11 Cheap Solutions For When You Don’t Have The Right Kitchen Tool

kitchen gadgets

Every time I see an aisle full of kitchen gadgets and tools, I have to fight an immediate urge to go investigate every single one. I have a hard time resisting a good kitchen gizmo, but more often than not they end up gathering dust in a drawer somewhere, because they are rarely as necessary or useful as I thought they would be!

As much as I love kitchen gadgets, my desire to keep my kitchen tidy and streamlined usually wins out. And whether you have too many kitchen tools or none at all, it can be useful to learn to make do with what you already have at home!

And to that end, today I’ll be sharing 11 of my favorite ideas for replacing those single-use kitchen gadgets with stuff you already have on hand! (And for even more cheap alternatives to fancy kitchen gadgets, check out this post!)

11 Cheap Alternatives To Fancy Kitchen Gadgets

kitchen gadgets

1. Use Knives As A Cooling Rack

If you don’t have a cooling rack, or if they’re all being used at the moment, you can use a few butter knives to elevate a baking sheet sheet off of the counter to cool. Just line up the knives about an inch apart in a vertical line, a horizontal line, or a combination of both depending on how much counter you need to cover.

kitchen gadgets

2. Use Silicone Trivet As A Jar Opener

Place a silicone trivet over tough-to-open jar lids to increase friction and make the jar easier to open. Jar openers can be pretty handy, a silicone trivet is far more versatile—you can also use them as hot pads or to help clean your makeup brushes!

kitchen gadgets

3. Use A Colander As A Flour Sifter

If you don’t have a sifter, use a metal colander and gently tap it on the side of your bowl. It works great and is even easier than using a sifter!

kitchen gadgets

4. Use Foil As A Funnel

Can’t find a funnel? Quickly fashion one out of a piece of aluminum foil!

kitchen gadgets

5. Use Clothespins As Chip Clips

Don’t waste money on chip clips. They break easily, and clothespins work just fine! You can usually find a big bag of clothespins at the dollar store.

kitchen gadgets

6. Use A Knife As A Garlic Press

Instead of using a garlic press and having to clean it out every time, just smash garlic with the flat edge of your kitchen knife! It’s so fast and super easy!

kitchen gadgets

7. Use A Toothbrush As A Pastry Brush

Don’t have a pastry brush? Use an unused toothbrush instead—I almost always one to spare from my most recent trip to the dentist. :-)

kitchen gadgets

8. Use Foil As A Bacon Rack

Skip the specialty bacon rack and make your own with tin foil. Fold up a long piece of tin foil accordion-style (folding back and forth every inch or so) to form ridges.

Set your DIY bacon rack on a baking sheet, lay pieces of uncooked bacon across it, then pop it into the oven on broil. You’ll have a sheet of perfectly crisp bacon in minutes!

kitchen gadgets

9. Use Dental Floss As Cooking Twine

If you need to tie up a turkey or other meat, use some unflavored dental floss! It’s cheaper than cooking twine and works just as well.

kitchen gadgets

10. Use A Straw As A Strawberry Huller

Instead of buying a gadget just to hull strawberries, you can use use a drink straw to do the same job! Just push a straw into the bottom of a strawberry and slide it through until the top pops off.

kitchen gadgets

11. Use A Water Bottle As An Egg Separator

Separating eggs has always been a pain, but I can do it in seconds with this clever trick! Crack your egg into a shallow dish, then take a plastic water bottle (preferably one of the flimsy, easy-to-crush ones) and squeeze some of the air out.

Hold the opening next to the egg yolk, then release your hold on the bottle to suck up the yolk. Squeeze the bottle again to deposit the yolk in a separate dish, and you’re done! It’s quick and easy, and pretty fun too! :-)

Do you have any tips for getting by without a certain kitchen tool?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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65 Comments

  1. Excellent tips! Jars are also easier to open if turned upside down and slammed flush on a counter lined with a kitchen towel, a silicon trivet, or similar. It breaks the air-tight seal on the product and the jars open easily by hand.

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  2. Also, I just happened to think that a flimsy water bottle could be cut off on the bottom and used for a funnel, but I love the foil idea if you need a slimmer one. Also, I like to put corn meal on my pizza pans and I recently had the idea to put corn meal in an empty spice container with a shaker top to make it easier. This could also work for powdered sugar, cinnamon/sugar mix, etc.

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  3. These are great tips! Got me to thinking of some ideas, putting on rubber gloves would help make jar opening easier, I literally just thought of this after seeing some one else make a comment regarding gloves! Also, I buy home canned salsa from a local shop and four or more canning jar rings could be used to elevate baking sheets for cooling. I’m also very tempted by cute colorful kitchen gadgets, but it’s smart to have less expensive options using things we already have, as well as space saving! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. When we have opened bags of snacks, chips, pretzels, etc. I keep them closed using a binder clip. I have wire shelves in my pantry closet. I hang large S-hooks from a wire shelf and hang the binder clipped bags. Just be sure that the binder clip fits tight on the bag.

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  5. Great ideas! I’ve done a couple of them, but I LOVE the strawberry/straw idea!

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  6. Great tips! Another easy way to open stubborn jars is to simply flip them over on the counter and give the lid a couple of firm taps against the counter. Flip it back over and the lid twists right off every time. I’ve gotten to where I do this every time I open one. No more struggling or sore hands after I’m finished.

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  7. For Pastry Brush I use wax paper: just loosely roll a piece of wax paper two or three times and use the end; and also use wax paper as a funnel.
    I always found the easiest way to separate eggs is to use the egg shells over a dish.
    Some great ideas Jillee.

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  8. I liked quite a few of the ideas. I must admit I crack the egg in half and just separate it that way. I’ll have to try the water bottle though! I use a small sharp knife for strawberries. I have a stead hand and just cut a small cone around the hull. The toothbrush is a little too small and stiff for pastries for me. One other great thing for opening bottles is to keep a few broad rubberbands and put those around the jar top. It gives good grip to get the lid to “pop”. The thrivets were a great idea for those who have tiles lying around. Might be really nice to make your own as holiday presents too! You may find some really pretty designs at a hardware store and make them pretty and unique. Love all the ideas and suggestions. Thanks to the author and contributors.

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  9. Very nice article. I certainly love this website. Thanks!

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  10. I use a drinking straw to hull strawberries. push it up through the bottom and 99% of the time the top will pop right off. A bonus, that little bit on the bottom that has no flavor and a concentration of immature seeds is gone too. Frequently still leaves more berry than gouging the top out.

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  11. Rubber gloves are also great for removing pet hair from upholstery. Just put them on and sweep up the hair with your hands.
    I also use cooking oil spray to oil squeaky doors and anything else around the house that needs oiling. So easy :)

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    • I personally have found that using a cooking oil over time will gunk up. Learned this the hard way. My suggestion is to go with an oil designed for things mechanical. I wouldn’t skimp on this.

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      • WD 40 works on squeaky hinges, but pure silicone spray lube is even better. No smell, doesn’t gunk, lasts a long long time between applications..

  12. I separate eggs using my clean hands! Just allow the whites to run through and put the yolks in a separate bowl!
    My old fashioned vegetable peeler is perfect for hulling strawberries!
    Did you know that you can sharpen a dull vegetable peeler by running a small paring knife along the blades? Iron sharpens iron! Be sure to rinse and dry both after sharpening.

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    • I actually saw a chef use her hands to separate egg whites! Great suggestion. Just be sure to wash well first!

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  13. Luv these ideas. Keep coming, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  14. Whenever I line a shelf, I save the trimmed off pieces of the soft grip shelf liner (I use Duck Soft Grip Easy Liner). These pieces are great for so many uses. Wrap a piece of the soft grip around a jar lid and it twists right off! I trim some of the actual liner into circles to place under my house plants so that their ceramic drip trays won’t mar surfaces, it also helps keep them in place if you have animals that love to push the pots off of the furniture!
    I use strips of it to wrap around the handles of my gardening tools. The most surprising use of it came by accident. A large piece I was using for something was left in my jeans and was washed. After, I noticed that the clothes were free of “pils”. I had found the soft grip in the basket and have been using it ever since. I once used Dryer Balls, but they have been replaced by that large piece of soft grip shelf liner.
    I keep a spare roll in the kitchen and a several pieces in with my car’s tool bag. Hubby uses it in his tool drawers and keeps a few pieces in his computer tools. He says if a computer screw is stubborn he sticks the screwdriver into the liner and into the screw head and the screwdriver no longer falls out of the screw’s head!
    Best of all, you can get small 3′ by 20″ rolls at your local “Everything’s a Dollar” store!!
    I love the stuff!

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    • Wonderful ideas, Rosemary! I’m going to try the dryer idea next time I wash!
      I also use small pieces of liners under my cordless desk phone and mini fan from sliding off my desk as the cords sometimes get pulled when I am cleaning.
      I put a piece under my cutting board so it can’t slip while I am cutting food. I just wash it in the sink when I do the dishes and use a clothes pin to hang it on one of the tiered baskets in my kitchen. They dry in no time!
      They are great for opening jars! Sometimes I have to break the vacuum seal another way… If I can fit my bottle opener under the lid, I usually can pop the seal without damaging the lid. Makes jar opening a lot easier for me!

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    • WOW! Wonderful ideas! Thanks for all of them! Especially the dryer thing!

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  15. Thanks for the great ideas, my sweet daughter. I learned a lot. Love you.

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  16. Thank you Jillee
    Cheap gadgets I like your ideas we had a bat in the house my son used my funnel to catch the bat

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  17. I like to use binder clips as chip clips and to hold the towel on the oven handle to keep it from falling on the floor.

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  18. The best way to open a challenging jar is to take it outside and tap the side of the lid several times on the concrete, turning as you tap. This has never failed me and I have won bets off of strong men who couldn’t open it, that I could… and did!!! :-)

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  19. One expensive gadget that I have admired is a Thermomix, that measures, mixes, and cooks. Well, My shortcut is to put my cuisinart directly on the kitchen scale between mixes to add ingredients. It doesnt do the cooking, but it does save an extra bowl to wash for measuring

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  20. I always had problems pouring spices (like peppercorns) into a grinder without having them go everywhere. I cut the top + an inch or so off a small water bottle and it makes a perfect small funnel. I even store it on my spice rack.

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    • Love this tip! I spill mine all over the counter every time! Thanks!

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  21. I use the clips off of the pants hangers that stores usually throw away. A good way to recycle and the clips work just as well as clothes pins.

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    • I use binder clips – they work better because they create a tighter seal.

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      • EXACTLY!!!!! I got some from a second hand store . . . SO CHEAP, TOO!

  22. I also use a large straw, but push from the bottom of the berry to the top. That keeps any leaf or stem from getting into the berry. Works great.

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  23. For a large funnel, save an old ketchup bottle and cut off the bottom. I have one in the kitchen, one in the garage.

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    • Another funnel idea: my husband uses the top 1/4 of 2-liter bottles as a funnel when he’s adding fluids in the car engine.

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  24. I use dental floss to slice all of my cakes. Put the floss where you want to slice and slide it through the cake. perfect slices every time.

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    • So smart, I tend to destroy my cakes when I start slicing!

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    • What about waxed vs. not waxed? Would either be OK? Thanks!

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  25. Great tips. Actually the tile trivet is a great craft to do with grandkids!! I have been looking for ways to “NOT” buy a Kitchen Aid. Any ideas. I have a Ninja..not the small one and not the big one. It is not big enough for some of the recipes I do. Do I need to bite the bullet and get a Kitchen Aid?

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    • I personally love mine, and use it in the place of lots of other kitchen tools! I especially love using it to shred cooked chicken. But it is a pretty big investment!

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    • Funny thing is I would say don’t buy a Cuisinart! We got ours from Costco(11 cup) and the tabs on the bowl kept breaking off. Both the tabs that hold on the lid and how it attaches to the base. Cuisinart replaced the bowl three times but we had to pay shipping! I replaced my food processor with a Ninja. It does it all. So cool, to have one appliance, that is so versatile. That would be my recommendation:)

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  26. I love using the tiles as trivets. Years ago we actually made fancy ones at a church activity. We just used old cards and decopauged but you can also use fancy napkins. Much cheaper than the ones they sell at the store. These have held up very well and we still use them.

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  27. There are a lot of god tips here. I definitely want to try the knife for smashing garlic. The garlic press is my least favorite tool to clean, especially when the person who used it leaves the goop in there to “set” instead of rinsing it right out.

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    • I can attest to how easy this is! Use a large butcher knife, lay it on the garlic and give it a good whack with your fist (careful not to cut yourself!) and the garlic “skin” just comes right off. I saw a chef do this once and had to pick my jaw up off the floor…been doing it myself ever since!

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    • Such a pain to clean! I think you’ll like smashing it, it’s super easy!

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    • Great tips Angela!! The tupperware definitely works, I just usually don’t need all that garlic at once – but it is super fast! I love the idea of using a fine grater for garlic!

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    • Love the “using a grater for an onion” idea!! Thanks so much! Gonna try that soon!

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    • You can peel just as fast by placing them in a quart mason jar, put the top on and shake. Off comes the peels.

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    • I also use either a small hole hand grater or my microplane for garlic, ginger and nutmeg.

      I freeze the whole ginger root and grate as I need or, sometimes I grate the whole thing, then freeze. That way I can break off the amount needed for a recipe. I save time not having to grate for each recipe & also have less to clean up. :)

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      • Great idea for the ginger, Nancy!

  28. Thats exactly what I was gonna share. It works great.

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    • Thanks! I was going to ask what to do if you didn’t have a grapefruit spoon :-)

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  29. A pair of rubber gloves is great for opening jars; you don’t even need to put them on. They are also good when using a screwdriver to keep a really good grip on the handle.

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    • Or you can put a rubber band around the lid (and leave it there for next time).

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      • Both of those are great ideas, and I can personally attest to Jillie’s idea of the silicone squares & circles. Cheap and very effective.

      • I do this. Very good result.

    • I definitely have a pair of rubber gloves around, thanks for the tip Janet!

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  30. I use dental floss to cut through pastry rolls, especially cinnamon buns. You place the center of the floss underneath and pull the two ends across the top.

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    • I have also used thread instead of dental floss.

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    • Yes! the hint has been around for awhile. LOL My mom used a length of doubled white sewing thread to cut cinnamon rolls. I think Grandma did too. I’ve been doing the same since I was a kid….a long time ago…. It works great.

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