I recommend getting a propane BBQ. It’s much easier and faster to operate, which makes you more likely to use it. BBQing is a great alternative way to cook meats and veggies by adding grilled flavor.
Blenders, especially personal, single cup blenders are perfect for making smoothies, protein shakes, and meal replacement shakes. They can also be used to make marinates, chimichuries (fresh herb marinate), and soups.
Cast Iron Cookware:
Cast Iron ware is versatile, extremely durable, and relatively inexpensive. A skillet will allow food cooking both on the stove and in the oven. The thickness of the iron allows for even cooking, and naturally adds iron to your diet. I recommend getting a 12-14″ skillet with a lid, and a 10-12″ pot with a lid. The pots are great for roasting chickens and making delicious stews, and the skillet is great for veggies, bacon, hashes, and baking.
While not necessary, a colander can save a bunch of headache. It strains out the water from hot pasta and boiled veggies, and can also be used to wash produce.
If you enjoy baking, this can be a great addition. A cupcake pan can be used to make muffins, cupcakes, bulk baked eggs, and mini taco shells without the added oil.
Glass Baking Dishes:
These dishes are great and very inexpensive. They come in various shapes; circle, square, oval, rectangle, etc. and can be used to bake meats, vegetables, and breads.
Graters can be used to grate/shred cheeses, vegetables, and citrus zest. Some graters also double as mandolins, which can slice veggies.
Hand juicers are non-electric, and tend to be about $5-10 each. These are great for fresh squeezed juices to put in recipes and drinks. They tend to get more juice out of a fruit than by squeezing it by hand.
These scales are extremely useful in baking. Weighing ingredients has been proven to make more consistent recipes. This is also very useful if you want to track how much food you are eating.
Knife set w/ Chef’s Knife:
This should be a knife set that includes paring knives, a serrated knife, and kitchen scissors. This set will allow you to cut bread easier, and peel vegetables and fruits consistently.
I used to think that a meat thermometer was pretty useless, but boy was I wrong! If you can get an internal meat thermometer that can stay in the meat while it is cooking, you will never over/undercook meat again. It guarantees juicy, perfectly cooked meat every time.
Mortar and Pestle:
If you enjoy making your own spice blends, a mortar and pestle is an is a cheap way to grind and combine different spices. If you have a bit of extra money, consider investing in an electric spice mill.
If you are not too confident in your knife skills, or want to save some time, a potato peeler can be a great addition to your kitchen. I’ve had one for over 6 years and it still isn’t dull
A roasting pan is great for making roast chicken, turkey, and meats as well as various root vegetables. A removable wire rack that nests inside of the pan keeps meats out of the drippings, ensuring a crispy skin.
Rolling pins can help you roll out various dough: fresh pasta, pastry, pizza, cookies, biscuits, etc. I recommend investing in a silicon rolling pin – dough has a harder time sticking to this material.
These are my favorite cooking utensils. They are gentle on any type of cookware – from unfinished cast iron, to non-stick coatings, to enameled cookware. You can get soup ladles, potato mashers, spatulas, and various spoons in silicon.
Slow Cooker (Crock Pot):
A slow cooker is a must have if you run a busy life. If your schedule is hectic, and don’t have a lot of time to make meals, this appliance is a life saver. Throw everything into the pot in the morning, and have dinner ready when you come back from work. Slow cooker freezer meals can be put together on a weekend when you have time, then defrosted and thrown in the cooker during the week.
Whisks are useful when incorporating dry ingredients when baking, and whipping up egg whites, frostings, creams, etc.