There is no greater joy than a bag of two-dollar chip clips. Why, might you ask, do chip clips bring so much joy? First, they can be used for everything from, yes, keeping chip bags closed to securing napkins at picnics or color-coding your daily snack packs. Additionally, many chip clip creators have a lot of fun with their mundane but highly practical products. Magnetic clips ($8, amazon.com) are great for organizing weekly meal plans and coupons. Adorable ones are, well, adorable ($4, amazon.com). Even highly utilitarian clips are quite attractive in their simplicity ($10, amazon.com).
The variety of chip clips points to one truism in kitchen gadget buying: not everything has to be expensive to be good. In fact, we compiled our list of the best cheap kitchen tools and gadgets. If you spend less money on these products, you can use the money you save and spend it where it really counts. Staub Cocotte, we mean you.
7 Kitchen Tools You Should Not Splurge On
1. Baking Sheets – We believe you should always have a supply of quarter sheet pans in your kitchen cabinet, but we don’t necessarily believe you should spend a great deal of money on them. That’s because even some of the priciest sheet pans will bend and warp with heat, washing, and repeated use. Save the funds and go with the moderately priced ones ($10/set of 3, walmart.com). They’re often as sturdy as their pricier counterparts.
2. Plastic Cutting Boards – Wooden cutting boards are beautiful, but they’re a lot of work to maintain. You may have to sand and refinish them several times, and there’s the risk of staining or burning them. Plastic cutting boards work wonderfully well, and they’re fairly cheap. You can afford to keep a few in the cupboard in case you forget to wash the one you used with last night’s chicken ($6/set of 4, target.com).
3. Whisks – Unless you whip a lot of mousses or egg whites (or really, are using a whisk often for baking projects), you need not splurge on heavy-duty, weighted whisks. They’re awfully nice, we admit, but for the simple job of combining some eggs and milk or whisking a bit of salad dressing, cheap whisks are OK ($4, walmart.com).
4. Citrus Reamer – If you’re churning out fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning, or you’re famous for your homemade margaritas with fresh lime juice, you may want to invest in an electric juicer ($170, amazon.com). But if you’re only juicing lemons for salad dressings or pan sauces, don’t bother with a heavy-duty juicer or even a hand-held squeezer. The classic wooden citrus reamer ($6, amazon.com) is all you need. Keep seeds out of your juice by squeezing the fruit into a bowl, then straining.
5. Cast-Iron Skillets – We’re not talking about beautiful enamel-coated cast-iron Dutch ovens. For those, a bit of an investment is advised because better materials will last longer and be sturdier through countless pot roasts or tagines. But if you’re buying cast-iron skillets for searing steaks or churning out corn bread, you can actually get away with buying cheaper options. An all-purpose 12-inch pan can be less than $20 (walmart.com). As long as you season it and prepare it for use before the first turn in the oven, your inexpensive cast iron should work as well as a pricier option.
6. Spatulas – It’s very tempting to buy silicone spatulas with extravagant olivewood handles or diet-cast silicone all-in-one utensils, but for the amount of use they typically get (again, unless you’re making cakes or icing cupcakes every day), you can save some money here. Look for a set of three of varying sizes to get all you the options you’d need ($10/set of 3, amazon.com).
7. Peelers – Vegetable peelers have a very specific job—they take the skin off hardy root vegetables—but besides that, they don’t really have any more uses. Cheap peelers can last several years, and they’re no more difficult to sharpen (if you even can) than the expensive options. When the blades are dull, you’ll have to toss these just like you will ones that cost you double ($4, amazon.com).
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