Cooking at home is often an adventure. You’re trying new recipes, new skills, and flavors, and you’re doing it all by hand. We’ve all been there at some point, but some key tools can help you improve your cooking game. And the best part? They’re pretty cheap.

Let’s talk about some of the best affordable kitchen gadgets you could use as a home cook. We also included a couple videos that will offer other great kitchen gadget ideas as well.

Tools and Gadgets

There’s a lot of gimmicky kitchen gadgets out there. You know the type…They were advertised on late night and early morning infomercials, showing how it’s so hard to hold items, cut basic fruits and veggies, and the like. But others hold genuine value because of the money and time they’ll save you in the long run.

Knife Care

I firmly believe that the most important tool any cook can have is their knife. That’s not to say that you need a fancy, expensive knife. It means that taking proper care of your knives will serve you better than any specialty blade will.

Now let’s clarify one thing, the rods you see TV chefs running along their blades are not sharpeners. These are called honing rods and they have a very simple, but very important purpose.

Their job is to straighten your blade, which improves the lifespan and performance of your knife. You see, knives tend to get tiny, often imperceptible bends and chips in the blade.

While a sharpener will make your blade sharp (also important), the honer will keep your blade straight, meaning your cuts will travel more easily in a straight line.

A honing rod will generally only cost you $8 for a cheap one, which honestly does the job. You can certainly invest in an expensive rod (especially if you have expensive knives), but it may not be worth it.

Simply hone your knife every two or three uses (more often if you’re a pro who uses their knife constantly) and you’re set. Just run the blade along the rod ten times on each side (so 20 total) and then put it away—easy!

Waking Up

If you’ve ever met a chef, you know we love our coffee. You also likely know that coffee is expensive, and line cooks don’t get paid very well—so how do we afford our black ambrosia?

The answer is a cold brew machine. One of these will cost you roughly two weeks’ worth of Starbucks frappuccinos ($50-100). The upside, however, is that you’ll never have to buy an expensive cold brew again.

The concept of cold brew is simple; treat it like normal coffee, but let it steep overnight in the fridge with cold water. This results in a more flavorful, less acidic iced coffee that won’t impact your stomach as heavily.

And the best part? You get to tailor your coffee to your tastes. You pick the beans and steep length, meaning you get to decide how strong it is and how it tastes. A bonus is that you can even make coffee concentrate. This is, in short, extremely concentrated and strong coffee.

If you go the coffee concentrate route, you’ll need to use more coffee, but you’ll have the strongest brew you’ve ever made in return.

This means that you can take two ounces of coffee and add 12+ ounces of milk, water, and sweetener and it’ll still be strong enough to keep you going all day.

Another great benefit of this is that you can use the coffee concentrate to make glazes, sauces, and marinades for countless meals. Trust me—a coffee, maple glaze on pork is to die for. Now get experimenting!

Blending In

The final kitchen gadget I can’t recommend enough is a NutriBullet Pro blender. These guys are awesome for several reasons.

They’re a blender like most others, with one twist: its blending container is a 16 or 32-ounce cup. This allows you to make drinks and smoothies in their cup, finely cut veggies and fruit, and even grind coffee for your cold brew maker.

Their versatility is wonderful, but the best part for those in small apartments will be their size. This is easily taken apart and stored in a small cupboard or even bag if you want to travel with it.

They will generally run you roughly $100, but they’re worth every penny. They perform similarly to a VitaMix (the number one choice of blender for professional cooks and chefs) for a quarter of the price.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of kitchen gadgets out there, but only a few of them are truly worth your time and money.

This means that the gadgets listed above are worth their weight in gold if only for the fact that they’ll save you massive amounts of time and money in the long run. Each has its own place, but with a bit of creativity, you can find countless uses for them.

A honing rod will keep your favorite knife in the game for much longer, and while it’s nice to sharpen your knives every year, it’s realistically more important to hone them than sharpen.

A NutriBullet will outshine your old blender and take up drastically less space—all while giving the versatility of a smoothie machine and food processor in one small package.

And a cold brew machine can do more than just make coffee. Try using your coffee concentrate to make syrups, glazes, and marinades for meat, desserts, and veggies and you’ll be shocked at how great it turns out.

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