5 Kitchen Luxuries That Are Worth It (and 5 That Aren't)
I love cooking. It's frugal, yes. But for me, it's more than that — cooking is a way to release stress, show people I love them, and (perhaps most importantly) feed myself delicious, healthy food.
While I try to keep a pretty minimal and inexpensive kitchen, over the years, I have realized that there are certain luxuries that are well worth the cost. Here are five of my favorites — and five items that aren't so necessary. (See also: 7 Time-Saving Kitchen Tips From an Insider)
Kitchen Luxuries That Are Worth It
There are some of my favorite things to keep in my kitchen.
1. Good Cookware
There are a couple of pieces of great news about quality cookware — first of all, you don't need a lot of it, and second of all, it's often easy to find second-hand. In fact, especially when it comes to baking supplies, I tend to prefer older baking sheets and cake pans — I've found that newer non-stick baking sheets almost always burn the bottom of my cookies. As for what you're putting on the stove top, a good cast iron skillet can do wonders. And if you do want a non-stick pan or pot, I recommend something from Calphalon — it's good quality, scratch-resistant, and long-lasting.
2. A Quality Knife
One good-quality chef's knife — kept sharp — can be the only knife you'll ever need.
As I mentioned above, I prefer regular baking sheets over non-stick ones, and I'll line them with Silpats — silicone liners. Silpats are easy to clean, make it so you don't need to oil your pans, and don't burn what you're cooking.
4. Garlic Press
In general, I'm against highly specialized kitchen tools. But I will admit my love for the garlic press — instead of trying to mince clove after clove of garlic by hand (I'm a big garlic fan), the garlic press smashes the clove with one easy squeeze.
5. A Few Nice Ingredients
Cooking is a lot cheaper than going out, even when you buy a few pricer ingredients. I love little items that can add big flavor — fresh herbs, finishing salts, miso, truffle oil, and good olives are a few of my favorites.
Kitchen Luxuries I Can Do Without
There are situations when some of these are worthwhile, but here are five kitchen luxuries that I generally pass on.
1. A Dishwasher
First of all, let me say that I'm writing this as someone who currently lives alone — the more people in a house, I think, the more useful a dishwasher can be. At first, I was bummed to move into an apartment without one, but then I realized that I used fewer dishes and washed them faster if my dirty ones sat in the sink instead of the dishwasher.
2. Highly Specialized Appliances
Crepe maker. Quesadilla maker. Waffle maker. These all clutter up your kitchen for foods that you make — what, once a month? Crepes and quesadillas can be made on the stovetop, and that waffle batter will also make lovely pancakes — take your waffle craving to a restaurant.
3. Most Name-Brand Foods
Most name-brand foods are equal or very similar to generics in terms of quality; they just have a bigger price tag.
4. A Microwave
I know that the microwave is a hotly contended kitchen item — if you do certain tasks a lot, like defrosting things from the freezer, a microwave might be worth it. Microwaves do, after all, use less energy than ovens for certain tasks. For the way I cook, though, it's not worth paying for a microwave or having it clutter up my countertop.
5. Brand-New Storage Containers
I do covet those neat pop-top containers. But if you're looking for countertop and cupboard storage, there are plenty of bargains to be found at thrift stores. Mix-and-match glass jars and containers of various sizes can make for a very chic (and inexpensive) countertop. One time I even found a vintage set of flour and sugar containers almost exactly like my mom had when I was growing up.
What are your favorite kitchen luxuries — and what can you do without?