Guest post: 12 essential tools for your frugal kitchen – Part II

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(Here’s the second part of my husband Tony’s guide for 12 essential (and multi-tasking) kitchen devices that will help cut down on the clutter coming in and the dollars going out.)

7.) If you are only willing to buy one knife, make it a good one.
But good doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Cheap knives can be unsafe; the simple truth is that the money you save on an $8 Chef’s knife might end up going to a hospital bill later. If you only buy one knife, make sure it’s in the 8- to 10-inch range, full tang (that is, the metal runs through the handle), and non-serrated (because serrated knives can’t be honed and sharpened). The cheapest and best quality knife I’ve ever found runs for less than $30 on Amazon. If you have it in the budget to get a few more, get a paring knife for small jobs and a relatively inexpensive serrated slicer for breads and tomatoes.

6.) Heavy wooden chopping block. If you’re going to buy a good knife, you might as well get something proper for it to cut on. You’ll be surprise how often you genuinely use it. A heavy wood cutting board will help keep your knife in good condition, and is ideal for cutting vegetables, fruit, and just about any non-meat related item. Use a cheap, food-grade, dishwasher-safe plastic cutting board for chopping, cubing, or cutting raw meat.

5.) Wooden utensils. They’re cheap, kind to your non-stick pans, dishwasher safe, and won’t melt.

4.) A pizza slicer. Not just for homemade pizzas: use to portion brownies, quesadillas, etc.

3.) Glass storage containers. Pyrex, for example, won’t stain or hold smells; it’s safe for the freezer, the oven, or the microwave; it’s durable and difficult to break; and it’s dishwasher safe. Although slightly more expensive than plastic, when you buy your second or third round of plastic Tupperware after marinara or chili stains the interior, think of how you wouldn’t be buying another set of glass.

2.) Crock-Pot. The appeal of the Crock-Pot began as a device of simplicity and convenience, but most recipes call for few or common ingredients and it has become a worthy tool of the frugal kitchen. In reality, it performs many of the same functions as the cast-iron dutch oven (except direct contact heat), but it also doesn’t require your presence, nor does it require the power and energy generated by an oven, either on the burners or from inside.

1.) Cast-iron skillet. One of the cheapest and most reliable kitchen materials is cast-iron. It involves some annual seasoning, but it holds heat like a volcano (perfect for making a steak if you don’t have a grill). Cast iron is about as indestructible as cookware gets, so it has the potential to last forever. A 10- or 12-inch skillet is a must-have for any kitchen; typically less than $20, it can be used for searing, baking, frying, braising, or practically any other task. With time it develops its own natural non-stick coating, and you can’t beat cornbread made in cast iron.

Tony is my husband, an excellent cook, and a grad student. If you want to read more from him and you like movies, check out his movie review blog.

3 thoughts on “Guest post: 12 essential tools for your frugal kitchen – Part II

  1. Kacie

    Back when I was building my kitchen, I bought one pan: A pizza pan. I used it for pizzas of course, but also for anything that would normally require a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan.

    I still don’t have cookie sheets. I use a pizza pan or some 9x13s and it works for me!
    .-= Kacie´s last blog ..June reflections and July hopes =-.

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