One of my favorite things to do when I visit my parents is cook. Aside from the fact that I adore cooking with my mom, there's something comforting about returning to the kitchen that I first started playing in 20 years ago. Nearly all of the tools and appliances are the same ones that I used as a kid, and the familiarity is palpable.
- Don't Miss: One Knife to Rule Them All
My parents have done a terrific job of acquiring buy-it-for-life kitchen tools: culinary staples that will never need replacing. I'm a big fan of this practice, and have started to emulate it in my own kitchen.
A buy-it-for-life kitchen appliance means that you almost never have to worry about it. Most kitchen tools need replacing every few years, which is both a hassle and a financial burden.
A buy it for life tool is also a kitchen staple; it's something that will be the backbone of myriad different dishes, and be utilized time and time again. I equate a buy it for life tool to a fully stocked spice cabinet: it may cost a chunk of change initially, but then you have everything you need for most dishes.
Here are my five favorite buy it for life purchases to set the foundation for a fabulous kitchen:
A good chef's knife will last you a lifetime... literally. With a little TLC (frequent sharpening, honing, and hand washing), a quality knife will be as good in 50 years as it is today (many knives, such as my Globals, also have a lifetime warranty).
There are numerous different knife companies that offer upper-echelon quality, so rather than buying one online, I highly recommend going to a kitchen store (such as Sur La Table), and trying a handful of different knives. Some people prefer the lightweight and perfect balance of Asian knives, while others prefer the sturdiness of German knives. You may like shorter knives (6-7") or longer ones (9-10"). If you want a buy-it-for-life knife, it's important that you find one that feels perfect in your hand.
Cast-iron skillets are perhaps the most fundamental kitchen tool that exists. They were used with great regularity a hundred years ago, and they'll be used with great regularity in a hundred years. And they're cheap!
No one ever described Le Creuset as cheap, but you get what you pay for. Some Le Creuset items—such as their mugs, French presses, and salt crocks—aren't worth the extra money, unless you're interested in aesthetics. But certain items—namely their Dutch ovens—are worth the price tag. I use mine for everything from braising meats to making gravies to baking bread. You can sear, simmer, bake, or sauté in them, and they're as durable as any kitchen item you'll ever find.
And let's be honest... it doesn't hurt that they're so beautiful.
Stand mixers are essential for any passionate baker, but they can do so much more than just mix dough and whip cream. KitchenAid makes incredibly durable mixers, and when they do finally give out, it's usually a cheap and easy fix.
Buy a KitchenAid stand mixer and you'll probably use it every week for decades.
I'm partial to French presses because they make delicious coffee. But they're also far more durable than coffee machines, which usually have a lifespan of about five years, due to their electronic components.
There are lots of different companies that make great French presses, but I'm fond of Bodum, which makes very affordable presses that will still last a lifetime.
Of course, you also can't go wrong with a Vitamix blender, a top-notch non-stick pan, or a quality sous vide machine. But equip your kitchen with the five aforementioned tools, and I think you'll be set for life.