7 Surprising Kitchen Items You Should Always Splurge On — Or It Could Cost You More in the Long Run

published Jun 18, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Someone pulling trash bag out of trash can.
Credit: Sarah Crowley

For the first four years of my marriage, my husband and I lived on student loans. When he suggested we purchase trash bags with drawstrings, I scoffed. Drawstrings are for the rich, my love! We poor students are only worthy of the stringless variety. 

But now I know this thinking was short-sighted. Buying the cheapest option often ends up costing more in the long run, whether in actual dollars, time, or just general happiness. And so, what follows is a sampling of items I regret not splurging on in the early days and the lessons learned along the way. Treat yourself to these items if you can, and trust me — you’ll reap the benefits. 

1. Trash Bags

Here’s the thing about the cheap trash bags I insisted we buy: They often ripped when we were trying to tie the sides together. This meant that we were regularly using two bags for one load of trash, so I wasn’t really saving money (or the environment) with this particular frugality. I now say splurge on the drawstrings. And if fish is a regular part of your diet (go you and your omega-3s!), odor controlling bags are a must.

2. Rags

Microfiber cloths are worth every penny, and these colorful cloths on Amazon don’t even cost that many pennies. I refused to clean with anything but retired kitchen and bath towels, but I was a fool. And now I know!

3. Sponges

No matter your favorite type of sponge, the cheapest ones often aren’t the best choices in terms of performance and lifespan. (The Kitchn even put four sponges to the test; check it out here.) Picking a hard-worker that will outlast the others will save you time and money in the long run — additionally, there’s a reason it’s called a “magic” eraser. Don’t wait until you have a 401K to invest in them. 

4. Brooms & Mops

Cleaning the floors isn’t exactly my idea of fun — and I’ve found that cleaning the floors with low-quality brooms and mops is even less fun. But with a precision angle broom and microfiber mop, I save time and find fewer bits and pieces of the mop and broom heads all over my kitchen.

5. Freezer Bags

We couldn’t afford to (and didn’t want to) waste food, so we froze any and all leftovers. Because I bought the least expensive freezer bags I could find, those reheated dinners were often a little freezer burned. I now know that thick reusable freezer bags would have made leftovers a lot tastier and therefore been worth the extra splurge. 

6. Knives

We were lucky to receive a set of quality knives as a wedding gift, but you really only need one good chef’s knife and a paring knife to do almost anything in the kitchen. Spend out on those two if you can, and skip the rest of the block. 

7. Paper Towels

If you’re on team paper towels (no shame!), the budget brand might seem like the better option, but let’s look at the bigger picture. Here’s the math: If it takes four sheets of the cheap brand to clean the same spill that would be covered by one sheet of the slightly more expensive “quicker picker upper,” then buying the more affordable brand isn’t doing you any favors. (If possible, splurging on all-purpose pantry towels or the aforementioned rag alternatives is even better.) 

If I could go back in time, I would assure my younger self that future me would happily pay interest on the loan money used to buy these items.

What everyday kitchen items are worth the splurge for you?