paper and pear kitchen
Stuck on what to get the food-loving folks in your life? Here are a few ideas inspired by my kitchen favorites. Some of them may look familiar. And they’re all under $50.
paper and pear kitchen

J.A. Henckels Classic Chef’s Knife

We bought two of these last year after five years owning what I thought was a decent mid-level set of kitchen knives. As I became more interested in cooking, I kept seeing articles touting the importance of a good chef’s knife, “You really don’t need a 10-piece knife set, you just need one good chef’s knife.” So we decided to upgrade and I am so glad we did. This knife continues to win accolades as the best value in mid-to-high-end chef’s knives. Josh and I have both been super happy with the ones we have and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for an upgrade from big-box knives at a reasonable price.

Spice Jars & Spice Blends

I’m a big fan of gifting my favorite spice blends to friends and family. Past gifts have included rib rub, garlic herb salt, and savory pork bend. If you don’t feel like mixing your own, a set of staple spice jars makes a great gift for anyone just starting out on their own. My favorite jars are from World Market. You’ve probably seen them in many of my posts. Paper & Pear subscribers can download the corresponding spice labels for free.

Stainless Steel Prep Bowls

We have six of these stainless steel prep bowls from IKEA. At $2 a piece, they were a bit of an impulse buy, but I am so glad I got them. They’ve become one of our most-used kitchen accessories. These bowls have been used to hold chopped veggies as we prep a stir-fry dinner, mix up a batch of dry rub for a smoked pork shoulder, and whisk together a quick vinaigrette for an easy summer salad. While these are available on Amazon Prime with free shipping they’re cheaper at IKEA if you have one nearby.

Olive Wood Salt Well

I’d been wanting a salt well for use while cooking and found this one at World Market last summer. I love the natural beauty of the olive wood, and it was half the price of a similar vessel at West Elm. I also like the size. It’s a bit smaller than a baseball, so it doesn’t take up too much room on the counter or in the pantry.

Granite Ware Enameled Colander

I have to laugh as I add this colander to my list of favorites. It came with my Granite Ware canning kit and at the time I’d wished it hadn’t. After thoroughly decluttering before our move last winter, I’ve been working hard to prevent the excess of stuff from piling up again. We already had a colander. I didn’t think I wanted another. But now I love this one. For one, my other colander was plastic and less capable of withstanding high temps. I also like the size and style of this one better. The classic enamelware can even stand in as a fruit bowl. If you’re buying for someone interested in canning, the whole kit is a great value for getting started. If not, this colander is a wonderful kitchen staple all by itself.

Epicurean Cutting Boards

I bought these cutting boards shortly after buying our new chef’s knives. I learned that plastic dulls knives faster than wood and went in search of alternatives. I didn’t know it when I bought them, but these are made in Duluth, MN a few hours from our house. I liked that these would fit well in the dishwasher and wouldn’t interfere with the upper spray arm. I also liked that they won’t dull our knives and are made from naturally renewable or recycled materials. After liking our first set so much, we bought a second. The two-pack available on Amazon is the best price I’ve found, but they have a wide variety of beautiful products available on both Amazon and There’s even one with the BWCA topo map!

Quarter Sheet Pan and Matching Rack

The last two items on my list go together, but either one can stand on its own. The quarter sheet pan is my favorite baking pan because of how easily it fits in the dishwasher. I’ve been known to use two quarter-sheet pans instead of one half-sheet, just to avoid having washing the big pan by hand. Only recently did I discover the convenience of having a cooking and cooling rack sized perfectly to fit into my favorite baking pan. When paired together I used this combo to bake chicken breasts, bacon, and even the occasional indoor hamburger. The rack also works alone as a cooling rack for cookies other baked goods.

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