“I really need to get one of those things that does the thing to the vegetables.” Ever hear yourself saying something resembling this while preparing food for a dinner party? We’ve been there. They say necessity breeds innovation and it’ a safe bet this motto started in the kitchen. Today with the looming possibility of the robot kitchen and automated chef you might be saying to yourself: “I’m just going to ride it out until we get all our food from a pill or from that thing on star trek that just materializes your food.” That’s still a good clip away from coming to a common reality, so in the meantime we’d suggest you pick up these helpful items and stash them away in that one draw in the kitchen that only these items will fit in.
The best thing about this list is that many of these items can be purchased at a minimum cost from a discount retailer or department store and will last you a decade. Just don’t buy the cheapest utensils you can find or else you’ll by buying a new one every year. “Middle of the road” is always good advice, and holds true with kitchen devices/utensils as well. Some of these will seem pretty straight forward, but you’d be surprised how many of these basic utensils most people don’t have in the kitchen.
No brainer right? There is a general misconception that it’s just easy to use a fork since the end result is often the same. The whisk however, is designed to not only break an egg yolk but to destroy it so that you get a nice even consistency from your scrambled eggs. It’s also nearly essential to getting a smooth mixture from many types of sauces and gravies.
2. Muffin Pan
Muffin Pans are amazing for…um…well muffins, but they are pretty versatile. Such as, you can also make cupcakes. With all the muffins and cupcakes out there you’d think everyone would have one of these but you’d be wrong.
If it wasn’t for this handy little device some people would just not eat potatoes or apples. The peeler and corer combo device is quite a simple design, but one of the most useful utensils in the drawer. On the end you have a brilliant invention for taking out the middle garbage of your apple and on the side a sure fire way to not cut your finger off while preparing fresh potatoes. Get one now and you can thank us later.
4. Cheese Cutting Slab
If you enjoy wine enough to have wine and cheese parties, or you realized that you get way more cheese by purchasing it in a block and cutting yourself, you’ll be the envy of your friends with one of these fancy devices. Cheese cutting slabs are actually much less expensive than one might think and even the $20 ones you might pick up at a TJ Maxx or Marshall’s will usually go the distance. Here’s why you need one aside from looking REALLY well cultured: they do an amazingly accurate job at cutting cheese at any thickness level you want, and if you love your cheese sliced ultra thin….well you might already have one.
5. Egg Separator
Eggs may only need separation on sparse occasions for just a handful of dishes, but they are too cheap and work too well to not have one in your kitchen arsenal. Furthermore, have you ever had tried to separate the yolk from the white without one? It’s easier to separate atoms. If you’re making some homemade eggnog for the holidays for example, an egg separator will pay for itself the first time you use it.
6. Pizza Cutter
Just use a knife right? Wrong! Pizza cutters, even a really well made one, isn’t going to break the bank and will cut faster and cleaner than your standard kitchen knife. If you eat pizza more than one night a week that you cook yourself, you need a pizza cutter. Oh, you order from Domino’s and they cut it for you? I’m sure they always cut your slices perfectly every time and you never have to go back and re-slice.
7. Ice Cream Scoop
This is another one of those utensils that make you say: “Duh”, but if you have ever been to a house with a lot of jacked up serving spoons, you know why we’d recommend one. Many times, people only eat ice cream sporadically after a breakup or on Jan 21st when you ditch your diet, so it’s not something you’ll necessary have on standby. Once you use a heat conducting ice cream scoop to slice through that frozen dairy like a hot knife through butter, you’ll never go back to bending soup spoons again. Spring for a nice, one piece scoop, preferably made of stone. You’re likely to break the cheaper Dollar Store ones on a really hard block of ice cream.
8. Cast Iron Skillet
Corn bread? Better in an iron skillet. Fried potatoes? Betting in an iron skillet. Pretty much every food that has been propagated in the Southern US? Better….you get the idea. Iron skillets add a special tinge of flavor to the food that you never knew a cooking pan could. They have an added health benefit as well: they leach a slight amount of iron into your food, and you need iron as one of the essentials minerals in your diet. Iron skillets do take a little prep work before you start cooking in them as they need to be baked in the oven for an hour or so at 350 degrees F to give them a nonstick surface. The plus side is that these things last forever. So long in fact that iron pans and skillets have become somewhat of a collectors item in some circles.
9. Slap Chopper
Okay, so what if this device was most commonly patronized by a guy that beats up hookers….these things are awesome if you have a large amount of veggies to dice. Plus it’s fun to do and a great way to take out aggression from having your kids come in the kitchen every five minutes asking if dinner’s ready. A word of advice when buying a slap chopper: spend the extra 10 bucks to buy the better made version of one of these. You can get a cheaper one from Target, but the slap choppers take quite a bit of abuse and the less expensive ones tend to break after only a few uses.
There are literally 1,000,000 kitchen gadgets and devices on the market today; A lot of them are clever; Many are helpful, and some are just plan demonic devices that serve no general purpose and actually make your food preparation life harder. With that in mind, here are some devices you can probably get around or do without completely.
These things are cool and you always see how much fun juicing fresh oranges or lemons is on TV, but in reality it’s a pain in the rump. You’d be surprised how little juice you actually get from a whole bag of oranges. THAT’S why orange juice is so expensive! Also, if you’ve ever used a citrus juicer, you know that the pulp gums up the slots that the juice is supposed to leak down into and so you have to clean it out every two to three lemons you juice. Don’t even get me started on how hard it is to clean tiny slivers of citrus pulp from these things. Just…Don’t.
Today you can buy freshly minced garlic from your local grocery store, so there is really not much of a need to press your own garlic. There is hardly any difference in taste between fresh garlic and the garlic that comes in a jar so why make life more difficult for yourself? The pre-minced garlic even comes in squeeze tubes now! If you have a recipe that calls for 1 minced clove of garlic, a good equivalent is about 1 tablespoon of minced garlic from the jar.
Unless your a fourth generation Italian Woman who is also a stay at home mom, you probably don’t have time to make your own pasta, nor should you. With the abundance of pasta choices at your local supermarket and the nearly unlimited shelf life of dried pasta, you can simply pick up one box of each pasta, store it in your pantry, and you’ve got the base for any Italian pasta dish you could imagine. Furthermore, while pasta makers look cool, they are typically a bulky, expensive object that will take up a lot of unnecessary room in your kitchen. Leave the pasta making to Chef Boyardee and save yourself the hassle of this device.