Food / Shopping Smart

5 Essential Kitchen Items I Use Way More Than An Instant Pot

By Friday, October 16, 2020

With many of us spending more time in the kitchen due to the widespread shutdown of indoor restaurant dining, naturally, it’s become a place you want to feel comfortable in. While it’s true that there’s never been a better time to upgrade your culinary space (and if flashy, expensive appliances like a Nespresso maker or a Vitamix have been calling your name as of late — I feel you!), it’s still important to consider whether certain items are worth the investment. Especially considering that these days, it’s easier to justify pricier purchases for our home, now that we’re practically inside all of the time.

However, a “good” kitchen should be majority stocked with things you actually use, and little else. Since I’m working from home, I am making my own food and drinks most of the week, so I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the things in my kitchen that are not only useful but also spark joy in my daily routine. 

What I’ve come to realize is that my favorite kitchen items are typically simple ones that are relatively inexpensive. With appliances like a soda stream and instant pot collecting dust most of the time, these are the kitchen must-haves that are serving me well on a daily. 

1. Drink Glasses

I definitely long for the days when I would hit the bar at happy hour, whether that be with work colleagues or old friends. But I don’t miss the price tag of pricey cocktails and expensive glasses of wine, and I’m thankful for the money I’ve saved from drinking at home. That said, recreating the luxurious experience of having a fancy drink has been somewhat of a priority for me, and that starts with the right glassware. Some of my cupboard essentials are: 

  • Wine glasses: Something about the sturdy design of stemless glasses really does it for me. When I need a cute pick-me-up in the mornings, I’ll substitute placing orange juice in them for a fancy non-alcoholic breakfast moment. 
  • Versatile cocktail cups: There are many kinds of cocktail glasses out there, and owning them all doesn’t seem reasonable to me. I like a short, wide glass, typically used for dark liquors like whiskey and scotch, so I recently bought a set of four. Cocktail best practices aside, I think these simple glasses can be used to elevate any drinking experience (mocktails or simple water included).
  • Cheap one-offs: There are days when I do just want that Great Gatsby-esque glassware. For these luxuries, I search second-hand shops, where I’ve found vintage pink wine glasses, beautiful champagne saucers, and more. I also recommend browsing your local dollar store — the one by me sells legit-looking old-fashioned glasses for a buck each.

2. A Non-Stick Pan 

This is another item that I’ll never go without again. A non-stick pan is a subtle but important upgrade, as this switch makes both cooking and cleaning easier (and in some ways, better). Plus, you need less oil for non-stick pans, which saves you both on cost, and is better for your health. While they aren’t all-purpose (you shouldn’t cook with a non-stick on high heat), I find that I use my pan for daily staples like eggs, stir frys and much more. You can find them for a starting price of about $40, and if you need a few recommendations, you can start here.:

*Tip for your non-stick: handwashing it will extend the life span of your pan!

3. Quality Culinary Knives

These. Are. A. Must. I went so many years as a young adult without buying good knives and looking back, I have no idea why. I chop things in the kitchen at least once a day, and now I fully understand the importance of making this experience a good, and efficient one. If you don’t own any quality knives, I urge you to change that. IKEA and similar stores sell them for cheaper than you’d probably think; this is a great multi-purpose 3-piece set for under $40.

If you already own good knives but they’re dulling, a sharpening stone is a worthy investment. A whetstone or honing rod will do wonders to extend the life of your knives.

4. An Automated Coffee Maker

Until recently, my roommates and I were using either a French press or a percolator to brew our coffee. All three of us drink multiple cups a day, and we love a quality cup of joe. But both of these methods are quite manual, and they get cold quickly. So a few weeks ago we purchased a $50 drip coffee maker and the improvement is significant. 

The brew is automated, the pot is large, and it stays hot for an hour and a half. These are the things we didn’t know we needed! Also, we can set a timer on the coffee maker before heading to bed. I’m sure any coffee lover would agree that waking up with fresh coffee brewed is heavenly. 

5. The Perfect Mug

Whether you drink coffee or tea, the quest to find your go-to mug is one worth taking on, especially if you work from home and reach for your mug daily. Right now, I’m using a large, pink Salvation Army find with a sturdy, easy-to-grab handle. In my experience on this search, consideration for a good mug includes size, shape, material, and of course, appearance. My current mug checks most of these boxes and the best part — it only cost me $2!

What are your must-haves in the kitchen these days? What purpose do they serve and how much do they cost? Let us know in the comments. 

Ashley is a freelance writer and on-going contributor at TFD based in Toronto. An avid traveler, she recently returned home to Canada after two years living abroad in Vietnam and Japan. She loves to read, try new things in the kitchen and get outside. You can learn more about her work here and can follow her adventures on Instagram @ashley_corb

Image via Unsplash

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