11 Kitchen Tools That Are Cheaper at the Hardware Store
In the age of the foodie, kitchen supply stores offer a dazzling array of cooking gadgets. You can slice and dice food a dozen different ways, but you'll pay top dollar for the tools that help you do it. Creative chefs, though, are always looking for shortcuts and savings, turning cheap everyday tools into awesome cooking accessories. Cheapism.com found 11 kitchen tools you can buy for less at the hardware store.
Roasting a whole fish on a cedar or hickory plank infuses the dish with natural smoky flavors, and the chunk of wood looks great as a serving dish. Multi-use wood planks are sold at hardware stores for about $9 for two, or less than $5 each. Fancier versions that do the same job go for $50 and up at cooking supply stores.
Calcium hydroxide, known as pickling lime, serves many culinary functions, such as preserving canned foods, keeping pickles crisp, and nixtamalization, the process of converting corn into hominy for tortillas. Boutique kitchen stores charge about $8 for a bag of pickling lime. The same brand and size of pickling lime can be found for less than $4 at many hardware stores.
Shears have many uses in the kitchen, from breaking down poultry to opening cartons and snipping herbs. They come in different shapes, sizes, and materials; a heavy duty pair made of stainless steel is best for the kitchen. Prices at culinary specialty stores start at $15, while hardware stores sell similar products for around $10.
An essential tool for roasting and grilling large cuts of meat, cotton twine is a multi-use staple in the kitchen. When packaged for cooks, this basic string is sold for about $8, or $1.60 for 100 feet. A similar all-purpose cotton twine at Home Depot costs just $2.60, or 60 cents for 100 feet -- a better than 50 percent saving.
If you're a fan of creme brulee, or like impressing your dinner guests with fancy tools, you can save by buying your torch at the hardware store. Fancy foodie torches start at $25, while no-frills hardware store versions can be found for $15. It may not have the same sleek appearance, but the functionality is identical.
Pliers help cooks remove all the little bones from a fish. Many professional chefs use basic needle-nose pliers, which sell for less than $4 at the hardware store. The aptly named 'fish tweezers' cost quite a bit more at a specialty store, with the cheapest model starting at $14. But there's no need to pay for a nice name when a plain old pair of stainless steel pliers will do the job just as well.
A three-pack of different sized funnels is a handy thing to have in the kitchen for refilling bottles and home canning. Save by picking up a pack from the hardware store for about $1 each. An admittedly more colorful set from a kitchen store costs more than three times as much. If functionality is your goal, the hardware store offers a better deal.
A simple steel scraper can be used to cut and transfer sticky dough or move chopped vegetables from the cutting board to the pan, among other uses. Specially designed for kitchen use, these tools cost around $15. A similar tool is available at the hardware store for just $5. As a bonus, these spackling tools are often made of carbon steel rather than stainless steel, a premium alternative used by many professional chefs.
Before there were microplane cheese graters and citrus zesters, furniture makers used wood files to achieve the same effect. Home Depot sells a basic microplane with a soft handle for $9, while Sur La Table offers a comparable product for $15. Keep it old school and save money by using the carpenter's tools in the kitchen.