Great kitchen gear isn't limited to fancy Japanese knives and copper-lined pots that cost more than a mortgage payment. These small, clever products all cost $10 or less, and will make you look forward to cooking.
If you own an expensive chef's knife, and you want it to last as long as possible, you should get it professionally sharpened from time to time. But for the knives you don't care about as much, this tiny pull-through sharpener will give them like-new edges with just a few swipes. I use it on my inexpensive (but excellent) Victorinox Fibrox knife every few months (usually after I nearly lose a finger when the dull blade slips off the side of an onion), and I'm always impressed with how much of a difference it makes.
Unlike most utensil rests, this one from Tomorrow's Kitchen is designed to hold multiple large utensils at once, and the extra silicone mat behind the raised grooves will catch any falling liquids. Plus, it's dishwasher safe.
Outside of the United States, most recipes are written in weights, rather than volumes, because the amount of flour in a cup can vary dramatically based on how tightly it's packed, but 140 grams are always 140 grams. A small kitchen scale like this one will let you easily follow international recipes yourself, and will probably come in handy when you're buying postage, too.
A sponge that you toss in the bottom of the sink will never get dry, but it will grow more bacteria. This inexpensive tray sticks to the side of your sink, and lets your sponge drip dry naturally.
However, that tray won't totally change the fact that sponges are germ factories. For most scrubbing tasks, a non-porous silicone "sponge" like this one will work just as well, and won't harbor but a fraction of the bacteria. You can even toss it in the dishwasher to really disinfect it from time to time.
I've used a lot of spatulas in my time, but when it comes to stuff you cook on a nonstick skillet (think eggs and pancakes), nothing compares to the GIR flipper. The silicone spatula is heat resistant (no melting edges!), bacteria resistant, and features an incredibly thin edge that can easily slide underneath delicate foods.
Restaurant-style metal taco holders will up your hosting game on taco night, sure. But more importantly, they make it a lot easier to actually fill and assemble your tacos as you prepare them, especially if you're dealing with soft tortillas (as you should be).
Chopping parsley and cilantro at the last second to garnish an otherwise finished meal that you already spent 90 minutes preparing is the definition of agony. Half the time, I just skip it and let the herbs wilt in my fridge. But with a pair of herb scissors, you can amass a usable pile of chopped greenery in a fraction of the time.
Pressing garlic isn't always the right way to prepare garlic (it results in a much stronger flavor than chopping), but it's certainly the fastest and easiest. If you're only doing a clove or two, you can even get away without peeling first.
A chainmail scrubber turns what used to be the worst kitchen chore--cleaning a cast iron pan--into one of the easiest. Normal sponges aren't up to the task, but the interlocking metal rings do a great job of scraping up old bits of food, without harming your seasoning.
Rather than periodically cleaning months worth of food splatter out of your microwave, just throw this silicone cover over your plates whenever you microwave them. Vent holes at the top allow steam to escape, and it even collapses to the size of a large plate to save space and fit in your dishwasher.
You only really need three knives for cooking: a chef's knife, a bread knife, and a paring knife, and you can get a really great version of that last one for under $10. The handle is a little small and basic looking, but the German steel blade lives up to the Victorinox name.
Save a few bucks on lattes by frothing your own milk at home. This frother is small enough to fit in any drawer, and is also great for whisking eggs and sauces. You'll be on your own for making latte art though.
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