Outfitting your home kitchen can get expensive. To save on costs, you may try to buy the least expensive versions of items like pots and pans. However, this strategy can cost you in the long run. The cheap versions of these products tend to wear out faster, leaving you to spend more money replacing them. There are definitely places where you can skimp; nobody needs $30 measuring spoons, for example. However, there are six kitchen supplies for which it is absolutely worth splurging for the good version.
1. A Stand Mixer
A stand mixer is so much easier to use than a basic hand mixer. These mixers also come with better attachments, like dough hooks, which allow you to make other things like pizza dough and bread dough. Look for a professional-quality stand mixer at a local store that sells bakery supplies. For around $500, you can get a mixer that will literally last you the rest of your life. Such mixers are also easy to repair, and parts are readily available if you do have an issue.
2. Baking Sheets
You might want a few cheap casserole dishes that you can use for sticky, cheesy dishes that will undoubtedly make a mess in your pan. But these cheap dishes will not cut it for items like cookies, brownies, and breads. These items need to bake at a stable temperature, and cheap baking sheets do not heat evenly. If you want un-burned cookies and baked goods, look for high-quality, stainless steel baking sheets. The thicker they are, the better! You can find quarter-sheet and half-sheet size ones at most bakery supply stores. Buy a few of each for versatility.
Cheap thermometers are often inaccurate. Since you rely on your thermometer to tell you when your meat is done—and undercooked meat can make you sick—you really do not want to risk it here. Spend the money on a high-end thermometer so you can always be confident in its reading. You don't necessarily need a digital read-out or a hands-free remote, although these features are nice. A good-quality stick thermometer will do the job.
4. A Chef's Knife
Good knives are really expensive, and a full set may be completely out of your price range. However, if you can splurge on just one good chef's knife, you will be most of the way there. You can use a chef's knife for almost everything except paring, so you will be happy with this purchase every time you go to cut something and feel how smoothly your knife slides through it.
5. A Corkscrew
If you are a wine drinker, definitely invest in a good-quality corkscrew. Nothing is more annoying than struggling with a faulty corkscrew for 15 minutes, only to have the cork break off in the bottle anyways. A good corkscrew will make it easier to entertain and will prevent you from having chunks of cork floating in your wine.
6. A Skillet
Again, buying a whole set of high-end pans will be expensive. But you will want to splurge on one really nice skillet. You can use this skillet to make everything from grilled cheese to stir fry. Look for one with a copper core and stainless steel interior. The copper holds the heat really well, and the stainless steel is basically impossible to damage, no matter what utensils you use in the pan.
If you splurge on the six kitchen items above, you can buy the cheaper versions of most everything else. Your kitchen will be well equipped for success, and you'll enjoy cooking and serving your guests.