Hi, friends! Happy Whatever Day it Is When You’re Reading This! 🙂 And if you’re you’re reading this, heck yes, you’re my friend. Congratulations!
A big part of eating within your means involves cooking at home. That’s probably why you’re here, right? But if you haven’t noticed, there are a bazillion pots and pans and gadgets and thingamabobs and whooziwhatsits out there that promise you immense cooking prowess for the low low price of $99.95. And then you realize there are actually 5 payments of $99.95, plus shipping and processing. When did they change it from shipping and handling to shipping and processing? And why? These are the things I wonder about. Please tell me I’m not alone.
The reality is, if you bought it at 2am after watching a 30-minute infomercial, it’s probably not going to end up being something you actually use. And 6 months later you’ll see a charge for “XYZ SUPER AWESOME COOKING ITEM” on your bank statement and won’t even remember what it is. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything.
I’d like to save you some hassle and money, so I rounded up my 5 favorite kitchen essentials under $50. I use them all regularly in my in my day-to-day cooking adventures, and aside from the appliance trifecta of my food processor, Instant Pot, and Vitamix, I don’t use much else to get the job done. Let’s cook on the cheap!
I use this skillet every day. It has a permanent home right on my gas range. Partly because I use it so often, and partly because it’s heavy. Its heft is its one and only drawback. And once you buy this, you’ll never need to replace it. Let me repeat that. It. Lasts. Forever. What else can you buy for $38 that LASTS FOREVER and that you will use every day? If you think of something, let me know. 🙂
When this arrives on your doorstep, the very first meal you should make is this roasted vegetable skillet bake. It even has the word skillet it in, so it’s just obvious.
Having a sharp, well made, easy to handle knife can make all the difference in your cooking. It cuts down on prep time, reduces the number of swear words uttered while cutting through things like spaghetti squash, and just generally makes you feel like a kitchen ninja. I use this knife multiple times a day, and even bring it with me when we go on adventures involving an Airbnb. It’s my trusty companion in the kitchen, and if the hundreds of Amazon reviews are any indication, it’s bound to be yours too!
I use this pan whenever I need a bit more room than my cast iron skillet, and also if I need a lid. I also love that this pan is nonstick. I use it to make vegetable bolognese, cauliflower rice, vegetable meat substitute, and tofu scramble, just to name a few favorite recipes. It’s just a great all-around every day pan. Plus, it’s made of quantonium. I don’t even know what that is, but it sure sounds impressive. Also, I know this is exactly $50, and not under, but I hope you can let this one slide.
Ah, my trusty scale. I am slowly being converted to the idea of baking by weight, and seeing more and more recipes using weight measurements. It turns out that almost everyone else in the world already does this, so we’re behind the curve here in the good old US of A. I think it’s going to take us a while to get there, but I think we will eventually. To get your feet wet with weighing ingredients, this is a fantastic scale. It has a pull-out display, which is really handy, and it’s on the list of kitchen essentials for Alton Brown, so that’s all the endorsement I need. Also, if you want to test the validity of my canned vs. dried chickpea cost savings experiment, this is the scale I used. It’s only fair to use the same equipment for comparison purposes.
Half Sheet Pan + Wire Rack – $27
This combination is one of my favorite cooking hacks ever. I use this baking sheet and wire rack to salt spaghetti squash rings before roasting, and it’s the perfect way to let the water that comes out of the squash drain away. And once I learned about salting spaghetti squash, I started salting other stuff too, like zucchini and eggplant. It’s so nice to have the rack that fits right into the baking sheet. I have found that certain things just cook better when elevated a little bit to let air circulate. I’ve been experiementing with buffalo cauliflower “wings” and they are perfect on this setup. Not to mention, if you’re making a big batch of guacamole or tofu scramble, the wire rack is the perfect way to quickly prep the avocado or tofu – just push it right through the holes over a bowl, and you’re done! The uses are endless. The only challenge is that the sheet pan and wire rack are sold separately (not sure why), so I linked to the ones I use that had the best ratings as well.
A Note About Cyber Monday & Black Friday
We’re fast approaching one of the biggest sale times of the year, Cyber Monday & Black Friday. I’ll be sure to come back and update this page if I see any price adjustments on these kitchen essentials. It’s important that you know that this post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on one of these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for helping me keep sharing free recipes and cooking tips! It means a lot.
What are your kitchen essentials? Anything under $50 that you think I should add?