Have you finished your holiday shopping yet?
Are you like me and haven’t even started?
Are we totally battling each other at Target this weekend?
Don’t worry, at least you’ll be armed with an extensive list for the home cook that you need to shop for. And because little to no one has the equivalent of Ina Garten’s expense account (love her), everything on it is super affordable. Like under $25 affordable, with the majority being around $10.
See, I have your back. Now can I have that last stoneware set from your cart?
1) Vanilla beans
These are always a little luxury I never treat myself to but am always happy to receive as a gift. There isn’t anything like a real scraped vanilla bean in homemade ice cream. These beans are practically magic.
2) Microplane zester
Once you’ve gone Microplane, you never go back. I use this on a weekly basis, and have owned it for two years. It’s still sharp as the first day I used it. I also love that I rarely get the bitter pith into whatever I’m using the zest for. Microplane = genius.
3) Oven mitts
Every home cook needs a good pair of oven mitts. There is nothing worse than burning your hands because your oven mitts are pieces of flimsy garbage (yes, that’s how I really feel). Mine are due to be replaced so I can only hope that Santa puts these in my stocking this year.
Spices are great in that they can take you places that you may not normally be able to afford. India? Garam masala. Vietnam? Saigon cinnamon. I personally love to buy from Penzeys, as they’re of great quality and ship practically everywhere.
5) Pyrex small bowls
These bowls are fantastic. They’re great for putting seasonings into so that you can quickly add them to your dish as you cook. I own two right now (the other two didn’t survive my
shoving them in a trash bag ill-packing when moving) but would love to add to the collection. I hope to see them in my stocking this year!
6) Pastry brush
You’d think you’d be able to make due without a pastry brush in the kitchen, and just use your fingers instead. Don’t let your friends use their fingers instead of a pastry brush. They’re better than that.
7) Bench scraper
Now that I own one, I cannot imagine life without it. I use this little tool for scooping up cut veg (scooping up veg with my hands into a knife just creeps me out) and smashing open garlic cloves with. A serious must have.
8 ) Tongs
I’m obsessed with tongs. I use them for everything: grabbing slices of bread I’m toasting in the oven (um, yes, I don’t own a toaster), flipping over kale that’s braising, to moving around potstickers in my pan. Essential.
Like my tongs, a good spatula is worth it’s weight in gold! And like tongs, you want a pair that won’t melt under high heat. Bits of plastic in your food? Gross. I also appreciate a spatula that won’t hang onto the smell of what you were cooking last night, despite how many times you clean it. Unfortunately Giada’s spatula does exactly that. Wamp wamp.
10) Parchment paper
This stuff is great for lining cake pans. I use this every Sunday when I bake a cake for Roo’s school’s “snack time” during the week.
Oh, how I covet the silpat. I’ve used it a few times at friends’ houses but have never bit the bullet on buying myself this. It’s great for throwing veg that you want to roast on to baking cookies. Super easy to clean and affordable! Hey Santa, you listening?
12) Oven thermometer
Another absolute essential. Ovens lie. It’s true, they are the biggest liars. And the best way to find that out is by using an oven thermometer. I found out that my oven loves to run much, much hotter than she tells me. Jerk.
13) Digital thermometer
For the omnivore in your life, or the bread maker, a digital thermometer is so much better than those pesky “old fashioned” ones. I cannot tell you how long I’ve had to wait for a non-digital thermometer tell me what temperature a loaf of bread was, only to be incorrect! This thermometer is instant gratification and has an on/off switch for longer battery life.
14) Candy Thermometer
If you have a friend that’s fantasized about making homemade salted caramels (wait, is that just me?) this is a necessity. You can’t make candy without a thermometer. Without it results in something granulated and scary. It’s not fun friends, not fun.
15) Measuring spoons
I own the saddest set of measuring spoons. They’re plastic and super wide so that I can only fit a half teaspoon or smaller into my spice bottles. These, I think would make any home cook happy. Ohhh stainless steel, novelty!
16) Measuring cups
That goes for the same with measuring cups.
17) Melon baller
You know, you never think you need a melon baller in your kitchen, until you need a melon baller in your kitchen. They’re great for portioning out perfect little mounds of cookie dough before going into the oven as well.
18) Cheese cloth
I used to be that girl that said, “coffee filters do the same job as cheese cloth, why spend the money?” Because I’ll tell you, coffee filters don’t really do the same job. They fall apart on you and you’ll swear. A lot. Do you friend a favor and buy some cheese cloth.
19) Gnocchi board
I’ll admit it, I love the sheer novelty of a gnocchi board. I love how it would look hanging from my walls in my kitchen. Oh so tiny and cute, made of good ol’ wood. But in reality, I’ve made gnocchi once without it and no, a fork does not do the same job (I’m clumsy. If you can do it with a fork, respect.) It was terrible. Get a gnocchi board.
20) Hand juicer
It bums me out to think how much juice I’ve lost out on before I had this hand juicer. It’s super hardy (yes, I’ve leaned practically all my weight on it to get every single drop from the lemon) and easy to clean. Love.
21) Spider strainer
I laughed when my mom told me that I needed a spider strainer when I was building Roo’s kitchen from the ground up. I mean, who needs this ridiculous looking thing? You, your friend, and I do. They’re perfect for scooping up anything you’re boiling in water. Not tongs, not a big spoon where you could accidentally spill hot water on yourself while trying to remove said item from it, but a spider strainer. Mothers are always right.
22) Sushi mat
I’m half Asian. It just so happens that I also own a sushi mat. So should your friend because who doesn’t love going to parties where there’s free sushi?
23) Good set of chopsticks
Like the sushi mat, I also own a nice set of chopsticks (thanks Mom!). The ones you get with restaurant takeout are so not the same. Splinters going everywhere as you try to break them apart, most of the time leaving you one big chopstick and a mutilated little one. No. Invest in a nice set where you can eat your food like a real human being. (Note: Japanese chopsticks have a pointier end, versus Chinese. If you like blunt end chopsticks, then go for Chinese.)
24) Wooden spoon/stirrer
There’s just something classic about stirring risotto with a wooden spoon/stirrer. Plus, you get to threaten your kids with it if they misbehave. I kid, I kid.
25) Donation to your local food bank in their name
*I want to thank Kelly for helping me with this list! I hit a total mental roadblock and she came to my aid. Thank you!
**All these photos are from Amazon.com