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Open our kitchen cabinets and you’ll find the brightly colored plastic mixing bowls we bought for ten bucks in college nestled right up next to the Le Creuset Dutch oven we put on our wedding registry (thanks, Aunt Jackie). Both work brilliantly, which is proof you don’t need to spend a fortune to have truly great kitchen tools. Here are four items you can save on, and three that really are worth investing in.

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cast iron skillet save kitchen tools wm

Save: Cast-Iron Skillet

As long as it’s labeled “cast-iron,” all skillets are pretty much created equal. Look for a skillet that feels good in your hands and whose weight you feel comfortable with. (They tend to be quite heavy pans.) As long as you take good care of your skillet with proper cleaning and seasoning techniques, even a budget-friendly version should last for many, many years.

RELATED: 6 Foods You Shouldn’t Cook in a Cast-Iron Skillet

knives splurge kitchen tools
Williams Sonoma

Splurge: Knives

Step away from the grocery-store knife set. Good knives that last are a serious investment. (The exception? Paring knives, which will wear down much faster than the others in your arsenal, so you can opt for a midrange knife that you won’t feel bad replacing in a few years.) Wüsthof makes some of the best in the world, and the price tags aren’t too terrifying (try their gourmet series bread and chef’s knives). Sharpen and care for your knives regularly, and they’ll last decades.

pots save kitchen tools
Photo_Concepts/Getty Images

Save: Pots

A pot is a pot, especially if you’re a home cook. Whether it costs $800 or $80, each pot will boil water, cook soups or simmer broths in essentially the same way. Pick a set that feels comfortable in your hands, hits your price range and is made of the material you prefer (typically stainless steel, aluminum or copper—we like stainless steel, because it conducts heat evenly and won’t oxidize when you cook acidic foods, like tomatoes). 

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nonstick frying pan splurge kitchen tools
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Splurge: Nonstick Pans

If your nonstick frying pan lasted only a few rounds before losing its magical powers, you aren't spending enough. This is one instance when shelling out really does pay off, as more expensive coatings tend to be higher quality and last longer. This being said, you don’t need to spend $200 or more; a midrange Teflon pan, like the ones in Scanpan’s CTX series, cost between $90 and $170 and last for years. (Another thing to keep in mind: Never put nonstick pans in the dishwasher, or they really will lose their magic touch.)

coffee maker save kitchen tools
Sur la Table

Save: A Coffee Maker

There’s no denying people can be very specific about their coffee preferences. (We’re looking at you, Ms. Half-Caff-Bone-Dry-Coconut-Milk-Cappuccino.) But at the end of the day, any standard automatic coffee maker is going to get the job done. You’ll see a much bigger difference in the taste of your coffee by adjusting the beans, filter and water used than the actual machine. So if you want to splurge on a $350 version because it just looks so cool, go for it—but Cuisinart’s $80 version will brew the same cup of coffee for one-quarter the cost.

standing mixer splurge kitchen tools
Williams Sonoma

Splurge: A Standing Mixer

OK, there isn’t really a cheap version of this (other than perhaps a hand mixer), but a standing mixer and its various attachments are absolutely worth investing in. They take all the time, pain and hard work out of making bread dough, whipping cream and mixing cookie batter. Plus, KitchenAid’s version comes in a huge range of colors that will add the perfect pop to your counter.

vegetable peeler save kitchen tools
4kodiak/Getty Images

Save: A Vegetable Peeler

There is absolutely no need to spend more than ten bucks on a handheld vegetable peeler. Especially when you can get the Kuhn Rikon Piranha Swivel Peeler for $8 with over 375 reviews on Amazon and an almost unanimous five-star rating.

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