It's been a long time since I last used a George Foreman Grill. As a child my parents bought what, in hindsight, was probably one of the first released in the UK and in the end it languished in the cupboard used only for the odd toasted sandwich.
It was heavy, my mum hated cleaning it afterwards and it always end up with fat dribbling off the edge and onto the counter, missing the weird drip tray. When I was asked if I wanted to try a George Foreman Grill I said yes, mostly because I'm currently looking at trying to cut down using my oven and hob and make healthier food for our family of four.
But, to be honest, in the back of my mind I was thinking 'sure I'll try a George Foreman Grill, mostly because I'd never consider spending money on one myself.' Little did I know. It turns out, like most things, times have changed. And having had it in my kitchen for a month I'd definitely miss the table top grill if I didn't have it.
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We tried the Medium Flexe Health Grill, currently available at Amazon and Argos for around £53, and on opening the box I quickly realised three of the major quibbles I remember from having one before, have been resolved in style.
Firstly, nowadays it comes with a 180 degree hinge. Not only does this mean that if you want to cook something that's an odd shape or particularly thick the grill plates will sit round it more neatly, allowing an even cook, but it means if you're cooking for a large number of people you can sit both plates flat and use it as a large griddle.
This meant suddenly I could cook enough lamb chops for a family of four in one go without half sitting on the side getting cold while things got cooked in succession.
Secondly, there's now a built in drip tray that catches all the grease without it having to dribble off the front of the machine and onto the counter.
Ironically though, once I'd got it unpacked and got to grips with how it worked, it barely made it into the cupboard during the month we've been using it.
We started off by grilling straightforward meat on it - chops, chicken, steak, burgers and kebabs. I was impressed by how quickly things cooked, although it took a bit of getting used to - there's no temperature control so you need to stand close by to make sure that the heat, which is searing by the time you've had it on a little while, doesn't overcook your meal of choice.
Once I'd got the hang of it though I was really impressed by how quickly things cooked and how moist the meat remained inside, despite so much of the fat being drained off during the cooking process.
As we were keen to get the children involved, we also started used the grill for two meals they like to get involved with cooking too - turkey mince burgers made with a little mozzarella and herbs and spices and quesadillas, which have become our weekend lunch of choice.
We all take a wrap, add our own fillings - I'm partial to grated cheese and Chilli Marmite in mine while it's also a great way to use up any leftovers from the week in the fridge - fold it in half and cook it in the grill for literally one minute. Both are quick, relatively healthy and inexpensive meals and have become firm family favourites.
I may also have used it to make an adult-only guilty pleasure from my youth - a Mars bar toastie made by putting a chocolate bar in a hot dog bun and toasting it for about 90 seconds. Not one we'll be introducing the children to, but proof that it can be used for sweet as well as savoury options.
Since we took delivery of the George Foreman Grill we've used it, on average, three times a week. Most things we cook in there tend to just take a few minutes, saving considerable amounts of electricity compared to my electric combination oven and grill.
While my cooker is so old I can only estimate its efficiency, using Sust-it's energy calculator and giving it the benefit of the doubt it would also appear that I'm also making considerable savings on electricity every time I use the George Foreman Grill.
It has 1800W power which, when I'm using it for approximately five minutes to cook lunch for us all means it's only costing 4.2p to cook on, compared to cooking the same meal in my oven which takes around 25 minutes and comes in around 29.17p according the current energy price cap.
All in all, the George Foreman Flexe grill has been a revelation. The plates are still fixed, which means cleaning is still fiddlier than perhaps ideal but for the price and size I don't think that's unreasonable.