There are a great many products that will put dinner on the table. Some are very expensive and well worth the premium. But most of what you need is not. Especially if you're looking for an item that has a singular, specific function or won't make its way out of your kitchen drawer that often, it's ok to skimp on price. And you can still get some really quality kitchen tools for $25 or less.
Brands like Cuisinart, Oxo, Hamilton Beach and others specialize in affordable cookware and kitchen accessories, from skillets to knives to the cutting boards you use them on. Additionally, big retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond are great places to find these staples and they conveniently hold frequent sales so you can make your purchases for even less.
Consider this collection of kitchen products under $25 the bare minimum necessities of your kitchen. They might not look pretty but they always come through.
Food Storage Bags
To start with the absolute basics, this set of plastic bags from Target gives you five handy sizes in one container that is perfect for fitting neatly in a kitchen drawer. If you want to go the reusable route, Amazon has a variety of options, like this 10-pack from Qinline that is a good substitute at $13.
Lodge 10.5-Inch Cast-Iron Skillet
As nice as it is to have a machined-down, hand-cast cast-iron skillet, you don’t need one to perform the skillet’s most sacred task: the sear. This one is cheap and smooth enough, though if you’re really industrious, you can slap some low-grit sandpaper on an orbital sander and go to town (yes, this actually sort of works). We know its MSRP of $30 doesn't exactly meet the $25 limit, but Lodge cookware is frequently if not almost always on sale — you just need to know where to look.
Oxo Good Grips Multi-Purpose Kitchen and Herbs Scissors
Kitchen shears are a handy way to snip, trim and cut through cardboard, twine, meat, vegetables and everything else in your kitchen.
Eagmak 15-Piece Kitchen Utensil Set
Yes, you read that right. You can get this 15-piece set, 11 of which are essential utensils, for only $25. If you're starting from scratch in your kitchen this is a great starter pack, including spoons, spatulas, a whisk, tongs and more. Plus, the set comes with its own convenient stand.
ChoiceHD 32 oz. Deli Container
Restaurant kitchens are littered with these containers and for good reason. They’re cheap and durable, and they can store just about everything. Because they’re translucent you can easily see what’s inside, but be sure to label all your containers so you know exactly what it is and how long it’s been in there.
Ikea 365+ Grater
Clever, cheap and effective. Ikea’s handheld grater is like a bigger, more aggressive Microplane. Buy the matching container so all your gratings collect neatly in a bin.
Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler
This peeler is the go-to for some of the best chefs in the world. It’s a fast-working, easy-to-handle masterpiece. Just make sure you get it completely dry before tossing it in a drawer — the grooves in the blade are prone to holding water droplets.
Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster
You might have to shell out a little more to get one of the best toasters you can buy, but if you're not planning to use it every day then it will do the job. Plus, Hamilton Beach does make quality and affordable toasters that will do the trick, and you really can't beat the price.
Choice Standard Weight Stainless Steel 5-Set Mixing Bowls
A fundamental piece of any active kitchen. These restaurant-quality mixing bowls are absolute workhorses, and their range of sizes makes them incredibly versatile for every task. And at $2 a pop, no less!
Pulltap Double-Hinged Waiter’s Corkscrew
Stab, three turns, pull, done. The classic waiter’s corkscrew isn’t as cool as the electric or weirdly complex box set varieties, but it’s faster and no less effective. And if it matters at all, it’s also the choice wine opener of Food & Wine.
Hotec Stainless Steel Tongs
Here you have tongs in two sizes that require virtually no care or attention. Their silicon grips run a bit further up the sides of the tong so a more choked-up grip is possible should you need it for heavier flips.
Lavatool Digital Instant Read Thermometer
At this point I hope you’ve had someone tell you to cook to temperature and not to time, but if they haven’t, here’s your PSA: heat sources vary dramatically, and the internal temperature of meat at proper doneness does not. Get this thin thermometer that checks the core temperature in five seconds or less. It’ll make you a better cook.
Korin Ganji Kankiri Can Opener
This is an absurdly affordable, no-bullshit Japanese can opener with no swinging parts or annoying cranks or tiny areas for food particles to get stuck in. Take it from chef Katie Button: “This is the best all-purpose can opener ever. It will open anything, and any shape can — square, rectangular, oval or round.”
Microplane Classic Zester & Grater
Originally designed as woodworking tools, the Microplane reigns supreme in the world of zested and fine grating. And it's pretty affordable too.
Reynolds Kitchens Unbleached Parchment Paper
You’re playing yourself if you’re baking cookies right on top of your sheet pan. Parchment paper makes for quicker cleanups, and it can be used as a tool for steaming as well.
Mits don’t work. They make fumbling dishes you spend hours on way too close to a reality, and frankly they’re not even all that great at controlling temperature transfer. The Ove Glove allows you to use the appendages you’ve got, and it’s recommended by people who are working in settings far hotter than any you’ll ever have to manage.
Harold Import Company, Inc Stainless Steel Drainer
If you want to save money and space, this handy tool acts as a full-size colander but takes up a fraction of the space. Just hold it to the side of your pot and you can drain what's inside without dirtying another vessel. But don't forget to be very careful not to burn yourself.
Pyrex 6-Piece Food Storage
Though many have tried, none have unseated Pyrex from its place as the choice for durable food storage that resists cracking and warping through ovens, freezers and everything in between.
Zeroll Original Ice Cream Scoop
When it comes to ice cream, you want a scoop that’s built from a solid piece — the more levers, cranks and swingy arm things happening, the more rust and the more chance of it falling apart in the future. This one has no finery or other such things, and it is usable for righties and lefties. If you need more proof, then check out your local ice cream shop. Chances are they're using a Zeroll.
Cuisinart 8-Inch Stainless Steel Skillet
We wouldn’t normally recommend skimping on cookware and other things you’re going to be bringing to high temperatures frequently, but this stainless steel skillet from Cuisinart is spacious and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Oxo Good Grips 2-Piece Cutting Board Set
The best cutting boards check four boxes: they stick to the countertop, they don’t bend and warp in the dishwasher, they’re cheap and they’re plastic. Do away with wood cutting boards; they’re breeding grounds for bacteria and god knows what else. They’re also stupidly expensive for what they are. But Oxo’s are affordable and you get two in this set — one for raw meats and the other for everything else.
Made In Sheet Pan
Odds are your sheets pans are total garbage — too light, scratch easily and warp with heat. Luckily, upgrades come cheap in the world of sheet pans. Case in point this half sheet pan from the esteemed cookware brand Made In. If you want the nonstick version it will cost you $10 more, but if it's worth sticking to your budget this pan will perform quite nicely and last a long time.
Cuisinart 12-Piece Knife Set
As an owner of these knives myself, they're no Tojiro DP Gyutou (our top pick for best kitchen knife), but they are very sharp and insanely affordable at $15 for 6 knives plus covers. And the set offers a range of shapes and sizes, so you'll be able to handle pretty much any chopping task in the kitchen.
Carote Nonstick Fry Pan
It's no All-Clad stainless steel fry pan, but it's got over $30,000 5-star reviews on Amazon, which is no small feat. This pan has a slick nonstick surface and a nice speckled exterior that makes it look stylish and definitely more expensive than $20.
Oxo Good Grips Chopper
If chopping is your least favorite activity, you're not alone. It causes you to dirty a knife and a cutting board plus it takes time (and possibly tears if you're dealing with an onion). Take away the headache and go for this nifty chopper from Oxo that'll get the job done in minutes if not seconds. Plus, it's conveniently dishwasher safe.