Whipping up recipes from scratch is much easier (and quicker) when you have the right tools to do the job. I love my fancy appliances like my Vitamix, my food processor, my juicer and my food dehydrator, but the truth is you don’t need them to get a delicious meal on the table. All you need are a few inexpensive cooking tools to help you with your meal prep.
Here are some of my favourite inexpensive cooking tools for you to consider. I use them daily and they didn’t cost me an arm and a leg – but the value they’ve given me in terms of my health is invaluable.
1. A Decent Knife
You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on a gourmet knife to become an expert chopper, slicer and dicer. There are a number of decent knives available in the $15-30 range and while I’m typically not a fan of big box shopping, my favourite knife is a $14 chef’s knife from Ikea. Check out your local culinary shops for sales, or hunt through your favourite thrift shop for a good find. Garage sales are a good option too.
No matter how much you spend on your knife, it’s important to keep it sharp – dull knives are how accidents happen. Either buy a sharpener, or take your knives to be sharpened on a regular basis.
2. A Solid Cutting Board
Most of the work involved in cooking is actually chopping, so ensure you’ve got a solid cutting board that can take the brunt of your killer knife skills. I prefer using bamboo cutting boards, as they’re eco-friendly, easy to use and don’t get horrendously scraped. I have small, medium and large-sized cutting boards since I use them so often, but one really good board will do.
3. A Box Grater
My four-sided metal box grater is one of the inexpensive cooking tools I use most frequently. It’s wonderful for grating all kinds of veggies and the different sizes allow for finer or coarser grates. While I have a microplane grater, I rarely use it anymore and instead use the fine side of my box grater to finely grate ginger, garlic, cacao butter, beeswax (for natural beauty care recipes and salves) or spices.
4. A Wide Mouth Funnel
This may seem like an odd one to include on a ‘best of’ list, but I use this inexpensive cooking tool all the time. I have a stainless steel version I bought for about $10 at a local hardware store and it’s amazing for transferring both chopped ingredients for meal prep and finished recipes like soups, stews and smoothies into mason jars without making an enormous mess. If you like to meal prep, cook in advance for the week or freeze recipes, this is a must-have.
5. Measuring Cups and Spoons
I’ll admit that when I’m freestyling it, I use measuring cups and spoons as vessels to scoop and transfers ingredients rather than as measuring tools. However, most of the time I am developing recipes for my website, client menu plans or cookbooks – and that means I need to be specific about measurements. I also like to follow recipes from other blogs and cookbooks and failure to measure may lead me to disaster!
Measuring cups and spoons are cheap and easy to find. I prefer stainless steel, as they’re more eco-friendly than plastic. I’ve had my measuring cups for more than a dozen years and they’re still in fantastic condition.
With these inexpensive cooking tools, you can cook to your heart’s content without breaking the bank. Get shopping, and then get cooking!
What have I missed? What are your favourite inexpensive kitchen tools?