13 Kitchen gadgets you never knew you needed
Ah, kitchen gadgets. There's nothing quite like getting a kitchen supply catalog in the mail, flipping through it and realizing almost immediately that there are two types of things within its pages: things you will never be able to afford, and things you could afford but would almost certainly never use.
Personally, I'm a pretty big fan of kitchen catalogs. Really, I'm a fan of all catalogs — be they kitchenware or office supply tomes — because I like to dream of a day when I can afford and need industrial-size reams of printer paper or copper-bottomed stockpots. I could spend my entire paycheck on kitchen gadgets alone and have already built an unhealthy collection of measuring cups.
But there are some items even I must draw the line on. These are things that are marketed only to the rich and foolish among us. People of America, hear me! You do not need a cheese curler. No one needs a cheese curler, OK? Here's a whole bunch of other junk you don't need and what you can use instead.
1. This nutmeg grinder, Williams-Sonoma, $30
This falls under the "buy it once, use it basically never" category. Who likes nutmeg this much? More to the point, where does one purchase whole nutmeg? Never mind, don't tell me; nutmeg is gross, and I'd rather not know.
Instead, try this microplane, Amazon.com, $4
If you must wreck up your food with nature's most useless spice, just use this microplane or the smallest blades on whatever cheese grater your Nana bought you when you got your first apartment.
Your savings: $26
2. These meatball tongs, Williams-Sonoma, $13
These tongs were designed to make little round meatballs without getting raw meat under your fingernails. I kind of get it. But unless you're making meatballs every day and are banned from the soap store, it's still not worth it.
Instead, try your hands, sticking off the ends of your arms, $0
Your hands are also capable of making perfectly formed meatballs. Just ask your Gran-Gran, who spent all day making them. You could at least try one. You're so skinny nowadays!
Your savings: $13
3. This spill stopper, Williams-Sonoma, $25
Don't you hate it when the water you start boiling for your pasta bubbles over the top of your pasta pot and falls onto the stove and later evaporates, leaving no trace that it ever happened? It makes you want to run out and get a fancy pot cover, doesn't it?
Instead, try this wooden spoon, Amazon.com, $1
You could use the old wooden spoon trick that people have been using since boiling pots immemorial. Or alternatively, you could just keep your eye on the pot of water.
Your savings: $24
4. These handcrafted measuring spoons, King Arthur Flour, $90
Image: King Arthur Flour
I love all of King Arthur Flour's products, including its bread flour, because it's the real MVP. But these measuring spoons are just bang out of order.
Instead, try these not handcrafted measuring spoons, Amazon.com, $3
You probably already have some, so you might not even have to buy them.
Your savings: $87
5. This thing for ice balls, Brookstone, $400
This ice ball maker is supposed to keep your drinks cold without diluting them too quickly. Personally, I'm a huge fan of just using regular ice cubes and slamming back my drinks before those ice cubes melt, but I'm an uncivilized mess.
Instead, try this thing for ice balls, Amazon.com, $1
Now these are the ice balls for the everyday consumer.
Your savings: $399
6. Basically any honey pot, but especially this one, Nordstrom, $75
Honey pots are unnecessary, and paying extra for a Nambé honey pot is especially unnecessary.
Instead, try squeezing your honey out of a bear's head, like every other self-respecting individual, Walmart, $4
Honey is having a bit of an artisanal moment, but those of us who would rather get our honey out of a container without leaving a trail of sticky broken dreams in its wake are still in luck.
Your savings: $71
7. This "egg minder," Smarthome, $70
This is where smart products really jump the shark. There really does not need to be a product for checking the goodness of eggs when cracking one open will do the trick just fine.
Instead, try reading expiration dates, $0
All you need is eyes!
Your savings: $70
8. An egg cracker, Williams-Sonoma, $24
No, everyone. You do not need a special tool for breaking the shells of eggs. Do not listen to the people who tell you that you do.
Instead, try the edge of a bowl, $0
It might be less pretty, but you can afford it.
Your savings $24
9. An immersion circulator of any kind, Sur La Table, $200
Image: Sur La Table
This is a tool that people who call themselves foodies have been convinced they need ever since they figured out what sous vide was. This tool basically does two things: It heats up some water and churns it around. It's for more evenly cooked soft-boiled eggs or whatever.
Instead, try being less pretentious, $0
Chefs have been cooking sous vide successfully since the 1700s, long before these enormous money-suckers existed.
Your savings: $200
10. Any salt and pepper shakers that might make you sad if they shatter, Nordstrom, $100
These sure are pretty. They also cost as much as a month's worth of electricity.
Instead, try salt and pepper shakers that won't shatter even if you toss them against the wall, Amazon.com, $7
These salt and pepper shakers will never make you sad, assuming you're still one of the people who uses salt and pepper shakers ever.
Your savings: $93
11. A magical butter knife, Sur La Table, $20
Image: Sur La Table
Do you hate it when your cold butter won't go on your warm toast? Me too. That's why, once upon a time, I Googled "can I keep butter out of the fridge," and then didn't spend 20 bucks on a knife that accomplishes the same thing a room temperature countertop does.
Instead, try a regular knife and some patience, Amazon.com, $1
You can get 12 of these bad boys for less than one magic knife. Or, as previously mentioned, you can just not put your butter in the fridge.
Your savings: $19
12. This cheese curler, Sur La Table, $80
Image: Sur La Table
The folks at Sur La Table suggest you use this to curl cheeses you have probably never heard of. Namely, Tête de Moine and Edam. Don't. Don't do that.
Instead, try getting a cheese slicer and a clue, Amazon.com, $10
Sure, the cheese off of this is significantly less curly, but you can use the money you save to do fun things with more delicious cheeses.
Your savings: $70
13. This extremely baller gold-and-diamond cook pot, Fissler, $100K
Image: Fissler Store
I'm not even going to make fun of this luxury cook pot. It is what it is.
Instead, try a relatively cheap but still pretty expensive regular pot, Amazon.com, $30
If you're going to go open stock, buy one of these bad boys, and put the money you would have spent on the baller pot down on a nice house.
Your savings: $99,970