If there’s one thing we all agree on, it’s that now that most of us are eating three meals a day at home with our entire families (when we’re not indulging on takeout to support our local restaurants), we are in our kitchens a whole lot more. Even some of our lesser-used appliances have been dusted off and turned into full-time countertop fixtures and it’s making mealtime a lot easier.
So we asked our Cool Mom Eats team (and our Recipe Rescue community) which kitchen gadgets and small appliances they are most happy to own these days of staying at home nonstop. Let’s say it turned into quite the Slack chat!
From big ticket-items to small essentials, the list was fairly diverse and I think, pretty fascinating. Aaaand it may have sent me back to the online stores, to order a couple new things of my own.
Some of these kitchen items may make life easier. Some may make life more fun for the kids. Some are definitely indulgences, while some are small splurges that could be worthwhile based on whatever you’re cooking or baking these days.
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A brief note:
Let me just be clear: I know things are tight for a lot of us and we don’t all know what the future will hold. Certainly not everyone is up for spending hundreds of dollars on new blenders and coffee makers right now. The last thing I want is for anyone to feel even more frustrated. Some of you may decide that one or more of these items are absolutely worthwhile and will save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run, and so we’re here to help you find the best ones. Some of you may have forgotten you already own one of these (hooray for serendipity!) and it’s time to dig it out of storage. Or hey, maybe you can find a gently used kitchen item or small appliance that you need through a local Facebook group, or swap with a neighbor who’s got one sitting in their garage. Our readers are nothing if not resourceful.
Although there’s one more thing we all do agree on: Make sure you have an excellent knife sharpener. Definitely a knife sharpener.
Why: Have you even looked at the food Internet any time in the past three years? Get at least a 6 Quart Instant Pot like this one, that’s big enough for the family. And hopefully leftovers. Then search our entire Instant Pot recipe archive and behold! You’ll be able to make more in your Instant Pot than you ever realized. We’re talking easy family meals for days, from soup to lasagna, meatloaf to cheesecake. Really.
Where to buy: $99.99 , Target
Why: This is definitely the top kitchen gadget on all of our lists! With all that dicing and slicing and chopping we’re doing, you will see a massive difference when your knife is perfectly sharp. Besides, we may actually have a little more free time to sharpen them these days. You can even put your older teens to work on this task.
Whetstone sharpeners are the choice of chefs. A classic honing steel is affordable, takes up no room, and has served me well for years. But Lisa swears up and down by her Global 2-Stage Ceramic Knife Sharpener (above) and I’m eyeing it big time.
Where to buy: $69.95 on sale, Williams-Sonoma
As a heavy blender user, I could not love my Panasonic High Speed Blender more, but I admit it’s big and heavy and it costs you small fortune (mine was graciously sent to me by the brand). A slightly more affordable option is the Breville Super Q Blender (above) which is top-rated on lots of editor lists. But for a true bargain, check out the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender, which gets terrific reviews from editors and buyers and should do most jobs just fine.
Where to buy: $159 – $500 and up, Amazon
Why: If you’re currently using a pod-based coffee machine, that may get old — and difficult — fast. What might have been find for a single cuppa each morning before work is not going to do the job when you’re making all your coffee at home ll day long. Plus, there’s the eco factor…
Do you need to go Full Espresso with your coffee maker, as with this Breville Barista Express that I own (above)? Of course not. But if you’re used to grabbing fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks, the results from this sturdy machine are exquisite, and it will probably pay for itself within the year. If you don’t have too many coffee drinkers in the house, check out the Breville Bambino Plus as an alternative.
Where to Buy: $399 for the Bambino 50% off for a limited time; or $699 for Barista Express with price match guarantee, Williams-Sonoma Automatic drip coffee makers start at $16.99 on sale at Target.
Why: As long as you’re doing all that baking (you are baking, right?), a Silpat is so much better than using non-stick spray or parchment, and Kate reminds us that she’s running low on both these days.
While you’re at it, make sure your cookie pans and other baking pans are up to snuff; Lisa swears by this non-stick cookie sheet that turns out perfectly even cookies.
Where to buy: $21.95 and up for Silipat Mats, Williams-Sonoma
Why: Aren’t you wiping everything down these days too? And gah, all those dishes!
I have been thanking the heavens for my Skura Anti-Microbial Sponge subscription over the past few weeks. Yes, a subscription. For sponges. These particular ones are designed to inhibit the growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew, meaning they don’t smell! Plus, I love that when the pattern on the scrubby side wears down, you know it’s time to swap out for a fresh one.
Where to buy: $12/4 each month (or select every other month), Skura Style. You can also buy a one-time shipment of 12 or 16.
Why: As I wrote earlier this week, this is the number one quarantine-era appliance our entire community of readers and friends is talking about. Our own team members who own one describe the joys of waking up to freshly baked breads of all kinds — and the fun of doing it with the kids. And we’ll take small, simple joys these days where we can find them.
I’m not always a fan of single-use appliances, because I don’t have unlimited counter space in my apartment. But I have an itchy “purchase” finger when it comes to bread makers these days.
Where to buy: $299.95 on sale for this Breville Custom Loaf Breadmaker, Williams-Sonoma with pricematch guarantee. (See our post linked above for other options.)
Why: On a personal note, a 12″ cast iron pan was my own personal quarantine purchase last week. I didn’t own one and everyone I knew was like WHAT, HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE so yeah, there are a lot of cast iron evangelists out there! Cast iron skillets offer even heating for cooking, baking, frying, even pizzas, and they can go from stove to oven easily.course, Of they last forever, especially now that we have a little more time to season and care for them properly.
(I also purchased the cast iron cookware care kit with a silicone handle cover, scrapper, scrubber, and seasoning spray.)
And by the way, if you don’t yet have a solid set of nonstick fry pans, this is the time to make sure yours are in great shape. Lisa just purchased this set, also on sale from Williams-Sonoma, and she is thrilled that she did.
Where to buy: Lodge 8″- 12″ cast iron skillets, $24.95 – $39.95 at Williams-Sonoma with free ship plus 20% additional savings for a limited time.
Why: I wouldn’t call this a must-have, but a few moms on our team, like Caroline, are so happy they own a WonderVeg Vegetable Spiralizer. They love how it helps get kids excited to help in the kitchen, too. With pasta supplies a little short, it lets you turn fresh veggies into “noodles” which are not just healthy, but makes lots of kids more likely to eat zucchini or carrots. It also makes salads and sides a lot more fun, and we’ll take all the fun we can get right now.
Where to buy: $24.99 on Amazon, including 7 blades. For a simple, pared down version, we’ve also recommended the OXO 2-Blade Handheld Spiralizer, $19.99 on Amazon.
What else are you loving right now in your kitchen? What are you coveting? Please share in comments or chat with us in our Recipe Rescue Facebook group, which is hopping these days!