My kitchen is a happy place... but it wasn't always. It took years of trial, error, and mostly accidental discoveries to get my kitchen to be a place I liked to be in. And while certainly some of my bigger items have made it that way — my mixer, my fancy knives, my food processor — it's also the little gadgets and hacks that have made me comfortable in a culinary environment. So I'd like to share the
kitchen items parents need under $25, because it doesn't take a lot of money to make a big difference.
Because a huge thing to know about these little hacks and doodads is that I've often latched onto them with kids in mind, both raising them and raising them to be self-sufficient grown-ups who know how to adult. Growing up I didn't take much interest in cooking, and I think my mom was very happy to have one room in the house her many children didn't invade. But the lack of experience definitely made me self-conscious as I got older — my 20s was very much one extended "
what does fold in the cheese mean" moment, and I would never wish that on my kids. But that, I realize, starts with me, so I do my best to encourage them in the kitchen.
Many of these items are ones that will nudge your kids toward kitchen competence... and all of them will make your life easier, because you deserve it.
1 Peel Garlic In Seconds
This baby has given me a new lease on life! Growing up in an Italian household, peeling garlic was the kitchen task given to the kids because even though it's easy, it's tedious as hell. But with this beauty, just press down on a clove of garlic and give it a roll. The skin will come off quickly and easily, keeping the garlic clove whole! Best of all, it's so easy a toddler can do it, which will encourage your kid to
want to help out making dinner! This offer comes with two: one for you and one for your kiddo. Or give one to a friend to spread the good word about this magical item. 2 The Garlic Guillotine
Consider this product the sequel to the garlic peeler: the garlic chopper for the varsity level garlic master! Sure, it's not hard to chop garlic, but it's hard to chop uniformly, and it's very hard (and dangerous) for a kid to chop garlic. With this, simply put the garlic over one of two sets of blades and press down. Chopped (or sliced) garlic is collected in a removable cup and can be put in your recipe. My kids
love using this thing, which they call the "garlic guillotine." 3 Kid-Approved Produce Spinner
This gadget is a tried an true favorite — your mom might have had one when you were growing up! Simply put your wet, hard to dry produce in the basket, push down on the pump, and it spins, wicking water and ending soggy salad for good. This is a great item in and of itself but feels toy-like for kids of every age, so it will encourage them to get more involved in the kitchen
4 Cell Phone Stand For Those Online Recipes
Can I tell you how many times I've had to go back and forth between a recipe on my phone and the recipe itself? Or how many times I've precariously propped my phone against an onion or bottle of olive oil in an attempt to follow along hands-free, only for it to fall over? For under $20 this is just not a problem anymore. This cell phone stand comes in three colors (black, white, and pink), is well-rated by Amazon users, and adjustable so you don't have to worry about getting a new one when you upgrade your phone or switch over to a tablet.
5 The Ultimate Corn Peeler
When this baby makes an appearance at a cookout (and it makes an appearance at
all my cookouts), it always starts a conversation. "What is this? What does it do?" It's a corn peeler, which neatly and quickly gets corn off the cob because I am a civilized person who doesn't care for the feeling of corn stuck in my teeth, thank you very much!
But even if you
do, for reasons I can't fathom, like picking corn out of your teeth all night, it's still useful for when you need fresh corn in a recipe or salad. 6 Spray Bottles For Fresh Produce
"Why a spray bottle?" you may ask. Allow me to give you one of my best kitchen hacks ever — I keep an ordinary spray bottle of lemon juice in my fridge at all times. It started when my kids' apple slices were turning brown in their lunch bags. I heard dipping them in lemon juice would prevent oxidization, but who wants to spend their morning doing that. Enter the spray bottle! A few quick spritzes and those apples stay fresh. (It also works on leftover avocados or guacamole!)
Since then, I've found a spritz of lemon juice on vegetables like green beans and broccoli can make them more palatable for picky eaters. This is another item that kids will have fun using and can help get them involved in preparing their meals.
7 How To Avoid Stale Chips & Save Kid Artwork
Look, you need fridge magnets, you need chip clips: boom! A two-fer. But here's why I'm specifically recommending
these magnetic clips — the broad clip surface is especially good for hanging up kid's art. (I find the more common, narrower magnetic clips aren't as supportive and you need two.) 8 Tiny Spatulas For Scraping The Tiniest Peanut Butter Leftovers
Mini spatulas are great for mini hands (and Williams Sonoma has lots of kid-friendly designs on this item and others like it: check website and stores for availability!) but this item is
a lifesaver when it comes to the last bits of peanut butter, Greek yogurt, or jam out of a jar. When your peanut butter and jelly bill is as high as mine, you really want to make sure you're getting every last drop out of those containers! 9 A Journal For All Your Meal Ideas
This meal planning journal from Plum Paper has been a game changer in my house. Weekly menus and shopping lists broken up by category makes planning, prep, and shopping easier. AND! It's customizable, so you can choose from dozens of patterns and even personalize with a name or monogram.
10 Goggles For Chopping Onions
Bet you didn't think these would come in handy after your final science class! But they're
perfect for chopping onions in. I am not kidding. No need to get goggles made specifically for onions: these work just fine. No tears while chopping! (Bonus, my kids think this is hilarious.) 11 A Ball Whisk Because, Honestly, It's Just Easier To Clean
Another item that dazzles folks whenever they see it. Honestly, I'm sure chefs and baking whizzes can tell you the particular instances that call for a ball whisk as opposed to the more common balloon whisk, but my litmus is "when I don't want to spend extra time cleaning the gunk out of a balloon whisk," which is basically all the time because I have two children who provide sufficient messes for me to deal with.
12 An Ice Cube Tray That Won't Spill Everywhere
I'll pitch the usefulness of this product via a scene from my kitchen.
Son: Ooh! Can I refill the ice cube tray?
Me: OK, I guess you do need to learn.
Son: *spills water absolutely everywhere*
And scene. That's not a problem with this thanks to the handy little silicone lid.
13 A Veggie Scrubber Even Your Kids Can Use
Remember that viral video a while ago where a guy demonstrated about a pound of wax being melted off an apple? It was a hoax, but the truth is apples
do have a layer of wax on them that you can eat but it's probably better not to. Enter the fruit and veggie scrub brush: it's not quite as abrasive as a dish brush, but it will get off wax, dirt, and various other schumtz you don't want you or your kids' digesting. Moreover, cleaning fruits and vegetables is an easy, generally mess-free task to give kids who want to "help." (Dare we dream it will make them interested in eating more of them...?) 14 Snack Bags You Can Save
A great alternative to disposable plastic bags in your kid's lunch box (I always feel guilty) or for home storage. They're super easy to clean — just toss them in the dishwasher! They can also be microwaved and frozen.
15 Lids So You Don't Have To Fight With Cling-Wrap
Ever wonder where all your various lids go? I feel like they must run away with all the missing socks and mittens. Fortunately these stretchy lids are an excellent answer to those missing lids
and to plastic wrap! Microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe, use these to form a tight seal on a all your open containers to save them for later. 16 A Miniature Version Of Yourself To Clean Microwave Splatters
"Ummm... why do you want me to buy a weird little doll for my kitchen?"
Because this is no doll! Put water, vinegar, and a dash of lemon juice (perhaps from your spray bottle?) in her head and pop her in the microwave for seven minutes to steam-clean your dirty microwave without scrubbing! Her arms stay cool so you can take it out without scalding yourself. Then just pop her in the dishwasher for easy cleaning. Or better yet? Make your kid do all of this! (They'll probably think it's funny.)
17 An Olive Oil Bottle You Can Actually Hold
Fun Fact: light can damage the integrity of olive oil!
Another fun fact: trying to pour a massive container of olive oil (which is how I invariable buy it) is cumbersome.
I solve both problems by keeping a smaller, dark-colored container on the counter at all times. I can refill it as necessary and it's always out and handy for cooking!
18 Ramekins To Trick Your Child Into Thinking They're Getting Giant Servings
"Why would I need ramekins? I have plenty of bowls!"
OK, let me ask
you a question. How many times have you given your child a perfectly generous serving of ice cream in those bowls that they look at and say "tHAt'S tOo LiTtLE!" And, try though you may, they cannot understand that, no, it's plenty, it's just the bowl that's very big.
Enter the ramekin. A serving of ice cream (or cereal, or yogurt, or goldfish crackers, etc.) look like a feast. Your child thanks you for your magnanimous serving sizes. You are a genius.
19 So You Can Stop Panicking About Where You Put Your Ring
Look, I've never
lost a ring in the kitchen, but I can't tell you how many times I thought I lost a ring in the kitchen because I couldn't remember which spot I put them in. The stress of that panic, however momentary, has probably taken years off my life. A life, I'll add, which has gotten much better since spending the few buck on a specific spot to put my rings, every time, no excuses. (Plus: who doesn't love narwhals?!) 20 Matching Aprons So You & Your Kid Can Be Wholesome Twins
Look, I will level with you: you don't
need this. But it's useful, adorable, available in multiple patterns, and for under $20 you can have a cute cooking moment with your kid immortalized forever on Instagram.