According to the USDA, Americans spend 37 minutes a day preparing and serving food. Home meal kits like Blue Apron and Plated attempt to reduce that time with pre-cut and measured ingredients (as a result, they are now part of a $2.2 billion market). But, for people who want to have more control over what they eat, new timesaving kitchen gadgets may be a better solution.
This is especially true for older individuals and those with disabilities or physical limitations. According to the World Bank, 15% of the world's population has some form of disability and a 2015 study by the US Census Bureau projected that by 2050 nearly 17% of the world will be over the age of 65. For those with limited mobility, simple meal prep tasks can be daunting. As the population in the United States ages, the market for redesigned elder-friendly products grows too.
Here are some of the coolest additions to the market this year, that everyone can benefit from.
1. An Ice Cream Scoop You Push
We can thank Michael Chou, an aerospace engineer, for the wild looking Midnight Scoop device. This scoop arrives in Apple-like packaging, which opens to reveal something akin to a space-aged weapon. The Midnight Scoop features a heavily weighted curved handle and a scoop with sharp edges on either side for carving. The design changes the way you interact with ice cream. Instead of pulling and turning, you push and shovel. This protects your wrist as you use your body strength instead of your arm. The curved edges force the ice cream into balls as you push forward, so you end up with the same perfect scoops you get traditionally. While not a space-saver in your drawer, the Midnight Scoop is worth its weight, making it a must-have gadget for weak-handed ice cream lovers everywhere.
2. One-Handed Bottle Opener
Imagine if opening a bottle of beer were as easy as pulling a trigger, in a good way. That is how the GrabOpener is designed. Instead of pushing down or pulling up on a stiff
board with a hole or hook on the end, both of which often send the sharp cap flying, the GrabOpener lets you use your second and third fingers in a trigger-grip to lift the cap up and away from you. The magnetized metal it is made from keeps the caps from getting away. The result is a quick, one-handed solution that makes opening bottles a party trick, at least according to one enthusiastic Amazon reviewer. An added bonus is that the design keeps caps unbent for those who collect or make jewelry out of them.
3. Herbs on Demand
Using fresh herbs can make your cooking extra delicious, but for many people with limited space outside or physical limitations that make bending over to garden impossible, outdoor gardening is not a viable option. Smart Garden has invented a counter top Click & Grow kitchen herb garden that is similar to a Keurig, but with seed pods instead of coffee.
Just plug in what you want to grow, add water, and turn it on, and the garden system takes care of the rest. The Smart Garden delivers herbs in 20 days (or less if you just use a few and trim as they grow). When you are ready for new herbs, just plug in replacement pods.
4. Effortless egg peeler
Anyone who makes deviled eggs regularly knows that peeling hard boiled eggs can be a time consuming mess. When Connecticut resident Bonnie Tyler got fed up with peeling (and was forced to arrive at a potluck empty handed), she'd had enough. Her invention, the NEGG®, is a brilliantly simple and effective solution. You place your hard boiled egg into the plastic container (lined with raised bumps), add water, and shake. That's it. You really have to see it to believe it, but the shell when you remove the egg from this contraption literally slips away. No more delicate finger work required and lots of time saved!
5. The Watermelon slicer/server
Seedless watermelon was the first great timesaving invention for this favorite summer fruit, but now there is a much faster (and easier) way to slice and serve rind-free pieces without fancy knife skills. The Angurello watermelon sliver and server looks like a double-bladed handheld scythe. To slice, you push down and pull towards yourself in one swoop. To remove the slice, you squeeze the blades together and lift. Suddenly, you can slice up a melon in less than a minute. No more juice all over the counter, either. No more hacking away chunks. This simple solution is great for those with limited hand mobility, but also every day melon lovers (aka, the rest of us).
6. Push and twist jar opener
My husband makes fun of me every time I open a jar because I now yell, "I'm unstoppable!" as I turn and pop the lids. As a petite woman with small hands, opening pasta sauce and jelly jars ranged from humiliating (when my husband was home and I needed his help) to infuriating (when he was not home and I was left to smack tops to the counter, run hot water over the lid and scream in frustration).
That all changed when I got my hands on the OXO Good Grips Jar Opener with Base Pad. You place the jar on the silicone pad, move the opener into position and push down and away from you. As with the Midnight Scoop, this allows you to use you whole body to do the work. It is a brilliantly simple and game changing design.
While these kitchen "upgrades" may seem frivolous to some, they represent real independence for others. In an era where we are trying to empower people of all ages and abilites, small changes can have a big impact.