11 Kitchen Tools You Don't Really Need

Woman's Day

Save money (and cabinet space!) by discovering new uses for your old kitchen standbys.

Electric Griddle with Bacon
Photo: iStock

These days, it seems like every recipe requires its own special pot, pan or gadget. But do you really need a panini press, mandoline or other expensive gadget just to try out a new dish? Not only does it make you hesitant to experiment in the kitchen, it can also get pretty costly.

Tired of shelling out on kitchen equipment—however handy it may be—we turned to Kate Merker, food & nutrition director for Woman's Day, and Cynthia B. Keller, a chef instructor at Culinary Institute of America, for advice on how to use what you already have in your cabinets to achieve what one of these specialty cooking tools can do. The results: A win-win for your pocket book and dinner table.

Electric Griddle

Griddles are great for pancakes and fried eggs because they have a big, flat surface to cook on. However, their size (which ranges from 20"x10" to 23"x17") make them a beast when it comes to counter space and storage. But a cast iron skillet with a flat bottom will do the trick since it doesn’t warp when you put it on the stove, and you’ll get a relatively even heat conduction, according to Keller. Plus, she adds, “If well-conditioned, they become naturally non-stick.” In a pinch, a sauté pan would also work, she says, but they are prone to getting a hump in the middle, which will cause uneven shapes and heating.

More from
Woman's Day:

10 Common Cooking Mistakes -- Solved!

Exercise Tips for Beginners

Electric Steamer
Photo: Shutterstock

Electric Steamer

A steamer is a terrific way to cook vegetables without adding fat, but there’s no need to add one to your already-crammed cupboard. Instead, simply place a wire mesh strainer or metal colander directly inside your cooking pot filled with water. If your lid won't fit after placing either inside, place a piece of aluminum foil over the top and seal it around the pot. Note: Be sure the strainer or colander is heat-safe or made with stainless steel (it should be clearly labeled). If you’re not sure what the material is, you should avoid using a strainer or colander for this type of preparation because it may contain lead solder, which can leech into your food.

Funnel
Photo: Shutterstock

Funnel

It only takes one mess to learn that, if a recipe calls for a funnel, you should use it. The trouble is, you never know exactly what size you’ll need and storing larger diameter funnels is a pain. Fortunately, it’s a breeze to construct a makeshift one. For wet ingredients, trim off the bottom section of an empty plastic soda bottle (about 3 inches down from where the neck slopes) and turn it upside down. This will work for practically anything except when you’re home canning jellies or jams, as the high temperature can cause the plastic to warm and become misshapen. For dry ingredients, create a simple cone shape from parchment or wax paper, holding it in place or taping the sides.

Juice Reamer
Photo: Joan Vicent Canta Roig/Thinkstock

Juice Reamer

When a recipe calls for fresh-squeezed juice, forget a reamer or handheld juicer—simply use a large pair of tongs (about 6- to 8-in long). Place a halved citrus fruit into the V-shape near the hinge along the top of the tongs and squeeze the handles together.

Mandoline
Photo: iStock

Mandoline

A mandoline will give you precision when slicing fruits and vegetables—but it’s expensive and can be dangerous if you don’t know how to handle it properly. Instead, use a vegetable peeler. It may not be as quick or uniform in slicing, but you can still achieve paper-thin slices and long curls of vegetables or fruit peels. For maximum efficacy and control, find one with a handle that comfortably fits your hand, and (carefully) slice towards the body.

Meat Mallet
Photo: Shutterstock

Meat Mallet

If you like chicken rollups and veal scaloppini, a mallet is a must—but instead of keeping this Medieval-looking device around just to occasionally pound out some meat, go for a small sauté pan instead. Sandwich the meat between two layers of plastic cling wrap and have at it with your makeshift mallet. Keller likes to use an 8- or 9-in pan, because it has “a nice, broad flat surface and hits the meat evenly.” You could also use the sides of a heavy can wrapped in plastic, but a sauté pan will be easier to handle.

Panini Press
Photo: Shutterstock

Panini Press

A sauté pan won’t give you those signature grill lines, but it will provide all the toasty, gooey sandwiches you can handle—without spending $40+ on a bulky, one-use gadget. Start with a sauté pan that's clean and not made of copper (which oxidizes). Put your panini in it and place a heavy cast iron skillet on top in order to press the sandwich down; flip your sandwich over once the bread is toasted. If you don't have a cast iron skillet, place a sauté pan on top, weighing it down with three or four large cans (around 28 oz) of soup or vegetables. Another option is to place an aluminum foil-covered brick on top of the panini in lieu of another pan.

Pastry Bag
Photo: Thinkstock

Pastry Bag

Unless you’re piping an intricate design or delicate embellishments, skip the pastry bag (which is a bear to clean) and opt for a zip-top plastic bag that you can toss when done. Small sandwich bags break easily, so it’s best to use a gallon-size, heavy-duty freezer-safe bag. Like you would a pastry bag, add the frosting or filling (about halfway up or less), press it down gently into one bottom corner and twist the leftover bag at top to close it off. Snip the corner off as desired (the higher up you cut, the bigger the line will be) and pipe away.

Roasting Rack
Photo: iStock

Roasting Rack

Great as it may be for cooking fowl, the roasting rack doesn’t get much play beyond Thanksgiving. Skip the hassle (and cost) by creating a small ring or S-shape “snake” out of rolled foil that’s about 1/2-in thick. Place it in an aluminum roaster pan and then set your bird on top of it. For an even easier option, layer chopped onions, carrots and celery on the bottom of a pan, about 1/2- to 1-in deep, and set your bird on top. It’s just enough room to let the air circulate—with the added benefit of roasted vegetables for later.

Rolling Pin
Photo: Thinkstock

Rolling Pin

Unlike some other items on the list, a rolling pin isn’t usually pricey. But it does take up space and, unless you love to bake, it’s seldom used. In its place, wrap a wine bottle (full or empty) with plastic cling wrap and work away as you would with a pin. The wrap will keep it from sticking and prevents a full-bottle from getting messy. If you’re working with dough for pie or shortbread cookies, ensure it stays cool by using a full bottle that’s been chilling in the fridge for a bit.

Wok
Photo: Shutterstock

Wok

A wok retains heat well and provides a lot of surface area for quick-cooking meats and veggies. However, its 14" diameter makes storage a challenge while the bowl shape limits its usage. A large sauté pan works just as well for stir-fries and can be used for many other types of dishes. Keller advises picking up one that has a clad bottom and good weight to it, which will “hold the heat nice and high, and disperse it evenly.” Avoid lightweight, non-stick pans, which won’t conduct heat well enough.

More from Woman's Day:

8 Ingenious Cooking Gadgets

9 Fast Food Beverages to Avoid

16 Best Fall Fashion Finds!

3 Age-Defying Hairstyles

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Authorities: Trooper was shot by driver who caused rollover

      PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona state trooper who was beaten and shot while responding to a traffic collision on Interstate 10 was attacked by a Mexican man who was responsible for the one-vehicle rollover, authorities said.

      Associated Press
    • Pictures of Mcdonald's new Big Macs are already sweeping the internet

      People across the country are already stumbling across McDonald's (MCD) all new Big Macs, which were originally unveiled last November and scheduled for an early 2017 launch.  The Grand Mac, which rests on a larger sesame seed bun, is made with two beef patties that weigh in at one-third of a pound compared to a traditional Big Mac, which has two, 1.6-ounce beef patties. Think of this one as a supersized Big Mac. The Mac Jr. is a essentially a single-layer Big Mac, which may be more ideal for the hands of kids (great news, right?).  Each sandwich has the traditional Big Mac sauce.  McDonald's started testing the Grand Mac and Mac Jr. in more than 120 restaurants in the central Ohio and Dallas

      The Street q
    • Pakistani mother sentenced to death for daughter's 'honour killing'

      A mother who murdered her own daughter and set her alight for marrying the man of her choice has been sentenced to death, officials said Tuesday, in a case that had revolted many in Pakistan. Zeenat Bibi, aged 16, was doused with kerosene and set alight in June last year in Pakistan's teeming cultural capital Lahore, a little over a week after she wed 20-year-old motorcycle mechanic Hasan Khan against her family's wishes. A judge in an anti-terror court in Lahore sentenced her mother Perveen Bibi to death on murder and terrorism charges, prosecutor Mian Mohammad Tufail told AFP.

      AFP
    • Father Who Raised Kidnapped Florida Infant for 18 Years Speaks Out: ‘She’s Still My Child’

      Kamiyah Mobley, the 18-year-old who was abducted as a newborn from a Florida hospital and raised by her kidnapper in a South Carolina home, may have reunited with her biological parents over the weekend — but the man who she called “dad” for her whole life says he’ll always be her father. In a new interview with ABC News, Charles Manigo is opening up about the harsh reality of knowing the girl he believed to be his own daughter for 18 years was really another couple’s child. Mobley was only hours old on July 10, 1998 when authorities say her alleged abductor Gloria Williams posed as a health care worker and took her from a Jacksonville, Florida, hospital maternity ward.

      People
    • Aaron Rodgers’s Family Finally Speaks Out About Estrangement

      On last season’s The Bachelorette, viewers were let in on Rodgers family secrets. Winner Jordan Rodgers is the younger brother of NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Jordan let his now fiancé, JoJo Fletcher, in on the fact that Aaron has not spoken to their family in years.

      Yahoo Celebrity
    • A ring of 50 Chinese factories making fake, toxic brand name sauces has been discovered

      Another food scandal has been uncovered in China. A group of some 50 factories have been found to be manufacturing artificial sauces and flavourings, some with illegal ingredients, in the Chinese city of Tianjin, the Beijing News reports. SEE ALSO: Chinese regulators: Alibaba fails to block fake goods, faces 'credibility crisis' The investigative report revealed that the products were being falsely labelled as popular brands such as Nestlé, Knorr and Lee Kum Kee. It appears that one of the Nestlé products they were counterfeiting is Maggi seasoning sauce, commonly found in Asian supermarkets. Knorr is owned by Unilever, and makes chicken cubes and condiments; Lee Kum Kee is a well-known Hong

      Mashable q
    • Michael Bourn could help solve the Tigers’ center field problem

      Good news: spring training is less than a month away! While other teams are still searching to fill major holes in their lineups, the Detroit Tigers’ roster is almost set. It has been for months now, with the Alex Avila signing the only major move the Tigers have made since early November. Other teams need a fifth starter; Tigers fans are simply hoping their team picks the right fifth starter. Unfortunately, the Tigers still have a hole in center field. General manager Al Avila hinted that the Tigers might not sign a free agent before the start of spring training, but called it “a work in progress.” While this sounds an awful lot like a man who has already penciled in Anthony Gose as the Opening

      Bless You Boys q
    • How Much Money Does the Average American Have in Their Bank Account?

      Curious as to whether you're keeping up with the Joneses? Here's how much the average American has in their bank account and savings account.

      The Cheat Sheet q 24 min ago
    • Sasha Obama and Joe Biden’s granddaughter apparently went on a Miami vacation together, and yes, we’re jealous

      Saying goodbye to the Obama presidency has been pretty overwhelming for us, so we can’t even imagine all the emotions his family…

      Hello Giggles
    • 'Nature at its best:' Giant gator spotted at Florida nature center

      Floridians have seen their share of giant alligators, but usually not like this.

      WPVI – Philadelphia
    • These are Canada’s unhealthiest breakfast sandwiches (14 photos)

      With McDonald’s now testing all-day breakfast at select locations across Canada, anyone craving a Sausage Muffin late at night may be in luck! The new strategy may be good for profits, but what about our waistlines? Breakfast sandwiches are the top-selling breakfast entrees Canadians order at food service restaurants (right after coffee), but many popular options feature more than half a day’s recommended intake of saturated fat and sodium. In the following Unhealthiest Food segment, we've rounded up the unhealthiest breakfast sandwiches offered at 6 top fast food service chains in Canada: Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Subway, Starbucks, A&W, and Burger King . On a 2,000 calorie per day diet, the daily recommended intake for the average Canadian adult is about 65 grams of fat (no more than 20 grams saturated), and between 1,500 – 2,400 mg of sodium, so we’ve also rounded up some healthier alternatives. Scroll through to the end to see what topped our list of unhealthy breakfast sandwiches and make sure to check out our list of unhealthiest fast food burgers in Canada . Let us know what you think by tweeting @ YahooStyleCA!

      Yahoo Canada Style
    • Mayor quits golf club as members try to block Obama's entry

      The local mayor and member of the exclusive Maryland country club whose members are preemptively trying to keep President Obama out over his stance on Israel announced that he was dropping out over the controversy. Jeffrey Slavin, the mayor of the Montgomery County town of  Somerset, said he could no longer belong to a community at Woodmont Country Club with such “intolerance,” The New York Post reported. The Washington Post reported that some members of the historically Jewish club were bothered by Obama’s recent decision not to vote on a U.N. resolution criticizing Israeli settlements. “[President Obama] has created a situation in the world where Israel’s very existence is weakened and possibly

      Fox News q
    • Connecticut Politician Arrested for Groping a Woman After a Disagreement

      Connecticut Republican politician Christopher von Keyserling was having a political disagreement with a female colleague when the unnamed 57-year-old woman said to him that we’re living in a “a new world,” politically speaking. To that, the 71-year-old member of the representative town meeting and an outspoken commentator on town affairs allegedly responded, “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct,” according to an arrest warrant, says Time.

      Yahoo Style
    • Everything Aaron and Jordan Rodgers Have Said About Their Family Feud

      Quarterback Aaron Rodgers may have led the Green Bay Packers to a narrow victory during Sunday night’s playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys, but his family did not share in the celebration. According to a new interview with The New York Times published Sunday, Ed Rodgers confirmed that he’s not on speaking terms with his son following the 32-year-old NFL star’s rise in popularity. Word of the family’s rift became public knowledge last spring when the quarterback’s younger brother Jordan appeared on JoJo Fletcher‘s season of The Bachelorette.

      People
    • Green fouls LeBron, appears to mock him for flopping

      OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Draymond Green and LeBron James went at it again in the first half of the Cavaliers' visit to Golden State on Monday.

      Associated Press
    • Tom Brady Responded To Antonio Brown Posting Mike Tomlin's 'A**holes' Speech On Facebook

      Only historians will ever be able to properly place Antonio Brown’s Facebook Live video into proper context. Well, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin was the victim of Brown’s odd choice, and now the world knows his secret — he doesn’t like the Patriots, who are the Steelers’ opponent in the AFC Championship Game this Sunday.

      UPROXX
    • Amber Rose Posts Rare Makeup-Free Selfie -- See the Pic!

      The 33-year-old model was bare faced and glowing in a new snap posted to Instagram on Sunday.

      Entertainment Tonight
    • People are showing off photos of their scratched up Jet Black iPhone 7 handsets

      Look, we're just going to go ahead and say it: the Jet Black iPhone 7 and the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus are the most gorgeous smartphones that have ever been created. This is not open to debate. It's a fact. There's simply nothing else like the sleek glossy finish of Apple's Jet Black iPhones, which reflects just the right amount of light to appear as though the glass face of the phone wraps straight around to the back of the device. It's stunning, but there's a pretty big caveat to that bold statement we made. The Jet Black iPhone 7 and the Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus are the most gorgeous smartphones that have ever been created... for about 3 minutes after you first remove one from the box. After that, Apple's Jet Black finish starts to scratch and scuff like crazy, and it's also a magnet for grease and grime. Apple didn't exactly admit how delicate its Jet Black finish is when it unveiled the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus last September, but it did post a disclaimer on its website. Here's that disclaimer in full: The high-gloss finish of the jet black iPhone 7 is achieved through a precision nine-step anodization and polishing process. Its surface is equally as hard as other anodized Apple products; however, its high shine may show fine micro-abrasions with use. If you are concerned about this, we suggest you use one of the many cases available to protect your iPhone. Translation: the Jet Black finish on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is going to scratch. A lot. We've shown you what happens to the Jet Black iPhone finish in a couple of different posts. One showed a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus after three months , and another showed a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus after just two months . Both of those posts were scary for potential Jet Black iPhone owners, and now there are even more examples of what Apple's sleek new iPhone finish looks like with normal wear and tear. A post on Reddit from over the weekend asked people to share what their Jet Black iPhones look like now that they've been used. Several people complied, and the photos they shared give us a good idea of what happens to Jet Black iPhones when they're in your hands as opposed to being featured in photos on Apple's website. Reddit user KateWalls shared the highest-quality photos in the thread, and you can see plenty of fine scratching on her Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus — which is only two weeks old. She does note that in person, the scratches are more visible on the antenna bands than they are on the aluminum housing. Here are a couple of examples from her post: There's definitely plenty of scratching there but as you can see, it's much more visible at certain angles to the light. Another user named ctsikh posted one photo of his Jet Black iPhone 7, and you can clearly see some scratching. You can also see how much grease and dirt the Jet Black finish picks up — remember my tweet showing a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus that had been handled by customers in an Apple store? Yeah. https://twitter.com/zacharye/status/778223454935982080 If those photos don't scare you, this one from Redditor polygonarsenal definitely will: He used a filter to accentuate the scratches, which look downright terrible. This is pretty much the stuff nightmares are made of. There are a bunch more photos in the thread on Reddit , so definitely check them out.

      BGR News
    • Kourtney Kardashian Steps Out with Justin Bieber — But ‘Is Still Serious About Making Things Work with Scott’: Source

      Kourtney Kardashian may have been spotted hitting the town with ex-fling Justin Bieber over the weekend — but the two are now just friends, a source tells PEOPLE. Bieber and Kardashian stopped by West Hollywood hotspot The Peppermint Club on Saturday night, shortly after the reality star left a birthday celebration for Jessica Alba‘s husband Cash Warren. According to a Kardashian source, she and Bieber “hung out together with friends, but didn’t spend the night together.

      People
    • How to enable the ‘dark mode’ feature hiding in your iPhone browser right now

      Apple's iOS 10 software is packed full of new features. In fact, there are so many new features that it's impossible to remember them all, which is why we often publish collections of lesser-known tips and tricks. A perfect example is this collection of 5 iPhone features only power users know about  — we always want to help people get the most out of their smartphones. When iOS 10 was first released as a closed beta last summer during WWDC 2016, developers instantly began picking it apart. In doing so, they stumbled upon a fantastic looking "dark mode" feature hiding inside iOS . The good news is it was there. The bad news, as we all know, is that it wasn't enabled when iOS 10 was finally released in September. Rumors suggest that a new " theater mode " might be introduced in iOS 10.3, but nothing has been confirmed at this point. What you might not know, however, is that there's already a dark mode feature hidden inside your iPhone browser. Night Shift is a nifty new feature Apple introduced in iOS 10 that reduces the amount of blue light emitted by an iPhone or iPad display at night. It theoretically helps users sleep better, but it doesn't do anything to make text more visible in low light situations. For that, you need "dark mode," which switches things up and makes the background black with light colored text. Dark mode is available in many third-party iOS apps and even a handful of first-party apps. Sadly, however, there's no system-wide dark mode feature for the time being. That said, there's actually a special dark mode in Safari that most people don't know about, and it'll let you read just about any article on the web in light text on a black background. Here's how to enable it: 1) First, load any article in Safari (if you're reading this Safari on an iPhone or iPad, you're good to go). 2) Tap the reader mode icon in the left corner of the URL bar. You'll then see something that looks like this: 3) Tap the "aA" icon in the right corner of the URL bar and you'll get a drop down menu that looks like this: 4) Tap the black circle all the way to the right in the top row of the drop down menu. Presto — you've just enabled dark mode in Safari: Here's what your screen will look like once you start scrolling around: In-line pictures will still display normally, but the rest of the page will be dark, as pictured above. It's not the system-wide dark mode we've all been waiting for, but people spend a tremendous amount of time reading in Safari, so this should be a big improvement at night.

      BGR News