The Things You Never Need to Buy, According to a Chef
- I’m a professional chef, and there are several ingredients and appliances I keep out of my kitchen.
- I’m not a fan of premade things like powdered drink mixes, seasoning blends, and garlic paste.
- I also don’t think gadgets like bagel cutters, egg poaching cups, and tofu presses are worth it.
As a professional chef, I’ve learned a lot about what I do and don’t need in my kitchen.
Read on for some of the ingredients, basics, and appliances I never buy.
Fresh fruit and herbs are always going to taste better than powdered drink mixes
Powdered drink mixes often come in unsettling neon colors and have a lengthy list of ingredients.
But my top reason for steering clear of them is because it’s easy to make delicious, naturally flavored drinks at home with fresh fruit, herbs, and good old water.
Generic white bread doesn’t hold a candle to bakery loaves
Bread isn’t meant to last for days, and you shouldn’t be able to squish a slice into a marble-sized ball between your palms.
I’m not saying everyone needs to make their own bread, but I think it’s worth it to shell out a few extra dollars for the good stuff from a trusted bakery. You’ll skip the added preservatives and enjoy a better-tasting loaf.
I never risk ruining a recipe with premade seasoning blends
I prefer to make my own seasonings with the contents of my spice cabinet, rather than leave the flavor of my dish in the hands of a large-scale spice manufacturer.
In particular, store-bought blends that contain salt or sugar make it harder to maintain control of the final flavor of your dish.
I don’t think tofu presses are a very necessary gadget
I love crispy baked or pan-seared tofu as much as the next person, but you can press out the excess liquid all on your own — no single-use gadget necessary.
All you need to do is wrap the block in a clean dish towel and balance a heavy pot on top of it for a few minutes before cooking.
Silicone egg cups are cute, but they don’t poach better than tried-and-true methods
Colorful, rubbery egg cups are tiny, adorable, and fun-looking. Nevertheless, they don’t have a place in my kitchen.
Eggs have been poached for centuries without getting silicone involved.
Fancy whisks with wire bulbs on the end actually make mixing harder
You know the kind — those whisks with a knob of tangled wire on the bottom.
That little lump prevents you from making contact with the bottom of your bowl or pan, essentially making the job of whisking impossible.
I avoid those and look for smooth-bottomed balloon whisks instead.
Fresh garlic is so much better than premade paste varieties
Pre-mashed garlic is convenient. But when it comes to flavor, the tube stuff can’t compare to freshly minced, smashed, or grated garlic.
The extra minute it takes to prepare fresh garlic for your meal is definitely worth it.
A serrated knife can do everything a bagel cutter claims to
Maybe I just don’t eat enough bagels, but I’ve always found that a regular bread knife with a serrated edge does a great job of slicing them open.
I’ll never need a special bagel cutter for that.
Salad dressing is one of the easiest things to make, so I don’t buy bottles
Making your own salad dressing shows your greens the respect they deserve.
If you have oil and any kind of vinegar on hand, you can whip up a tasty dressing in under two minutes. Bonus points if you add fresh garlic.
Food choppers are another waste of space in your kitchen drawers
The gadget lies somewhere in between a food processor (a highly useful appliance) and a knife (a staple).
But if you really want the chopping, mincing, or dicing done right, do it yourself.
I wouldn’t rely on a one-size-fits-all appliance to achieve the uniform knife cuts I want for a presentable, evenly cooked dish.
Store-bought smoothies are always loaded with unnecessary ingredients
I love a creamy, vibrant fruit smoothie, but I’ve yet to try a premixed and bottled version that comes close to a freshly blended drink.
The bottled kind is also often loaded with added sugars that turn a healthy snack or meal into more of a dessert.
I have access to clean tap water, so there’s no reason for me to buy bottles
If I’m somewhere with the luxury of clean and drinkable tap water, that’s what I’m going to drink.
I’ll happily skip the plastic waste, extra money, and lost storage space that come with buying bottled water.
You don’t need a bread machine to make your own loaves
If you’re committing to making your own bread, don’t let the marketing noise convince you that you need a
As long as you have two hands and an oven, you can make a simple loaf with the age-old ingredients of flour, water, salt, and yeast.