Living Alone – Should I Buy a Toaster Oven?

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If you are living alone, a toaster oven with toaster and oven capabilities is an efficient way to reheat and prepare meals. There are different types of toaster ovens. If you buy one that can toast, grill, roast and bake, you may not need a conventional oven.  

 In this article we’ll cover the following:

  • Living alone? Reasons to Buy a Toaster Oven
  • Which Type of Toaster Oven Should I Choose?
  • What Should I Be Careful of When Cooking with a Toaster Oven?

Living alone? Reasons to Buy a Toaster Oven

There are several reasons why a toaster oven, especially one with convection capabilities, is a worthwhile investment.

Baked salmon steak with tomato, onion, mix of green leaves salad on a plate.


Can Prepare Healthy Meals at Home

Once you get into the habit of using a toaster oven, you’ll find yourself eating out less. This will save money since you can create healthy, home-cooked meals. Entire meals can easily be prepared and the kitchen is cooler than if a conventional oven was used.

study published by the NIH in August, 2017 dealt with the question of whether the frequency of eating home cooked meals was associated with the quality of  diet and if there was any impact on cardioo-metabolic health.

The researchers concluded that people who ate home cooked meals consumed a healthier diet than those who did not. This correlation was greater for those who ate home cooked meals more than five times per week.

The research team also concluded there was improved cardio-metabolic health, particularly in terms of adiposity, cholesterol and diabetes risk.

Accessible and Simple to Use

Placed on a countertop or shelf, a toaster oven doesn’t require any bending over. It’s easy to access and use because you’re ready to go with only a few pushes of buttons.

For those who use a wheelchair, a toaster oven is a lot more convenient than a conventional oven. If the kitchen is small, it could be a challenge to maneuver in just the right spot to open the door of a gas or electric oven. On the other hand, if counter space is limited, a table or cart holding a toaster oven can be placed in an accessible space.

Contained Heat

While using your oven in winter is one fine way to warm up, you might avoid cooking with your oven in the summer heat. A toaster oven doesn’t make your kitchen area extremely hot because it doesn’t change the temperature of the surrounding room.

Easy to Clean

Cleaning is the least fun part of cooking, but a toaster oven is easy to clean. Deep scrubbing is necessary although less frequently if you wipe it down with a damp cloth after each use. Most wire racks and trays are easily removable.  

energy efficiency

Energy Efficient

According to manufacturers and “industry representatives”, a toaster oven uses roughly one-third to one-half the energy of a traditional oven. Although the following calculation is not scientifically sound, it will give a rough idea as to whether this statement is on the mark.

We’ll calculate how much energy is used to cook a five-pound chicken in a toaster oven and an electric range. The wattages used are 1800W for a toaster oven and 3000W for the average electric stove.

In this example, we’ll cook a chicken for 1.5 hours at 400°F.  

kWh Calculations

Formula: [(Wxhrs/day)/1000 ]x Energy cost

Toaster Oven: [(1800x1.5)/1000]=2.7kWh  

Electric Stove: [(3000x1.5)/1000]  =4.5kWh

The toaster oven uses 1.8kWh less than conventional ovens.

1.8/4.5=40%

In this example, a toaster oven uses 40% less energy than a toaster oven. That comports with the energy efficiency claimed by companies and marketers.

In addition to overall efficiency, it takes less energy to reheat food and you won’t need to use a fan or air conditioner to cool off the kitchen in the warm summer months.

Lightweight and Transportable

A toaster oven is practical and portable, easy to place in a cabin, travel trailer, dorm room, or RV.

Rapid Preheat Functionality

A toaster oven is small so it can quickly preheat. You’ll be able to complete your meal preparation while it heats up, which can take less than five minutes. You’ll also eat on time and it’s a winning solution to quickly toasting a few slices of bread or heating up last night’s meal when you’re in a rush.

A Space Saver

A larger toaster oven is a suitable alternative to a traditional oven and its smaller size makes it countertop- or shelf-friendly. It fits in extremely well in tiny kitchens and allows you to prepare more than only one meal at once, with no need for a second oven or toaster.

Some toaster ovens include a warming tray so you can cook and warm food at the same time in one appliance. It can be installed between your kitchen cupboards to maximize your countertop space.

The Best Browning

If you want to brown your food, a toaster oven does this faster than a conventional oven. Its broiler element, which isn’t found in a standard microwave, helps food to be browned equally, making for a crispy, crusty texture.

Which Type of Toaster Oven Should I Choose?

Combination Toaster Oven

This is a blend of a conventional toaster and toaster oven. A small two or four-slice toaster is added to the side of the toaster oven door. If you’d like to toast some bagels or bread while simultaneously cooking your baked or broiled breakfast, a combination toaster oven is a handy option.

Convection Toaster Oven

A convection toaster oven is a conventional toaster oven with a built-in fan. Hot air circulates around the cooking chamber resulting in quicker and more even cooking. It’s a super energy saver and more eco-friendly than a conventional oven.

Related Content: Conventional and convection toaster ovens compared.

Infrared Toaster Oven

An infrared toaster oven has light bulbs that transfer energy into the food. The food is heated directly instead of heating the air surrounding it. The lamps heat up quickly so there is no need to preheat. This reduces overall cook times; making infrared toaster ovens more energy-efficient than conventional ovens.

toaster oven with whole chicken on rotisserie

Rotisserie Toaster Oven

Rotisserie is a method of roasting where a long, solid rod (spit) holds the food. The rod rotates allowing the meat to cook in its juices. This style of cooking allows the meat to be evenly and efficiently cooked. 

Related Content:  Different types of toaster ovens.

What Should I Be Careful of When Cooking with a Toaster Oven?

The pros of a toaster oven do outweigh the cons, but it’s important to remember these tips before you make your final decision:

Fast Cooking Time

Stay close to the kitchen while you’re cooking your meal in your toaster oven. It takes far less time to prepare food in a toaster oven than in a conventional oven. Check on your meal regularly as you don’t want it to overcook or burn.

Cooking time can be prolonged by adjusting the temperature on the toaster oven to buy you a bit more time to finish other meal preparation or unrelated cooking tasks.

Uneven Toasting

Bread toasted in a toaster oven can come out unevenly with one piece looking slightly lighter or darker than the other. While this isn’t a hugely noticeable difference, if you have a toaster oven that doesn’t have the convection heating, it’s better to flip your food now and then. That’s how you ensure a more even toasting.

Conclusion

Whether you live alone in a large home or a small apartment, preparing meals for yourself with a toaster oven might be the answer.

If you are going to use a toaster oven to prepare most of your meals, then you’ll want to buy one that has the capability of an oven and a toaster. This allows you to make a wide variety of main courses, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. Just a few ideas are bacon and eggs, oatmeal, muffins, a grilled cheese sandwich, pizza bagels, sweet potato fries, and asparagus.

Updated July 9, 2020