Over time I’ve learned that I don’t need to spend a lot on kitchen tools to cook well. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great kitchen store and have been known to bring home a copper pot or two. But, when it really comes down to it, the things I use in my kitchen everyday are neither expensive, nor fancy. They are tried and true tools that home cooks have used for years. When I was going through my kitchen taking a mental inventory of some of my favorite things I realized that not only were they readily available at almost any kitchen store in the country, each of them costs less than $10! Here is my list of some of my favorite inexpensive kitchen tools and why they are essential to me. What would be on your list?
1. Basic Wooden Citrus Reamer (approximate cost, $8.50): Citrus reamers are great for lemons, limes, oranges and small grapefruits. I use mine almost everyday, whether adding a touch of lemon juice to a sauce or squeezing orange juice for my daughter.
2. Handheld Microplane Zester (approximate cost, $10): As Jaime explained before, this tool is fantastic for zesting citrus, cheese and even chocolate. Plus, it never wears out and is dishwasher friendly.
3. Pyrex 4-cup Measuring Cup (approximate cost, $7.50): Resilient enough to hold extremely hot liquids and strong enough to be frozen, this measuring cup is my go-to for broths, sauces and batters. The spout is great for pouring pancake batter straight into an awaiting skillet.
4. OXO Good Grips Measuring Spoons (approximate cost, $5.99): One good set of measuring spoons is all you’ll ever need. I like these because they scoop nicely when inserted into containers of all shapes and sizes.
5. Square Glass Baking Dish 8×8 size (approximate cost, $9.99): Whether I am baking brownies or roasting tomatoes, this dish is the perfect size for just about everything. It is dishwasher friendly and never seems to break when I drop it which has, unfortunately, happened a few times.
6. Basic Plastic Pitcher – 2 quart size (approximate cost, $6.00): Where would an iced-tea or lemonade maker be without a basic pitcher? Mine is full to the brim with homemade beverages year-round.
7. Whisk – (approximate cost, $4.95): The basic whisk is essential for fluffing eggs, thickening bechamel and smoothing batters. There is no substitute for a good whisk in the kitchen.
8. Porcelain Ramekins – 5.5oz. size (approximate cost, $2.50): Perhaps the most versatile vessels in my kitchen, these have served as my prep bowls, baby food bowls and dipping stations – sometimes all in one day! Best of all, if and when one breaks, I have no guilt about tossing the pieces and buying a new one since they are so cheap!
9. Tongs (approximate cost, $6.99): Flipping meat, swirling pasta and picking up artichokes are all things I use my tongs for on a daily basis. They never seem to wear out either, I have had this set for seven years.
10. Wooden Spoon (approximate cost, $5.99): This one is probably the most obvious, but a good wooden spoon is hard to beat in the kitchen. I always have at least two on hand, it protects my arm from any potential splatters and is the best for stirring pastas, sauces and cookie dough. Plus, as my daughter will attest, they make excellent drum sticks.