25 Cheap Kitchen Gadgets You Need Today
Everyone eats. The overwhelming majority of people eat cooked food, and all people prefer to eat food they enjoy. Having a well equipped kit...
Everyone eats. The overwhelming majority of people eat cooked food, and all people prefer to eat food they enjoy. Having a well equipped kitchen makes cooking easier, more pleasant, and yields more professional looking results. Yes, you could probably get by with one pot, a cereal bowl, two spoons and a butter knife, but is that how you want to live? No, it’s not. However walking into a kitchen store or just googling “Kitchen Supplies” can be a little overwhelming, so we’re here to help you with some cute and practical basics that won’t break the bank. For the purposes of our list, nothing is more than $45; most items are under $20. If this seems like a lot, again, just walk into any kitchen store. If you’re looking for a starting place for yourself, to step up your kitchen game, or for a gift, here’s a list of 25 Cheap Kitchen Gadgets You Need Today.
Let’s start at the beginning – you need a cast iron skillet. Everyone does. It’s truly an all purpose pan. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you get used to it, you’ll wonder how you ever fried/seared/deep fried chicken/made corn bread/made fritatas without it. Sometimes you can find an old one that needs to be re-seasoned at a thrift store or antique shop (it’s not uncommon in the south to find a family with one that’s been handed down for over 100 years), but if you want to buy a brand new, pre-seasoned one, they only run you about thirty bucks. Thirty bucks for a skillet you will have, and use, and love, until you die. You need one.
You should sharpen your knives on a regular basis. It doesn’t matter if you have a $300 fancy schmancy knife you can’t pronounce the brand name of, if it’s not sharp, you’re doing the work, not the knife. Dull knives are also more of a hazard as they require you to put more force behind the blade, making it more likely you’ll lose control, and when you do, you’ll do more damage to any human flesh your knife may encounter. You don’t have to get a whetstone and learn a new skill to sharpen your knives though, just buy a $10 knife sharpener.
Coffee scoops are one of those little things that say, “huh, I guess I’m a real adult now; I have one of these.” Kind of like a mortgage, only less terrifying. To be perfectly honest, they’re really darn useful if you’re a coffee drinker. This one also holds your bag of beans or grounds closed, and, if you yourself aren’t a coffee person, makes a lovely gift when paired with a bag of beans.
If you’re more of a tea person than a coffee person, or trying to make the switch, just look at this happy little guy. You know you want him. You’ll want to make tea just to hang out and relax together, maybe before bed. He also makes a really cool gift and is made of food grade silicone you can pop in the dishwasher when/if needed. Bonus? He only runs about $7.
If you’re using pre-ground pepper in your cooking, you don’t know what you’re missing. Mostly what you’re missing is the flavor of pepper, actually. Spices taste their best and most potent when they’re freshly ground. The longer they sit, the more flavor they lose. That who-knows-how-old tin of pepper in your cabinet is probably the equivalent of sprinkling dust over your food. Upgrade to a pepper grinder for around $15, and be amazed. If you really want to get crazy, try different kinds of pepper corns, or freshly ground pink salt.
Nature did not intend for veggies to be cooked in a microwave or boiled until they’re lifeless mush. Peas are not supposed to taste like a can, and cooked carrots can have a texture other than “smushy.” Invest in a vegetable steamer, and you might learn that you enjoy eating your veggies. Cute, silicone, can go in the dishwasher ones are around $10. It also makes a great gift with a basket from the farmer’s market.
Garlic Press Rocker
Very few people actually enjoy chopping garlic. It’s tedious; you have to make little tiny cuts; it makes your hands stink; just, no thank you. But fresh garlic is so very much better than anything pre-chopped and left to sit in liquid, or heaven forbid, turned into a powder. The solution? A $6 rocking garlic press.
This may seem very obvious to some, but it will probably be a revelation to others – you need a set of mixing bowls. Preferably a matching, nesting set of mixing bowls for ease of storage. If you’re living without mixing bowls, you’ll be surprised how much more pleasant they make cooking. If you have a few scattered mismatched ones that “work okay,” it may be time to treat yourself and upgrade to a matching set.
A cutting board is a necessity for any kitchen, and this one is a multi-tasker. It has a dish on one end to hold your cut food that can be removed and taken to your cooking station, and a colander on the other to put over the sink to rinse your goods. $16 for a three in one.
A strawberry/tomato huller is cute and practical. If you’re someone who has small children (or roommates, or a spouse) who go through several pints of strawberries or several tomatoes a week when they’re in season, you’ll be very glad you spent the $8 bucks. Plus, hulled out strawberries can have the crater in the top filled in with delicious things like goat cheese or no bake cheesecake filling for a quick and impressive plate of finger food.
Pretty much everyone has the basic set of steel cookie cutters – a star, a tree, maybe a candy cane, etc. You know what you need? Day of the Dead Sugar Skull cookie cutters. For $10 you get a set of four cookie cutters and stampers, so the pretty designs are already on the cookie. You don’t have to frost them if you don’t want to, but if you do, the guide is already there.
If you think these are cute, wait until you see number 8!
If you’re going to be cooking or prepping anything, you need a good knife. “Good” doesn’t have to mean expensive, though, nor do you need an impressive counter block set of 47 knives. An 8” or 10” chef’s knife, a pairing knife, and a bread knife that you only use for bread will serve most cooks very nicely. A high end knife in a kitchen specialty store is going to run you about as much as a new TV, but a decent, well cared for mid-range knife will tackle most jobs and run you around $35. America’s Test Kitchen has rated this Victorinox as their favorite 8″ chef’s knife for two decades.
This maybe falls into the “that’s really cool” category more than a need, but we all need ice at some point, right? Who wants to drink boring tap water when you could be drinking a glass full of diamonds, or take your whiskey on the rocks to the next level in presentation for less than $10.
Non-stick baking mats are life changing if you’re a baker. There aren’t really words to describe the joy that comes with knowing that never again will your cookies stick to the pan, nor will you have to get flour all over your whole counter to roll out pie crust only to tear it when transferring. If you need to put something (like homemade chocolate truffles) in the freezer or fridge to harden up, they *wont stick.* It’s basically everything you could ever use wax and or parchment paper for, except you can bake on them, and they hold themselves flat without any fancy weights or tape. You need them in your life, and a set of two costs less than $15.
Yes, you could buy a fancy all edge brownie pan if you’re the kind of person who really likes the edge pieces. Or…you could buy a bar pan, which you can use for brownies (four sides, four edges, all win), cornbread, individual cakes, cheesecakes, etc. If you like to bake and share, a bar pan is a must have for your kitchen, and a basic one will run you around $15.
A hand blender is a wonderful thing, particularly if you have a smaller kitchen. While it can’t quite do ALL the jobs of it’s full sized counterpart, it can handle quite a few of them. Plus it’s small, and it’s cheap, running less than $20. They make awesome milkshakes and smoothies, pureed soup, home made mayo, fresh pesto…
Mama and baby Loch Ness monster colander and ladle set. Less than $20 for the set, priceless amounts of cuteness, and on a practicality level, they have little nubby legs and stand on their own.
Oh Palm Peeler, I remember my days without you, and they were dark days, full of trying to get the right grip on a handle and fiddling with the angle of holding my veggies, and occasionally being overzealous and peeling myself a little. NO MORE! If you’re peeler challenged, pick up one of these for $7. If this gadget really tickles your fancy, there’s also a palm scrub brush and a palm herb mincer.
A hard boiled egg timer takes the guesswork out of perfectly hard or soft boiled eggs. There really isn’t a lot to extrapolate from this, it just makes it foolproof.
If you’re one of those people or live with one of those people who love fresh pineapple, this tool is a must. But wait, you say. I can cut up a pineapple with a knife and cutting board! Sure, you can. And it will take longer, and you’ll waste some of the fruit, and it won’t be nearly as pretty. Plus, this thing is dishwasher safe and costs less than $10.
Pizza cutter is a misnomer. They cut far more than pizza. Quesadillas, homemade pasta, pie crusts, fondant, herbs, anything you’re serving a small child such as pancakes or waffles; we could go on. Get yourself a good pizza cutter, a fancy one (that will last longer and have a better blade) will run you from $10 – $15.
Cookie scoops are basically glorified tiny ice cream scoops. However, that glorification is well deserved as they allow you to portion out cookie dough much more quickly and bake up same size and perfectly round cookies, all while keeping your hands clean. They can run around $8 up to $15.
A mandolin is a gadget that let’s you slice things quickly and evenly. Ever wonder how people get perfectly thin tomatoes, or potatoes for making homemade au gratin, french fries, or potato chips? That’s how. Fancy ones that will make things like waffle cut fries can run up to $100 or so, but a basic one starts at around $15.
Looking for more things to help you in the kitchen? Check out 25 Brilliant Kitchen Hacks You Need To Try Today.