I would call myself a minimalist in every material aspect of living, and even though my whole love for cooking I try to think deeply about each purchase. Before I buy any kitchen or electronic gadgets I ask myself the magic question: do I really need that? And I do it many times, to avoid the situation that I will spend the money for something I will use once or twice and it will collect the dust after that.
So this post is not intended to persuade you to buy any of these items, but if you are considering purchasing any of them at the moment, it may help you to make a decision. For example, I thought almost a year about buying a slow cooker, and finally a detailed description and a review on one of the blogs helped me to make my decision. So maybe it will also help you to find the item that will serve you well for a long time and make your cooking and living more pleasurable.
Over the years I’ve collected couple kitchen items I use very often, some of them everyday, some at least once a week. It saved me tons of time and made my cooking and living more pleasurable and enjoyable. I would not hesitate to spend my money again to buy them, even if they cost twice as much. Although none of these items cost more than £30, the value for money and usefulness is amazing.
Some of them might seem to very basic and seemingly insignificant, but if you spend a lot of time in the kitchen you understand that small things can make a big difference.
I have small, 1 cup size Bialetti Moka Express pot (produces 2.0 oz/60ml of coffee) – perfect for a morning cup of coffee. But there’s also bigger sizes up to 18 cups. You won’t be able to make traditional espresso with this pot, because moka pot is not able to make 9 bars of pressure to extract espresso. But if you’re not very keen to spend a lot of money for good espresso machine, or simply just make 1-2 coffee cups a day and you need something simple and easy to maintain, moka pot will be perfect for you.
I believe Moka Pot is with me about 10 years now, and even though it shows visible signs of use it still makes delicious coffee. I only had to buy a new rubber gasket, to replace the old one. Two things that might be important for you: it can by only washed by hand (using only water, no need for chemicals) and it’s not suitable for induction plates.
Cast Aluminium Pots
Recently I had to get rid of my first ever cast aluminium pot. Similar to Moka Pot it was about 10 years since I got it. I was large, suitable for oven use and coated with non stick layer (Teflon). Perfect for multiple uses: casseroles, stews, bread baking, slowly cooked meats and all dishes that need longer cooking time and might stick and get burned during cooking. Literally it was the most used pot i my kitchen. My next one (the one you see on the photo) is the same brand but a different range – inside is covered with non-stick coating, imitating a stone. It’s much smaller then my previous one and works great with smaller amounts of food. It’s perfect to braise small amounts of meat. These pots evenly distribute heat throughout the entire surface of the dish, so nothing gets burned or stick to the bottom. The only downside I would consider is that they are quite heavy, so for example for older person it might feel uncomfortable and difficult to handle especially when full. Apart from that I cannot say enough good things about them.
That’s one of the cooking appliances I was thinking about a long time before buying. I didn’t want to spend money on something that’s very popular, but I would use it couple times and it would turn out I don’t really need it. Finally I decided to buy it when we’ve started keto diet. At that time I’ve been working full time and needed some help with cooking. Came out that buying a slow cooker saved my life. I was making a lot of stews, soups and meat that needed some time to cook. Being able to pop them into the slow cooker before work and have a meal ready after coming back from fork, saved me a lot of time. But if you’d like to set your cooking time, so that the slow cooker will switch on and off while you’re out of the house, there’s a lot of different programmable models you can choose from. You can also choose from different sizes even up to 7,5L. 3,5L that we have is perfect for 2 people with lots of leftovers. The one I have is 1,5 years old and works perfectly fine, I would not hesitate to pay twice as much for it. What’s also important cooking in the slow cooker is not expensive, working for a few hours costs less than just starting an electric cooker and using it for a few minutes. And it’s absolutely safe to leave it on when you’re out of the house or during the night.
This blender is so old I don’t even remember when I bought it. And I believe that’s the most used appliance in my kitchen. Mixing wand became yellow from blending my turmeric latte and pumpkin soup. I killed a chopper trying to blend dates couple times, but I used it for multiple things like: chopping veggies and nuts, blending biscuits for cake bases, making peanut butter or even chopping small amounts of chicken breasts. Mixing wand is perfect for anything else: making smoothies, bulletproof coffees, cream soups, sauces, making crepe batter, blending cooked spinach, beating eggs… And it’s again the most basic model 600W, but serves me well for many years. Sometimes I only regret that I killed the chopper, but if this one dies too I won’t hesitate to buy a new one. If you regularly make smoothies, cream soups, bulletproof coffee, you like to make your own hummus or different kind of dips and pastes – basic blender will save a tons of your time.
That’s quite recent purchase. We’ve bought it couple months ago, after a few fails with fermenting cabbage in regular jars. What can I say about it – it does the job. 3 litres is not to big nor too little. Silicone lid with air lock makes you sure that no air will be left in the jar that would make the veg go wrong. Two ceramic stones are perfect to keep the cabbage in place and prevent from floating on the surface and getting mouldy. With fermenting in regular jars, we’ve had problems with cabbage exploding because of the amount of gas, sometimes getting mould and smelly even though it seemed that we did everything correctly. If you want to start fermenting vegetables regularly, without experiments with jars and stone pots and you want to make sure that nothing will go wrong, that’s a perfect solution. Using fermenting set you can make saurekraut, kimchi, pickles, if you’re into fermented foods you can actually use: tomatoes, garlic, beets, carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and even fruits like apples, lemons, oranges, bananas, plums, strawberries or rhubarb. Although I make only cabbage at the moment I will definitely try to try other veggies and fruits in the future.
Good quality peeler
It might seem silly writing about as basic thing as vegetable peeler, but not all peelers are created equal. Seriously if you use a lot of veggies in your kitchen, good peeler will save you time and nerves. Obviously you can buy cheap £1 peeler that will last for couple uses, then you bin it because it gets blunt and rusty and buy another one. But why would you be so wasteful? The one I have wasn’t extremely expensive (something about £5 or £7) but it’s a peeling terminator made by Lakeland. Peeling butternut squash with this peeler is as easy as pie. Blade is sharp, doesn’t get rusty (it’s stainless steel), peeler lays good and sturdy in your hand. Also peels very thinly, so won’t let you waste a lot of veg. I have it for at least 3 years and it’s still as sharp as new. You can also use it to make ribbons of courgette, cucumber or carrot. From the same brand there’s also julienne peeler, I don’t have it, but I bought one for my mum and she’s very happy with it. Oh and a fact worth noticing: it can be used by both right and left-handed people.
When you will be in need for a new peeler, consider spending a little bit more for something that will truly serve you well.
Glass water bottle
Another basic item that might serves you more then you might think. If you like to take your own drink to work, you might consider getting yourself a glass bottle. Why I think it’s much better than plastic bottle or reusable coffee/tea cup? You can use it for multiple drinks and occasions. From as simple as water, through smoothies (it has a leak-proof quite wide screw cup that makes easy to drink thicker liquids), handmade juices, but what’s the best on a colder days you can make yourself a hot tea or coffee. During my busy working day I often popped a teabag into the bottle added boiling water and I had something warming to sip. Obviously it’s not going to work as thermos and won’t keep your warm drinks warm for hours. But if you’re looking for something you can easily pop into your bag or backpack without being afraid that it will somehow open and spill inside this kind of bottle is great solution. It’s great to take for a trip or a long walk. Silicone cover protects your hands against the heat of the bottle and makes it comfortable and easy to grip. The only downside I can see, is that in comparison to a plastic bottle is much more heavy. But even though I would not swap it for anything else.
I hope you find this post useful, maybe you even thought – that’s what I was looking for! If you’d like me to go into more details about any of the items simply let me know in the comments.
And what are your favourite kitchen items you wouldn’t hesitate to buy for double price?