Scan the card, load the trays, and tell the Suvie 3.0 when you want dinner to be ready. This kitchen robot is an exciting addition to the world of small appliances. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Scan the card, load the trays, and tell the Suvie 3.0 when you want dinner to be ready. This kitchen robot is an exciting addition to the world of small appliances. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Move over Roomba: There’s a new robot in my house

The Suvie 3.0 can broil, roast, bake, slow cook, steam, reheat, defrost, refrigerate and do French-style sous vide cooking.

Small kitchen appliances always tantalize with the same promise: “I will make your life easier.”

Maybe…

Last December I got a Suvie 3.0 for Christmas. It’s not only a small appliance but also a robot; like Roomba, only for the kitchen. The Suvie has two separate compartments and can broil, roast, bake, slow cook, steam, reheat, defrost, refrigerate, proof and do French-style sous vide cooking in a water bath. But the best part is the schedule-to-cook function.

Let’s say you arrive home at 6 p.m. after from picking kids up at daycare and only have 20 minutes before you need to leave for Little League practice. With a Suvie, you can program dinner to be ready when you walk through the front door. It’ll roast chicken thighs in one tray and veggies in the other. The Suvie refrigerates the food to keep it at a safe temperature all day and then calculates when to cook each compartment so that all the food finishes at the programed time. You can prep the food that morning, or the night before.

There is a learning curve to cooking in the Suvie because the timing on traditional recipes doesn’t always convert correctly. But the company has a blog called Recette Magazine with recipes to try.

I use my Suvie frequently. I am usually too tired by 5 p.m. to enjoy cooking dinner but have more energy earlier in the day. With the Suvie, I can prep, program and then forget about it. Usually, I cook from scratch, but I have found Costco meals that fit into the compartments nicely. Sometimes I use to the Suvie to wake up to a hot breakfast.

Suvie also sells frozen meal kits that are simple to use. Load the meals into the trays, scan the label and input when you want dinner to be done. It’s as easy as that. The meals are expensive — they start at $9.99 a serving. Luckily, nobody in my family liked them as much as home cooking. That said, the meals are a game changer for people with disabilities, as I learned when I tore my calf muscle.

The Suvie isn’t the only robotic cooking appliance on the market. Its chief competitor is the Tovala, which has the special feature of letting you take almost any prepackaged food from your local grocery store, scan the label, and cook it.

I paid $399 for my Suvie, and it hasn’t been without problems. The Suvie has a water reservoir that needs to be kept filled to a certain level, and it’s difficult to see how much water is in the machine. If you misread the level, the refrigeration system fails, and your schedule-to-cook function won’t work until you fiddle with it. About four months into ownership, the door handle broke, and the company sent me a new one. Still, I think my Suvie was a worthwhile expenditure because it makes eating at home easier — and that saves money in the long term.

Before you scoff at adding another small appliance to the kitchen market, consider that robots like the Suvie and Tovala can increase independence for people with many types of disabilities, as well as older adults who live alone. Kitchen robots are also huge helps to busy families like mine. Hopefully their prices float down as they become more common.

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as @JenniferBardsleyAuthor. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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