Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archives for Gadgets & Utensils

[ Currently Eating: Homemade Chicken Soup ]

Senseo Machine - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Free. F-f-f-free. Phree. Fwee.

That has a wonderful sound to it, hey? It’s the sound we like to hear the most here on Cheap Eats. But, it always seems there’s a catch to free goodies. Like you have to lend your email to unscrupulous marketers. Or you have to sell out your blogging integrity to thee man. Or you have to walk around like a living sandwich-board advertisement. I haven’t tried that one yet, but the year is still young.

So, I was sent this Senseo Coffee Pod System for free the other day. Now, what is the catch? The catch is that like free cell phones, free dish/cable network installments and free magazines, they want to make it as easy possible to rope you into a monthly “subscription” based type of payment. Sure, the phone is free, but you’ll be paying them a monthly fee that will eventually eclipse the cost of the “free phone” by far.

OK, so you don’t HAVE to sign up for any coffee subscriptions. However, because you need to use the special circular coffee packets with the Senseo machine – it’s pretty similar. They’re just reducing the barrier to entry by making the machine free – getting a lifelong coffee customer is completely worth the $70.

Incidentally, even though I was sent this machine without asking, it’s not like I’m special or anything. ANYONE can signup to apply for a chance to get a free Senseo machine as of right now. You just go to the Share Senseo website and fill out a quick questionnaire. The thing is – you are signing up for a CHANCE to get a free machine. You’re not guaranteed one. Needless to say, I’m told that if you use this link instead of just typing in, your application might be, er, expedited. And no, I’m not getting a kickback for sending you to them.

Senseo Machine - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Ok, back to the coffee maker. Yes, so it does require their little “coffee pods” in order to use the machine (I’m debating whether or not it’s worth the effort to try and find a way to circumvent this by “making my own”. Right now, I’m leaning toward it being too much work). Also, you should note that I am NOT a coffee snob. I’ll drink pretty much anything as long as it’s not too burnt tasting. So if you really like coffee, your mileage will vary.

The first thing I noticed about the Senseo machine is that it is really WEIRD looking. To me at least. I wasn’t used to how curved everything was. It sort of looks like a cylinder that is leaning over to touch its toes. Now, I’m all for cool and unusual design – but I have to say that I wasn’t so happy with the way the main cylinder curves over the bottom plate where you put the cup.

I noticed right away when the instructions said to first flush out the device once by putting a bowl underneath to catch the excess water. I couldn’t find a bowl that would fit on it because the curved neck wouldn’t allow a large bowl to sit there without hanging off the edge. (Note: if you do get a machine, to flush it you can simply use a large wide cup that holds at least 10 oz. and you’ll be fine.)

My next complaint is the somewhat “unwieldy” curved nature of the detachable water reservoir. The shape just really makes it awkward to fill up and carry around – it’s shaped like a curved flat cannister, maybe like a warped hip flask or flat canteen. I guess it needs to be that way because the neck is so curved – anyhow, a minor complaint.

Continue reading “Free Senseo Coffee Maker” …

[ Currently Eating: Watery coffee ]

Hefty Serve N Store Party Plates and BowlsRecently, I got a whole load of these Hefty Serve ‘N Store Party Plates and Bowls sent to me for review. Before you say I’ve sold out, let me remind y’all that this is CHEAP Eats. And it doesn’t get much cheaper than FREE. So, I’m definitely not going to look any gift horses (or plates) in the mouth!

The idea for these plates and bowls is a great idea, yet it’s so simple that I can’t believe that anyone hasn’t thought about it until now. Rather than sell plates with covers, they’ve made it so each plate can function BOTH as a plate and a cover. This is accomplished by adding “latches” around the sides of the plate so that when they are pressed together they lock into place. Shades of Lego pieces! From the back of the package:

Only Hefty Serve ‘n Store™ plates and bowls have the unique Interlok™ feature. Just flip a matching plate or bowl over and press the rims together to create a quick covered container. With a multitude of uses, you can keep food fresh before parties. Store leftovers in a snap and create to-go plates for guests. Made from durable plastic, their strong, deep dish design resists spills and the handles make them easy to hold and carry.

For the past eight years or so, I’ve headed over to my parents and in-laws for dinner at least once or twice a week (they are both great cooks). And inevitably, there are leftovers galore to be taken home. That’s one of the prime directives for Cheap Eats: Always Accept Leftovers. Usually, we have to figure out how to pack these dishes to take home and up till now we usually got some paper plates and taped another one on the top as a lid, or covered the plate with saran wrap or foil. Spills were frequent with these makeshift covers, so I think that these Serve ‘N Store plates are going to come in pretty handy.

Hefty Serve N Store Party Plate Filled With RiceThe plates and bowls themselves are the “Party” variety so they are this vibrant red color which I suspect will match your holiday decor nicely. The plastic is fairly hard and it looks like it’s washable to some extent which is good, because having to throw away the plates after using them would be a deal-breaker for me. Besides the dual use as a cover, what I liked about the plates were that they were actually deeper than most disposable plates. So if you put some gravy or cranberry sauce or creamed spinach in them (hello, Thanksgiving leftover fixins) they won’t slop out as much even when not covered.

Both the plates and bowls have these “handles” on the side which are nice for carrying. Although, this could possibly be a storage issue as they jut out about 1/2 inch on either side of the plate.

Hefty Serve N Store Party Plate Over SinkI had a whole battery of tests that I was going to subject these Hefty Serve N Store Plates to. One of them involved getting up on the roof and throwing sealed plates of Thousand Island dressing to the ground to see how they would stand up to being dropped.

But I nixed most of those ideas due to the mess they’d create. Anyhow, their main claim for these guys is for convenience and usability rather than durability (though I can’t count how many times I’ve seen those Hefty Trash Bag commercials that are supposed to be the most durable in the world). But anyway, for my first test I tried filling up a plate with dry rice, locking the top and holding it over the sink and shaking it for a half minute. Pretty good there. I mean, what idiot is going to purposely hold a filled plate like that for longer than a few seconds. I guess I might be surprised.

Next, I took that locked plate of rice and dropped it from about a height of about 3 feet. I figured this is about the distance most people would drop it from. I don’t have a high speed camera or a steady hand, so you’ll have to settle for some before and after shots.

Hefty Serve N Store Party Plate Being Dropped

Note the carefully placed newspaper, in case disaster should strike. Happy to report that I dropped it three times and in both cases the locking mechanism was pretty steady. I also tried dropping it directly on its end and the plate didn’t fare as well, with the rice literally exploding out of the container. But chances are you won’t drop the plate right on it’s end since if you’re holding it vertical like that, you’re already in trouble.

Hefty Serve N Store Party Plate After Being Dropped

Here’s a picture of the plate on the ground after it was dropped, still sealed nicely. One thing to remember is to press down pretty hard along the latches of the plate to make sure ALL of them are closed. One open side will weaken the whole thing and lead to failure. Think of it like your Legos: you wouldn’t stick them together half-assed either right?

Continue reading “Hefty Serve N Store Party Plates” …



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