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Pasta Maker
Startup cost: $50

How often you need to use it to make it worthwhile: Once a month for two–and-a-half years.

"There is nothing like fresh, homemade pasta," says Domenica Marchetti, author of The Glorious Pasta of Italy. And it's one of the few foods that impresses with relatively little effort. Fresh fettuccine at Italian markets varies widely in price, but say you're paying about $3.50 a pound and buying a package once a month. In two-and-half years you'll have spent $105. A batch of homemade pasta costs just $1.60 to make (it's simply flour, eggs and water), so if you made your own once a month for two-and-a-half years, you'd spend $48 on ingredients. Add $50 for an imported model (the Imperia gets raves), and you're at $98. So you'll have saved $7—and won the admiration of friends and family.