Splurge vs. Save: 10 Must Have Kitchen Tools

I’m actually in the process of stocking my entire kitchen. All I had in my NYC kitchen was a coffee maker, a waffle iron, one pan, one pot, and a spatula. I obviously got a lot of cooking done… Moving into an apartment with a real kitchen was thrilling! But we couldn’t do much without the right tools. Louisa from Living Lou is sharing tips on what kitchen tools you should splurge or save on!
Splurge vs. Save: 10 Must Have Kitchen Tools
Guest Post by Louisa from Living Lou
With so many kitchen tools on the market, it can be difficult to decipher which ones are worth splurging on. I could spend all of my money on things for my kitchen, but when it comes down do it, over the years I’ve realized that there are really only a few necessities you need. And that omelet pan you think you really need, you don’t. 
My first piece of advice is that if a gadget or appliance has only one purpose, it’s not worth it. With the tiny kitchens in most condos and apartments, space is non-existent, so keep those one-use tools off your counter. Here are 10 must have kitchen tools and when to splurge and when to save.  
A non-stick pan is essential for quick-cooking stir-frys, omelets and frittatas, but it’s important to know that all non-stick pans have a short lifespan. The coating will eventually wear out and you will have to replace your pan, therefore, I recommend looking for a $25 model non-stick frying pan.  
2. Save: Vegetable peeler 
A sharp vegetable peeler is key to making prep a breeze, however because the blade will eventually dull, I recommend saving and purchasing a cheaper peeler. I find Y-shaped peelers to be the easiest to use, and love the $2 ones available at Ikea
Recipe to try: Peel carrots into beautiful ribbons for a refreshing and crunchy carrot salad.
3. Splurge: Stainless steel pots and pans 
There are only two pots you need in your kitchen, a large stockpot (for making soups, stocks or feeding a crowd) and a small saucepan for making smaller amounts of rice and pasta. I recommend splurging on your pots as they will be workhorses in your kitchen. Stainless steel is more expensive than aluminum but it is a good choice of material because it conducts heat well and is non-reactive (alkaline and acidic foods won’t react with it). KitchenAid and All-clad are two brands that make high quality pots. 
Recipe to try: Make a big batch of a Moroccan-inspired vegetable soup. 

4. Save: Measuring cups and spoons
Measuring cups and spoons are a must-have for baking and cooking. Stay away from the cutesy measuring utensils (though they do make a nice Instagram), I prefer stainless steel utensils as I like the feel and weight, but plastic work just as well and are a little more budget-friendly. 
Recipe to try: Rich and decadent dark chocolate brownies. Need I say more? 
5. Splurge: Chef’s Knife 
I can’t live without a good quality, sharp knife. Not only is it much safer but it makes slicing, dicing and chopping much easier. Head to a store to buy your knives (never buy them online), it’s important to hold a knife and see how it feels. Some people prefer a heavier knife while others like a lighter one. Start with an 8-inch knife and go from there. 
Recipe to try: Get dicing up some vegetables with my budget-friendly homemade bolognese sauce
6. Save: Colander
While expensive colanders can look beautiful on the counter, all that matters is functionality. Useful for draining pasta and washing fruits and vegetables, a colander is a must-have if you do lots of cooking at home with fresh ingredients. 
Recipe to try: Put your colander to use with this Italian favorite, comforting pasta with leeks and sausage
7. Save: Wooden spoons, plastic spatulas and tongs
No need to splurge on wooden spoons, spatulas or tongs, you can find sets of wooden spoons for $6 and spatulas for less than $10. These are tools that I reach for pretty much everyday in the kitchen, so try to have a few of each. 
Try it: A favorite appetizer: prosciutto wrapped prawns.
8. Splurge: Instant-read thermometer 
If you’re worried about cooking meat properly, an instant-read thermometer is a must for food safety. Definitely splurge on this item.
Try it: Pork can be intimidating, but try my balsamic and sage glazed pork chops for a simple but impressive dinner.  
A standmixer is a serious kitchen splurge that requires quite a bit of saving up, but if you love baking, it’s worth it. Look for flash sales but I use my standmixer weekly and love having it displayed on my counter. 
Try it: Whip egg whites quickly and make a chocolate pavlova.
10. Splurge: large wooden cutting board
Cutting boards and surprisingly expensive, but I recommend saving up for a large wooden cutting board. This is something you will be using everyday and you want a cutting board that will last for years to come. 
Try it: Get chopping vegetables for this delicious smoky chicken chili
Tell me, what are your must-have kitchen tools? 

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Totally agree with this list! I've been using a inexpensive mixer for a couple years now, and I can't wait to splurge on a KitchenAid once we get into a house.

Our griddle was a SAVE item, but it still gets a ton of use.

And a good blender or food processor is a definite SPLURGE if you do a lot of chopping, smoothie making, or plan on making baby food. We got a Ninja as a wedding gift, but it doesn't do nearly as good of a job as a Vitamix – another item on my kitchen wishlist!

Also a stovetop kettle is a necessity, but in the SAVE category.



I like to have decent kitchen shears on hand. I tend to use them on non food items and wreck them, so I buy inexpensive ones and replace them as needed.


Love these tips! I recommend not even buying the non-stick pans as that lining is not good for you and they have such short lifespans. We use cast iron to cook practically anything and they are super easy to clean too!