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Do you like to cook from scratch, but haven't got the time? Consider investing in a food processor. This handy gadget is a real time-saver when it comes to preparing food. It does the chopping, slicing, grating and often even mixing for you, in seconds.

There are many different kinds of food processors, and your choice will depend on where your cooking interests lie.

The simplest kind of food processor has a bowl, a chopping blade, and disks for grating and slicing. However, even this low-priced option does almost everything a serious cook needs.

The blade chops food into small, gravel-sized pieces. Use it for making breadcrumbs, chopping leftover meat for sandwiches, chopping uncooked meat into small pieces for making meatloaf or rissoles, chopping onions, cheese, and many vegetables where appearance is not important.

Add a little liquid to the food you are chopping, and you have instant puree! Imagine making your own home-made baby foods with your own, freshly-cooked ingredients.

The disks will save time where appearance is important. The grater will grate mounds of food in an instant. If you hate standing over a grater, consider the food processor for this feature alone. Grate cheese for toppings, grate carrots for cakes and salads, in fact, grate almost anything you want, effortlessly.

The slicers usually offer you a choice of thin slices, thick slices and potato chips. Just choose the disk that's most appropriate for what you're making.

As food processors become more sophisticated, they add more features. Some have more powerful motors. If you plan to use your food processor often, choose the most powerful motor in your price range.

Mixing blades are useful for combining chopped foods without chopping them further. This allows you to mix your grated carrot into your cake ingredients, for example.

You may be offered a little beater, which allows you to beat eggs and thin batters. This is handy if you enjoy making pancakes, omelettes and even muffins.

The more expensive models usually include a blender, which allows you to make soups, sauces and other blended foods very quickly. They may include a meat grinder, so you can grind your own beef, chicken, pork, lamb - anything. Models that include a meat grinder usually also give you a sausage stuffer, because what better use for home-ground meat than home-made sausages?

If you're an enthusiastic cook, there's a food processor to suit your particular pocket. And here's once last handy tip: don't ever pack your food processor away. Leave it out on the kitchen counter top where you can see it, feel it and use it every day. That's the way to get the best value from your investment!