The "Don't Buy" List For A Low-Budget Kitchen

Readers, once again, thank you for indulging me while I take a bit of a break from writing to work on other projects. In the meantime, enjoy this post from CK's archives.

Everybody has a high-cost/high-quality item in their kitchen that they love and use to death. For us, it's a couple of relatively expensive knives that we've used so many times that we've amortized their per-use cost practically to zero.

But let's be honest: Everybody also has a few high-cost items in their kitchen that they hardly use at all. An expensive device bought in a fit of enthusiasm that now sits solitary, sad and forgotten in some dark, dusty corner of your kitchen.

There's no greater waste than a cooking tool you never use--especially if it's expensive. So my goal with this post is to create a list of "don't buy" items for those newer cooks and homeowners looking to set up their kitchen on a budget. I want to help you avoid the costly mistakes made by the rest of us.

And here's where Casual Kitchen's more experienced readers--those of us who have been cooking for a number of years--can share their mistakes. What items did we buy in the past that seemed like a neat idea at the time, but turned out to be a complete waste of money?

With that in mind, here's a list of items that you can reliably avoid buying when setting up your kitchen. By avoiding (or at least deferring) the purchase of the following items, you can save literally thousands of dollars--without compromising in any way your ability to cook healthy, delicious meals at home. What would you add to this list?

The "Don't Buy" List For a Simple Startup Kitchen

* Fine China
* Silver or silver-plated utensils
* Motorized items that do things that smaller, simpler and cheaper manual items do (electric can openers, electric jar-openers, etc.)
* Fragile glassware
* Costly celebrity chef-endorsed cookware of any sort
* Espresso/Cappuccino makers
* Obscure staple foods (examples: kamut flour, Lebanese couscous, einkorn pasta, etc.)
* Cast-iron cookware
* Unitaskers (items with just one usually obscure function, such as cherry pitters, bagel cutters, egg-prickers, etc.)

Readers, here's where you come in: What cooking tools would you add to this list? What items have you bought or considered buying that are worth avoiding or deferring?

Related Posts:
Mastering Kitchen Setup Costs
How to Tell if a Recipe is Worth Cooking With Five Easy Questions
Six Secrets to Save You from Cooking Burnout
How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Cooking
Cooking Like the Stars? Don't Waste Your Money
A Recession-Proof Guide to Saving Money on Food

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humantorch said...

Great article and a super important concept, especially when looking at "single use items." The one item from your list I'd like to challenge is cast iron cookware, though – cast iron pans (when maintained properly) are practically indestructible, will last several generations, and are far superior to anything in the same price range.

Marcia said...

I was going to double down on the cast iron. I have a sister who is addicted to the stuff. I don't love it, but I do have two good cast iron pans.

My neighbor JUST bought a cherry pitter. Man, she loves that thing. She offered to pit cherries for me for fun! I'm not a huge fan of cherries though. I should buy some now that they are on sale though, have her pit them, and freeze them for smoothies.

Anonymous said...

I would say an immersion blender or anything shown for sale on TV. I have acquired great stuff at garage sales and Goodwill that are basically unused so if you think you really need to have it, try looking second-hand. You would be amazed at how many George Forman grills are there.

M2B said...

A lot depends on what you often make. Big food processor is not needed here. Egg slicer and egg pricker have been very useful for many years. Wooden spoons. A grater. Cast iron was a pain. A good flat whisk was a wonderful investment - worked a charm and easy to clean. :)