Five Inexpensive Kitchen Essentials
July 1, 2014

I have a lot of tools and gadgets in the kitchen that I use a lot and feel like I can't do without.  I couldn't give up my KitchenAid mixer or my MagiMix food processor. You need good quality pots and pans, of course.  A few good sharp knives are essential.   These are all fantastic items but are pricey.  What about the tools in the kitchen that make my life easier but are not expensive?  These are my top five that I would be lost without when I'm cooking!


Rimmed Sheet Pans

Rimmed Sheet pans - My workhorses in the kitchen.  I have many of these sheet pans and sometimes I use almost every single one, if I'm cooking for a crowd.  I do food prep on them all the time. I use them when I am going to grill meat - I lay the meat out on a sheet pan and season it on both sides and sometimes add a little marinade.  It makes it so easy to take out to the grill and the rimmed sides prevent any marinade from spilling.  This pan is also perfect for assembling and laying out kabobs.  I also like to line the pans with foil and roast vegetables on them in the oven.  The pans are also terrific for cooling food. When I cook a meat mixture or a risotto and need to cool it quickly for a recipe, these are perfect because you can spread the food out on them and let it cool.  These are about $15 per pan.



Metal Strainer 

A metal handled spider, or strainer  - This is such an inexpensive item to have, but so worth it.  I hang this from my pot rack above my island and I use it all the time.   Instead of pouring out my pasta into a colander in the sink, I just take my handle strainer and lift the pasta out.  Why? Because most of the time, I want to keep my pasta water for my sauce and I have my sauce sitting in a pot on the stove right beside my boiling pasta.  I just lift it out and place it right in the sauce and finish it that way.  It is also terrific for when you fry foods or want to lift out vegetables that you've boiled.  It has so little surface area because of the wires, it strains really well.  This one is about $12. 




Parchment Sheets 

Parchment Paper Sheets - Lots of people use Silpats and love them for baking, but I got real tired of washing them. I now buy parchment baking sheets - precut - and I love them.  I actually buy a whole case at a time of them from Amazon and keep them in my garage. I use "If You Care" brand and they are very good quality, with no sticking at all of food.  I use them a ton.  I use them for cooking pizzas in the oven, baking bread, baking cookies and anything involving puff pastry.  I also make parchment paper circles out of them and line my cake pans for baking so that the cakes come right out. There is nothing to wash - not even the pan. You just throw them away.  If you are not cooking something that involves butter or oil, like bread, I can keep them and reuse them several times.  There are twelve boxes to a case and they end up being about $3.50 per box.



 Coarse Microplane Grater

Coarse microplane grater - Love this thing for grating garlic.  I just hate garlic presses and I don't like mincing garlic by hand.  This particular microplane grater is the perfect size for grating garlic right into your recipe.  I use it constantly just for that.  It's about $13.




Kitchen Scale 

Kitchen Scale - What would I do without my kitchen scale?  After you start using one, you just can't do without it.  One of the best uses of this scale is to measure pasta.  How do you measure out how much pasta to cook? Just eyeball it?  Bad idea.  If you measure the amount, there is no waste.  I also buy meat or shrimp sometimes in bulk, come home and divide up the packages and vacuum seal them.  Then I weigh the portions and mark them and put them in the freezer.  If I'm trying a new recipe and it calls for 2 ounces of something I can actually weigh it and not have to guess about the amount.  My kitchen scale is just essential. This one is about $15.


What are the things you can't do without in your kitchen?

Article originally appeared on The Italian Dish (
See website for complete article licensing information.