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Jun 17, 2011 02:27 PM

Your Favorite Inexpensive Cookware/Kitchen Tools...

The discussions on these threads:

Do you stereotype a Chef based on his/her cooking tools?

Things That Call Into Question A Cook's Credibility

Cowering In Fear

sparked a lot of discussion, some of it about cookware. They also inspired some of us who consider ourselves serious cooks to defend the use of good but inexpensive tools. I personally don't own anything that's considered top of the line by those who are into owning things that are deemed "top of the line", but I do own a wide range of cookware in both price and quality.

While I think good technique can overcome less than ideal tools, I think it a jackpot when a good or even great tool comes at a surprisingly low price.

Two of my favorite inexpensive tools are:

- Kiwi knives (which have been discussed extensively on this board and range from $3 to $10
)- IKEA non-stick pans (the sturdier ones - I think they have 2 kinds)

What are your favorites?

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  1. Kuhn Rikon veg peeler $4 best veg peeler at any price

    Benriner mandolin-$30 way better than those $200 made in France pieces of crap

    3" Henckels paring knife $5 perfect size for those small jobs

    Micro- Plane zester-$14.Has made my life much easier

    11 Replies
    1. re: petek

      I love my Benriner too. 10 years old and the blades are still sharp!

      1. re: petek

        That is high for the KH peeler. I sell them at $2.99 and they are the best.

        1. re: Candy

          "That is high for the KH peeler. I sell them at $2.99 and they are the best"
          I know,that extra buck almost sent me to the poor house... :D

          1. re: petek

            From a percentage point of view, that $1 out of $3 is quiet a bit. From an absolute amount, the $1 is nothing.

            1. re: petek

              Pete, when you consider that that extra buck is a third of another one, it kind of changes your perspective...

              1. re: inaplasticcup

                Remember,I live up here in beautiful sunny Canada where everything is more expensive,not much I can do about that.

                1. re: petek

                  I had no idea that things were much more expensive in Canada. But it is a sparser place with just about the same land mass so perhaps it's all that transport cost? Or maybe tariffs to go toward healthcare? IDK. Just pulling theories outta mah butt...

                  1. re: inaplasticcup

                    "Just pulling theories outta mah butt..."
                    Nope,you pretty much hit the nail on the head.What you said plus a population of 300 mil U.S+ vs Can 30 mil+.More people=more stores=more competition=cheaper prices,but that's a whole other kettle of fish..

                    1. re: petek

                      "What you said plus a population of 300 mil U.S+ vs Can 30 mil+.More people=more stores=more competition=cheaper prices,but that's a whole other kettle of fish.."

                      I don't know about it.... If that is the case, every internaional goods in China and India must be cheaper, and they are not. It is cheaper to buy a Honda Accord in US than to buy one in China or in India. Japna while has a smaller population than US, has a much greater population density, and things are not cheaper there.

                    2. re: inaplasticcup

                      Yeah, many things are more expensive in Canada. A very good friend of mine is now a professor in Canada and she said many things are more expensive and even for her scientific equipment purchase. Why? Who knows.

          2. I buy most of my tools at places like Home Goods. I found some discounted OXO tools at Sears recently. At any rate, my tools come to me over time, and for less money than if I went out at bought them at Williams Sonoma, say.

            I have a couple sets of metal tongs that cost very little. I use them all the time. I bought a smallish pot at HG that was not expensive. I use it frequently. It is a German glass-lidded pot. I use my Lodge cast iron grill daily.

            I use 2 Pyrex handled mixing bowls all the time. I never put them into a conventional oven, but I do put them in the microwave oven. I also use some smaller Pyrex measuring cups frequently.

            I have several mise en place bowls bought cheaply at various places that I use often.

            About a decade ago I bought at the grocer, 4 large soup mugs imprinted with Campbells soup labels from long ago. For some reason I continue to like and use those mugs for lunchtime soup.

            15 Replies
            1. re: sueatmo

              I have found most of my tools and a lot of my bakeware, ceramic bowls & platters, etc. at places like Home Goods too - and saved a fortune on a lot of high quality stuff. It gives me a lot of pleasure to have such a well-outfitted kitchen and pantry & I purchased most of it for a fraction of the full price. That makes me even happier.

              1. re: flourgirl

                You know, I am pleased with much of what I use in my kitchen too. I keep my eyes open for deals on things I want. Right now I'd like a third set of measuring cups. I'd get rid of one set, if I could find a good metal set. But I am picky. I also need new pie pans. I need to toss 2 old Pyrex pans before Thanksgiving!

                1. re: sueatmo

                  I know exactly what you mean, I'm picky too. I'm perfectly willing to bide my time until the exact right thing comes along at the right price. It's taken me about 15 yrs to put my equipment collection together, with upgrades and replacements here and there as needed.

                  1. re: flourgirl

                    I've been buying, discarding, finding and replacing since I got married in 1970. I am to the place where I finally don't have one thing I can think of that I started with. Except perhaps for one Corningware pie plate. About 12 years ago I discarded my old Farberware and began replacing it with Cuisinart, almost all of which I bought at Home Goods! Late discoveries have been cast iron.

                    I don't buy anything unless I like the way it feels in my hand.

                    Like you, I do like to get something useful at a nice price.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      I got married in 1992 and I don't still have much of what I started out with either, except a few gifts we received for our wedding and a surprise engagement party (we never registered and we had a very small wedding.) My mom took me on a little bit of a shopping spree before the wedding and I asked for a set of cast iron pans. And I'm not really sure why. I wasn't much of a cook than, I had never used cast iron - and my mother thought I was nuts. It think I vaguely remember that my husband weirdly requested them, and I say "weird" because he was even less of a cook than I was. But my mom bought me the pans (and a set of revere ware) - and in the box they stayed for like the next 12 yrs. I don't remember what finally made me break them out - but I've never looked back. I love them, & use them all the time. I'm just sorry it took me so long to get over my fear of them.

                      I long ago ditched the revere ware when I "discovered" all-clad and le creuset as I got more serious about cooking. We had an all-clad outlet in town (& we still have the le creuset outlet) so I was fortunate enough to acquire my all-clad collection at 40% off, piece by piece.

                      1. re: flourgirl

                        As recently as a year ago, I still had a few pieces of my mother's Revere ware and it was a real workhorse. Good heat, indestructible. When I went induction, I "rehomed" those pieces.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I can attest. The Revere set I bought when I first moved out just refused to die. Also rehomed.

                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                            My Mom still has a couple of Revere sauce pans from early marriage, and they've been married 46 years! I haven't been able to "re-home" them yet, though.

                            1. re: arashall

                              I have been married for almost 43 years and still have my original set of Farberware pots. I couldn't afford Revere at the time. Anyway, they are almost perfect but when I researched Farberware because I needed a second set, everyone said that the new ones were far inferior and a waste of money so I just bought an Italian set in Costco which are just okay. The pots and pans at Home Goods are usually badly scratched unless you can find one that is in the original box. I do love my Calphalon skillets and wok and northing from 40+ years ago can compare with them. I even remember the days of trying to fry without teflon.

                              1. re: joelaine

                                I have to apologize. I think my first set of pans was Farberware, not revere ware. And they worked OK - but they had plastic handles that kept falling off and couldn't go in the oven. They did find a new home though.

                                Whatever the heck they were, they definitely were holding me back when I reached the point that I had fully embraced cooking as a particular passion of mine, and the all-clad peices I slowly purchased to replace them with have made me very very happy.

                                1. re: flourgirl

                                  I think it is about time I replaced those Farberware saucepans as well! I am only in my Connecticut home for about 5 months a year but it is time to get some new ones. That Italian set I bought for Florida about 7 years ago also needs to be replaced. Which Calphalon do you like best? I find all of their lines confusing and I know the ones they sell in Home Goods are the cheaper ones, but I still love them.

                                  1. re: flourgirl

                                    My Farberware was made better than that! The handles did not break off. But then mine was bought in 1970. In the late '90s I bought another piece of this and I thought that the aluminum bottom was actually better than in the older pans.

                                    You are right about not putting the pans in a hot oven.

                                    Lucky! An All Clad outlet nearby would be a real temptation for me. Except that I don't like their handles. Good stuff though.

                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                      Mine is from 67 or 68 and the 3 sauce pans and large stockpot look almost new. The handles are fine and show no signs of wear. If I had Farberware frying pans, they were not teflon coated, and are long gone. When I was looking to buy a set for my other house I was told that Farberware is now made in China and is not made well at all.

                                2. re: arashall

                                  Why would you want her to get rid of them? If I hadn't gone induction I'd still have my few pieces and use them gladly.

                                  1. re: arashall

                                    My son owns an ancient Reverware pressure cooker. I've never seen another cooker like it. The lid goes on inside the rim, as I remember. I used it at his house with no problem. I agree the Revere ware was solid stuff.

                                    I think an ordinary Tramontian induction ready pan is better than any older pan I've ever handled though. If I were buying new stuff now, that is what I'd buy.

                  2. Man... you are really on fire, aren't you kid?

                    Like you, I don't own any top of the line cookware, but they are definitely functional. I just don't have anything like All-Clad or Le Cresuet or whatever.

                    I don't have a Kiwi knife, but I have sharpened one and used one before, so I can personally vouch for its quality. It is no Shun knife, but it is a good knife.


                    My favorite inexpensive kitchen tools? So many, but I will have to say my (1) carbon steel wok from the Wokshop (normal price for a wok, but very cheap compared to any cladded cookware) is nice. I am also very impressed with my (2) CCK Chinese cleaver


                    and my (3) Tanaka Nakiri.


                    CCK being inexpensive and so function. Tanaka being inexpensive and high quality steel. Finally, my (4) wood chopping block. The block was inexpensive, but it took me awhile to get the hang of them, still I am happy with it:


                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      LOL. Clearly, I am enjoying the discussions here and just trying to do my part to keep 'em going... ;)

                          1. re: petek

                            More the reasons I can lecture her. I am speaking from experience. :P

                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                            Addiction is such a harsh word, Ck. Let's say I'm momentarily... ENAMORED. :P

                      1. My "potato pot" - a really old copper bottom, stainless steel elsewhere w slightly warped lid pot that was cast aside without regret in and amidst a box lot of yellow ware I purchased back in my auction days. No, it isn't pretty and even when it was made, I'm betting it didn't cost much but in its time w me it's boiled countless pots of perfect potatoes. It goes into the dishwasher and comes out sparkling and I don't ever worry about putting it on high heat.

                        Wooden spoons

                        Dollar store 8" tongs - perfect size for plating, 2 sets of tongs for $1 .... love them!

                        Dollar store plastic colander - it must be almost 15 yrs old now!!

                        Microplanes from Lee Valley Tools

                        I also collect antique and vintage kitchenware and have picked up some wonderful bargains at yard sales and auctions over the years. . . far too many bargains though so now I'm purging!!

                        1. I have a pair of what I think are tomato hullers. I use them for taking the tops off of strawberries without damaging much of the berry. I don't think they were more than a couple of bucks for the pair. They are also great to hollow out vine or cherry tomatoes for stuffing them. They're about 4 inches long and look like a melon baller, but with teeth on the round part.

                          I also like my bamboo handle asian strainer. Great for taking pasta out of the water without damaging the pasta. Especially for fresh pasta.