10 Cooking Stocking Stuffers from a Restaurant Supply

Sneak Preview: Cooking Stocking Stuffers lists ten of my favorite kitchen tools (mostly) under $10 for a Christmas stocking. 


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Have you ever discovered a new but cheap kitchen tool that improves your life so much you wonder how you lived without it? I love it when that happens, so I’m here to share.

If you know my daughters-in-law, please don’t tell. They might find some of these things peeking out of their stockings on Christmas morning.

1. Plastic Spreaders

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These spreaders were my favorite kitchen discovery in 2012–I can’t have too many.
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Preserve the non-stick surface on your bakeware.

Advantages of plastic spreaders

  • Loosen baked goods nonstick pans. These spreaders won’t scratch off the finish like a regular kitchen knife or silverware. They are very thin, unlike a table knife, so they won’t tear up your cakes, muffins, or bread.
  • The obvious: spread peanut butter, jelly, or any dressing onto a sandwich.
  • Scrape cookware to remove stubborn, baked-on food.
  • Clean out smooth-sided containers.
  • Lightweight, it takes up hardly any space in your drawer and goes into the dishwasher. Yes!
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Paring knives with plastic handles made by Victorino

2. Plastic scraper

I’ve already confessed my tendency to put knives into the dishwasher. Knives with plastic handles are appropriate for me. I use them to prepare fruit for our cereal every morning. Suitable for lightweight jobs. The price makes them practically disposable.

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Use this lightweight plastic scraper to work with dough or scrape a dirty pan.

A bowl scraper is a necessity if you like to make yeast bread. Not only is the curved side handy for pushing the dough out of a round bowl, but the straight side is also good when cutting portions to roll into balls. Like the plastic spatulas, you can also use them to scrape dried or baked-on food from cooking pans or cookie sheets.

3. Small Cutting Board

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6 x 10 x 12 acrylic cutting board goes into the dishwasher and only costs $3.48.

Can a cook have too many small cutting boards?

4. Stainless Steel Biscuit Cutter

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Stainless steel biscuit cutter–$1.95

Yes, you can use a drinking glass or a repurposed tin can to cut biscuits, but this tall cutter leaves a clean edge that will help your biscuits rise higher. Also suitable for cutting frozen bread. I use mine frequently to make avocado-egg toast.

5. Aluminum Scoop

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Aluminum Scoop–$1.98 for 5-ounce size

In the past, I used a measuring cup or big spoon to transfer sugar or flour from a canister to a measuring cup. No more. I keep one of these inexpensive but durable scoops in every canister of flour I own—one less item to wash and always handy. Use the edge to level your measuring cup.

6. Stainless Steel Measuring Spoons

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Stainless steel measuring spoon set–$4.75

Everybody owns measuring spoons, but multiple sets are handy for power cooking. Cheap spoons work just fine until they come apart and you lose one or two. Then, you can get this sturdy set that is nicer to use and lasts longer for a few pennies more. They’re cuter too!

7. Stainless Steel Whip or a Nylon Whisk

A stainless steel whip (8-inch $5.95) and a heat-resistant nylon whisk ($2.50)

If you don’t have a little whisk or whip in your life, you don’t know what you’re missing. They work better than a fork or a large whisk for mixing ingredients in small bowls or cups.

Nylon whisks are perfect for skillets with non-stick coatings, of which I am a fan. I also like them when mixing in a glass or metal bowl because they are quiet. The plastic coating makes them suitable for mixing pancake or waffle batter on weekends when everybody else is still asleep.

8. Silicone Baking Mats

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Silicone mats are available in quarter-size, half-size, and full-size; Quarter-size pictured here costs $8.99.

If you dislike scrubbing cookie sheets as much as I do, you need silicone mats in your kitchen.

Three reasons why I own lots of silicone mats

  1. Instead of using your countertop or a cutting board, use a silicone mat to roll out dough. Less flour is required to prevent sticking. For clean-up, see #3 below.
  2. Line baking sheets with mats to keep pans shiny and skip the greasing step when baking cookies or rolls. Saves you from buying so much parchment paper or foil to line your pans.
  3. Throw them into the dishwasher to clean.

9. Collapsible Funnel

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A funnel that’s easy to store– love it.

Why didn’t I think of this?  A collapsible funnel I can store inside the other bowls in my plastics drawer. I know it’s not a big deal, but the standard funnel is not so easy to stack in a crowded cabinet.

10. Miscellaneous Stocking Stuffers That Won’t Fit into a Stocking

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These things won’t fit in a stocking, and they aren’t so cheap, but they are well-used and highly loved items.

These last three things are too big for stocking-stuffers, but I wanted to mention them because I enjoy them so much. I use plastic containers to make iced coffee and hold bread dough while it rises.

You may recognize the strainer. I use it to make Greek yogurt. The mesh is so fine I don’t have to line it with paper towels or cheesecloth.  It’s also good for making ricotta cheese and straining chicken stock.

In case you think it’s expensive, you’re RIGHT! And it’s worth every penny to me. I use mine at least twice a week and sometimes much more. Some day, I plan to write a whole post about the merits of a good quality strainer.

A microplane is indispensable in my kitchen. If you are a big-time cook and don’t have one of these yet, you don’t know what you’re missing. It makes old-fashioned graters seem like inefficient antiques.

I purchased all these items at Ace Mart Restaurant Supply, but I assume you can find most of these things at any restaurant supply and, of course, many discount stores such as Walmart or Target for a bit more. The only people at Ace who know me are the helpful salespeople. I have not been reimbursed in any way. I love to hang out there, often trolling the aisles for good deals and things I didn’t know I needed.

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If you have questions or suggestions, email me privately for a quick answer: Paula at saladinajar.com. Hope to see you again soon! 

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  1. One gadget that I cannot live without is a small scoop for making drop cookies! I used to roll them by hand. Now I can get through 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies in minimal time. Really makes my life easier!! I also use the larger one to make meatballs-yum!

  2. Hello,
    I love your blog. I actually love many of the same items, but what caught my eye was the spreaders. As a teacher of young children I often use these handy little cutters so that the children can help prepare our snacks. They are great because they are not sharp, and can not hurt the children, but they can cut apples, bannas and many other fruits and vegetables. I also like that they are so cheap as I can afford them and if I need to for sanitary reasons just toss them. Thank you for sharing. I also am currently trying to make some yogurt.

  3. Sheree Parish says:

    Thank you for all your delicious recipes, cooking tips, and your generosity with giveaways throughout the year. Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year to you and yours.

  4. Piper@GotItCookIt says:

    I love a restaurant supply store! In some states, Costco has a business version that stocks restaurant stuff. I love, love, love that place!

    Also, I filled my daughter’s stocking with some fun things at Ikea too, which also has fantastic prices.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours Paula!

    1. Piper,
      I didn’t know that about Costco. I love their regular store so that would be absolute heaven. Merry Christmas to you too.

  5. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    I hope you get my name for Christmas! I love all this stuff and would have a blast hanging out with you at the Ace Mart! 🙂

  6. Love these! I love great gadgets! =)

  7. Cyn in S. Calif says:

    Super post… I love it! I’m a gadget girl, too. Good advice to check out a restaurant supply store b/c the items at the dollar store just don’t last, or rust, or worse! And it is way cheaper than “kitchen” stores. Thanks for great post.

  8. I like all your suggestions, and love the “presentation”. Now what did you stick that spatula in for me to carry home??? I had forgotten about it, and now I don’t remember seeing it when I unpacked.

  9. Great gift ideas Paula and I love that you presented them tucked into an oven mitt!

  10. all these equipments are very useful for a kitchen. i think these should be stored.

  11. Do you have any (amazon?) links to specific versions you recommend? For example there seems to a few models of the microplane grater…

    Also, there’s a few $30 version of the ‘extra fine’ bouillon strainer. Is the exoglass (as opposed to stainless steel) what makes it special (easier to clean, finer strainer)?

    1. Ben,
      Amazon links are a good idea. I’ll work on that.

      I’m not sure of all the differences but the exoglass is clothed in heavy duty plastic so it’s lighter weight and very easy to handle and wash. Also quite durable. I haven’t used the stainless steel strainer but the more expensive one seems to have a finer mesh which is important when making Greek yogurt.

  12. These are great ideas, I would love to receive any of these items in my stocking. 🙂