Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post.
Setting up your first kitchen is pretty simple: basic crockery, a few saucepans and a decent non-stick pan and some utensils. Add a kettle and a toaster and you’re all set. In fact, my mum once told me that all I really needed was a saucepan, a bowl and a fork. I didn’t believe her. I still don’t.
But when you’re a few years down the line from your first kitchen, and you’ve got a bit more money to spend (and possibly a bit more space and a few more mouths to feed), what are the best investments? Should we all be saving up for the wine fridge? Or a boiling water tap? What about the ubiquitous Kitchen Aid? And who really needs an oven with a proving drawer?
Well, I’ve spend plenty of money on gadgets over the last few years, and here are my not-so-essential- kitchen luxuries.
We got a breadmaker as a wedding gift, and we really enjoy using it. The bread is excellent – and you have complete control over what goes in to it – and it also makes brilliant dough which you can shape as you choose. We have one with a separate compartment for any dried fruit etc which works really well. Our breadmaker is from Panasonic, and there’s a real range of Breadmakers from Panasonic.
Really good saucepans
You use your saucepans all the time (or at least, I do), so it makes sense to invest in a good quality set. You can often get them in end of season sales – and saucepans aren’t likely to go out of fashion any time soon. I’ve got a Stellar set which I’ve had for nearly 15 years (a gift from my parents when they were massively discounted once) and I use them daily.
Really good cake tins
When I first got into baking, I made do with supermarket standard baking tins and silicone tins. A couple of years ago, I replaced my 20cm tins (the ones I use most often) with some from Lakeland, and also bought some reusable baking parchment which fits in them. They are excellent – completely non-stick, and don’t buckle or bend at all.
A coffee capsule machine
This is something we’ve only just invested in after a particularly rough night with Samuel, but it’s lovely. We both like nice coffee, and we originally had a proper espresso machine, but we never used it. It was too much of a faff to clean up and it never got really hot enough. But the capsule machines are excellent now. We have a Dolce Gusto, but I presume they are all similar.
One of the first presents Tim gave me was a lovely set of retro baking scales. They matched our kitchen in our old house and matched our kitchen here. But then – a good 7 or 8 years after that – my mum gave me a set of digital scales that she had found on offer. (Do you see a pattern here? She loves a bargain, my mum.) Now these scales are amazing. They do volume, liquid, grams, ounces… I use them all the time. I have been known to use them to measure gin in a G&T too.
A set of really good knives
You know those cheap, bendy knives that are sharp for about two days? You really don’t need to use them forever. You use a sharp knife a lot in your kitchen. I think I use one 3 or 4 times a day on a normal day. So this is worth investing in. I actually think a set is less useful than a knife block with your favourite knives in it, which you have chosen and like. We currently have two knife blocks but only use two-thirds of the knives in it.
A stand mixer
If you bake a lot, a stand mixer is a real treat. It’s not worth getting one if you don’t bake a lot, but if you do, they are excellent. Brilliant for anything that needs a lot of stirring, whisking or kneading, and they make the best icing ever.
So yes, one day, I’ll save up for the boiling water tap and the wine fridge, but they aren’t my priorities. The things in the list above will make a difference.