A few weeks ago I shared the best and worst things I've ever bought for my kitchen. It was only later I realized I'd forgotten to include one key purchase that has definitely made my life in the kitchen a little — well, a lot! — better.
I'm dubbing it the best $20 I ever spent for my kitchen, and because that's too good a secret to keep to myself, I asked my fellow Kitchn editors and writers to chime in with their own picks! Here's what they said.
My best $20 kitchen purchase: A dozen dish cloths!
I go through dish cloths like a maniac. Between wiping counters, washing dishes, and washing a toddler's face after every meal, my small stock of cloths headed into the laundry pile with more frequency than they came out of it. I was always running out of clean ones!
Finally, I realized there was no law that said I could only have three dish cloths to my name. Eureka! So I went ahead and bought a few sets of these Full Circle dish cloths, which are my favorite dish cloths by far. (Unlike other dish cloths I've had, these don't get raggedy and tattered after a few months' use.) Now I don't have to resort to using paper towels or a hand towel from the bathroom because I ran out of clean dish cloths. This stash is now enough to get me through laundry loads.
Now, here's what my fellow Kitchn editors picked.
Kelli's best $20 purchase: Three sets of OXO tongs
"A good set of tongs is one of the most indispensable kitchen tools, in my opinion. I actually have three of them. They're just so handy for so many things. I use them everyday for prep, cooking, and serving."
Emma's best $20 purchase: Drawer organizers
"It's not at all luxurious, but the best money I ever spent on my kitchen was picking up a few packs of these Madesmart Interlocking Drawer Organizers. There are enough sizes for just about everything from the rubber band ball to the can opener to a chef's knife, and they can be arranged in so many different ways to fit any drawer. They also interlock, so they're less likely to slip around and get jumbled. So easy."
Christine's best $20 purchase: Williams-Sonoma towels
"I've been on the hunt for kitchen towels that actually do a good job of absorbing water. Many of the decorative ones just don't do a good job of drying dishes, but these thick towels from Williams-Sonoma have a finished and unfinished side that both work well. They're pure white and easy to just bleach white again should any stains set in, and they're my go-to kitchen towel now! They're worth every penny."
Anjali's best $20 purchase: Half-sheet pans
"The best money I spent was on two half-sheet pans. I use them for baking cookies or granola, roasting vegetables or big batches of chicken thighs, carrying my grilling supplies outside, freezing items flat for better storage in the freezer, and catching the juices while carving large cuts of meat or cutting extra-juicy fruit (I got this tip from a reader — just put your cutting board inside the sheet pan).
They're strong, don't warp, look almost as good as the day I bought them, and if you buy them at a restaurant supply store, they'll be cheap enough that you can also pick up a quarter-sheet pan and still pay under $20. (Helpful for narrow freezers and smaller jobs!)"
Ariel's best $20 purchase: Greener Clean dishwand
"The day I finally tried out one of these dishwands was the day I was able to clean dishes with a smile. There are a lot of dishwands out there, but I like this one because of its size, its softer scrubbing fibers (or so it seems?), and how well it cleans my dishes without leaving the sponge gross. It doesn't get your hands wet or dirty, and you can put dish soap in the handle of the wand and it slowly comes out of the sponge. So fancy!"
Lauren's best $20 purchase: Stemless wine glasses
"I actually found this 12-pack of Libbey stemless wine glasses on clearance at Marshall's and now I'm a total stemless convert. I love how easily they fit in the dishwasher and how versatile they are; I use them for water, juice, and smoothies, too. Bonus: It makes me feel like a Real Adult when I pull out the 'correct' glass for the type of wine I'm drinking."
And it doesn't end there ...
I also polled a few of The Kitchn's regular writers and contributors, and here are a few of the best things they've ever bought for $20.
Extra sets of measuring cups and spoons so I'm not constantly washing them. I do a lot of baking, and this has been essential. - Carrie Havranek
Even less than $20: A pack of four terry dishcloths. I use one a day, and toss it in the wash at night, because they can be washed with lights or darks — so whatever's going in the washer next. I only replace it during the day if there's a big spill. I've never needed more than four. - Anne Wolfe Postic
A bamboo asian spider. I just said it last night as we were canning tomatoes. I bought it at a restaurant supply store almost 15 years ago and I use it every time I blanch something. Best $6 I spent. - Maureen Petrosky
Extra paring knives. I use one several times a day — and I feel comfortable letting my son use them, too. Not having to stop to wash the knife each time is a small thing, but it definitely makes life easier. - Debbie Koenig
I split a pack of restaurant-grade parchment with a friend and I've used it for years. Those flat sheets were worth every last penny. It feels like I'm lining my baking sheets with liquid gold every time — which is admittedly a weird analogy. - Sarah Rae Smith
All-silicone spatulas. The heads don't separate from the body, they're dishwasher safe, and if you accidentally leave them near a burner, they don't typically melt. All for $8. - Marisa McClellan
A citrus squeezer or one of those giant IKEA cutting boards. It's wood and sturdy and so affordable. - Gina Eykemans
A two-tier lazy Susan that goes in my cabinet: my spice bottles are alphabetically organized with the label facing out so I never have to hunt them down. - Marge Perry
My first kitchen scale so I could start measuring by weight instead of volume! (I upgraded to the OXO one later.) - Casey Barber
Readers, now it's your turn! What's the best thing you ever bought for $20 (or less) for your kitchen?