The 7 Essential Kitchen Tools Under $20 I Always Use

When you love to cook and prepare nice meals for your family and friends, it always helps to have a well-stocked kitchen full of essential supplies. Personally, the items I can't live without are my cast iron skillet and Wusthof chef's knife and paring knife. Yes, they did cost a pretty penny, but they are well-made and they've lasted in my kitchen for years. It's true though that some basic, but high-quality kitchen supplies are pretty costly, but it's important to think of these items as an investment and that they'll help make cooking easier.

Before my husband and I were married, we had to stock up on some smaller kitchen supplies for our new home (I was personally so excited about this). I knew in my head everything we needed and I have to say, most of the essential tools we bought were definitely not as fancy as a set of stainless steel pots and pans, but we really can't live without them in the kitchen.

Here's a list of my favorite kitchen tools that won't break the bank (under $20) and that I consider essential for a more enjoyable cooking and cleaning experience!

1. A set of 3 ice cream scoops

This set of ice cream scoops aren't just for scooping out delicious ice cream! This set comes with three different sizes (small, medium and large), and can be used for just about anything that requires consistent sizing. I especially love to use these scoops for portioning out cookie dough, meatballs, and pancake batter. They're also great for portion control on side dishes.

For just $17.99, you'll find the perfect use for these versatile ice cream scoops in the kitchen! Find them here.

2. Infrared thermometer

I honestly don't know what I would do without my infrared thermometer aka laser gun, especially when I'm deep frying food. This is an ideal tool to use to accurately get the surface temperature of something. Not only is it a great tool to use to get the temperature of hot oil, but you can also use it to read the temperature when grilling, with your cast iron skillet or sauté pan, or for tempering chocolate and candy making.

All you do is point, and the temperature will show up. Just remember, though, that it does not read the internal temperature. I also love that there's no cleaning involved after using it!

An infrared thermometer is an all around useful tool to have hanging around the house. Use it to check the temperature of the refrigerator, freezer, A/C unit, fireplace: the possibilities are endless! You'll love this cool gadget for just $15.99. Find it here.

3. Bench Scraper

I have my degree in baking and pastry, and this is the one tool I used for almost everything during class. Since I loved using it in school, I now use this inexpensive tool in my own kitchen. A bench scraper is almost like a rectangular knife, but not quite as sharp. However, if you do find that yours is dull, you can sharpen it with a knife sharpener.

This essential kitchen tool is perfect for dividing out bread dough or pie dough, cutting fat into flour, slicing cookies. You can even use it to scrape up work surfaces in the kitchen to remove excess dough that's stuck on and difficult to pick up. It's also great for transferring a bunch of chopped vegetables into a pan to avoid a big mess.

My favorite way to use my bench scraper is when I'm decorating a cake and I want straight, smooth edges all around. You can easily smooth out your cake with this tool while removing excess icing. Try it out next time you're decorating a cake, you'll definitely notice a difference! Find it here for only $4.79. I highly recommend purchasing one!

4. Heavy Duty Kitchen Shears

It's a great idea to have a designated pair of kitchen shears just for using around the kitchen. These shears or scissors are comfortable to hold and have multiple purposes- use them to chop herbs, vegetables, meat or seafood.

This pair of kitchen shears also serves as a bottle opener, nut and claw cracker and for removing fish scales. I love that these scissors are sturdy and safe to use and also come with a protective cover. Helpful tip: after washing them, make sure to dry throughly by hand to avoid rust from forming. Find your pair here for $11.99.

5. Silicone Baking Mats

I'm a firm believer in these food safe silicone baking mats because I think they truly make a difference when baking, especially when you're working really hard to bake the perfect batch of cookies. They fit right on top of a baking sheet and evenly distribute heat (no greasing required!) allowing the bottoms of your baked goods to cook perfectly, while avoiding burnt or undercooked spots. You can even use these mats as a surface to form or roll out dough- say goodbye to the mess!

For only $16.95 for a set of 3, these mats are reusable, tear resistant and will save you money so there's no need to buy parchment paper. You can easily wash them by hand, but they are also dishwasher safe. Find them here.

6. Silicone Suction Lids

There's nothing more frustrating than scrubbing caked on food off the inside of the microwave! I always use these silicone lids to help keep my microwave shiny and clean and to avoid splatters. You can even use these when you're cooking to cover pots and pans sitting on the stovetop. These lids are also a great replacement for aluminum foil and plastic wrap, keeping food fresh and airtight in the refrigerator.

This set of 5 lids for $14.24 can be found here.

7. Soap Dispensing Dish Brush

Another go-to kitchen essential that I really can't live without is this soap dispensing brush. It comes in two styles: plastic ($8.99) or stainless steel ($12.99) and makes clean-up a breeze! Simply open the bottom and pour in your favorite dish soap and with a push of a button, the perfect amount of dish soap squirts out. I love that this brush saves space around my sink area because I can store my big bottle of dish soap somewhere else.

On the back of the brush there's also a built in scraper that you can use to get rid of tougher, baked on food. My brush has lasted me a long time, but I like to replace the brush head when I notice it looking worn out after awhile. You can easily order a refill pack for $4.99. Order yours here.

What are your must-have kitchen tools?

Watch: The 7 Breads to Bake in Your Cast Iron Skillet