Unleashing a cooking enthusiast inside a restaurant supply store is like dropping a child off at a candy store. Watch their eyes bounce back and forth as they look at all the wonders in front of them. Getting started with your first kitchen can be confusing though. It’s hard to know what kitchen tools are worthwhile investments and what will be used once or twice and then forgotten about in the back of a drawer. This list will allow you to outfit your kitchen with essential tools for less than $100.
Sometimes it depends on your cooking habits, but there are without a doubt a few tools every kitchen needs. Assuming you already have the basic utensils and dinnerware, we’ve found seven kitchen essentials that you can find for $15 or less each. It’s an inexpensive way to upgrade the kitchen you already have, or to get started when you’re first moving into a place of your own.
1. A Cast Iron Skillet
If cared for, cast iron skillets can be passed down through generations. They’re incredible durable and when seasoned have a relatively non-stick surface. Lodge, one of the most popular brands, has been making cast iron cookware for over 100 years. Many of their products come pre-seasoned and for $15 you can get a 5- to 8-inch skillet. Read this guide to caring for your cast iron to keep it in tip-top shape for years, and click this link to see some great cast iron skillet options.
2. Mixing Bowls
It’s unlikely you’ll find a large, high-quality Pyrex mixing bowl set for under $15, but you can certainly find a metal or plastic set for that much. The material you decide on is a personal choice: metal is lightweight but can’t go in a microwave, Pyrex is heavier and can break when dropped, plastic and wood can absorb odors or colors.
3. A Sharp Pairing Knife
Pairing knives are an absolutely essential kitchen tool and, contrary to what you may think, a dull knife is often more dangerous than a sharp one. High-carbon stainless steel pairing knives from Victorinox (the company that makes Swiss Army Knives) cost $6-$12, but another popular option is the ceramic knife. While not necessarily cheaper than other materials, ceramic doesn’t dull as easily as metal and doesn’t corrode when it comes in contact with vegetable or fruit acids. However, ceramic blades are more brittle and may not be a good first choice if you’re prying through frozen food or bones.
4. Baking Pans
Flat baking pans, even those with non-stick surfaces, can be found for about $10. But, if you want something more versatile, look for a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish. They’re easy to clean, can be used in the microwave, oven, or even the freezer, and the raised sides make them much more versatile. You can still make cookies in them, but now you’ll also be able to throw together a casserole, cake, or meat dish. Some even come with fitted plastic covers for easy storage of leftovers.
5. A High-Quality Turner
If you’re unfamiliar with the name, a turner is the tool used to flip pancakes or eggs while a spatula is most often used to scrape delicious cookie dough off the inside of bowls. Spatula is often used interchangeably. You may be tempted to buy the cheapest turner you can, but this is one tool you want to invest a little more in.
A basic plastic version will quickly melt away and leave flakes of plastic in your food, which is both unappetizing and unhealthy. The metal versions are good when cooking with some pots and pans, but shouldn’t be used on non-stick surfaces. The essential turner is heat resistant up to 600-degrees Fahrenheit to avoid damage and is comfortable for you to hold. You should look for one with a stainless steel core and silicone outer layer so it can be used on non-stick surfaces but is still stiff enough for proper flipping. Check out this great option to get started.
6. Serving Utensils
You’ll always need serving utensils. Wooden sets are ideal as they can be used on non-stick surfaces, are lightweight, and inexpensive. This set of six is made out of bamboo and costs less than $10. You should also buy mineral oil and treat the set several times before use. Although bamboo is a great wood to use, if it’s not properly oiled it can dry out and crack.
7. Measuring Cups and Spoons
Unless you’re using grandma’s “a pinch of this, a handful of that” technique, you’ll need some basic measuring cups and spoons to follow a recipe. You really don’t need more than a basic set such as the Mainstay Measuring Set, which should only set you back about $5-$10.
Have a question or want to see another list for kitchen and household essentials? Let us know in the comments section below 🙂