5 Must-Haves for a Happy Kitchen on a Budget

I think that one of the biggest misconceptions about cooking is that you need fancy, expensive things to creative an environment that is conducive to exceptional cooking. Most of these lists that you see include elaborate marble measuring cups, or gold-plated cake stands. HELLO! Who can afford this stuff??

Sure, some of it is really awesome if you make your living serving people in your kitchen, or you’ve got money to piss away. Personally, I think this ideology is crap. I believe that we can live without stand mixers and $400 blenders, I really do. None of this stuff is going to make you feel really good about being in your kitchen and motivate you to create beautiful, delicious food.

I think that being passionate about cooking starts with your environment. If you can create a space that you love being, making a “fancy” dinner won’t seem nearly as intimidating.

More than just sharing recipes with you, I really want to help each and every person discover what cooking can mean to them. You might not like MY style, but each one of these items is interchangeable to suit what you prefer and what will make you happy within your space.

I have chosen five of my favorite things that don’t really involve the cooking process, but they have helped to make me feel good about being in the kitchen. I hope they help you, too

1.) Utensil Holder $19


This one seems pretty obvious because a lot of people have these. But if you have one, stop and think about how it makes you feel. Do you enjoy looking at it? Does it reflect your personality? I used to have this terrible wire one that made me cringe. I used it just because I didn’t see the sense in wasting money on a new one. In creating a new kitchen space though, I realized that maybe it was more important than I originally thought. I don’t like countertop clutter, so I don’t put out any decor. In turn, my storage solutions end up being all I have to convey the message of what kind of environment I am creating while cooking.

I looked high and low for one that I really loved. I finally found this one a few weeks back at the Cocalico Creek Country Store, and I cannot even tell you how much I feel it has transformed my space. It’s simple, pretty, and functional. What more could you ask for?


2.) Canisters <$5


I can’t stress enough how much I LOVE glass canisters. I keep my coffee and sugar right on the counter, and they don’t look messy (even though I’m just too lazy to dig them out of the pantry in the morning!). And the inside of my cabinets are so much more organized. Be real, how much do you hate digging through bags and boxes to find what you need? And then there’s always the really good chance that someone (you) didn’t close it right and now everything has gone bad. You can alleviate all of this by giving everything it’s own space.

This is one thing that I love buying second hand. You can get them for anywhere between $1-3 in perfect condition, and being glass- just boil them for a few minutes to kill any germs. I also think it adds less stress if everything is mismatched. It makes me feel like I don’t have to be perfect, and if I find a new one I like, I don’t have to leave it behind because it doesn’t match. The cheapest new ones I’ve bought were from IKEA and they’re awesome. They have lots of good kitchen stuff for cheap, so pick some up on your next trip!!


3.) Clear Drink Pitchers $12


I love pitchers in general. I think they’re a really fun way to store and serve drinks, and they add a certain sense of class to any dining table. But I especially adore clear ones because it makes me want to get really creative. Being able to see what’s floating around in there makes what you’re serving the focus, and we in turn strive to make it look as appealing as possible. Basically, it gives you no choice but to try! Sometimes it’s as simple as tossing in some fresh fruit, but you will feel good knowing you created something so beautiful.

Crate and Barrel is my FAVORITE place in the whole wide world. I am slightly obsessed with their serving accessories because they’re so cheap. This one was twelve AND it has matching glasses. Hello, star of your next girl’s night. Also, the blue one (from Pier One).. yeah Phil Dunphy uses the same exact one in the episode of Modern Family where Matthew Broderick guest stars. Basically confirming that I have impeccable taste.


4.) Pretty Serving Bowls $30


This is the most expensive item on the list, because I really believe that it’s worth a splurge (yes, $30 is a splurge and it was on clearance at the outlet). It sometimes can be really hard for people to make food that looks pretty. I try really hard, but there are things that taste awesome but just lack in presentation. This is why I think having some really exceptional serveware on hand helps your confidence. By placing you not-so-pretty meal into a gorgeous bowl, you can still feel really good about giving it to your family. It makes even the simplest of spaghetti and meatballs feel like a five-star meal.

I love the footed bowls because they appear really dramatic and just kind of mimic the idea of placing your food on  a pedestal. While I only use it every now and then for serving, it makes a really nice presentation for fresh fruit. This one is from Pottery Barn, another store that I absolutely adore (minus the prices). The outlet is always good for getting the cost down to what you might pay at Target or Home Goods.


5.) Decorative Storage Accents $5-15


This kind of goes along with the utensil holder, but is a little more up for your own interpretation. We all have eyesores around our kitchen that we just can’t seem to mask. For me, it has always been right around my windowsill, so that space felt terrible. Dish soap ALWAYS ends up all over the bottle and just never looks nice. So, I finally took Pinterest’s word for it and invested in a mock-mason jar pump, and I LOVE IT. It feels less grimy, and adds another touch of something cute. I also store my garlic in this adorable little espresso cup that I accidently bought, but could not bare to return, from Crate and Barrel. It keeps all the little flakes contained, but looks far less tacky than those horrendous garlic-shaped keepers.

I don’t know what your trouble spots are, but what does it hurt to shop around and find something that you can use to make it feel more comfortable for you?


All of the items on this list, combined, cost me less than $100, but they contribute to my day-to-day love and appreciation of my space. I have always loved cooking, but the more comfortable I feel, the more apt I am to create and inspire. I encourage you to find the style that works for you, and roll with it. Start small and spend wise. A little bit of money can go such a long way to motivating you to get in the kitchen and hone in on your potential!




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