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What is your favorite CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP kitchen gadget

I have to say, mine was the cast iron enamel cookware I picked up at Sears. They had mismarked it so I grabbed two enameled dutch ovens (Cruese knock offs) for $9.99 each.

Sticking with under $20, I also got a preseasoned cast iron griddle there as well. I love that thing.

What about you?

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  1. I don't consider them gadgets, but the Calphalon anodized I have bought on super sale at Amazon ($20 and under) have been some great deals.

    For pure gadgets: an olive spoon, small bamboo tongs, spring loaded tongs, silicon spatulas, microplane, reamer.

    1. The last time I ordered lobsters, the company threw in two pairs of lobster shears, which I found make good all-purpose kitchen cutters, better than typical scissors., They're $12.95 here:


      4 Replies
      1. re: mpalmer6c

        Shipping price is $21.95. Where else can it be purchased?

        1. re: conniemcd

          Wow, that much for shipping is ridiculous. I was lucky -- I happened to see they were having a half-price sale on lobster tails and 2 shears came free.The site below has "kitchen shears" that look very similar. Shipping for something that light shouldn't be much. Some lobster shears on the web have very short blades, making them single-purpose tools.


          1. re: mpalmer6c

            To me they just look like regular kitchen shears. You can find those anywhere. Tack on the word "Lobster" to anything and you increase the sale price...

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              I have three seafood shears, and they are different from kitchen shears. My Wusthof shears can cut through chicken bones, but these seafood shears can make it through the thickest and largest lobster claws.

      2. the pastry scraper that i use every day to scoop up all the chopped meat and veggies to transfer to the pot. i also love my oxo peeler, the microplane zester. i bought some awesome olive wood spoons in France that are hefty and strong.

        1. Not my all-time fav but definitely my latest fav. Chef'n Palm Peeler. $4.99 at Target.

          1. Mine is a boil over? It is under $10, and is this round disk with curve on opposite sides. It prevents your water/or whatever from boiling over. I think I purchased in on overstock.com. I did have one that was glass and it broke, now I have a metal one. Love IT!!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: chrystaldawn

              a wooden chopstick or wooden spoon also works, tho' they may not be long enough to go the diameter of the pot. (old camping trick ;-) )

            2. I would agree with you on the cast iron cookware; I bought mine through a newspaper ad where someone was getting rid of their camping equipment, a 10" cast iron skillet already seasoned, and a large dutch oven (VERY heavy!) with lid...I bought them for $15!

              I also love my cheap-o wooden lemon/lime reamer that I bought for $2.00 at a discount kitchen store, though Amazon also has them for a little more:


              I use that thing constantly for juicing limes for marinades!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Val

                Don't have a reamer, but I love my little zester. Every time I juice lemons or limes, I zest them as well and either add to recipe or put it in the freezer for later. Yum!

                1. re: AgentLapis

                  Yep, AL...zesters are also great tools ... I use mine quite often...always for hummus love to put in fresh lemon zest AND the juice...thanks!

              2. My definition of gadget is separate from "cutlery, cookware or utensil" and implies that I could live without it.

                Given those qualifiers I have to nominate the Dawn Direct Foam Soap & Dispenser. I use it on my hands, for dishes, pots, sponge. Great stuff and under $4!

                1. Freebie chopsticks from Chinese restaurants. Useful for scrambling eggs, getting pickles or cherries out of jars, stirring cocktails, etc, etc, etc. I've got a bunch of em in a pencil holder, ready for duty.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: cali2ia

                    I'll vote with you. Chopsticks!
                    Totally multi-purpose. I have freebies, really long ones, some 10/$1. Use them for everything. Toast out of the toaster, no electrocution. Turning and stirring food when cooking. Poking holes in food for inserting garlic, herbs.Cleaning hard to reach corners. Don't forget as eating utensils. Even an occasional back scratch.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      I hope you bleach them if you reuse them lol

                      1. re: widehomehi

                        Clean them just like I clean my wooden spoons and other kitchen utensils, depending on the material. We have a huge collection, some with names of restaurants, airlines and hotels in Asia. Even a few heirlooms, including some silver sets.
                        I don't even do much Asian cooking because I like to go out for it but I love chopsticks for all sorts of tasks not just in the kitchen. Garden, workshop, laundry, everywhere. I used the ones in the car glove box recently to get something that I had dropped between the seats.

                        1. re: widehomehi

                          That is funny.. Bleaching the chopsticks.
                          I was in China (Kunming) and walking down this back alley when I passed several kitchen entrances. They had the disposable chopsticks washed and drying in the sun for use that night..

                        2. re: MakingSense

                          Chopstick are the best tool for leveling drying ingredients when measuring.

                      2. Almost forgot about my avocado slicer. Brilliant invention.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: jcreasy

                          Agee!!! With the Avocado slicer LOVE IT!!!

                          1. re: chrystaldawn

                            Really? Received mine as a gift and it's been gathering dust. Is it that much easier than just using a knife?

                            1. re: yamalam

                              I actually find it harder to use than a knife (and spoon)!

                        2. Wooden citrus reamer. It's three dollars, and is outrageously useful and helpful.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: JasmineG

                            I agree with this - after i got one, it was impossible not to use. Also, I love using my potato masher for guacamole!

                            1. re: JasmineG

                              I almost purchased one the other day, then decided not to I think I'll go back and get it.

                              1. re: chrystaldawn

                                You'll wonder why it took so long, I know that I did!

                                1. re: chrystaldawn

                                  I love my Wm-Sonoma potato ricer.

                                2. I'd have to say the scrub brush that attaches to the faucet sprayer I buy for about 3 bucks. Best way to get egg yolk off a plate destined for the dishwasher.

                                  1. My Black & Decker "Handy Chopper Plus" is a mini-food processor that set me back $9.88. I'm wearing it out.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      Has it broken? You won't wear it out. It's the best thing in the world. I don't work for these guys or anything, but your missing out if you don't have one. Most under estimated product on the planet.

                                        1. re: walker

                                          Sorry man that's not it. I feel like an idiot. The one I have is the ergo 3 cup chopper...I think if you look you will find in one of my statements however. Sorry..

                                          1. re: walker

                                            Yeah I posted the BD 3 cup chopper...I'm correct. Sorry you bought the wrong one...Buy the Black and Decker Ergo 3 cup Chopper. I apologize if you bought the wrong one.

                                            1. re: museken

                                              I did not buy one, was just looking at them on Amazon and reading the reviews. People much prefer the old model that's no longer available.

                                              I just borrowed my daughter's mini Cuisinart to see how I like that one (I have a big one but thought a small one could be nice).

                                      1. Well it's slightly over 20 bucks but it's a grill pan you can use on the stove top.Makes great sandwiches if you have a cast iron grill to put on top of the sandwich.Cooks chicken breast and steak great made by Kitchen Essentials probably cheaper versions.

                                        1. My chinese cleaver I picked up for $4.20 back in college in the mid 70's.

                                          Still lives on the cutting board everyday.

                                          1. japanese julienner
                                            cake tester
                                            chefs choice veg peeler

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                              what's a cake tester? You don't mean to poke it in the middle with do you?

                                              1. re: hillsbilly

                                                oh man, i never saw this post, and now i don't know if you'll ever see my answer, sorry.

                                                yeah a cake tester is the dumbest little gadget ever, one that i made fun of until i had one and realized it's handy as all heck. it's a little $2 thin, straight wire, with a loop or handle at the end, much thinner and longer than a toothpick, and leaves an imperceptible hole when testing cakes. you use it, rinse, and reuse-- without thrashing around looking for a toothpick or a broomstraw. now i wish i had bought 3. :)

                                              1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                Oh, you mean the "rubber husband" ! Couldnt live without it in the kitchen!

                                                1. re: elainelena

                                                  My "ex husband" got them all! I need to go visit him and get one. I need one!

                                                  1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                    If you use rubber gloves for dishwashing or other cleaning chores, you can use one of them. They have nice grippy surface in the palms.

                                                2. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                  Or wrap a few heavy rubber bands around the lid, which greatly increases the friction and gives a bit more leverage too.

                                                  A spare rubber mouse pad from your computer is also good.

                                                  1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                    I love my OXO toys. I like their peeler but they also have a inexpensive Y shaped tool that opens bottles than it takes me to ask the man of the house.


                                                    1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                      This was going to be my suggestion. I have weak hands due to arthritis, and the rubber disc not only helps with jars, but also tops as simple as those on soda bottles or bottled water. I've used one every day for several years, and it is finally starting to wear a little tear in the middle.

                                                      1. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                        I just use a kinda wide rubber band. Wrap it around the lid and it works. Also a great trick for removing corks that you've jammed back into the bottle. Wrap one around a few times and it gives you something to grip.

                                                          1. re: Stuffed Monkey

                                                            Thank you. I don't know why I didn't think of this the other day when I was fighting with the cork on my bottle of chardonnay.

                                                          2. re: Jimmy Buffet

                                                            oh, this is a really good one. I use mine all the time.

                                                            it's hard to assess prices of gadgets, because many of us have had some of them for so long. My faves are my old egg slicer, aluminum and probably 30+ years old, my colander, also over 30, and a microplane.

                                                              1. re: museken

                                                                if you bought one, you're doing it wrong.

                                                                Real estate agents seem to give them away all the time -- it's easy to get them as freebies.

                                                            1. Y-shaped vegetable peelers from Williams-Sonoma -- 5 for $15. They're sharp, comfortable, nice for lefties (I'm a lefty,) and so cheap at $3 apiece that when they get dull, you don't mind just throwing them out.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Nancy Berry

                                                                3 pairs of Kitchen shears from the Chinese restaurant supply store. 2 were about $2.99 a pair, the fancy pair that comes apart for washing was $11.99. Use them all nearly every day. Also several pairs of tongs from the same store, about $2 or $3 a pair. Finally, the webby Asian strainer with a bamboo handle thing used to fish stuff out of hot soup or oil... I can't remember what it's called but it was about 2 bucks also.

                                                                1. re: 2m8ohed

                                                                  That strainer is called a "spider" I think because it looks like a spider web. Cool tool!

                                                                2. re: Nancy Berry

                                                                  I second the Y-shaped vegetable peelers and will also add the Zyliss Tomato peeler to the list:

                                                                3. I am a HUGE fan of Cast Iron cookware!

                                                                  My find of a Lodge Pro Grid/Iron 20x10 Cast Iron griddle/grill for $8 at Goodwill retails for $63 and it is the top of line with the grease gutter!! How lucky did I get?!

                                                                  I was so excited to get this home and check it out...I actually found after closer inspection that the condition has to be near new/perfect. Slight use...that I thought I would need help getting it clean...but a scrubbie, hot water, salt and a wee bit of soap cleaned it right up!

                                                                  Still so tickled with my find and its condition that I decided to fry up a pound of bacon to season it up at 2pm. My son was confused and asked if this was dinner or a snack!!

                                                                  For the record...I am NEVER this lucky in thrifting...ever!!

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ktcolt

                                                                    My favorite cooking vessel! $14 at Ace hardware, new. Took a couple of weeks to season but it gets more use than any other pan. Quick easy and even cooking and grilling~

                                                                    1. re: ktcolt

                                                                      FYI the Lodge cast iron instructions suggest you do NOT use soap . . .

                                                                      You are really lucky I need a 2 burner lodge cast iron grill (but don't want to pay retail).

                                                                      1. re: financialdistrictresident

                                                                        Let's not start this silly discussion about washing with soap again.. Chow closed that one down.

                                                                      2. re: ktcolt

                                                                        In the past few years I've begun using my cast iron more and more. I've got my aunt's 6" "single" pan, probably from the 30s, my mom's 8" from the 40s, a 10" that I bought in the 70s, a grill pan from the 90s and a double burner griddle/grill that's about 10 years old . Get a metal universal lid at Walmart and you're good to go. The original nonstick pan! Clean them with coarse salt and a little oil and a paper towel while still warm and they keep that perfect surface.

                                                                        You can find cast iron cookware in hardware stores, KMart, Walmart, garage sales, pretty much everywhere. I'm lucky, I inherited some of mine, which only adds to the pleasure. You know--food is love!

                                                                        1. re: ktcolt

                                                                          You got a great deal.. I bought mine new.

                                                                        2. Those little thin rubber squares which are frequent give-aways by Realtors and the like. The are meant to give you a good grip with opening jars and they do that well. I also will slip one under a cutting board to keep it from slipping

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                                            You mean the thing that forever in my family will be referred to as "the Burt Lancaster?" :) A very effective marketing tool for said realtor.

                                                                            1. re: jcreasy

                                                                              Oh yes. I've got a bunch. The company I used to work for gave them away by the dozens. They have so many uses. Free makes it even better but if mine were to disappear I'd buy another

                                                                              1. re: Candy

                                                                                You can also put a clove of garlic on one, fold the rubber thingy in half, and roll it on the countertop with the palm of your hand over the garlic inside. Instantly peeled garlic.

                                                                          2. OK, it's not quite under $20 but it's close.

                                                                            A Benriner slicer. Mine was $24 bucks and it does almost everything the $200+ French mandoline does. Plus it has a "new double possible blade". And you can use the handle as a fish scaler.

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: dalaimama

                                                                              ?? double possible blade??? what does that do?

                                                                            2. The plastic bowl scrapers that I cut from plastic 5 gallon buckets. I could not work W/O them.


                                                                              my Forschner 4" paring knife. Its a miracle for under $6.00.

                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                                Can't cook without my trusty wooden spatula. Stolen form my mother but probably available for under $1. I believe the burn marks and the crack in the handle make the food taste better.

                                                                                1. re: Kelli2006

                                                                                  The plastic homemade scrapper gets first prize for thinking. Good for you.
                                                                                  The Froschner brand is a decent cheap brand. The blade holds the edge much better than a few more costly brands.

                                                                                2. Currently my new fav is a surgical scrub brush. Don't laugh....it's great for scrubbing vegetables and cutting boards. Got a dozen for $7.50 from Lee Valley garden suppliers.
                                                                                  That's $.63/ea....a bargain. They're made of nylon and "winkle" soil out of the most minute crevice.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    "Winkle". Cute word you invented; we'll run with it.

                                                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                                                      Thanx, but can't take the credit. Credit the copywriter at Lee Valley.

                                                                                    2. re: Gio

                                                                                      Great bargain.. Some people peel their carrots.. Why? You can always scrub them with a good brush.

                                                                                    3. These mesh strainers are great. Don't know how I lived without them. For some reason, you can find them in asian supermarkets.

                                                                                      I also really love this knife (the curved, "birds-beak" paring knife, from Lehman's):

                                                                                      1. Well you said kitchen gadget and this is used in the kitchen its called a Lil Scrubber its got plastic bristles and you fill it with dish soap and as you use it the soap dispenses itself.Costs only a few dollars and use it on counters and dishes.If you don't have a dishwasher you must have one of these.Makes life alot easier.

                                                                                        1. Bamboo skewers. $1 for a bag.

                                                                                          My skinny plastic tongs. $2. Useful for taking out things like pickles.

                                                                                          1. A little 6 inch "squeegee". I might have paid 99 cents for it. Saw it one day after cleaning up after dinner, and figured for 99 cents, it might make getting water off the countertop easier. Works much better than a sponge for pushing all the water on the counter into the sink. Also have a wire mesh frying pan cover. Keeps the stove from getting messy when cooking anything that "spits".

                                                                                            1. my stainless steel tongs...can't remember exactly how much they were but pretty sure they were under ten bucks...

                                                                                              1. my metal collapsing steamer basket that i bought from stop & shop 6 years ago. i think it was $5.

                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                1. re: rebs

                                                                                                  I have a potato peeler that has a blade like a cheese slicer. I don`t know where I
                                                                                                  got it but have tried for 3 yrs. to find another one. it is small and metal. I don`t want
                                                                                                  to be without it. it woks great. and I am sure that it doesn`t cost over 2-3 dollarsbut I would gladly give 20 for another one.

                                                                                                2. Three pair of 12-inch aluminum tongs, from a restaurant supply place--a few bucks a pair. Heatproof fingers! I love them. And I have a 16- or 17-inch pair to use on the grill.

                                                                                                  1. I bought a great little "pot clip" for about $2.99. It's made by Trudeau. You clip it onto the side of any pot or pan and it holds your mixing spoon handy, and any drips go right back into the pot.

                                                                                                    1. Went into a kitchen store in Omaha last year to get my sister a good knife for Christmas. I came out with the knife (set me back about $45, but I'm happy because when I was trying to cook in her kitchen awhile back I knew she had at least one good knife), a big metal pancake turner to replace the one I melted the plastic handle off of, a pair of magnetic measuring spoons which I haven't used but which are doing a good job holding stuff on my refrigerator, and a $2 miniature wire whisk. I use that dadgum thing all the time. That and the aforementioned citrus reamer are my favorite gadgets.

                                                                                                        1. re: jinet12

                                                                                                          I think the cheap Ecko brand vegetable peelers are the best.

                                                                                                          I also like those plastic clips that close the chip bags, you can use clothes pins too

                                                                                                          1. re: sarge

                                                                                                            ...Rubber bands are even cheaper for closing bags...just fold in all the open edges of the top of the bag...roll up tightly and use a rubber band to keep the bag closed. I don't use clips anymore, just rubber bands.

                                                                                                            1. re: Val

                                                                                                              I save twist ties and rubber bands and use them for all sorts of things.

                                                                                                        2. Rubber square for opening things because I can't open anything (free give away).

                                                                                                          Apple corer which also has the blade to cut potatoes into french fries for like $10.

                                                                                                          Pop Up sponges from WS that go in the dishwasher, love em.

                                                                                                          Silicone brush (yes a slight germaphobe)

                                                                                                          Wait and magnetic knife strip since I have a small kitchen I gotta make the most of.

                                                                                                          1. garage sale& flea market vintage cast iron skillets 6,8,10,12" for under $8 each

                                                                                                            SS splatter screen with reinforcing brace and legs from OSH

                                                                                                            cheap SS tongs from Smart & Final

                                                                                                            asian veggie brush from the co-op

                                                                                                            Tuffy nylon scrubbers

                                                                                                            Microplane nutmeg grater/box

                                                                                                            Forschner Econo-Cut griddle spatula

                                                                                                            Case mini spatula

                                                                                                            Bamboo and wooden cocktail forks, spoons and spreaders in a jar at the stove--use constantly

                                                                                                              1. My wood juicer I bought at BBB for about $3.50. It works exactly like it is supposed to - completely juices any piece of citrus fruit in seconds. I love simple tools like this, that work so well - really beautiful in their simplicity and utility. I love good whisks for the same reason. I have about 8 of them, in different shapes and sizes. (I could probably winnow the collection by about 3 and still have all I'd really need - but I don't think so.)

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                  I too was going to nominate the wooden juicer (reamer??). I'd add that it should be wood--I also have a plastic one and the wood one works much better--can't exactly explain why, it just does.

                                                                                                                  My other pick is silicone spatulas. Although more expensive, they take high heat, and don't dry out like the old fashioned rubber ones. Volrath's are particularly satisfactory IMO.

                                                                                                                  1. re: johnb

                                                                                                                    Yes, you're right it is reamer. I was trying to think of the word before and just couldn't. Thanks!

                                                                                                                    And I LOVE my silicon spatulas. They really are terrific. Mine have metal handles which I know some people don't like because of the whole heat conducting issue, but I have never had a problem with that and they are so sturdy.

                                                                                                                    1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                      I was going to say my wooden reamer. I got an OXO soft handled plastic one and it doesn't work nearly as well. I think the reason is that the edges of the reamer is sharper and drags just a little as you turn it, tearing the pulp and releasing more juice. The other item I'd have to say, is my microplane grater(s); all 4 of them. I use them for everything, including one I just use for garlic.

                                                                                                                2. --My Kuhn Rikon paring knife ($8 or $10 maybe)
                                                                                                                  --'Chore Boy' scrubber - works on non-stick, and I throw it into the washing machine with dish towels when it gets yucky
                                                                                                                  -- silicon spoonula (great for everything - I like the under $5.00 ones because I use them to saute in my non-stick pan, and some have discolored a bit
                                                                                                                  -- the set of plastic ladles in 3 sizes ( none soup-sized) - I use those a lot when cooking for adding a spoonful or two of liquid or whatever (they were 3 for $1)
                                                                                                                  -- oven safe ramekins in a couple of sizes - I use these for everything from making individual portions of things that need to be baked, to storing my prepped savories while I'm cooking
                                                                                                                  -- chip bag closers - I use them for closing bags of everything.....

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                                                    I just got the new Kuhn Rikon paring knife and it's the best thing ever.


                                                                                                                  2. fun topic.

                                                                                                                    kitchen shears
                                                                                                                    donvier yogurt strainer
                                                                                                                    apple corer
                                                                                                                    offset spatula
                                                                                                                    citrus reamer with built-in 1/4 cup measure & pouring spout
                                                                                                                    citrus "keepers" [plastic cases to keep cut or zested citrus fresh in the fridge]
                                                                                                                    locking tongs
                                                                                                                    scoop & release dough droppers - perfect for measuring out uniform batter portions

                                                                                                                    1. My .99 plastic scraper; fits in the palm of my hand and helps me take labels off jars, among other things

                                                                                                                      wood reamer for citrus

                                                                                                                      nesting glass bowls for ingredients - changed my whole way of cooking

                                                                                                                      hand carved wooden spatula made by a guy in Carthage MO. I have 2 and when they wear out, I'm doomed

                                                                                                                      1. Coming in at precisely one penny under $20 -- the apple peeler-corer/slicer device.

                                                                                                                        For years I'd see ancient, rusty ones for sale in New England yard sales and flea
                                                                                                                        markets. Ha ha. How could that possibly work. Then my mom got one. And I laughed and
                                                                                                                        said, ha ha, how could that possibly work. And she laughed back and said, "like this."

                                                                                                                        And then she proceeded to peel, core, and slice enough apples for three pies in a little
                                                                                                                        over three minutes.

                                                                                                                        When I got back home I went out and bought one and now apple season is even more fun. It's an absolutely brilliant piece of folk engineering.

                                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: uh ... art

                                                                                                                          I have one of those too - it is ingenious.

                                                                                                                          1. re: uh ... art

                                                                                                                            those are the best -- I found mine for about $12 -- and my kid likes it because it means he get applesauce and apple pie without hearing Mom crab about peeling all those apples. (and the dog eats the peels. Bonus)

                                                                                                                            1. re: uh ... art

                                                                                                                              I also have one, it's an essential part of holiday baking. my apple pies use about 4 lbs. of apples each, so two pies would otherwise take a lot of time and elbow grease.

                                                                                                                              we gave one of these to our son and he dumped it. now that he's cooking more, and after watching me peel a bag of potatoes for Thanksgiving, he's sorry. ha!

                                                                                                                              1. re: blaireso

                                                                                                                                does it work well on peeling potatoes too?

                                                                                                                                1. re: greenraf

                                                                                                                                  Yep -- you can take the coring attachment off, so it just peels.

                                                                                                                              2. re: uh ... art

                                                                                                                                I got one based on your comment and it is fantastic.

                                                                                                                              3. I picked up this Bialetti pizza chopper in Marshall's a couple of days ago for $2.99:


                                                                                                                                It's my favorite new toy. I've been lusting after one for a while (I just think it's sexy) but I already had a pizza wheel and couldn't justify the approx. $20 it would cost with shipping. But for $2.99... you gotta love Marshall's.

                                                                                                                                1. Not sure if oven mitts count as gadgets, but I am loving my magnetic silicon (padded interior) OXO oven mitts. One red, one blue.

                                                                                                                                  1. 1. Kiwi Pro-Slice ($2.00, although it is 10.99 in USA)
                                                                                                                                    2. Wooden mortar and pestle $10.00 (both bought in Thailand.

                                                                                                                                    The Kiwi picture is at: http://www.templeofthai.com/fruit_car...

                                                                                                                                    I use both of them to make green papaya salad or other salads (green mango, carrot, cabbage in Thai style). As you add different ingredients to the mortar and pestle you pound and flip (with a spoon) so that they get bruised and absorb the liquids like lime juice, fish sauce, palm sugar etc. If you use a stone mortar and pestle it will likely come out mush (crushed).

                                                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: cacruden

                                                                                                                                      cacruden, I have the Kiwi Pro-Slice as well - simple tool, but it does wonders on the will-this-do-what-I-want-it-to front.

                                                                                                                                      As I have on these boards many times before, I will sing the praises ( in this case, CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP) of the Kiwi Brand knives. Just bought a selecion for a birthday gift, and am told they were appreciated very much in the wake of the old knives.

                                                                                                                                      And yes, you will like the Pro-Slice, if you have ant affection for julienned veg in your cooking.


                                                                                                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                        Yes, I have many different little tools from Thailand, last time I returned I was a little overweight on luggage (100kg in total). I also have a set of carving knives (can't remember if they are Kiwi or Kom Kom), although for the main knives I went shopping in Japan and brought back some Global-Pro knives (not sold outside Japan - Cooking, Paring, Petty, and Boning knives).

                                                                                                                                    2. Bought on a whim while crusing the closeouts at TJ Max. A spatula form fitted to my Kitchen Aid Mixer, well worth the $5

                                                                                                                                      My citrus reamer, must have cost me $1.50

                                                                                                                                      all those little bowels I bought at Pearl River (cheap Chinese imports) to premeasure ingredients into

                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. Trauma Shears. Great for cutting through bones, pennies, hapless victims.... ($1.05)
                                                                                                                                        Salad Shears. Basically a blade and mini cutting board on a shears set up (Ace Hardware $9.99)

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: ccoffeegod

                                                                                                                                          called "Blade and Anvil" set-up similar to the pruning shears (...you should never use)

                                                                                                                                        2. My Microplane stick grater/zester, hands down.

                                                                                                                                          Also, in terms of utility for price, not much beats the aluminum half sheet pans I bought at a local restaurant supply store for like $4 each. They're thick and heavy as heck. I bake in them, roast on them, and I've even used them to carry heavy hot pots to pot luck dinners.

                                                                                                                                          1. My favorite cheap gadget is the SECOND OXO veggie peeler I bought. So DH can join in food prep :-) Other indispensible duplicates: mini whisks, tongs and 3 sets each of measuring cups and spoons.

                                                                                                                                            1. an apple slicer cuz I love apples

                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                              1. re: kas

                                                                                                                                                grease splatter screens
                                                                                                                                                those little silicon alligators mits you can use instead of oven mits

                                                                                                                                              2. bowl scraper and dough cutter. The former is large, rounded and made out of the perfect type of rubbery plastic (firm but not too rigid). For some reason I've only been able to get this type as a branded freebie at demonstrations or along with other products. Helps get dough and other sticky things cleanly out of bowls. Also good at cleaning bowls with stuff stuck to the side.

                                                                                                                                                The dough scraper is a rectangular metal blade with plastic handle along one side. Brilliant from cleaning counters, cutting things (including dough!).

                                                                                                                                                I can't imagine baking bread without these.

                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Gooseberry

                                                                                                                                                  I have a couple of bowl scrapers too and I love them also. Can't remember where I got them but they really work. And I wouldn't be caught without my dough cutter either. I use it all the time.

                                                                                                                                                2. corkscrew. one of those guys with the butterfly wings that rise as you screw the pointy end down. i've used the same one for more years than i care to remember. it was a freebie. i keep looking for a reason to dump it but the damn thing just keeps on working.

                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                    It's irreverently known as an Iron Jesus.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I don't even know what it is called but a Laotian friend of mine gave me one of those spoons they use for eating rice and I just love it because it is larger than a tablespoon and I use it to stuff tacos, add chopped garlic, chopped shallots, I load it up and sit it on my stovetop waiting. Maybe its just me but I love it.

                                                                                                                                                    1. I couldn't live without my Feemster. It's this low-tech mandolin type gizmo that shreds and slices fruits and vegetables. When I don't want to get the cusinart out for a small job, and the fancy-dancy mandolin is too much trouble to set up, I drag the Feemster from it's tattered box and make cole slaw with it. Sharp as anything and easy to wash.

                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                        I've got one, too! I couldn't remember what it is called. Got it in the 80s for $5. It's got a carbon steel blade so it sharpens beautifully. It's my "go to" slicer, because cleanup is a snap and it can be kept perfectly knife-edge sharp. I'd get one for a gift if I could find them again, it's on my essentials list.

                                                                                                                                                      2. An all-plastic Boerner potato grater, which was $2. It's about 4x8", under .5" thick. Looks like junk, but is the BEST for making latkes. One side grates them to shreds, the other to mush. Equal amounts of both make the ideal latka.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Scale. Indispensable for baking, and surprisingly useful for drinks. It was on sale for something like $15 when I bought it, so I'm going to sneak it in here.

                                                                                                                                                          And I can't believe everyone's talking about citrus reamers but hasn't mentioned these awesome aluminum citrus squeezers (can often be found at hispanic groceries):

                                                                                                                                                          1. Swing-A-Way Adjust-A-Grip Jar & Bottle Opener. Simple design, easy to use, works great and costs less than five bucks.

                                                                                                                                                            1. 4 pkg of reusable metal skewers. They hold up to dishwashing and lots of grill use. No need to soak (like wooden skewers). $1.49 for 4.

                                                                                                                                                              1. my latest and greatest is Microwave Omelet in a Pot
                                                                                                                                                                http://www.shop.com/Joie_Microwave_Om... $10 + tax but be very careful it gets very hot

                                                                                                                                                                1. My tomato corer which I also use for the choke in baby artichokes.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Two.

                                                                                                                                                                    Firm-bristle toothbrushes. Hardly a day goes by when I don't use them to remove stubborn grit from fruits or vegetables, clean the threads of a jar or thermos, scrub the interface between the sink and the chrome trim, remove gunk from pots and pans before going at them with a scrubbie, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                    The scalpel from my university zoology class dissecting kit. Don't use this often but in some situations it can't be beat: loosening stubborn skin from a bird of some sort; cutting tiny veins and green spots from foie gras and delicate lamb kidneys; separating muscles with a precision that can only be described as surgical, and so on. Cheap replacement blades mean it's always razor sharp. The blades are sharper than any knife. The small size means it's extremely maneouverable, perfect for work in tight spaces where even a boning or paring knife dare not go. The kit's other tools -- two sets of stainless steel scissors (small and tiny), various probes and clamps -- are also useful.

                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: carswell

                                                                                                                                                                      Just the other day I was thinking that I should try a scalpel for scoring the top of bread.

                                                                                                                                                                      I'll have to reorder blades... pretty sure there might be some formalin still on mine.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: rohirette

                                                                                                                                                                        King Arthur Flour sells lames made in France (the same ones the boulangers use).

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                          ... and I have one. And my trusty, sharp Victorinox serrated bread knife works a whole lot better for slashing loaves

                                                                                                                                                                          Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                            when I took a bread workshop here in France, they used a plain old, single-edged razor blade. (to be fair, not at a boulanger, but it make me giggle a little at my own sense of pretentiousness, which I think all of us are guilty of at one time or another)

                                                                                                                                                                    2. I have recently discovered that my melon baller is brilliant for coring apples. It works perfectly.

                                                                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                          I found a set of stainless measureing spoons for under $10.00 which are perfectly round 1/2 spherical and do double duty as a melon baller. I love them! I used the teaspoon size to core the pears I prepped for a salad. Plus, they measure stuff, which is pretty useful too. I must have 4 sets of measuring spoons cause I bake and cook a lot! and it's such a pain to wash and then dry the measuring spoons. Multiples are easy to have a store.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                            Goodness. I hadn't though of using measuring spoon as ballers, cookie dough portioners, ice-cream scoops etc.

                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for the idea.

                                                                                                                                                                            Now I can justify the $20 set I am looking at.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                              I also picked up a pair of measuring spoons for that price. The handles are rubber coated for good grip. There is something about the steel versus plastic. Washing steel vs plastic is so much better.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: roxlet

                                                                                                                                                                            and coring pears for a truly gorgeous presentation of poached pears.

                                                                                                                                                                          3. It's a tough choice either my Schaefer or Falls City beer can opener.The Schaefer is smaller and more ergonomically designed, but the Falls City one gives more leverage and torque. I used the Schaefer one earlier this even and with two deft flicks of the wrist opened a can of coconut milk for a Massaman curry and a bottle of Sam Adams Scottish Ale to lubricate the chef. Best of all they were free and were recently seen on The Antiques Road Show.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. I absolutely hate peeling garlic. Love my Pampered Chef garlic press. You just put the whole clove in without peeling and voila out comes the garlic and leaves the peel in the chamber. Super easy to clean.

                                                                                                                                                                              16.50 - I think.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: calla0413

                                                                                                                                                                                Hardly ever see them but love birch whisks...they are like a little bundle of broom twigs tied around a handle to make a little flat bottom, conical broom. They do not hold up well but make incredibly smooth roux and don't hurt my tinned pans. I have seen them sold as "cake testers" (I guess you pull them apart and use them one strand at a time...seems silly). I also love those little French wooden spatules with the slightly angled ends and rounded corners. ..$3 at Sur La Table. .

                                                                                                                                                                              2. I love a good wooden spoon and a nice thin spatula for flipping fried eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                    Adorable little silicone pinch bowls (2oz.) made by Le Creuset. (Alas, it's the only L.C. that I own!!) They were under $10.00 for a set of 4 at Sur la Table. Use them every time I cook for getting my "mise" prepped. Also lurve my microplane grater/zester, and my bench scraper all under $20.00 @ SLT.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I just stumbled upon this thread and don't have time to scan the whole thing, but just thought I'd throw my favorite in.

                                                                                                                                                                                    A serrated vegetable peeler (sometimes marketed as a soft fruit peeler). It will zest a lemon and leave you with zero bitter white pith, great for peeling mangoes and peaches with zero effort. And I bought mine for like $6 at a restaurant supply place on the Bowery in NYC.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I love my teflon coated ice cream scoop w/antifreeze in it. Never freezes up when scooping ice cream! Bought it at Sur La Table.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Yet ANOTHER huge cast iron frying pan, in good shape, for 50 cents at a bazaar! Might become a gift.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But latest cheap bazaar gadget in use - I picked up a "vertical chicken roasting gadget" at a Portuguese church bazaar here - a lot of those are shoddy, but this is a solid, heavy one made in Denmark. Cost me 25 cents. I've used it, and it turned out a lovely little organic chicken,perfectly browned. Set chicken and gizmo in a nest of small potatoes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I want carswell's dissecting equipment. I use a very, very small cutting knife (from artist's supplies) for those tasks, but a true scalpel would be better.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. A silly thing really but an egg slicer. It's a dollar store thing but how else can you easily slice a hard boiled egg. I've tried a knife but make a mess of it every time.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Alacrity59

                                                                                                                                                                                            Equally nifty on white mushrooms, pitted olives, seedless grapes, candy jellies!

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                              And strawberries too, if they are sufficiently ripe. But not overripe. Otherwise, you can break the wire. I need a new one after the last of the fresh berries got eaten last week.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                                                aggiecat, the last time I went shopping to Sur la Table, I bought a universal slicer. The wire, metal body and slicing area were all bigger and stronger. It was the only slicer to cut thru candied jellies w/out issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks J Hill! I bought a cheapo version last time and won't again as it just didn't last and It isn't a bargin if you have to replace it every season.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, I found a fully enameled apple corer, peeler, slicer (one of those countertop models) for $9.99 at my local HEB grocery store and I can't see a lick of difference between it and the high priced version at williams Sonoma. I think they are even manufactured by the same outfit. Which is why I sometimes give those cheapos a whirl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: aggiecat

                                                                                                                                                                                                    That's the bottom line, aggiecat! If you find a gadget that does what you need it to, it's worth it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I have a tiny kitchen and rarely indulge in one-use items, but I *love* my OXO mango splitter.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Scissors. I have two pairs, small and large. They're just regular scissors not fancy kitchen shears. Got the current ones at IKEA for maybe $2.00 for the both about 10 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I've upgraded to a stainless steel fridge and decided all my fridge magnets could go. There seems to be little market for second-hand magnets. So they went in the garbage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Except for one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                This was a magnetic strip that came from a door sealer, one of those sealing strips that pulls a steel door shot and stops the wind getting past the edge. I cut it into strips of different lengths. It holds up multiple sheets. You can pin the top and bottom of a sheet of paper - say a recipe printed out in a text size I can read. And finally, they don't carry advertisements for Rodent Disposal or Sell Your House in 3 Days.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "There seems to little market for second-hand magnets."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Shoot. Really? There goes my retirement plans....

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I just posted about this on Facebook. Repost:

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Mini Tongs: They come in a set of two and offer awesome control vs. the larger ones. Also great for frying in a small pan. Dollar store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Metal dough scrapers: Super handy for quickly dividing/scraping dough or for those not confident moving items off a cutting board with a knife. Also dollar store!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Silicone basting brushes and spatulas. Way cheaper at the dollar store and they haven't melted on me even when used on a hot skillet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  4. One last dollar store rec: mini-stainless steel bowls. These go for 50 cents each and a stack of them is perfect for mise en place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  5. Good quality re-usable wine corks: at around $3 a pop (I recommend Zyliss) these are very handy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  6.Bowl scrapers: Anyone who bakes a lot would love some of these (under $5).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  7. Tea towels. Cheap and you really can never have enough.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  8. Silicone oven mitts/finger mitts. Under $10, they'll last practically forever and can be popped in the dishwasher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  9. AccuSharp Knife Sharpener: Rated the best non-mechanical knife sharpener by Cook's Illustrated and it's only $12.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  10. Digital thermometer: the kind with the timer and oven-safe probe can be found for as cheap as $10/$15.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  11. Microplane Zester: I use this nearly every day. For fast garlic/ginger puree (no more irritating garlic presses), grated cheese/chocolate and of course zesting, this one is the best. Around $15.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  12. Cast Iron pans: A set of three on avg. will set you back only $20 and lasts forever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I have a few but I think my egg slicer would be the favorite because I can slice strawberries, mushrooms as well as eggs with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. microplane zester - fer sher - incredibly useful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      silpat silicone sheets - bake everything on them

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: yquem2

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I know this is not "cheap" but I need to mention: the microplane box grater. It's $35 everywhere, cannot find it cheaper and just bought one at Wm-Sonoma for a Christmas present. It's so much easier to grate parmesan with it, especially if you need a lot. One section is removable for easier clean up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm so happy I saw this thread because I've been dying to shout for joy about my new herb scissors. They were advertised in a local paper the other day and I just had to have 'em. They are scissors but have 5 blades to them, instead of the one. I've always cut my chives with regular scissors but now I can do parsley, etc. and each cut gives you lots of chopped herbs. I love them!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          That, and my wooden lemon juicer!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I have a couple of things which I think are excellent functional examples:

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Zylis peeler (min's red) : http://www.amazon.com/Zyliss-71361-Sw...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Kyocera slicer: http://www.amazon.com/Kyocera-Double-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        My spiral whisks. Hard to find in the US and Canada. Something like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Berndes-Heat-...

                                                                                                                                                                                                        My $10 granite mortar and pestle

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Berndes has a great cookware line -- my favorite dutch oven (non stick but not teflon) is made by them. A bit hard to find -- I just ordered some from Bed Bath and Beyond; one for Christmas gift, the other for a wedding gift -- perfect for tomato sauce, stew, soups.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                            To Paulustrious: Gave up on the Shun mandoline idea, huh? The Kyoceras are very handy - would still like a waffle cutter though...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Spiral whisks are also called Swedish whisks (not sure why): http://tinyurl.com/yg6hgb8

                                                                                                                                                                                                              All of my whisks from Best Mfrs. are amongst my favorite kitchen tools... plus, they're sealed, so no gunk or bacteria gets stuck in the base.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Thumbs up to the blue Ikea kitchen scissors. They last forever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              and.... My President's Choice garlic presse. Also indestructible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Great thread (though jumping in late)!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Grapefruit knife
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Pineapple corer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Tiny 2 oz. Oxo measuring cup (in place of a jigger for cocktails)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Microplane graters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Champagne "re-corker thingy" (what do you call it anyway???)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Rotary cheese grater

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Kuhn Rikon Y-Peeler

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Cost me $3 at Sur La Table. It is the best peeler I have ever used. It absolutely destroys the peels. I can't imagine why anyone still uses stick-style peelers. It does need to be rinsed and dried immediately after use but that's simple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Duncans Kitchen Grips
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I bought it at my local LC outlet. Whenever I use DO, it is a must. This shape is more versatile than other fixed shaped. I adore the color of the one in the picture. It would fit my Kiwi color Do... Mine is boring blue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Love my 5pc Mario Batali melamine nesting prep bowls. I use these little orange prep bowls, every single time I cook-no matter what I'm making. They look nice as well, so you can keep them out and at the ready. Other cheap favorites: Ikea akut-3pc plastic utensil set, these cost 79 cents, use these every time I cook too, and my star peeler, that I bought from the Union Sq peeler gent-RIP : (

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: fishFromLand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i am new here, and i know i shouldn't re-open an old thread, but i just had to chime in on this one...i have a couple ingenius gadgets that i use all the time. one of which is a bowl scraper that my bread baker husband got for me from his work when he got me my kitchen-aid stand mixer. the other is my magic bullet (the little one) which technically i got for free because i traded some airmiles for it a couple christmases a go, got 2 for arlound 900 AM one for me and one for my gadget loving father... i use mine daily for everything from chocolate milk to mincing peppers/garlic and he uses his a couple times a year to make frozen margeritas. oops almost forgot my best find ever...a digital wine thermometer that goes up to 500 degrees, i always wanted a digital candy thermometer but couldn't accept paying $25 when my normal one worked ok. found the wine thermometer which works perfect for my creamy christmas butter/cream fudge and only paid .75 cents at a overstock clearout place. love it!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chloe_hippy

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi and welcome to CH! Never fear reopening old threads of this sort - it's a trifle silly when threads concerning meals for specific occasions (the "looking for a restaurant for my birthday" dated 2003) are reopened, but what the hey.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Definitely a bench scraper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. One of my favorites is my canning funnel. It allows me to pou liquids and liquidy things, even with big pieces of things like veggies, into jars without spilling all over the counter or jar. It was less than $2.00 and I love it and use it all the time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Parrotgal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Seconded. And if you use wide-mouth mason jars you can liquify in the bottle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. This silicone bowl scraper is amazing. The unique shape of it makes it well suited to grab on to wide rounded as well as flat surfaces, and in to narrow corners. Ingenious design, and the actual scraping action is amazing. The tapered edge grabs on to bowl edges much better than my silicone spatula.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Small metal skewer! Handy for poking everything to see if they are done. Mostly I use for cakes and when steaming vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Also love silicone spatulas, pastry scraper and kitchen shears.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. For a penny and a half - a push pin for poking a hole in an egg prior to cooking in water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Best new use for silicone pot holder - carbon steel knife polishing - place silicone smooth side up on counter, place blade of knife on silicone and handle on counter. Use Bar Keepers Friend with a damp paper towel. A much safer way of getting knives looking new again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Not the cheapest, but a while back I sprung for the 1.5 gt. silicone mixing bowl and a set of 3 silicone measuring cups, on Amazon. I think the total was around $45. All are great for easy, dripless pouring, and in the case of the cups, scooping too. The bowl curves such that when I use an ice cream scoop to portion cookie dough, I can get every bit out without needing a rubber scraper. I'd had my eye on these for a long time and wish I'd gotten them sooner. I especially love that bowl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Hand crank meat grinders. Two bucks at a flea market and inherited 3. Chuckie (Ground) burgers, kolbasie, chorizo, Eye-Talian, Greek and sea food sausages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Also, a beer bottle cap puter onher (bottle capper). Fine home brews.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I inherited a meat grinder, wish I'd kept it. It's the things you give away that you remember and value later!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Zester. Not a grater/zester -- the real deal. Works much better and easier to clean than a small grater. Cost maybe a buck or two.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Try it, and you'll be amazed how many things you can flavor by throwing in a bit of orange, lemon, or lime peel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also, I find a bench scraper essential when dealing with any dough that leaves the bowl (bread, pie, fresh pasta, etc.).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. This is absolutely worth mentioning... Cooks Illustrated just did an update on their stick blender ratings and the "Sunny Morning by Kalorik" came out on top.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For some reason, the version with green accents is $25, but the orange one is $16. I bought the orange one.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Extralong chopsticks used for stirring when cooking, cost @ $ 1, never without them

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My "As Seen On TV" One-Touch battery-op can opener. It's the kind you place on top of the can, push the button, and it runs around the can, cutting the lid from the side. I've got Lyme Disease, so hand strength and dexterity are minimal at best. Also, the side-cut means no more jagged edges, and very little cleaning if I'm carefully picking it up off the can.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Pampered Chef orange peelers. Besides peeling oranges, they're outstanding non-damaging edge/joint cleaner/scrapers, and are very good for retrieving anything you've dropped into a narrow-necked bottle. When the flat end gets nicked up, you can true it up with an emery board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And, while not really a gadget, I love old Log Cabin syrup promotional pitchers. I've got 2- and 3-cup sizes. The body is heavy glass, and the lid is plastic with a handle and flapper-closing pour spout. I've picked up several at Goodwill, etc., for less than a dollar, and use them for all things pourable, like syrup, gravy, cream, juice, oil, vinegar, puree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I have three that I use constantly:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Microplane Grater
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chef'n Switchit Dual Ended Spatula
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jar Opener

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Mini-chopper .. food processor ... I use it for garlic, onion and all sorts of things .. comes with one blade but serves the purpose .. bought 2 of them at Walmart at christmas time on the $5 item end cap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Two more great things found at Chinese markets in NYC: a pasta fork ($1.50 vs $6.00 or so at BB&B), and a bowl-shaped strainer ($2.99) for washing vegetables etc before cooking (has a little round foot to keep it out of backwash in the sink).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Flexible cutting boards - I love these things. I think I paid $1.98 for a pack of two at Ikea and they last a long, long time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. A Chicago Cutlery stainless chef's knife with 8-inch blade, made in China, I bought a few years ago for $16 at Wal-Mart. it's reasonably heavy, well balanced, sharpens well for stainless. I'm a knife freak. I have new-old-stock antique carbon-steel Sabatiers, several very expensive knives made of various Japanese wonder alloys, assorted traditional Asian knives. Yet the Wally World cheapie is the one I reach for. Go figure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Granite mortar & pestle, picked up from a tiny shop in Singapore's Chinatown for < US$10. Can be used to pulverize everything from chillies, lemongrass to almonds. Makes a beautiful kitchen ornament, too :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My zester
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          bamboo skewers and toothpicks
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          garlic press/mincer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I have an affinity for colanders and strainers I have different sizes in both and they all get used but my favorite one is a combo of both. It's called a restaurant strainer but it doesn't have that cone shaped basket to it. It had the bowl and holes and sturdiness of a colander and the ease of use like a mesh strainer with a handle. It's kinda ovalish shaped so that you can dip pasta or whatever you need right out of the pot. It may sound a little complicated but it's such a simple and brilliant piece - scored it at TJMaxx for about $8 12 years ago. Use it almost everyday!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DAVESGIRL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Is it a spider? Usually has a wooden handle? Chinese markets sell these in different sizes. Martha Stewart's line at Macy's includes this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: walker

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              No I have a one of those too. When they start calling them spiders instead of tempura baskets? Or are the two different things? I've been looking online to see if I could find a picture but alas I guess i'd have to take one myself. There's no name on it but I want to say its by kuhn rikon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I found it online! Small differences - I have rubber grip lines on my handle, otherwise it's same as I have. It's now called a "sccop colander"


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks! Very close but I just posted it. See above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tanuki soup

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Oops. I posted before I saw your picture. Pretty close, though.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. My P-38 GI can opener. The goberment gave it to me 43 years ago. I just used it a few hours to open a can of sardines, that we ate for a snack on a long hike.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The p38 was pure function. Opened a ton of rations with that little gem.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: steve h.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ham Mothas! Only the few chosen will ever know!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Opened the pineapple in my profile.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. 1. A free fork my friend passed off on me, for reaming citrus, now that's cheap (and it works.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Free cheapy bamboo chopsticks from our local Chinese takeout, santitized of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. A wooden citrus reamer, in case I can't find the fork, $3.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. "Lips" plastic bag clips, 4 for $4.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. Free rubber bands, from the US Postal Service, saved for many KP type duties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    19 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Those plastic bag (chip) clips are pretty da**ed good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yay for the free rubber bands! I pick them up on the street next to mailboxes, where the letter carrier apparently splashes them around. But I hadn't been out walking, ran out of rubber bands, and actually paid real money ($2.49!) for a brightly colored rubber band ball from CVS. Well, it made me feel rich to buy it, so I suppose that's worth something. Plus now I have rubber bands again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Free rubber bands, our taxes at work. I get a few everyday when the mail comes. This seems to be a new technique for the post office, bundle the mail with rubber bands. I don't remember that from even two years back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            that's a longstanding tradition -- the USPS has used thick rubber bands for all kinds of mail delivery - whether it's a week's catchup mail from when you've been on vacation, to bulk mailings -- all of it uses rubber bands (and the USPS rubber bands are really good ones)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            We used to use hundreds of them sending out newsletters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's a new tradition here, though, we're getting even a few letters wrapped now, just in the last year. I'm not knocking it, I'll reuse 'em.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You're right, they are very good rubber bands!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If you all love free rubber bands, then you should definitely buy eggs or anything in any sort of flimsy container from Whole Foods because they ALWAYS wrap them in a rubber band before putting them into the bag. I swear, I'm running out of places to store the things, I've got so many!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Still getting rubber bands every day for the post office, have amassed many thousands, I now can go into business, ebay, here I come...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My income is so low these days I don't have to pay taxes any longer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And now we've stopped getting them with our mail, as I guess USPS is trying to save money and stay afloat...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Glad I stocked up when I did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            OK, better than a fork. This is just $12 and the juice falls out of the citrus like a waterfall with a minimal amount of pressure. Amazing.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, I would like to have one of those, in every color, but budget dictates fork these days. I do have the wooden reamer, when the fork just won't do. I put the squeezer on my wish list!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I used a reamer for years until I discovered this. It's seriously amazing.... that lemon is bone dry in 3 seconds flat. No wasted juice, no seeds, no juice on your hands, no fishing around with tines to break dodging pulp. Squeeze... juice... done. If it cost $20 or more I could see the hesitation, but for $12, it's well worth the minimal expense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a female with limited upper body strength, I have tried that sort of squeezer and have to say they may work very well for those with more oomph than I have but they don't work for me. I use a fork or an ancient plastic reamer that lost its companion cup years ago - or an Oxo thing that apparently isn't made any more, a short somewhat pointed piece of thickish corrugated metal in one of their big handles that you jam into the fruit and squeeze it around. I may be the only person ever to have liked it, inlaws thought ir was useless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting.. I never thought of myself as having particularly strong upper body strength but I find mine really easy to use. That reminds me I have a Costco bag of lemons to squeeze and freeze...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Chris VR

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      And don't forget to zest them before you cut them in half!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      No bands of steel, bt? Sometimes it's the forearm and wrist as well. I have some issues with mine now. What do the cheapy sports equipment ads say, "Squeeze, squeeze, squeez your way to a better body." Haha.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I knew I shouldn't have bunked off those phys ed classes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hm, well I guess one's ability to use "that sort of squeezer" is entirely on the ergonomic design of the device and how well it leverages juice. I can see how a poorly designed one could be difficult for someone with limited upper body strength, but I absolutely don't find any resistance with the way this particular device is designed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Clothes pins, used to clip bags shut

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: aching

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      me, too! a dozen costs about $8

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My two silicone spatulas: one regular "spoonula" that's all one piece and all silicone-covered. I HATE the two-piece spatulas as they ALWAYS break or are harder to clean and never soft enough to scrape everything out. The one I have is everything I ever wanted in a rubber spatula. <3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The other silicon spatula is a mini "jar scraper", but I use it for scraping out the food chopper, stirring, mixing, so many things. I can't believe I lived without one for so long!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I don't use it often but I do love my olive/cherry pitter. Takes the pits out in about 1 second and leaves the fruit just perfect. $8.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Also my Oxo shrimp zipper thing ($5) that I use pretty often since the only way we seem to find the "wild caught Gulf srimp" up here in CT is with their shells on. Frankly I'd use more of them if they came P&D (peeled and deveined) and no, I don't save the shells to make stock with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I just found Zyliss Interlocking Corn Holders at Kroger for 25 cents a pair!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Which brings up the possible offshoot topic of what unitaskers are you willing to spend money on and sacrifice storage space for?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. A tiny piece of cheese cloth that I use for quickly scrubbing dirty potatoes :-) super cheap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. A small knitting needle. I use it more often than one would think, to poke this or that, or get something out of something else.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I have a small crochet hook for the same function.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Me too. Plus a flat metal nail file, repurposed as a pry bar for can lids, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. The Silicon Silpat. Put it in a tray, pour in the Cookie dough and..boom! non stick cookies falling off the pan bone. Dough you can roll with it without sticking so Lekvar rolls, Stromboli any rolling pastry is easy. 20 bucks. That's gas for about 3 days. This last forever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Any Bamboo Spoon set you can get under 20 dollars. I own the Joyce Chen, it came with all the spoons and spatula types, on sell. They fit your hand. They don't heat up like metal if you leave them in a pot of boiling water. You can use them on non-stick metal with out fear of scratching it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Bamboo utensil's are shaped almost to a point and keep shape where regular wood sometimes warps in water or becomes soft. They are so lite yet durable. A set is cheap. Bamboo rules.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. A P-38 GI can opener. The gommernent gave it to me, 43 years ago, and the VA pays me every month since I got it. Wear it on a chain around my neck; one never knows when one will meet a sardine can w/ no pull tab.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I know , I'm about to post 3 in a row(i'm new). THIS IS THE BEST deal in the World!. The Black and Decker Ergo three Cup Chopper. This is the KING KONG of my best ...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      15 to 20 bucks at Amazon. Look it up on the net.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Say you want to crumble crackers and flour and mix them with Italian bread crumbs to make chicken breading. This mini processor has 2 buttons(simple), one is fast, the other is slow=grind. You put all the ingredients in there and push the button and bang they come out the way you want them too. You control the pulse of the unit and good cook always wants control of the food. The result is incredible.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheese....Hard to medium cheeses come out unbelievable in this chopper. My opinion the only reason I have a cheese slicer is because you have to cut up soft cheese into half inch chunks before putting them in this processor. Frozen soft cheese is the best. The reason I say this ..Hey I love Cheese.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Grinding peanuts....Grinding vegetables ....grinding Flour combination's... Salad spice mixtures. It's your hand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I gave this to my mom and after years, she thought It broke,it wasn't . She figured it out and cleaned the Black and Decker. , now it works like a charm. There are buttons in the lid. If contacts are not cleaned, it will not contact the electricity to make it work properly. This thing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      is a WORK HORSE. You can hate me, you can lie about me, that's your choice and it's ok. About this product. Prove me wrong I dare you too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: museken

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Love my B&D 3-cup chopper as well, though I wish they'd make a sturdier plastic container. The part holding the rod that holds the blade in place cracked, so I had to pay another $20 to replace it (just the plastic part). The top motor part is still going strong, and the blade's still pretty sharp. Minces garlic, ginger and chops onions like a pro. Love it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: yfunk3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sorry about the part breaking, You should have just bought a new one for 14 bucks it worth it. This is one product I use everyday. I thought mine should have broke a long time ago, guess I'm lucky. If anyone tries this product it will be on the counter top til it breaks. It should be on TOP GEAR........Dead nuts favorite..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I love my single piece silicone spatulas and spoons. Stiff enough for mixing and cleaning out bottles and bowls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Good Cook Touch Bottle Spatula

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These are one single piece which means no place for germs to hide when washing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        HEB has them for $3-$5 branded by HEB as Kitchen & Table.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Amazon sells them for $12 plus shipping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: cabillot

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Seconding one-piece spatulas, especially ones that can withstand high temperatures.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I still had a little spoon with my son's name on the handle that a friend gave him when he was a toddler. I just realized that it is the perfect size to remove the membrane and seeds from jalapenos, etc. So glad I have a good reason to keep it in my drawer. :)

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Blue heavy rubberbands from Broccoli , use as a wallet...(keep money and c/c together) or as a way to keep open plastic bags closed, alos handy to open jars...wrap it around the lid

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Daka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I miss the velcro brocchli ties. Used the to hold up plants in my garden.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My wife used the brochili brubber band to hold an ice pack on my sprained ankle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. A small silicone baster/mop that I got at Crate and Barrel. I use it for buttering the pancake griddle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I am not a gadget person. I like the pleasure of doing most things by hand. I guess the most gadget-y thing I have is my mini-whisk and my Parmesan/hard cheese grater. I use the mini-whisk almost daily.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Has anyone said a $.99 cork screw. One in the kitchen drawer and in each car (Just in case?).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have a 30-year-old Swiss Army knife that I always carry in my left pocket. I leave it home only when I have to fly somewhere. Seems I list to starboard when I'm away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I was in security in Manchester NH, forgot about knife, they wanted to take my SAK! I went back out, found an isolated soda machine, put the knife up on the rt. rear corner of the machine. Returned 1 week later and retreved the knife!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've flown into that airport before. It's an old WW II field that's been upgraded with a nice regional terminal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Your soda machine dodge is brilliant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. One nobody has mentioned (I do love many of the things others do) is my box of Costco disposable latex gloves. 100 for about six dollars. I use them when handling raw meat, especially ground meat, as I have long nails and don't like the idea of bacteria lingering. I put on a pair when seeding and chopping chilies so I don't end up with capsaicin on my fingers to be rubbed into my eyes later. Really, they're handy for anything I don't want to touch but need to handle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Fasta Pasta cooker. Just a hair over $10 and revolutionary. Cooks pasta in the microwave. Save so much time and trouble and mess. Rinses clean easy - no other utensils required.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Microwave pasta may sound horrid to the uninitiated, but it is just the same as stove top cooked. You can get it beautifully al dente - no problem. Easy to get it perfect.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. http://www.buy4asianlife.com/eshop/id...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Negi (green onion) shredder - completely great for burning through a whole pile of green onions in a big hurry. Kam Man on Canal in NYC has them in the basement (along with nifty and also dead cheap wicked sharp slicers). WHY did I have to find this restaurant supply website...?

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After using I would wash, dry and lightly oil it because my first one rusted away after using it twice,those little scissors came in real handy processing soft shell crabs last weekend and a great value.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Duppie

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hmm, good point, I let mine air dry thoroughly - it seems to be stainless steel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Certainly not in the realm of what I consider cheap, I recently bought a Zyliss Y shaped yellow veggie peeler. I have to say after many years of refusing to peel potatoes with -$ cheapie frustrating rusting carbon peelers from the supermarket, I'm back. This thing is a JOY. $$ of happiness. Extremely responsive and very comfortable in my arthritic hands. Sometimes cheap is not the answer.


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mine's the Oxo "regular" peeler (blade parallel to the handle) -- but it's easy to use and I'd buy another one in a New York minute if something happened to this one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. A silicone handle grip for stainless steel and cast iron pans. Before this, I tried my best with kitchen mitts, but this sure fire to grab a very hot pan out of the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply