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What's your cheap, low-class, won't-usually-tell kitchen favorite?

I've since grown up, but I used to be one of those have-a-garage-sale-quit-your-job-and-move-across-the-country-because-you-feel-like-it types. In my last starting from scratch venture, I was (of course) broke and bought an 10" cast iron skillet for about $5.97 from Family Dollar. That was about five years ago and I still use it nearly every day - in fact, I usually leave it on the stove rather than putting it away just to drag it back out a few hours later.

What's yours? Let's go with a $10 maximum.

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  1. I don't mind telling, so here goes:

    $1.99 Swing-A-Way manual can opener--been with me for at least 10 years
    Rösle spoon (stirring spoon)--plastic, discolored, still performing solidly and it's been with me for over 2 decades and 4 states (probably about 2 bucks when I bought it at Reading China and Glass)
    My 2-buck ice cream scoop from IKEA--works as well as my $16 Zeroll.

    1 Reply
    1. re: nofunlatte

      Yeah! Here, here! We've had "swing-away"s since I was a girl and there's one in my kitchen all the time. One in the camping supplies, too...

    2. I'm a big fan of functional and am anti status and prestige - so a lot of my stuff is cheap, low class but very functional. My fave is now a 4" knife from rural Brasil I bought for less than $1.00. It is carbon steel, now tarnished to hell, but is super easy to keep sharp as a razor. Cuts through tomatoes like water. And a pity because I have all sorts of expensive "high class" knives.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Years - no, decades ago, I bought a cheap largish multi-purpose type knife at the hardware store in Japantown. It's NOT stainless steel, and it sharpens and keeps an edge better than any knife I've ever had. The knife is crappily made. It has a simple wood handle and for years the blade kept falling out of the handle. (The blade has a short stem rather than a full-length tang.) Finally I think there's enough gunk in there to glue the blade in place.

        It's my favorite knife, and if I see any more like it, I will grab them.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I have a similar "low class" item. About 20 years ago, we were moving into a new house, and I wanted to make some sandwiches. All of our belongings were still in boxes, so, when I went to the supermarket, I was looking for a cheap knife and well as some food. I found a curved serrated tomato knife (I actually didn't think it was as thin as it was because of the deceptive packaging), and paid something like $4 for it. Well, that thing sits in a block right next to my Shuns, Sabatiers, Henkels and Wusthoffs because I use it instead of a knife that could be damaged when I need to slice open chicken packaging, bagged food items, cryovac and an occasional sealed carton. It is stainless steel, so it still looks as good as new.

        2. I've thought about this for at least a couple of minutes now. Even took a tour of the kitchen to see if anything could outshine my strange answer, but I have to say that zip lock bags are my favorites. I use them in all sizes, and store left-overs in them, freeze stuff in them, all kinds of uses. I know. I know. It doesn't sound very "green." I'm stuffing the landfill, some would say, but...! It means far far fewer dishes in the dishwasher, AND all of the downstairs lightbulbs in my house are either fluorescent or LEDs, so I gotta get a few brownie points for that. Yup. I choose my ziplock bags over the marble rolling pin I bought for $4.00 years ago for making puff pastry any day. Hey, I can find puff pastry in my grocer's freezer these days! AND zip lock bags. Well, not in the freezer, but you know... on the shelves. Love 'em!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Caroline1

            I too use zip locks for batteries. I use them for things I want to keep together like a multimeter and instruction manual, lan and telephone connectors and the crimping tool to apply. nuts and bolts for an old bed are in a zip lock and taped to the bed stored in my basement. Er. . . chow related. I buy my spices in pouches and transfer them into small shaker jars . . . the pouches hold more spice than my jars so . . . I tie them off with twist ties and store in a large zip lock in a cupboard. Some of the spices are quite potent but with this system the smells are kept at bay.

          2. I'm not sure about low-class but the Zena Rex/Star peelers are a cheap favourite.of mine.

            http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/feature/d...

            My go to knife is a carbon steel Opinel which I got for £6/7, it's sharp enough to use for anything and also cheap enough to use for anything as well!

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinel_k...

            Both design classics in my book that I would be lost without.

            1. My bench scraper is a fave tool that cost $9.99. Great for baking/ kneading but also useful for transferring large amounts of chopped onion etc. from cutting board to pot. I guess it's not "low class" cuz it has the Sur La Table logo etched into the wooden handle! I also love my "Le Creuset" silicone pinch bowls (4 for $10.00) and use them daily for mise en place. Alas, the only LC product I own. (Hangs head....) adam