If Hearing 'What's For Dinner?' Makes You Cringe, This Self-Cooking Oven Will Change Your Life

by Karen Tietjen
Originally Published: 
Tovala Smart Oven

If hearing “What’s for dinner?” makes you cringe, you’re not alone. In fact, I even get annoyed when I ask this to myself, staring into the abyss of the almost-empty fridge. I don’t necessarily mind cooking, but the planning and prep — on top of working full-time at home and having a 14-month-old that’s becoming increasingly mobile — is just too much to handle sometimes.

So if you, like my family, turn to the takeout apps more often than you’re proud to admit, you may want to hear me out. There’s a smart oven that cooks dinner for you (yes, really!), and if this is the first time you’re hearing about it, then your life is about to change.

When I was offered a sample of the Tovala Smart Oven (jackpot!), I jumped at the chance: A techie appliance that does the job of a personal chef? Uh, yes, please! It’s the kitchen essential of 2021 to end (or rather, replace) all other countertop cooking appliances — toaster and toaster oven, we’re talking to you. It may look like a microwave (and in fact, it’s roughly the same size of one), but this thing does so much more.

Tovala has a subscription service where you can order pre-made meals, scan the barcode on the oven, pop it in, and get on with your day in true “set it and forget it” fashion. And let me tell you from experience: The food is delicious. But the really cool part is that the Tovala oven can also read hundreds of other bar codes from brands like Amy’s, Trader Joe’s, DiGiorno, Eggo, and so much more; just scan and the oven takes care of the rest (you’ll get a perfect cook every time, no guesswork required). Of course, you can always use the bake, steam, toast, and broil functions to make just about anything you want — there’s even a library of Tovala-specific recipes you can access via the app. With it, reheated leftovers have never tasted so fresh. And I love that I can set the oven on its user-friendly control panel or right from my smartphone if I’m feeling super modern.

Scary Mommy

It’s even helped me eat healthier during my remote workday when I don’t have a lot of time to prepare a meal. I’ll chop up veggies the night before, and come lunchtime the next day, I just toss them in a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Into the Tovala they go, emerging golden and crispy every time. Served over quinoa, it’s a light satiating lunch that’s perfect for a busy weekday.

But to get the absolute most convenience from this system, you’ll want to get the Tovala meal subscription, and you can order your picks on the Tovala website or through the app. They start at $11.99 each and you can select a plan of 3-16 meals per week for your family, or even just for you (hey, no judgment here). It’s a little on the pricier side, I admit, but compared to all that delivery we’ve been getting (plus all those fees … really, it’s ridiculous!) it’s about half the expense of one takeout haul. Personally, I wish I had this right after my son was born, in those first weeks and months when I hardly had time to shower, let alone cook. (Hint, hint, anyone with a loved one who’s about to have a baby.)

tovala smart oven

So to all you tired, hungry parents out there, just think: The next time the kids are scarfing down chicken nuggets for the umpteenth time, you could be savoring a chef-made dinner that you didn’t have to spend two hours preparing. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

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