and sensors which know when your roast has reached the perfect shade of brown, even bins with barcode readers which can order grocery deliveries for you because it knows you through your rubbish.
But what if your budget doesn’t stretch that far? Or you want to Smarten up your kitchen, only you don’t want to junk all your old appliances just yet? Can you get the same usability without buying the latest goods?
With your Google Nest Hub or Echo Show smart display you can look up any recipe you fancy, order ingredients and have them delivered or send a shopping list to your phone ready for when you’re in the shop (just in case the supermarket substitutes the main ingredient with a pair of socks). Once you’ve got everything ready you can set a timer and have it sound on your mobile or throughout the house. Because they’re voice activated you don’t have to worry about getting your mucky hands all over them if you need to go back over anything.
Make Your Old Oven Get Smart
If your oven’s really basic you can smarten it up a little with a Smart Plug. So if you put a meal in the oven when you leave for work in the morning a smart plug will let you switch the oven on remotely, and turn it off again after a predetermined period. Not perfect perhaps, but it does you get a steaming hot meal as soon as you get home on a dark and gloomy winter’s eve.
If you want functionality though, why not invest in a smart countertop oven? They’re not big, but they can cook the joint unsupervised. Alternatively there are Smart slow cookers which keep all the tasty juices in your meal, or they can be used as rice cookers to get perfect fluffy rice every time. Cook sous vide, sauté, pressure cook, and even make yoghurt, all in one device which sits handily on any tabletop.
Hot in the Kitchen
Cooking isn’t magic. Anyone can follow instructions and create a delicious meal. Trouble is, any conventional oven takes getting used to at first. The temperature on the dial isn’t always as accurate as you’d hope, and ovens which don’t have fans can have hot and cold spots which can result in uneven cooking. A Bluetooth kitchen thermometer gives you accurate data about how hot your oven is. Use it as a probe in the food and it’ll send a message to your phone when the right internal temperature is reached, or place it inside the oven so you know the accurate cooking temperature.
Wake Up and Smell the Coffee
There are a number of smart coffee machines on the market which will let you control the water temperature, the grind and pre-soak, but again, a simple filter coffee machine can be controlled with a smart plug, just remember to ensure there’s coffee in the cone and water in the reservoir if you’re looking forward to a steaming hot brew ready for you when you wake up, or your morning will be ruined!
Smart plugs aren’t specifically designed for use in the kitchen, so don’t think you can safely handle them with wet hands, but they do offer more than a simple timer. Sure you can turn things off or on at a specific time, but you can also flip the switch at any other time you choose from anywhere in the world so long as you have a phone or data connection. Smart plugs also monitor the amount of electricity they’re using, meaning you know exactly how energy efficient the things you use really are. Important for both watching your bills and protecting the environment.
Keep An Eye On What You Throw Away
If you don’t want to spend a your money on a new smart recycling bin scanner which will scan your rubbish as you pitch it, use a barcode scanner with a shopping ordering app. That way you can scan any barcode in the cupboard when you’re running low, add it to your shopping list or online order, and you’re done.
A Smart Bright Idea
Smart lighting is a boon in the kitchen too. LED lights are brighter than incandescent bulbs, while being more energy efficient too. They give a less harsh light than fluorescent strip lights, and the colour can be tuned and dimmed, so if you have a kitchen-diner you can still have a romantic meal with dimmed lights after being bathed in white light mere moments before.
Bright light with adjustable colour makes cooking easier too, as changing the overall tone of the light in your kitchen can make other colours stand out and increase contrasts.
Keep Cool and Carry On
Finally, if you find yourself out shopping and you don’t have a list with you, a peek in the fridge would be brilliant, right? Instead of buying a completely new refrigerator, it’s far easier just to get a Smart fridge camera. The manufacturer’s app will let you track scanned products and update your supermarket shopping list or use Siri to find out what’s in your fridge, and when it’s going to expire.